Christian-Jewish Relations in 5776

Jews and Christians disputing scripture (the Jews are wearing the poiny hats) in a 15th c. Dutch woodcut.

Let's talk about the state of "Christian-Jewish" relations!For most of the past 2,000 years, our relations consisted of Christians alternatively killing and forcibly converting (and killing and forcibly converting and exiling) the Jews.Since the rise of the state of Israel, all kinds of power dynamics have changed and today the word “complicated” hardly begins to describe it. So as we begin the new year of 5776, let's take a look at how representatives of two of the world's most int … [Read more...]

Why I Support Open Hillel

Gili Getz.

After years of sitting on the “right-of-center” when it came to Israel (I called myself a “security dove”) I have moved to the left. And not a little.As I’ve slowly drifted to this position, I’ve come to realize just how much the right likes to shut down open discourse in the Jewish community. The BDS*-monster is the boogey-man invoked to shut down opportunities to even engage the other side.When I worked in Hillel we certainly supported Israel, but we also sponsored all kinds of dialogue … [Read more...]

J Street U Picks Muslim Leader, Jews Freak Out

Amna Farooqi address J Street U Conference

The new president of the campus arm of the liberal Zionist organization J Street was elected last week at the J Street U summer leadership conference.After taking a class at the University of Maryland, where she is a senior, she “fell in love with Zionism,” noting that Zionism is about taking ownership over the story of one’s people.” She also spent a semester at Hebrew University in Jerusalem to get a better idea of what Israel was all about.Could there be anything more wonderful for a g … [Read more...]

340 Rabbis Come out in Support of Iran Deal

Iran talks

September is a busy month for the Jews this year. As is usually usual, the “high” holidays fall in the middle of the month. As is most definitely unusual, so does the vote in Congress about a certain nuclear arms deal with Iran.I imagine that many rabbis will use the first occasion to comment on the second. It’s harder to gauge where American rabbis stand (outside of the Orthodox) on this issue than where American Jewry does (see my previous post).I have joined 339 other American rabbis w … [Read more...]

Iran Deal: Leaders Out of Step with American Jewry

By Bundesministerium für Europa, Integration und Äusseres [CC BY 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

As I wrap up my vacation, it’s time to return to blogging. A few weeks ago I received an email message from the local Detroit Jewish Federation announcing that it has decided to explicitly oppose the Iran nuclear deal. I thought this would be an anomaly. I predicted that only a small number of Jewish federations would take a position while the vast majority would exercise better judgment by facilitating debate while remaining neutral. I was wrong. Many others have done the same, including the fe … [Read more...]

Murderous Jewish Religious Fanaticism, Part Two

Screen Shot 2015-08-05 at 10.11.59 AM

View image | gettyimages.comBefore I take a short vacation hiatus from the blog and my congregation, here is part two of my look at last week’s murderous religious Jewish fanaticism.This time we are looking at the Haredi variety. It is not necessarily ultra-nationalist, but it is increasingly extremist in most other ways. (Honestly, I don’t even know if it’s worth saying “increasingly” any more. I think it’s increased to just about the maximum.)By now, what happened at the Jerusalem Gay P … [Read more...]

Murderous Jewish Religious Fanaticism, Part One


View image | gettyimages.comLast week was a horrible one in Israel. Contained within the horror was a frightening reminder of the divisions in the Jewish world; a community divided sharply between modern Jews and those who follow the path of religious fanaticism.This first of two posts deals with that particular brand of Jewish religious fanaticism that is also ultra-nationalist.The terrorist settler thugs who killed 18-month-old Ali Saad Dawabsheh and critically injured his parents … [Read more...]

Maccabees, Reform Rabbis and the Quest to Slay the BDS-Monster


As I blogged about several weeks ago, Sheldon Adelson & Co. have founded a new multi-million dollar effort to slay the BDS-beast that is stalking college campuses. The knights that they set loose will be known as the campus Maccabees. (I also pointed out what a poor choice of names this is.)In this week's Forward Jay Michaelson has a great piece about why this effort will fail. He enumerates four reasons, beginning with the fact that the Adelson project is an effort built on “eth … [Read more...]

Who Is a Jew and Who Is a Rabbi?


The newly-appointed Israeli Minister of Religious Services, David Azulai, has said something stupid. This puts him well within the tradition of his ultra-Orthodox (Sephardic) Shas Party where saying something stupid is a daily event. This stupid comment was stupid enough to be covered by the New York Times: Speaking to Army Radio, the minister said, "Let's just say there's a problem as soon as a Reform Jew stops following the religion of Israel. I can't allow myself to say that such a person … [Read more...]

The Holy Kabbalist and the Dead Cop

Rabbi Yoshiyahu Pinto. By Yaacov Gross (Own work) [GFDL], via Wikimedia Commons

Last night the head of the National Fraud Unit of the Israeli Police, Deputy Commissioner Ephraim Bracha, a 55-year-old father of four, shot himself in the head. Bracha was at the center of an investigation involving corrupt Kabbalistic Haredi Rabbi Yoshiyahu Pinto whom he accused of bribing him back in 2012. You may never have heard of Pinto, but lots of people that you have heard of know exactly who he is. Included among his followers and admirers are many prominent Israeli and American … [Read more...]