Thank you, Glenn Beck, for Clarifying my Job Description
03/01/11
Special to the Jewish Week

It's not often that I want to give thanks to Glenn Beck. But, recently, he really made my life a lot easier. Truly, I'm so glad that Glenn Beck has helped me figure out who I am as a Reform Rabbi. According to a recent radio broadcast  Glenn Beck stated that Reform Rabbis are "generally political in nature. It's almost like radicalized Islam in a way. It's less about religion than it is about politics... It's more about politics than it is about faith."

I mean, when I worry about how to spend my time during my week, I now know, thanks to Mr. Beck, that I need not worry about anything having to do with faith, God, spirituality, education, pastoral work, lifecycle events or community-building. Rather, I only have to focus on politics. Phew! That really takes a load off.

But, seriously, folks, it is a shame that so many people listen to this mishegas and that they take it as fact. I would have to assume that many of his listeners do not know much about Judaism, let alone Reform Judaism. When they picture a Jew, they are probably more likely to picture, a) someone with a black hat, long coat, and payos, or, b) Woody Allen. In neither image would they find me.

As a young, woman rabbi, living and working on Long Island, I have the true privilege of spending my time with a dynamic, involved, and loving congregation. They truly take the names of Beit Midrash (house of study), Beit K'nesset (house of gathering), and Beit Tefillah (house of prayer) to heart, and they work hard to offer meaningful experiences and programming in all three areas.

As Jews, we all share the mandate to be an or la-goyim, a light unto the nations. All of the active movements in Judaism involve themselves in various acts of social justice because it is part of the very fabric of Jewish living.

I often find myself quoting Pirke Avot 1:2 at times like these, "The world is sustained by three things: Torah, Worship, and Deeds of Loving Kindness." In other words, study, acts of faith, and acts of social justice. We need all three, and with them, we find balance. Like a three-legged stool, if one were to be taken away, we would topple over.

In the Reform Movement, we are very proud of our involvement in social causes, advocacy, and social action. Yet, to claim that this is all we are is a serious misstatement.

In my daily life, I am surrounded by people with inspiring God-sparks inside of them. Some are seekers, not knowing exactly how to find to God, but hoping that, through some work, God will meet them half-way.

Others are in pain, due to loss or personal struggle, and are looking for words of comfort that our heritage can wisely offer.

Some have found a sense of home and community within our congregation that they had never before experienced.

Others find solace, even in the most routine moments of our Erev Shabbat worship service, that tell them it's okay to finally relax after a long week.

And there are those who have gathered every Saturday morning for years, working their way verse-by-verse of the Torah, and this study brings them ever closer to God.

Mr. Beck, you must not reduce the Reform movement to a mere political organization because we are actually much more spiritual, involved, and extraordinary than you could ever imagine. Were you to take the time to step into one of our congregations, I think you'd be surprised by the feelings of joy, the care for the community, and the energy put into sustaining the families, the congregation, and the Jewish community at large.

You are more than welcome, Mr. Beck, to come spend Shabbat with us, and to meet me, one of those Reform Rabbis of whom you speak so highly. And, perhaps, with a bit of luck, we will all come away just a bit wiser than before.

Rabbi Marci N. Bellows serves as rabbi of Temple B'nai Torah in Wantagh, NY. A graduate of Brandeis University, she was ordained by Hebrew Union College - Jewish Institute of Religion in 2004

Last Update:

03/11/2011 - 09:05

Comments

That's curiouswhat she says. If you go to the website of the CCAR (the Central Conference of American Rabbis), which is the "union" of Reform rabbis, the top 3 items listen on the website are:

(1) CCAR Statement on theRight to Collective Bargaining by Public Workers (a polemical statement regarding the current political situation in Wisconsin);
(2) CCAR Statement in Response to Glenn Beck's Libel of Reform Rabbis (also political); and
(3) Learning Opportunities for Reform Rabbis - Program Book (perhaps confirming that Reform Rabbis need to bone up a bit on Judaism itself?)

Othe press releases on the homepage website:
*Jewish Groups Bolster Support for US Muslims
*Reform Rabbis Support Hyatt Workers, Implore Hotel to Treat Employees Fairly
*A number of press releases regarding the Loyalty Oath Amendment in Israel
*A letter to thte Department of Defense to repeal Don't Ask Don't Tell

....How could one possibly argue with Glenn Beck on this point. It is empirically verifiable that Reform is a leftist movement with some Hebrew language in it. While it is laudable that Rabbi Bellow celebrates Shabbat, I don't think we need to guess to much as to the content of the conversation - leftist rants in religious drag.

