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August 29, 2014 / 3 Elul, 5774
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Letter to a Reform Jew


Rabbi Meir Kahane

Suppose a lecturer in medical school taught that the most effective treatment to cure a disease was to remove the patient’s heart. Obviously, you couldn’t call this person a professor of medicine. Similarly, if a reform “rabbi” teaches that a Jew doesn’t have to follow the commandments of the Torah, obviously he isn’t a real rabbi.

I was going to write about the poisonous decision of the Attorney General of Israel to force the government to pay salaries to imposters who pretend to be rabbis. But why listen to me when you can get the explanation from the world’s first and best blogger of all time – Rabbi Meir Kahane, of blessed memory, may the Almighty avenge his murder.

Of course, his thirty-year column in The Jewish Press wasn’t called a blog back then. Since its establishment, The Jewish Press hasn’t simply reported the news like other newspapers, week after week, The Jewish Press made the news. I wrote about the important role which The Jewish Press played in the initial success of the Volunteers for Israel/Sarel, and in helping free the “Jewish Underground.” With holy boldness, The Jewish Press has led scores of campaigns on behalf of the Jewish People and Israel. But, perhaps more than anything else, The Jewish Press has been a beacon of Torah to millions of Jews, and perhaps the greatest light of all came from the pen of Rabbi Meir Kahane, who spoke the truth and nothing but the truth about Judaism and the Jewish People for 30 years in the pages of the Press.

As Book Week begins, it is only fitting that we dedicate a series of blogs to the incomparable writings and books of Rav Kahane. This essay, “A Letter to a Reform Jew,” which first appeared in The Jewish Press, has been reprinted in an incredible set of seven volumes, Beyond Words, a collection of articles written by one of the greatest Jewish leaders of our time. These books belong in every Jewish library and in every Jewish home. Rabbi Kahane’s insights into Judaism and Jewish life in Israel and the Diaspora are as fresh and true for today as they were when he wrote them. In upcoming blogs, we will speak more about the Rabbi and dig through the archives of The Jewish Press to republish some more of his mindblogging writings. First, in answer to the latest issue of the day, “A Letter to a Reform Jew” …

From Rabbi Meir Kahane

My dear Brother/Sister Jew,

This letter is long overdue and for that I apologize. But its lateness is compensated for, I hope, by my love for you and for all those who describe themselves as “Reform Jews,” a love that motivates the letter and that permeates its every word. In short, it would not have been written did I not care for you as my brother/sister. And, most important, it is written as a cry to you to help prevent the greatest of all tragedies: the permanent division of the Jewish people into two camps, separate and forever apart. And so, I beg you to have the patience and courage to read this letter fully, and think it over carefully.

Let me preface my message by saying that I really do not want to refer to you as “Reform.” I really believe that there is no such thing as a “Reform Jew,” (can you really give me a positive definition of this, that goes beyond the anarchy of “a Jew who decides for himself what Jewish laws, customs or idiosyncrasies he will observe?) No, there are no Reform Jews, there are only Reform rabbis and temples; and that is the crux of my words to you.

It is, one might argue, a personal choice that one makes when he decides to abandon the traditions of Judaism (that which you call “Orthodoxy,” another word I abhor). The personal decision of a Jew to cease observing the Sabbath or eating kosher food or adhering to the rituals of the commandments is a source of great sorrow but it is, hopefully, not a national or, certainly, not a permanent tragedy. For on the one hand, this is a personal decision that in no way directly affects other Jews, and, on the other hand, it is a thing that is reversible, that can be changed through personal decision to return to the ways of Torah. In a word, the desecration of the Sabbath this week, by an individual, can, hopefully, be turned into observance next week and the damage repaired. And so, until a certain point in modern Jewish history, the growth of Reform was sad but not necessarily a national tragedy.

About the Author: Tzvi Fishman was awarded the Israel Ministry of Education Prize for Creativity and Jewish Culture for his novel "Tevye in the Promised Land." For the past several years, he has written a popular and controversial blog at Arutz 7. A wide selection of his books are available at Amazon. The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not represent the views of The Jewish Press


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15 Responses to “Letter to a Reform Jew”

  1. Muriel Coudurier-Curveur says:

    I thinks this letter shows a dangerous hatred of those who differ from you in their understanding of Judaism. While I am not a Reform Jew, I think that it isn't for you, but for Hashem alone to decide who is a Jew among those who claim to be. According to your letter, the Reform Jews are destroying the unity of Israel, and I disagree with you: All Jews, from the most ignorant -or deluded- to the most enlightened in the Torah, are part of Israel. I fear more those who profess their hatred of Israel, like the pro-Palestinian extreme left and the Neturei Karta, than I do those who are loyal to both Israel and the Torah, whether or not they have same conception of Mitzvot I have.

