Glenn Beck: Reform rabbis and "radicalized Islam"
02/22/2011 - 21:12
James Besser

The Reform movement is less than pleased – okay, they're really outraged – that Glenn Beck, who has been waging a campaign against religious groups that dare talk about “social justice,” thinks their rabbis are sort of like radical shieks.

Media Matters, a liberal advocacy group that has pretty much been on an anti-Beck tear lately, distributed a recording and transcripts of today's show in which Beck was talking about financier George Soros' recent interview with journalist Fareed Zakaria.

Beck then got onto the subject of the 400 rabbis who signed a letter protesting Beck's use of Holocaust analogies – a group his co-host said that “Soros funds.” (He also noted that Soros, in that interview, used his own Nazi analogy in reference to Beck).

Then Beck explained about Reform rabbis.

“When you talk about rabbis, understand that most -- most people who are not Jewish don't understand that there are the Orthodox rabbis, and then there are the reformed rabbis. Reformed rabbis are generally political in nature. It's almost like Islam, radicalized Islam in a way, to where it is just -- radicalized Islam is less about religion than it is about politics. When you look at the reform Judaism, it is more about politics.”

He then added: it's not about terror or anything else, it's about politics, and so it becomes more about politics than it does about faith. Orthodox rabbis -- that is about faith. There's not a single Orthodox rabbi on this list. This is all reformed rabbis that were -- that made this list.”

Both Media Matters and the Reform movement say the letter was signed by rabbis from the Conservative, Orthodox, Reconstructionist and Reform movements

Mark Pelavin, associate director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, said Beck's latest comments “were of a piece with his criticism last year of churches for their social justice ministries. It takes a special kind of audacity to proclaim oneself the arbiter of what is religious belief and what is not, what is inspired by faith and what is not.”

Although Beck took care not to suggest Reform rabbis aren't terrorists, “the fact that he chose this language -'radical Islam' – is astonishing,” Pelavin said.

And he noted that “Beck is lashing out at the biggest part of the American Jewish community, not some group on the margins, that he thinks isn't really about religion.”

Update: A reader was quick to send me the link to this thoughtful response from Rabbi Rachel Gurevitz. Thanks!

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I completely agree with GB. I am a completely secular Jew and I have a major problem with the Reform Movement. Either do the religion right or don't pretend to do it at all! Sure, I am annoyed that they've taken centuries' old traditions and perverted them to suit their selfish needs, that's annoying. But what is dangerous about the movement is that what was once organized religion is now organized politics.

I tried to be Reform. My Jewish identity (in the ethnic and cultural sense) is very important to me. I feel a deep connection to my brothers and sisters in Israel and I hope to marry someone (ethnically) Jewish. I'm secular and I thought that a Reform congregation might be right for me. I've tried too many congregations to count and instead of hearing sermons about God and/or the importance of the Jewish community, all I've ever heard was a call to arms to fight the injustices of the peoples of the world.

I wish no ill will to anyone, but for a group of people that have been killed and abused for THOUSANDS of years, don't ya think we should focus on helping each other out? Not according to the Reform rabbis I've heard. Their sermons come straight out of the liberal play book. There's nothing about Jews or Judaism. They are a political machine for the Liberals. I want no part of it.

Kudos to Glen Beck!

The silly 400 along with their liberal friends who allow vile vitriol from every possible outlet in liberal media unchecked have focused on Beck???? How about you focus your energy on violent anti Semitic anti Israel rants from the mainstream media & profound growing trend of holocaust deniers. How about you put your money where your mouth is and step up to protect Jews on university campuses who are finding it impossible to use their first amendment right to speak in support of Israel for fear of death threats and intimidation by left wing professors and Muslim students association. But no , left wing factless baseless rants and islamofascism isn't condemned by these righteous rabbis. In fact they support throwing out all cases of Muslim intimidation of Jews on campus out of court for fear of trembling on these groups precious first amendment rights. How silly of you rabbies to forbid Beck to invoke images of holocaust to educate the public of evils of Nazism fascism islamofascism and ideologies of communism . Hypocritical cowardice? Opportunism? Or just greed ? What's the motive here? Since you all but forgot the repercussions your left wing selective tolerance on free speech is causing in Israel Europe and all over the globe, maybe you should watch Beck carefully to remind yourself who your true enemies are and that history will repeat itself. Benjamin Netanyahu has been sounding the alarm of a horrible trend of fusion of radical Islam and those on the left . Silly rabbies you have become the useful idiots of the radicals to the detriment off all Jews

I am a Jew and I have to say that, clumsy though he may be, he is right about one thing with Reform Judaism. It is not about religion. It is political in the misguided sense of trying to secularize Tikkun Olam. I went to a bat mitzvah at a synagogue and the young lady said she didn't believe it God, and then her father got up and said, oh, she takes after me and her grandmother. My wife and I belonged to that synagogue for years, but left shortly thereafter. I have to say that very few of the people in that synagogue actually believed in God. It was very disappointing for me.

Spend some time among the Jews of Israel. Many of them are secular. I guess they don't count either.

G.B. comments are to the rabbis not to reform Judaism apparently it seems that their leadership is interested in political and social goals more than the religious survival of their flock
I am an orthodox Jew who has listened to Glen Beck for two years and have never heard him utter an anti-semitic statement. I cannot say the same for George Soros, I don't understand what it means to be a committed Jew if you are a reform Jew. The only thing that defines one as a committed Jew is the Torah. Is the reform movement committed to the Torah as it was given to the Jewish people 3300 years ago?

So I suppose the broadcast where Beck is seated in front of a Swastika adorned flag is ok with you?! I am a Reform Jew, and just because I insist on equality for women--does not make me less of a Jew. Have you ever heard of little rabbi by the name of HILLEL? When Reform Jews stood by Dr. King--they were following the two supreme commands of Judaism---do to no other what is hateful when done to you---and 'tikkun olam' repairing the world. That was meant for all of humanity, not merely Orthodox Jews.

how dare any of you speak so poorly about reform judaism when you, yourself are jews. why should we be fighting against each other? just because i, as a reform jew don't follow halacha as strictly as you as an orthodox or conservative jew may like, it doesn't mean that i am any less jewish. if anything, reform judaism has done more for me than just be my religion, it has helped me form my own values and beliefs based on the values that REFORM judaism has taught me. i don't judge the orthodox or conservatives, and i would hope that they wouldn't judge me. how can you think that the reform presence in politics is a negative thing? the Religious Action Center (RAC) in Washington D.C. is a perfect example! combining current legislation and politics with jewish values, it gives us a voice in our government! i am disgusted by the hateful comments coming from you all, we should be standing together as ONE RELIGION... not two or three.
Wow Allie, you just dont get it do you. Everything everyone on this forum said about reform is true. Choosing to go to reform temple, does not change if your a Jew. The only way you can be a Jew, is by being born to a Jewish mother, or converting according to strict Jewish Law, AKA Halacha, so lets put that misconception anyone Judging you aside. As a non orthodox Jew myself, even I realize its time for all Jews to stop being defensive, and accept the paradigm shift that is coming, the fact is 25% percent of Jews under 18 are Orthodox, that number is growing and growing. Within a few years, that percentage will be 40%. Doesn't take a math genius to recognize that the liberalism of the RAC is old fashioned and out dated, and soon to be unfunded by an American religious Jewish majority that does not identify with its politics at all. So Allie if you don't like what is coming, better start having more children, because their is no other way to stop it.
Beck is a friend of Israel and the Jewish people. Ironically, he and Fox are under attack from the George Soros astroturf machine which has a proven record of Jewish self-hatred and anti-Zionism - just like the Reform.