I have a truly good friend from the rabbinate, an officer and a former president of a major Modern Orthodox rabbinic organization. This is an organization that years ago accomplished many things for American Orthodoxy.
They had to fight for the very survival of Orthodoxy itself. They were pitted against the looming threat of Conservative and Reform Jewry, as Orthodoxy in America was at risk of becoming a relic of the past. Sh’chitah and organized kosher supervision in New York and throughout the country were becoming extinct or corrupt. M’chitzah and social dancing were immense struggles, which we have trouble appreciating today. The Sunday Blue Laws, which prohibited businesses from being open on Sunday, threatened the livelihood of countless Jewish merchants who were already closed Saturdays for Shabbos observance. In all these trailblazing endeavors, this organization was heroic in its efforts and accomplishments.
Now, however, for some unknown reason, the very same organization has become inexplicably mum. I can speculate, but I really don’t know why for sure.
The Coalition for Jewish Values (CJV) was formed about six years ago to fill this void. Somebody out there must be willing to express the Torah view in a forceful yet professional manner. While it was founded by six committed rabbis with Rabbi Pesach Lerner as the founding president and Rabbi Yaakov Menken as the managing director, I am proud to say that I am currently honored to serve as its president.
On subjects such as abortion, gender transformation, LGBTQ issues, support for Israel, anti-BDS, calling out Ben & Jerry’s, or Reform encroachment in Israel and in the American political dialogue, the CJV has often enough been the sole voice to speak up on behalf of Torah.
My friend, to whom I referred earlier, once mentioned to me in a public forum that in his eyes the only good that the CJV accomplishes is that it is good for “getting steam off your chest.”
In truth, we have become a much sought-after organization from the media that is looking to hear another perspective other than the usual left-leaning positions taken by all the other Jewish organizations There still is a media bias, so some of the mainstream media will not yet feature us. But our statements and interviews, especially with Rabbi Menken, are regularly featured on Fox News, Newsmax, Newsweek, Israel International News, Arutz Sheva, and others.
But if we existed for one purpose only, it was for our achievement last week. As you have heard, pro-terrorist, anti-Israel, and anti-Semitic Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib planned on holding an event in the Capitol commemorating the “Nakba,” the “catastrophic” birth of the State of Israel. It so happens that it was to take place on the day of the NORPAC Mission to Washington. Her intent was to place anti-Semitism, disguised as anti-Israel bias, in the center of Congress.
The CJV sent a letter to the four leaders in the two Houses of Congress, calling for bipartisan condemnation of such an event. It was signed by Rabbi Menken and me. Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s office got our letter and realized they could do more than condemn: They canceled Tlaib’s meeting outright, preempting it with a bipartisan briefing celebrating the 75-year US-Israel relationship.
Many outlets did not cover who or what prompted Speaker McCarthy to take action, but those that did credited our letter. The ADL, which sent a much weaker letter that didn’t call for firm condemnation, was left playing catch-up, as was even the Conference of Presidents.
In the end, Tlaib’s Nakba event was held in the Everett Dirksen (great Republican supporter of Israel) Senate Office Building by arrangement with Senator Bernie Sanders. Yes, a Jew who once again is willing to serve as a useful idiot for those who hate his people and his country. Almost as troubling was the complete silence of Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer, who did nothing in his power to stop the event from taking place. His explanation was that he knew nothing about it. (He is either a liar or he is terribly unaware of what goes on in his own party.)
Here, too, the CJV wrote to Senator Schumer, stating that even if we are to believe that he knew nothing about the meeting, then now that he does, he should say something. Fat chance! The ZOA, as well, was very forceful on this issue, to their great credit.
So, my rabbi friend, we got some steam off our chest. Wasn’t it worth it? Freshly steamed is much better than lukewarm leftovers from yesterday’s dinner.
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.