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November 27, 2014 / 5 Kislev, 5775
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‘They’re Reform, Nebech’

As an individual, I would never dream of expressing this kind of judgment about the religious choices of a fellow human being, much less a Jewish person.

From "When Jewish David Met Irish Eileen," by Eli Valley.

From "When Jewish David Met Irish Eileen," by Eli Valley.

Our reader Miriam Fishman from Los Angeles is very upset with me over an article I wrote Wednesday, about the Obama Administration’s wizkid, OMB Director Jeffrey Zients, who’s been called to unblunder the Obamacare website (Obama Asking Jewish Guy to Fix Troubled Obamacare Website).

Ms. Fishman writes:

First time I’m ever writing to you, and w/ a sharp criticism:

A quote from your article about the “Jewish guy” who is fixing Obama’s computers (yeah, that’s good):

[Debbie Zients, his mom, was interviewed by USA Today while having a corned beef sandwich at Eli’s kosher deli in Washington, D.C. Jeffrey Zients, a native of Kensington, Maryland, his wife Mary and their four children Sasha, Matt, Josh and Jonny, daven at the Washington Hebrew Congregation. They’re Reform, nebech. But Jeffrey can fix the shameful Obamacare interface, which is all that counts right now.]

Bad enough to point out that they are “Reform,” but to add “nebech,” – we pity them – after, that is HORRIBLE AWFUL. We shouldn’t even SPEAK, let alone publish online, such thing about other Jews. (And anyway, you know there’s no such thing as a “Reform” Jew – a Jew is a Jew is a Jew, period. Of course, it’s too bad that this is how they think we “pray,” etc — they are simply (very, very) misguided.

Miriam Fishman Los Angeles

 

Dear Ms. Fishman,

As an individual, I would never dream of expressing this kind of judgment about the religious choices of a fellow human being, much less a Jewish person.

But writing for a distinctly Observant Jewish publication, I am obligated to make it very clear, as often as possible without boring or otherwise nauseating my readers (yes, I know, I just delivered a fantastic straight line, pounce on it at will): Reform Jews are on a fast path away from the Jewish faith, their gathering places are off limits to observant Jews, they endanger the very foundation of the Jewish nation and, in general, by now they have much more in common with Episcopalians and Baptists than they do with faithful Jews.

One immediate political downside to that alienation from the Jewish nation is their almost instinctive alliance with the enemies of Jewish life in Judea and Samaria, the very birthplace of our nation. They already feel very little affinity with the land, they therefore think nothing of uprooting Jewish life there.

The most crucial reason for this critical and, I believe, terminal alienation is the fact that they are operating in an extra-halachic void, while calling themselves Jewish. If religious movements could be sued for false representation, I could get a major class action suit going in half an hour.

Mind you, this is why I have radically softer views on Conservative Judaism, because that movement adheres to the notion of Rabbinic halacha. They opt to pursue extremely innovative directions that are dangerously skirting either side of an already strenuously pushed envelope, but at least they are yet to discard their connection, spiritual and otherwise, to the Rabbinic legal tradition.

The Reform, nebech, are either scoundrel clergy who pretend to be inside a classically Jewish milieu when, in fact, they promote non-Jewish values; or know-nothing congregants (many with huge degrees and a lot of money, which makes me grateful for not being a Calvinist) who come for the feelgood spiel and stay for the Greek-Roman show.

Calling the Reform spade a spade is only one of our missions here, at The Jewish Press online.

We also call the Diaspora a dark scourge that can be easily healed with a one-way airline ticket.

We also deplore the role of the nanny state, in America and Israel, in taking away our individual freedoms.

Of course, we push positive values, too, and on Fridays we have a parsha cartoon.

This is why I’ve resolved to amend all my future references to the Reform movement—if I don’t forget—to “Reform nebech.” It’s pronounced Neh-Bekh, and it’s kind of like “oy vey,” but less dramatic.

Best,

Yori Yanover Celebrating the Joy of Jewish Journalism

on
The new and improved
www.jewishpress.com

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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8 Responses to “‘They’re Reform, Nebech’”

  1. Benny Gamal says:

    Really, Yori, this is too much … v'ahavta lireyacha kamocha

  2. Benny Gamal says:

    please don't include me,
    Benny Gamal, Kohein HaShamein ("The Fat Kohein"), a shomer Shabbat Jew,
    in your insular, and restrictive definition of "your modern orthodox" readership

  3. Dan Silagi says:

    I don't live in the Diaspora. I live in the United States of America, the greatest country on the face of this earth. If I wanted to move to a theocracy where most of my fellow Jews don't have the freedom to worship Judaism (or not worship) as they wish, I'd buy my one-way plane ticket to the Holy Land. But unlike you, I'm not an auslander in my own home.

  4. Cody Flecker says:

    At the Berlin (Germany( Jewish Museum there is an ongoing exhibit called "The Jews in Germany" A story told about Jewish history in Germany. One part of the exhibit deals with Moses Mendelssohn and his rather large family. Moses Mendelssohn was the foremost Rabbi in Europe, yet out of his 14 children all but two converted to Christianity in an attempt to better themselves economically, and politically within German society. Felix Mendelssohn's father had young Felix baptized at the age of 8 to simplify this process of being a true German. The same thing is happening to the Reform Movement in the USA today, especially within intermarried couples. In one generation, thousands of years of Judaism and Jewish education along with love for Torah and the State of Israel will be lost forever.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Your attitude toward other Jews is shameful. If you represent Orthodox Jewry, I am glad to be dissociated from it.

  6. Carolin Knox says:

    Just like the Jews of Germany, Spain, all the way back to Egypt that thought they were "not living in Diaspora" couldn't believe the murderous anti-Semites were referring to them….good, assimilated citizens of country x,y or z. For us, history repeats itself. Except now we have Israel.

  7. We are in the thwenty first century, if we should survive the only way is to reform, men women they have to be together with their family in the synagoge, the synagoge is not only for men is for both, read both the torah, this are the first reform to make and forget the "machismo" in the jewish religious tradition.

  8. I am saddened by this response to a valid point brought to light by a reader. Although I may agree with the things that Yori explains about the Reform movement – it still does not make sense to say "Reform, Nebach." If a journalist feels they represent a certain format in their media outlet, they should write in a way that readers will be enlightened to that point of view – and by writing "Reform, Nebach" – the opposite happens. Readers are alienated. A little sophistication in presentation is called for. Or maybe the Jewish Press is for unsophisticated readers, Nebach.

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