Friday, June 8, 2012

Reform rabbis and circus clowns

"Krusty the Clown" - another  beneficiary of Israel's Ministry for Culture and Sport?

There has been a lot of publicity in the Israel and Jewish media about the 'recognition' of reform clergypeople by the Israeli government insofar as a handful of them will now qualify for a government salary. It is obviously a move by the Israeli government to basically "shut up" the Reform movements stirrers in the US, some of who have far too much influence on ministers and Israeli internal affairs.

It is telling that the single 'redeeming feature' (if that's what it can be called) of this news was that the salary to be paid will not be forthcoming from the Ministry of Religion budget but rather from the Sports and Culture Ministry. AJNWatch presumes that this is the government department that allocates funds to theatres and actors, circuses and clowns. In a way this seems quite apt when considering the acting out and farce of Judaism that those clergy-performers do within and without their religion's temples.

 AJNWatch has yet to notice any Reform commentator mentioning this underhanded insult to their leaders.

* * *
Meanwhile our local rabbinate responds with the (more or less) as expected feeble statement to this outrageous stab in the heart of traditional Torah Judaism.  (See here.)

What is it with our respected rabbis? Is there really nothing that is holy and dear to them to be worthy enough to issue a firm and unyielding condemnation upon this shameful travesty? Had this happened a decade or two ago there would've been loud protests and no shortage of condemnations. But these days the only time we hear strong statements from rabbis are when it comes to Rabbi Meir Rabi and his Kashrut supervision organisation. Everything else is hushed up and swept under the rabbinical carpets.  

The explanation usually whispered is that they fear upsetting some congregants should they be seen as criticising anything done by the Israeli government. Of course that is total nonsense as rabbis are expected to fight for and defend our religion. And doing so, their members will respect them for being open, honest and fearless.
Have they forgotten the Torah's command לא תגורו בפני איש?
And in the case of Rabbi Moshe Gutnick, who to the best of our knowledge no longer occupies a pulpit - and isn't known to be a shrinking violet, what's his excuse? He certainly has no membership to fear. Why couldn't he say something more substantial then what we read in the article?  His wise and eloquent father, the late Rabbi Chaim always showed the way on how to put forward the Torah viewpoint loudly and fearlessly - even if unpopular with certain segments of the community. It's a shame, really.
Looks like it'll again be up to the conscience of rabbinical Australia, Rabbi Chaim Ingram to again go into battle in defence of the Torah.

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Meanwhile a reader who states that he is a Chabad Chassid is most upset about the way the Australian rabbinate - the majority of whom are Chabad - have forgotten the unyielding campaigns led by the late Rebbe against the Reform movement.

He sent us a link to a website from where we bring the following words of the Rebbe: (There is much more there for those interested.)


  1. It really troubles me as an orthodox Jew to see in both the secular and Jewish media in Australia lately the vocal reform, progressive and reconstructionist rabbis claiming they represent the Jews and Jewish law. I am encountering them at public ceremonies and making government submissions. You only have to step foot into any "temple" recently renamed as a synagogue (I am sure you won't of course) to know the services are not traditional Jewish practice and resemble many church services. Lately I've seen them advocating gay marriage, making public statements on orthodox halacha and trying to tell the government that they represent Judaism. Their kashrut is either none or an absolutely minimal version and yet they wanted to interfere with that too. Progressive funerals are becoming rare as their congregants are cremated. Some don't need to be cremated as they have donated their entire bodies! No second day of Festivals - they are out working while we are in shul. No Shabbat observance as Jews know it. Parts of the Torah reading are left out entirely. What of substance is left? Their beliefs are now closer to those of the churches.. and the sad thing is they don't know it.
    It is creating further problems with public interfaith work as what they are telling the public is misleading. This is deceiving those who don't know what Judaism is and those Jews who don't know any well as the Government, both State and Federal. It is destroying Judaism as a faith in Australia.
    Rabbis who tackle this problem need to know they have our support.

  2. AJNWatch - your approach to countering Reform is way off the mark. Yidden aren't attracted by fire-and-brimstone preaching rabbis - it has certainly caused the masses of chilonim to be turned off authentic Judaism here in EY. It is the authentic quality of Torah-true Yiddishkeit that is the key to kiruv rechoikim - darcheha darchei noam....

    Jumping up and down and creating a stink every time the Reform movement tramples on our tradition is simply not always the most effective approach to negate their efforts, nor will it necessarily bring Jews back to Torah Judaism.

  3. Meir Joseph KarshevskyMonday, June 11, 2012 12:49:00 AM

    if the oprthodox rabbis don't protest then to quote gemara
    מדשתקי רבנן שמא מינה דניחא להו

    They have to get up and attack reform at every single opportunity. They are not doing so and are losing hundreds of 'mainstream orthodox' (irreligious Jews but with some tradition) to the reform.

    They'l marry out knowing that the new gentile spouse with be warmly welcomed by the rabbi or rabbi-ess (who in some cases can also be a gentile!)

    Harry, doing nothingis against the Torah and against common sense

  4. Meir Joseph Karshevsky - let me ask you: When was the last time that a rav attacking Reform brought Yidden back to the Torah? Such attacks simply paint the rabbonim as extremists and orthodoxy as a whole as intolerant in the minds of secular Jews.

    However, no Rabbonim that I know simply "do nothing". Rather, they work behind the scenes and showcase the positive side of frumkeit, such as inviting the unaffiliated to a Shabbos meal and welcoming them to shul, etc. This is the far more effective way of achieving kiruv rechokim.

  5. Harry - your comment is very interesting.

    You describe attacking reform as creating an impression that orthodoxy is intolerant.

    Just to understand you clearly - are you saying that orthodoxy IS tolerant, and that to create such an impression would be a shame because it's misleading? Or are you saying orthodoxy is NOT tolerant but attacking reform brings that to a broader publics attention?

    (By the way - reform are not secular. Both reform Jews and secular Jews could be offended by that statement!)

  6. To Harry and WW, The Torah is intolerant!
    Shabbos desecrators - Mechaleleho mos yumos.
    etc etc

    Sorry about that.

  7. Watcher's watcher - Judaism demands thaqt its adherents adhere to its dictates. If that makes it "intolerant" in the modern usage of the term, then so be it.

    However, Reform/secular Jews should be made to understand the inner beauty of traditional Judaism. Showing them what they might term "intolerant" of their practices is not a viable way of bringing them closer to authentic observance,

  8. So Harry, here is an example. See this internet article about the Chair of their Moetzah (the Rabbinical Council of Progressive Rabbis) in a daily paper
    Inviting her to a Shabbos meal, or any effect at kiruv and "inner beauty" stuff, would be a waste of time!!
    If she's telling the government her/their views represent Judaism somehow (and this is not Judaism) do we laugh or cry?


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