Today's Democractic Party is a creation of liberal jews. The same ones that started the so-called "Progressive Movement." In their hearts they secretly loathe Christians and the great Nation we have built. Judaism is a product of the Babylonian Talmud, and has nothing to do with Moses. Zionist are tools for the Rothschild cabal, and have no historical right to Palestine. The British were mere patsies dancing to the tune of their banker. The Jew has always sought domination in every nation they have ever lived in. Is it greed, lust for power, self-pride, or do they really beleive the tribal hype of being chosen? Sooner or later their host culture tires of their trash, and flicks the bug to the side. Wise up, before history repeats itself. Shalom!!!

What a surprise...I am in the congregation and I am happy to see my Rabbi's views in print :-)

I hope Glenn Beck comes to meet with us :-)

A Temple that engages in getting the vote out for a specific candidate is acting more like a political organization than a religious one.
In my opinion by using the temples facilities in this way they have compromised the right to have their organization donations be tax deductible. Maybe the Jewish Week should look into this., maybe even asking the Attorney General his opinion.

Unless one wants religion to consist merely of bland platitudes (and unfortunately many people do) it is impossible to keep politics out of religion. David says he gets his politics from his values -- but from where does he get his values? I suspect he gets them, as we all do, from his ethical, religious and/or spiritual background and upbringing. And if David's politics are conservative based on his worldview, so be it. Mine are a bit left of center, however, I still see merit in reasonably stated and intelligently developed political ideas. I do not dismiss an idea because it may be inherently conservative - who says that liberal politics are always correct or workable? But I do dismiss demagogues like Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh. Their "ideas" are not meant to stimulate rational debate; their ideas are meant to provoke an emotional response from their listeners and provide crass entertainment value, not unlike reality TV.

And, David, you are correct - Marci Bellows is a wonderful person, and I am proud to call her my Rabbi.

I was brought up as a conservative Jew. I am now not very religious. I have a brother who moved to Israel and became much more religious. He is now what we call “Knitted Kepah”. He has 7 children and lives in Jerusalem. I have had contact over the years with all types of Jews from Ultra reform to Ultra orthodox. Whether you like it or not the basics of what Glenn Beck said are absolutely true. He could have said it a little better but the gist was absolutely correct. Reform rabbis are generally more political in nature then are the orthodox or more religious rabbis. Sorry if it offends you but it is the truth – Deal with it!

Well said! Thanks for speaking up.

As a Jew I don't think Beck was too far off in his assessment of reform rabbis, if you don't agree with them you are not welcome to be a part of their circle. But if you are an enemy, they will go out of their way to show kindness and acceptance;, maybe you might explain that.
Where were all the Reform rabbis defending Bibi when Obama was treating him like an enemy, didn't see any reform rabbi mounting petitions of protests for the head of Israel.

It is not politics that shapes a synagogues social agenda it is in fact judaism itself-It is not an accident that a large majority of jewish people are democrats-"our"
foundation is all about making the world a better place for those most in need-I
am sure "you" might make a case for conservative ideology doing the same.

However the vast majority of jewish people believe that the democrats are the political party that most meets the needs of those who will benefit from government programs for social justice that lift people to a higher economic class'

Every major govt. program that has lifted people up economically was implemented and established due to democrats. Medicare, social security,health care, and many other programs would not exist if it werent for democrats- Yes I know the argument about teach a man to fish-But if he aint got a fishing pole whats the point-So you while you are entitled to your viewpoint spend some time studying jewish history-Its not an accident that we support social justice it is our purpose as a people!

Yes my friends, more misinformation.
Remember it was the party of Lincoln that freed
the slaves in America. Yes that Lincoln of the Republican party.
The Democrats brought us Klu klux Klanner Senator Byrd
Yes most of my Jewish brothers and sisters helped put
Pres Obama in the white house. The most anti
Isreali president since the pro Palestinian Jimmy
Carter. I mean Obama has had the Muslim brotherhood to
the white house. This will end up badly.
I do love what your Rabbi has to say though.

But wake up Jews don't glady walk into the slaughter.

God bless the chosen people.

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