Your Editorial criticism of the Rabbinical Council of America’s failure to stand up to the Israeli chief rabbinate is appropriate (Jan. 17), but its headline (“First They Came For The Liberal Rabbis…”) is not. The wording of that headline is a deliberate echo of the well-known words of Pastor Martin Niemöller concerning those who failed to stand up to the Nazis in the early days of their consolidation of power.
Yehuda Kurtzer (“When Metaphor Fails,” Opinion, Jan. 3) decries comparisons between Israel’s enemies and Nazi Germany. I suspect that most Jews would be less likely to make such analogies if the other side was not constantly invoking Hitler.
Yehuda Kurtzer (“When Metaphor Fails,” Opinion, Jan. 3) calls for an end to “irresponsible analogies” between contemporary events and aspects of the Nazi era. He is correct that it would be irresponsible to suggest that Iran’s leaders today are identical to Hitler, or that the negotiations with Iran are exactly the same as the negotiations that led to the 1938 Munich agreement. Obviously there are differences. But that does not mean there is no room to ever compare the present with the past. Examining past situations that were comparable in some way to those of today is crucial to learning from past mistakes.
Some major shifts in Jewish life happen in dramatic fashion, others less so.
In recent days details are slowly emerging about a major initiative being undertaken by the government of Israel, in consultation with American Jewish leaders, to invest more than $1 billion over the next two decades to strengthen Jewish identity among young people in the diaspora between the ages of 12 and 35.
Pew revealed a community in crisis -- let's not waste it.
Editor and Publisher
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There is an important debate taking place now about how to respond to the dramatic increase in intermarriage in the American Jewish community. Should it be seen as a fact of life to be accepted, even embraced, or a disturbing trend to be countered?
The RCA, a professional institution, must nurture its relationship with Israel's Rabbinate.
Special To The Jewish Week
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The Chief Rabbinate of Israel recently made headlines for the wrong reasons once again. Until a recent agreement was reached, it had refused to accept letters from Rabbi Avi Weiss and other American Orthodox rabbis attesting to the Jewishness of congregants seeking to wed in Israel. As a result, numerous organizations and prominent individuals, in Israel and the U.S., each with its own plan to reform, weaken, improve, or dismantle the Rabbanut [Chief Rabbinate], stood up for Rabbi Weiss and called on the Rabbanut to accept him. Ultimately, the Rabbanut agreed to accept Rabbi Weiss’s testimony and also to accept automatically any letter of testimony that has been approved by the Rabbinical Council of America, the largest association of Orthodox rabbis in the world.
Liberal religion is having a hard time these days. Mainstream Protestant Christianity is a graying movement with significant numbers of its churches closing. Pope Francis expressed his fears that in emphasizing issues of social justice the Catholic Church not suffer the same fate as these Protestant churches have. The daughters of Muslim women who gloried in uncovering their hair are succeeded by their daughters who insist on headdresses. In all three, the “fundamentalist” wings of these churches seem to be robust and, at least among Protestants and Muslims, ascendant. It should not surprise us that the Pew Research Center study has now shown that these trends are similarly true for Jews.
If two religiously observant Jews are engaged in a disagreement that has financial ramifications, are they permitted to go to a secular court to arbitrate their dispute or must they go to a religious or rabbinic court (beit din)? Is the law different in Israel, which has both religious and secular court systems but where even the secular court judges are Jewish? And if, indeed, Jews are religiously ordained to go exclusively to a beit din, why is this so? After all, the nonreligious judicial system in Israel and the secular courts in America are certainly fair and equitable.