On December 23, it was reported that about 330 American clergy from Reform, Conservative, and Reconstructive movements issued a “Call to Action” (fatwa or cheirem) to ban members from the Religious Zionist Alliance from speaking in their synagogues or anywhere in their communities.
Apparently, these rabbis are not comfortable with the “extreme” positions that MKs such as Betzalel Smotrich or Itamar Ben-Gvir express on issues relating to LGBTQ, treatment of terrorists, and abortion. I am sure they consider these people as anti-Arab racists, as well.
I was amusing myself with the thought that the gematria (numerical Hebrew value) of 330 in Hebrew is “shell (shel).” What these rabbis are doing is a fraudulent shell game – playing the victim, yet they are indeed the culprits.
These same people who claim to be tolerant are only tolerant of those who think like them. The moment one steps out of their box, he is ridiculed, stigmatized, and banned. Many of these are the same people who criticized the presumptive Republican Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy for announcing that, as Speaker, he would remove notorious anti-Israel, anti-Semitic Congresswoman Ilhan Omar from the House Foreign Affairs Committee. Many condemned Donald Trump for moving the US Embassy to Jerusalem.
My question to this group is: Would you allow anti-Zionist Arab MKs to speak in your synagogue? Would you allow Mahmoud Abbas to speak? (We know the answer to that one, as they have already met with him.) Indeed, would you allow Ilhan Omar or AOC to speak?
It becomes clear for all to see that these anti-Orthodox groups are not disenfranchised by Israel. They have disenfranchised themselves from Israel! Stop kvetching about Israel and learn to love it.
While it is undoubtedly true that most Orthodox shuls would not (and should not) allow the likes of anti-religious Avigdor Liberman or some former Meretz MK to speak in their shuls, the Orthodox would never get together to issue a joint ban of these speakers. We would not rebuke Israel publicly, as does The New York Times, CNN, and Thomas Friedman, et al.
Yes, the anti-Orthodox segments of Jewry are gaining a lot of coverage in Israel and the United States. They have themselves to blame for their sad situation in both countries. Become proudly Jewish! Learn and teach to love Israel! Learn and practice Shabbos and kashrus along with the rest of the Torah, and you won’t have to scream at Israel for not cozying up to you. You won’t have to wonder what happened to your disappearing number of Jews and congregants as they slip into the world of assimilation. You will be comfortable in your own skin. Stop your shell game. The real victims are yourselves.
Rabbi Yoel Schonfeld is the Rabbi Emeritus of the Young Israel of Kew Gardens Hills, President of the Coalition for Jewish Values, former President of the Vaad Harabonim of Queens, and the Rabbinic Consultant for the Queens Jewish Link.