Reform Judaism Wants Separation from Bigoted Forms of Ultra-Orthodoxy

All Non Ultra-Orthodox Should Make the Same Declaration

LostMessiah, March 29, 2016

With the previous post in mind, and the utter disgust we feel for the hypocrisy of the ultra-Orthodox community and the conviction many of us have that they are nothing more than a cult, and what might be a radical terrorist cult, at that;  we would like to see all non Ultra-Orthodox Jews separate themselves from ultra-Orthodox Jewry. And we use the term “Jewry” loosely in that context.

Following on an article in HaAretz, which we have reprinted a portion of the article. [Please read the entire  original article for additional information the remainder]:

Reform Judaism Should Declare Itself Separate From the Bigoted Forms of ultra-Orthodoxy

Carlo Strenger Mar 29, 2016 3:13 PM

Why should non-Orthodox Jews care about the pronunciations of leaders of a religion that declares gays to be an inferior species and excludes women from the public sphere?

Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO of the Anti Defamation League, has recently published a call for American Jews to take action against ultra-Orthodox hate speech in Israel. He quotes memorable examples of such utterances: MK Israel Eichler has compared Reform Jews to mentally ill patients; Religious Affairs Minister David Azoulay said Reform Jews just aren’t Jews; and Rabbi David Yosef has called Reform Jews idolaters.

To this Greenblatt could have added other pearls of wisdom from the ultra-Orthodox establishment on other topics: In a lovely interview in 2013, Rabbi Eli Ben-Dahan, then deputy minister of religious services, explained his hierarchy of human beings, in which gays are ranked way lower than heterosexuals, but still have higher souls than gentiles, who belong to an altogether lower grade.

In recent days, after he condoned the preventive killing of Palestinian terrorists, Sephardi Chief Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef has just let us know that gentiles are actually not allowed to live in Israel at all, and that they only do because we (meaning the Orthodox establishment) are not strong enough to enforce this. He also added that the only reason some gentiles should be allowed to live here is to serve Jewish needs.

I can only feel the deepest disdain for such statements, which seem to be taken from the darkest middle ages, and share Jonathan Greenblatt’s outrage about them. But we differ on the tactic that needs to be applied.

Greenblatt’s call will not have any more effect than protestations by Jewish Americans have yielded so far. The Orthodox stranglehold on Israeli religious affairs is not going to be broken in the foreseeable future for the simple reason that on demographic grounds, no stable government without the support of Orthodox and ultra-Orthodox, or Haredi, parties can be formed, which means that even a government more committed to liberal democracy and the separation of state and religion than the present one would not interfere with the Orthodox monopoly.

I therefore suggest a different strategy for non-orthodox Jews in the United States: simply declare the Orthodox establishment as irrelevant for your religion. This is what happened during the Reformation in Europe: After initial struggles with Rome, the pope and the Curia, Protestantism declared itself as completely independent of the Catholic Church. It no longer sought its approval, developed its own institutions and has flourished ever since. The pope’s pronunciations are as irrelevant for Protestant denominations as are those of an imam or an Israeli chief rabbi, for that matter.

Reform Jews should do the same. Why on earth should you care about what rabbis like Azoulay, Yosef or Eichler, or Chief Rabbi Yosef say? Why should you care about the pronunciations of the leaders of a religion that declares gays to be an inferior species and excludes women from the public sphere? After all, you are not personally offended by papal rulings that you disagree with – for example, the previous two popes’ insistence that the use of condoms in AIDS-ridden areas in Africa continue to be forbidden. For good reasons you are likely to think that such rulings are backward, primitive and inhuman, and you may deplore them, but no pope is a religious authority for you.

Non-Orthodox Jews should relate to the more bigoted parts of ultra-Orthodoxy in the same way. They share nothing with your open, humanistic and universalist worldview. You simply should declare that you no longer consider yourself part of the same religion as theirs.

read more:

Additional Reading on the Topic from HaHaretz

I’m Happy the ultra-Orthodox Are Insulting Reform Jews

Trump-like, Haredi rabbis are trying to distract their young people by non-stop attacks on others. That’s a compliment to Reform’s growing influence in Israel –and a sign of the Haredi leadership’s desperation.
read more:

Ultra-Orthodox Up the Ante Against Reform Jews, but Not to Extent of Threatening Coalition

New, non-Orthodox prayer space at Western wall and official meetings for Reform rabbis with Netanyahu and Knesset members have incensed Haredi political leadership.
read more:

Sephardi Chief Rabbi Says non-Jews Forbidden From Living in the Land of Israel

Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef argues that Jewish law prohibits non-Jews from living in Israel unless they have accepted Noachide laws, adding that some non-Jews live in Israel to serve the Jewish population.
read more:



5 thoughts on “Reform Judaism Wants Separation from Bigoted Forms of Ultra-Orthodoxy

  1. I separated long time ago from them. It was a day I heard a rabbi, during a Shabbat sermon mentioning …”yes because when the world was created almost 6 thousand years ago…” I got up, left, and never looked back.

  2. Upon reading this I can’t help but recall the account of a BBC reporter who got stuck in the backstreets of Belfast during the most recent version of the “troubles”.He was waylaid by some very serious Northern Irishmen who asked him “are you a Protestant or a Catholic”? To which he replied “I’m a Jew!”.
    After some quiet discussion among them their leader returned to ask “are you a Protestent Jew or a Catholic Jew”?.
    He lived,so I suppose he gave the right asnswer.

  3. Sarek,

    We think the point is not really the nitty-gritty of denouncing one part of a religion over another. It is more the point of recognizing that to some extent many of the ultra-orthodox have strayed so far from Judaism that they’ve become something else. We all have a measure of hypocrisy that comes out at moments which are unintended; but when that hypocrisy lends itself to creating danger within a religious community that has tentacles to those who want to see all Jews dead, it could be problematic. What we are not sure you realize is that the ultra-Orthodox make up 19% of the population of Israel. Yet, they hold the cards for about 85% of the government, simply by threat of leaving the coalition and toppling the government. That’s a very powerful play of the cards. Were you to make Ailyah, if you have been to Israel, you would find the situation there to be unsettling at best, particularly if you had not been there in 10 or 15 years. So, while we don’t disagree with your comments, necessarily, you may want to consider that the issue has far more relevance when taken beyond face value. – LM

  4. >>simply declare the Orthodox establishment as irrelevant for your religion.

    Why is this night different from all other nights? I’ve never cared what some pompous, bigoted, control-freak putz spews over there, since it has no effect on my daily life. They can make their proclamations, and I will continue to laugh at them.

    Of course, if I have to make aliyah, then the above comment is inoperative.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s