Israel Divides the Jews – An Analysis (19 November 2015)

by Lawrence Davidson, To the Point Analyses

Part I – Reform Judaism vs. Israel

Something significant recently happened in the ongoing political-ethical drama that grips Israel and, by extension, Jewish communities worldwide. As reported by the Jewish Daily Forward on on 6 November 2015, Rabbi Rick Jacobs, the president of the Union for Reform Judaism (a position that makes him the leader of largest Jewish denomination in the United States), publicly broke with Israel’s political and religious leadership. In a major speech at the Union’s biennial conference he said, “Asking Jews around the world only to wave the flag of Israel and to support even the most misguided policies of its leaders drives a wedge between the Jewish soul and the Jewish state.” Going public in this fashion is significant and welcome. However, as we shall see, this aspect of his critique has a long history.

Jacobs then got more specific: “the treatment of Israel’s minorities” and the “way ultra-Orthodox views of Judaism are being enshrined in secular law” are indications that Israeli society is “broken” and that Reform Jews will not be quiet about this. Jacobs offers the concept of Tikkun olam or “good works that benefit the wider community” and the “power and wisdom of pluralism” as antidotes that can help “repair” Israel. This is potentially powerful stuff for the situation here in the U.S., if not in Israel itself….

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Filed under Lawrence Davidson, Palestine & Israel, Religions

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