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September 25, 2016 / 22 Elul, 5776
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BJ Rabbis Halfheartedly Walk Back Pro-Palestine Email

They're not sorry about the email, only about sending it.
Rabbis J. Rolando Matalon (L), Felicia L. Sol, and Marcelo R. Bronstein.

Rabbis J. Rolando Matalon (L), Felicia L. Sol, and Marcelo R. Bronstein.

Do you still care about the three BJ rabbis who started WW3? Well, it turns out they did mean to write that email, but they didn’t mean to send that particular email out, it was only a draft, and they didn’t mean to co-sign the entire lineup of BJ leadership without their knowledge, that too was because of the draft.

Can somebody close the window over there?

The bottom line is: they’re not sorry they were happy about the PLO being recognized as a UN state – they’re still besides themselves with joy on that account…

“So the rabbis of B’nai Jeshurun are now expressing some ‘regret’ over their email endorsing the UN’s Palestine statehood vote, writes” JTA’s Daniel Treiman.

The straight forward JTA coverage lays out the facts:

Rabbis at B’nai Jeshurun are expressing “regret” over an email sent out by the prominent New York synagogue praising the United Nations vote to elevate Palestinians to non-member state status.

The rabbis of the Manhattan synagogue sent a note Thursday to congregants saying that their email last week endorsing the UN action had been sent prematurely and mistakenly listed several other synagogue officials as signatories.

“While we affirm the essence of our message, we feel that it is important to share with you that through a series of unfortunate internal errors, an incomplete and unedited draft of the letter was sent out which resulted in a tone which did not reflect the complexities and uncertainties of this moment,” the rabbis, Rolando Matalon, Marcelo Bronstein and Felicia Sol, wrote in their follow-up email.

The rabbis also wrote that they “regret the feelings of alienation that resulted from our letter.”

The latest email was first reported by The New York Jewish Week.

The original email, sent last Friday, drew both praise and outrage from members of the nondenominational Upper West Side synagogue, which is known for its liberal politics and lively services. The email and ensuing controversy drew significant media attention, including a front-page story in The New York Times on Wednesday.

“The vote at the UN yesterday is a great moment for us as citizens of the world,” the original email stated. “This is an opportunity to celebrate the process that allows a nation to come forward and ask for recognition. Having gained independence ourselves in this way, we are especially conscious of this.”

In their follow-up, the three rabbis wrote that they are “passionate lovers of Israel” and are “unequivocally committed to Israel’s security, democracy and peace.”

They also wrote that the original email was a letter from them and that the synagogue’s cantor, board president, executive director and director of Israel engagement were listed mistakenly as signatories.

Treiman comments:

“The timing of the correction is curious. After all the original email was sent out six days ago, on Friday. (One might have thought that the shul would have moved more quickly to correct the inadvertent inclusion of four synagogue officials on an email about such a hot-button issue.)

“But the follow-up email only came after a backlash among some angry congregants (including sometime-attendee Alan Dershowitz, who challenged the shul’s rabbis to a debate) and a front-page(!) story in The New York Times (a paper that is often accused of giving short shrift to local news but apparently puts a premium on such news when it overlaps with Israel issues and Upper West Side Jewish liberalism).

“Incidentally, B’nai Jeshurun’s home page at one point on Thursday morning featured the following quote attributed to the three rabbis: “As rabbis, our job is… to court controversy and to raise disturbing questions many would be more content to leave in the background – and certainly outside the synagogue.”

I suppose to be “passionate lovers of Israel” means you never have to say you’re sorry…

 

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Yori Yanover

About the Author: Yori Yanover has been a working journalist since age 17, before he enlisted and worked for Ba'Machane Nachal. Since then he has worked for Israel Shelanu, the US supplement of Yedioth, JCN18.com, USAJewish.com, Lubavitch News Service, Arutz 7 (as DJ on the high seas), and the Grand Street News. He has published Dancing and Crying, a colorful and intimate portrait of the last two years in the life of the late Lubavitch Rebbe, (in Hebrew), and two fun books in English: The Cabalist's Daughter: A Novel of Practical Messianic Redemption, and How Would God REALLY Vote.


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