Reform Judaism is the largest of the religious streams, with some 900 synagogues in North America, but it is far from immune from the challenges facing Jewish life in the diaspora.
A position paper drafted last month by the rabbis of the 18 largest congregations and circulating now among their colleagues offers a sober assessment of the social changes in the national Jewish landscape, and a tough critique of the movement’s key organizations.
As the bombs and cruise missiles rain down on the strongholds of Libyan dictator Muammar Kaddafy, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has maintained an official silence on the latest Middle East crisis.
That silence is smart. Israel may ultimately gain by the anti-authoritarian surge that is now hitting Libya and by the possible removal of the virulently anti-Israel Kaddafy, but there are also risks in a region where the Arab “street” may be just as hostile to the Jewish state as the despots it wants to depose.
When three Israeli children — one a 3-month-old infant — were stabbed to death in their beds on a recent Friday night in their home, along with their young parents, the world did not seem overly shocked or upset.
“Where is the outrage,” Presidents Conference leader Malcolm Hoenlein asked at a Manhattan memorial service last Thursday. “Where is the indignation?”
For junior year abroad I studied at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland. Enchanted with English poetry, I wrote a letter to my father telling of my love of Wordsworth, the romantic poets, the wonder and variety of English verse. My father, who was a devotee of literature and my first teacher, wrote back that he was glad I found inspiration and nourishment in them. But then he added something important.
Regarding “Day Schools Need New Israel Ed Approach” (Feb. 18), I was glad to see editor Gary Rosenblatt’s consideration of Alex Pomson’s research on day school students’ attitudes towards Israel and Israel education. Rosenblatt’s conclusion about schools needing to explore new approaches, while undoubtedly correct, is not news. Students today are incredibly savvy and sophisticated in their approach to Israel and Israel advocacy.
Our eighth grade recently returned from a transformational two-week Israel trip through our school and with Ramah International. As a head of school (K-8) and Israel trip educator, my dream is to start a new division of Taglit [Birthright Israel] or find a way to start an independent model with Ramah or another trip provider based on the successes we see. Your article “Boost for Birthright Funding” (Jan. 21) is inspiring me to think about liberal Jewish education in the future: it has to be Israel-centered.
In “Threats To Israeli Democracy” (Opinion, March 11), Letty Cottin Pogrebin exhorts American Jews to decry measures by the Knesset, which is trying to get better control of scores of NGOs, who are trying to undermine Israel and aid its delegitimization from within. She brands these measures as McCarthyite. She also criticizes Israel’s wish to have a loyalty pledge of allegiance to Israel as a Jewish state. She believes that Israeli democracy is being destroyed by these and other measures.
I was so pleased to read Gary Rosenblatt’s column, “Advocacy Gone Awry” (March 15). I have personally felt the anguish of being dubbed anti-Semitic and anti-Israel because in a number of recent communications I have expressed my frustration with the continued expansion of settlements in the West Bank and Prime Minister Netanyahu’s lack of pushing the two-state solution.
It is wrong for The Jewish Week to marginalize the efforts of JCCWatch.org and the growing group of Jews who refuse to allow their communal organizations to twist their support of Israel and embrace those groups who look to hurt Israel (“Advocacy Gone Awry,” Editor’s column, March 18)