Jewish Community: Black Lives Matter No Matter What

I’m going to take a break from my gleeful Trump posts to deal with an important issue that is coming up in the Jewish world. I apologize for the length, but I think this controversy demands a thoughtful response.In case you missed it, the release of The Movement for Black Lives’ new platform, Vision for Black Lives, has raised the ire of many in the organized Jewish community.Organizations ranging from the institutional (Boston Jewish Community Relations Council) to the progressive act … [Read more...]

Why I’m Still a Zionist

(Update: Since the original publication of this post, it has been repeatedly pointed out to me that what I've said here does not qualify me as a Zionist. I think I constructed a good argument for why I am a kind of Zionist, but those who disagree have told me—some of them in no uncertain terms—that what I've described here is better described as post-Zionism. I actually don't care what it's called. I stand by what I wrote.)With the publication of my previous post (My Crisis of Zionism), I hav … [Read more...]

My Crisis of Zionism

True Zionist confessions: As a campus Hillel director and later a JCC professional, I was professionally (and frequently fanatically) committed to telling Israel’s story, as I then understood it. Somehow, across the years I managed to retain my optimism that Israel would be the great success story of the Jews who would now go about showing the world what a truly enlightened liberal universalistic nation they could build. Perhaps I was naïve, but that’s how life goes. It’s not easy undoing generat … [Read more...]

Liberal Jews Get a Piece of the Rock

If you follow news of the Jewish world, by now you have heard about the historic decision by Israeli leaders to accommodate Reform, Conservative (etc., etc.) Jews by giving them a mixed-gender prayer space at the Western Wall.Here’s an illustration of where it will be:Part of me applauds the victory of my liberal theistic friends. It was not fair to exclude them from any worship at the Wall. A greater part of me, however, wishes that they would outgrow the need to worship there at a … [Read more...]

Home of Israeli Secular Humanistic Leader Vandalized

This is the sort of "breaking news" that I don't usually blog about, but in this case it's personal.Prof. Yaakov Malkin, one of the great leaders of Secular Humanistic Judaism in Israel (and father of Rabbi Sivan Malkin Maas), woke up this morning to find his Jerusalem home vandalized.From Haaretz: A Star of David and the phrases "Psalms 139: 21-24" and "Destruction of Amalek" were scrawled on the fence surrounding his home. A knife and an envelope containing a threatening letter were al … [Read more...]

Israeli Crackdown on Left-Wing Groups Continues

News out of Jerusalem this week is that the right-wing government has given the thumbs-up to the so-called “Transparency Bill” sponsored by Minister of Justice Ayelet Shaked of the Jewish Home Party.With its passage, human rights NGOs that receive more than 50% of their funding from foreign governmental sources will be forced to reveal their status as “foreign agents” in every published document. They will also be required to wear special identity badges marking them as such when lobbying pub … [Read more...]

Defaming the Left in Israel

Israeli right-wingers are going off the rails and taking Israeli democracy with them.The Jewish Home Party, which represents the interests of religious Zionist nationalist extremists, is sponsoring a “Transparency Bill” directed at shutting down left-wing NGOs.If passed, the law would require any left-wing NGO that receives 50% or more of its funding from foreign governmental sources to reveal this fact in every single interaction with Israeli government authorities. They would also be re … [Read more...]

Israeli Extremists Respond to Paris Massacre

Haaretz writer Uri Misgav has published a powerful blog post about right-wing nationalist Orthodox Jewish responses to the horrors in Paris. (Unfortunately, it’s only available in Hebrew.)Their responses are repulsive in so many ways. They are consistently characterized by a horrible kind of schadenfreude, even rising - in Misgav’s words - to a level of “pure joy.”Rabbi Dov Lior, until very recently the chief rabbi of the Kiryat Arba settlement (near Hebron) and head of one of its largest … [Read more...]

Does Torah Command Immediate Execution of Disarmed Terrorists?

To my liberal rabbinical colleagues who hold the view that the Torah’s wisdom is necessary in the search for morality, I present this necessary reminder that what constitutes the will of the Torah is in the eyes of the rabbis who interpret it.And sometimes there is murder in their eyes.Rabbi David Stav, of the moderate Israeli rabbinic organization known as Tzohar, issued a halakhic opinion last week ruling that it is forbidden to kill a terrorist who has otherwise been rendered h … [Read more...]

It’s the Occupation, Stupid

View image | gettyimages.comI’ve mentioned before that I’m still a paid-up member of the Reform movement’s Central Conference of American Rabbis. Because of this I get to lurk on the Facebook page and hear what’s on the minds of Reform rabbis.Yesterday I learned that some of the major lights of the movement have opinions about the latest wave of terror in Israel that I find stunning.I won’t mention any names here - that would betray the closed nature of the group - and I won’t quote anyon … [Read more...]


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