web analytics
July 28, 2015 / 12 Av, 5775
At a Glance
News & Views
Sponsored Post


Atheism vs. Judaism

Atheist Birthright Founder and Rabbi Buchwald to Do Battle

Jewish Outreach founder Rabbi Ephraim Buchwald and Birthright’s co-founder, self-declared atheist Michael Steinhardt have agreed “to wrestle out” their beliefs in a debate.

Rabbi Ephraim Buchwald (L.) and Mr. Michael Steinhardt will wrestle this week.

Rabbi Ephraim Buchwald (L.) and Mr. Michael Steinhardt will wrestle this week.
Photo Credit: Yori Yanover

The “Mother of All Debates” will take place next Tuesday at the National Jewish Outreach Program’s  (NJOP) 25th anniversary dinner next Tuesday at New York’s St. Regis Hotel.

The debate, which features the question of the future of Jewish continuity, will be moderated by renowned lecturer, author and thinker Rabbi Joseph Telushkin.

“We have agreed to disagree on stage, in public… which may be explosive!” said Rabbi Ephraim Buchwald.

“We do not see eye to eye on many issues, but we both have a deep, unshakable belief in and commitment to the future of Jewish continuity. It will be equal parts honor and thrill to share the spotlight with Mr. (Michael) Steinhardt,” he said.

The debaters will address issues ranging from the efficacy of modern-day programs intended to engage Jews, such as Steinhardt’s Birthright and Rabbi Buchwald’s Shabbat Across America, to how the American Jewish community will look 50 years from now.

The audience is restricted to “invitation only” and will include both supporters of Steinhardt and Jewish Outreach and local Jewish community leaders.

“It was with great urgency that we founded NJOP 25 years ago,” Buchwald stated. “The entire unaffiliated American Jewish community was at risk of vanishing. Thank God, we have reached many of them, but the challenges we still face are daunting.“

He established NJOP in 1987 in response to the spiraling losses of Jews from Jewish life due to assimilation and lack of Jewish knowledge.

NJOP sponsors Shabbat Across America/Canada and the Read Hebrew America/Canada campaigns, establishes “Beginners Services” and offers the Turn Friday Night Into Shabbat, Passover Across America and Sukkot Across America programs, Holiday Workshops, as well as free “Crash Courses” in Hebrew Reading, Basic Judaism and Jewish History.

Rabbi Buchwald was a student of Rabbi Dr. JosephB. Soloveitchik at Yeshiva University, where he was ordained, and he served from 1973 for 15 years as the Director of Education at Lincoln Square Synagogue in New York.

Newsweek has listed him as on of America’s “top 50 rabbis” the last three years.

Steinhardt made a fortune as a hedge fund manager, financier, investor and newspaper publisher, and he is a philanthropist to Jewish causes.

He has been critical of non-Orthodox Jewish life and has charged that the Reform Judaism and Conservative movements have done “a poor job under-educating our next generations” by failing to distinguish Jewish values from Christian values.

Steinhardt also has asserted that that educators spend too much energy and time on the Holocaust to raise the flag of anti-Semitism in the United States, where he thinks is much less than believed.

The emphasis on the Holocaust and anti-Semitism detracts “from our ability to think about the Jewish future – because it’s hard to be focused intensively on the Holocaust and, at the same time, to think about what we want to accomplish and what we want to be in the 21st Century,” he said in an interview with Shalom TV three years ago.

Steinhardt has defined himself as an atheist but supports Jewish cultural identity.

The Diaspora “is a moribund Jewish world, continuously losing its young people, whose tzedakah has dramatically changed where only a small fraction of total philanthropy is going to Jewish causes; interest in Israel is declining; the number of American Jews going to Israel is not growing; where the culmination of Jewish life seems to be (for the young person) the bar mitzvah – and from there it is all downhill,” he added in the interview.

He founded the Birthright program, which sends young people to Israel for their first visit. Steinhardt has called Israel a “substitute for religion” but mourns the atmosphere in Israel, claiming it often is “easier to be a Zionist in Manhattan that in Tel Aviv.