  2. Gideon Jones says:

    Muriel,

    Did you even read the letter? I believe Kahane openly stated at least two-separate times that Reform Jews are as Jewish as Orthodox and vice versa. It is the Reform Movement which perverts and otherwise simply throws out long standing Jewish Law which is the problem. I suggest you re-read the letter.

    But since you are having trouble I'll give you the Cliff's Notes version: Judaism has always said that in order to be considered a Jew you have to have come from a Jewish mother or converted in a very specific way. The leadership of Reform Judaism however has perverted that long standing Jewish Law to serve their own purposes stating (without basis) that neither is necessary. Thus as a result individuals who are not actually Jewish according to Judaism itself (Jewish Law) grown up thinking they are Jewish, and having children who believe the same & so on. The problem is that Judaism isn't some game where the Reform Movement can just change the rules as they please – it is a G-d given religion. So, although generation of people might think they are Jews, they won't actually be counted as such because they do not satisfy the legal requirements.

    Thus, the perversion of Jewish Law by Reform Judaism (not Reform Jews) has created a situation where those following Jewish Law (often called Orthodox) won't be able to marry the actually non-Jewish so-called "Jews". This creates a horrible division between the One Nation of Israel. ("Israel" meaning Am Yisroel (the People), not Medinat Yisroel (The State)).

  3. Muriel Coudurier-Curveur says:

    Thank you for the clarification

  4. what was it like when The Temple stood…Hashem the same yesterday today and forever….who is the closest to this, some are richer in wisdom leaving lies behind , who's evolving into what and joining who.

  5. Interesting opinion. However, I don't think Kahane understands the complex challenges liberal Jews face living in an open free society. Judaism has always adapted to changing times. Yet the fundamental difference lies on the belief that Torah is or is not divine from Sinai.

  6. Max Chaiken says:

    Disgusting and enraging.

  7. what was so disgusting and ENRAGING???

  8. Max Chaiken says:

    Responding in full would take time that I don't have right now. But I will say that this is little more than hatred—שנאת חינם—for any Jew who does not believe exactly as Fishman does. This kind of hatred is not just about patrilineal descent or the fairness of women being allowed to initiate divorce. The State of Israel is unquestionably doing the right thing by recognizing Reform Rabbis, in my opinion, whether or not Fishman and the Orthodox world likes it or agrees with it.

  9. But a JEWISH State recognizing the Reform movement would be like the United States recognizing Communism. They're two complete opposites.

  10. Max Chaiken says:

    I'm sorry to say that to me, at least, your comments are hateful and misguided.

  11. I think you're a bit extremist and narrow minded. I never said anything hateful, racist or negative whatsoever. If you are capable of hearing a different opinion then do so… if not, then you're the hateful one. The "thing" that made Jews what they are… Jews… is the Torah. The Torah says (for example) no pork (EVER). Then a group comes and says NO!. we will eat it because we don't believe the Torah is right on this one. It's basically denying the basis of what made the Jewish Nation. So then it's evidently like two complete opposites.

  12. Doug Molina says:

    Thank you. Never argue with an idiot.

  13. Muriel Coudurier-Curveur says:

    La critique est aisée, mais l'art est difficile. Rather than insulting me, it would have been more constructive to let us know your actual thought on the matter. I may be an idiot, but at least I try to think for myself

  14. Misha Ben-david says:

    How cynical and narrow minded. I am a liberal Jew ( not reform ) and I don't care what the ultra orthodox think about me and my practices. I do care when they seek to make me a second class citizen.

  15. Misha Ben-david says:

    How cynical and narrow minded. I am a liberal Jew ( not reform ) and I don't care what the ultra orthodox think about me and my practices. I do care when they seek to make me a second class citizen.

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Tzvi Fishman, author of the Jewish Press blog Felafel on Rye and author of more than a dozen books.
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