However, he added, “I could forgive almost anything vis-à-vis Israel. Israel was and still is my Jewish miracle!”

His autobiography, “No Bull: My Life in and out of Markets,” notes his father, Sol Frank Steinhardt, who also was known as “Red McGee.”

“Red” Steinhardt was convicted in 1958 on two counts of buying and selling stolen jewelry, and was sentenced to serve two 5-to-10 year terms.

About the Author: Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu is a graduate in journalism and economics from The George Washington University. He has worked as a cub reporter in rural Virginia and as senior copy editor for major Canadian metropolitan dailies. Tzvi wrote for Arutz Sheva for several years before joining the Jewish Press.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

2 Responses to “Atheist Birthright Founder and Rabbi Buchwald to Do Battle”

  1. Josh Karpf says:

    Steinhardt's promotion of religiosity — including bribing, with free trips to zionist Israel, young people to practice Judaism — is anything but skeptical or secular. How is he more good for atheists than Clarence Thomas is for people of color?

  2. Dan Silagi says:

    Both Birthright and Shabbat Across America have the same ultimate goal, whether or not explicitly stated: To eliminate intermarriage. On the other hand, the best argument in favor of intermarriage is a former co-worker of Josh Karpf's employer; in fact, he co-founded the company. The products of his marrying out are legendary; one especially.

Comments are closed.

Current Top Story
Beit El. early Tuesday morning,
Hundreds of Police Force Protesters out of Beit El Buildings [video]
Latest News Stories
The Church of the Multiplication of the Loaves and Fishes

The remand of three other suspects has been extended and the Attorney General’s office announced that it would file an indictment against two of them.

Mousa Mohammed Abu Marzook

Both civilian and military assistance is being delayed, and Hamas is having a tough time dealing with it.

Rumsfeld tweeted on Monday: “Releasing spy Jonathan Pollard doesn’t make the #IranDeal any less of a disaster for Israel & the free world.”

High Court ordered the “illegal” building to be torn down. Bayit Yehudi MK threatens to tear down coalition government.

Aliyah is up 11% compared to 2014; More than 20,000 French Jews have arrived in Israel over the past five years.

The Russians and the Syrians also discussed cooperation with Chinese companies to increase oil and gas digging in Syrian fields which are safe from rebel attacks.

The purpose of the expedition is to bring Jewish traditions to Jews who are far from the culture.

A Magen David Adom ambulance was attacked Monday night as it traveled in the Hebron Hills.

French far-right politician Jean-Marie Le Pen has been indicted over his remarks about gas chambers.

US Pres. Obama exults, “I am the first Kenyan-American to become president of the US.”

This appears to be a strategic switch away from Mylan, which was fighting the Teva takeover.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ordered the Mossad to expand the investigation of the fate of the missing Iranian Jews.

Huckabee said, “It is so naive that he would trust the Iranians. By doing so, he will take the Israelis and march them to the door of the oven.”

The laser beams apparently originated from an Arab village in the Shomron.

Family and friends say good-bye as the young recruits show up for enlistment day at Tel Hashomer.

More Articles from Tzvi Ben-Gedalyahu
Beit El. early Tuesday morning,

High Court ordered the “illegal” building to be torn down. Bayit Yehudi MK threatens to tear down coalition government.

Offices of Teva and Allergan.

Israel’s giant generic firm will withdraw its troublesome bid for Mylan.

Acting Health Minister Yaakov Litzman says it will be supervised like any other drug that is considered a narcotic.

Jackie Mason now is at least the second Jew backing Trump, but in 2011 he called him a “professional liar” and a “sick man.”

A new Arab claim on Susiya is based on an alleged 1881 document and claiming “we were here first.”

President Obama has not responded to the tweets.

” I’m sorry to say this, but I think you’ve been fleeced.”

Michael Cohen, one of Donald Trump’s closest aides, says the candidate really has a great relationship with Latinos.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/atheist-birthright-founder-and-rabbi-buchwald-to-do-battle/2013/01/30/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: