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April 21, 2014 / 21 Nisan, 5774
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘National Council of Jewish Women’

An Attack On Torah And Tradition

Thursday, April 10th, 2014

In a distressing development, representatives of the North American Jewish Federation system, the American Jewish Committee, and some Israel-based anti-Torah entities are collaborating in an effort to “dethrone” the longstanding and important institution of Israel’s Chief Rabbinate.

The idea is misguided and dangerous, and if its supporters are successful they will have created an irreparable divide within the heart of world Jewry, negatively impacting both Israel and the Jewish diaspora.

The effort is being spearheaded by the American Jewish Committee’s Department of Contemporary Jewish Life, which convened a meeting in January to discuss “working in partnership toward the ending of rabbinic monopoly,” according to the AJC’s Steve Bayme.

Joining with the AJC in the effort to undermine the Chief Rabbinate are institutions and organizations such as the Reform Hebrew Union College, the Conservative Rabbinical Assembly, the National Council of Jewish Women and the self-described open-Orthodox Yeshivat Chovevei Torah.

A leading player in opposing the Chief Rabbinate is the UJA Federation of New York, which apparently has little or no regard for the hundreds of thousands of observant Jews in the metropolitan New York area whom it purports to serve and represent.

In Israel, heading the opposition to the Chief Rabbinate is the pluralism advocacy group Hiddush. Financial support for Hiddush comes from the New Israel Fund, known for its support of left-wing causes and groups.

Jerry Silverman, CEO of the Jewish Federations of North America, told the Israeli daily Haaretz last month that the critical question is, “Is Israel the Jewish state for all the Jewish people?”

In the same Haaretz article, Susie Gellman, a former president of the Jewish Federation of Greater Washington, said that weakening the hold of the Chief Rabbinate on Israeli life is not an internal issue for Israel alone. Her husband, Michael Gelman, co-chair of the 2013 JFNA General Assembly elaborated: “Israel is the nation state for all Jews wherever they are found.”

“Israelis won’t be under the tyranny of the [Chief] Rabbinate,” he added.

The individuals who attended the aforementioned January meeting “all agreed that the goal was to dethrone the Chief Rabbinate, but the question was how to get there,” according to minutes of the meeting obtained by Haaretz.

Those leading the attack on the Chief Rabbinate are counting on the Torah community and its leadership to be too involved in partisan differences to respond with a strong and united voice to safeguard and protect the unity of the Jewish people.

If we remain silent in the face of this brazen attempt to undermine the Chief Rabbinate of Israel, any and all recognized standards with regard to personal status and religious identity will be hopelessly diluted, resulting in an unprecedented fracturing of Jewish unity.

We of the Rabbinical Alliance of America applaud Rabbi Mark Dratch, executive vice president of the Rabbinical Council of America, who when questioned about the AJC initiative stated unequivocally that “The RCA is very happy to be excluded from the initiative because we don’t agree with it. Jewish law has certain minimal standards in order to be married and somebody has to oversee that. An institution like the Chief Rabbinate’s office is probably good to do that.”

Rabbi Dratch also noted that “Many improvements can be made to the Chief Rabbinate to be more user-friendly in order to increase respect for religious practice. Our feeling is that it requires improvement of the Chief Rabbinate, but not an overhaul.”

We call upon the leaders of the Jewish Federation of North America and the American Jewish Committee, and all of Jewish leadership, to refocus their efforts and resources on Jewish education, observance of the Torah’s commandments, and solidifying the ties of the Jewish people with Israel by supporting the sacred foundations of our people based on Torah and tradition that are at the very core of our identity and peoplehood as Jews.

US Jewish Groups Work to Sign People Up for Health Care

Wednesday, February 19th, 2014

American Jewish organizations are going to bat for ObamaCare and are using social media to reach as many people as possible in an effort to convince them to sign up for health care under the Affordable Care Act.

During Tuesday’s Jewish Community Day led by the left-leaning National Council of Jewish Women, or NCJW, Jewish activists reached out to as many people as possible to educate them about the health insurance marketplace.

“Access to affordable and comprehensive healthcare is fundamental for living a long and healthy life, which is why NCJW worked for the passage of the Affordable Care Act and has been focused on its full implementation ever since,” said Nancy Kaufman, CEO of the National Council of Jewish Women

“Our goal for community education is non-partisan and apolitical. Our aim is to make sure that as many people as possible have the opportunity to enroll in affordable healthcare that best suits their individual needs and budget ahead of March 31,” said Kaufman. “I am encouraged by the array of participants in this Day of Action, spanning local and national groups across the country.”

Those participating in the action day were encouraged to host a special Shabbat centered on health care, hold a text study, write about the issue in their newsletters and speak to individuals in an effort to encourage more people to enroll.

Other participating groups included the Religion Action Center for Reform Judaism, the Jewish Council for Public Affairs, the Rabbinical Assembly, Keshet, the Jewish Labor Committee and Uri L’Tzedek.

Liberal Jews Praise Gay Protection Law, Orthodox

Sunday, November 10th, 2013

An array of liberal Jewish groups lauded the U.S. Senate for passing a bill that would extend federal anti-discrimination protections to gays.

“Today’s bipartisan Senate passage of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act is an overdue and historic accomplishment in our nation’s effort to end workplace discrimination for the LGBT community,” Reform clergyman David Saperstein, the director of the Reform movement’s Religious Action Center, said Thursday.

“ENDA will extend federal workplace protections to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals, who deserve to be judged on the merits of their work, not on whom they love,” said Saperstein, who has for years been among those leading advocacy for such a bill.

The bill was passed 64-32, with the support of all 55 senators in the Democratic caucus and nine Republicans.

Also praising its passage were the National Council of Jewish Women, the Anti-Defamation League, B’nai B’rith International, the Jewish Council for Public Affairs and the American Jewish Committee.

Expressing concern about the passage was Agudath Israel of America, saying its final version “fails to adequately take into account the rights of religious entities.”

Agudath Israel noted that the bill has a religious exemption, but said “it is not clear which religious entities or activities come within its parameters.”

Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.), who voted in favor of the final version, had offered an amendment that would have extended protections to religiously affiliated private businesses, but proponents of the bill kept it from being included, saying the loophole could ultimately exempt virtually any business.

The Orthodox Union, another Orthodox group, did not release a statement. But when asked, its Washington director, Nathan Diament, singled out for praise Sens. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) and Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.) for inserting into the bill bans on government retaliation against organizations that seek religious exemptions.

The bill now goes to the Republican-led U.S. House of Representatives. Leaders there have suggested they will not bring it to a vote.

Kerry Briefs Jewish ‘Leaders’ (Cheerleaders?) on MidEast Talks

Friday, August 9th, 2013

Secretary of State John Kerry met with what the Jewish Telegraph Agency described as “Jewish leaders” to “brief” them on the resumption of Israeli-Arab Palestinian talks on Thursday evening, August 8.

Although the briefing was off the record, the JTA quoted unnamed attendants who said several things.

First, that the meeting was dominated by Kerry’s “enthusiam for the resumed talks, and the serious commitment he said [sic] saw from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.”

And second, that Kerry “repeated his appeal to American Jews to endorse and support the peace process, first made in early June”.

Invited participants at the briefing were: leaders from the Conservative movement, the American Israeli Public Affairs Committee, the Anti-Defamation League, the American Jewish Committee, the Conservative movement, the Orthodox Union, American Friends of Lubavitch, B’nai B’rith International, the Jewish Council for Public Affairs, the Jewish Federations of North America, Hadassah, the National Jewish Democratic Council, the National Council of Jewish Women and the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations.

Clearly, for this State Department, as well as the JTA, Jewish “leaders” is synonymous with the entire spectrum from center to center left.  Where was the Zionist Organization of America? Where was the Republican Jewish Coalition? Where was Aish HaTorah? Where were any Jewish organizations that might point out the folly of the current talks, or the demand for horrifyingly painful concessions from one side just to start the talks at all, and none from the other side?

Oh, right, those present were the American Jewish CheerLeaders for this Administration and its Middle East efforts all of whom prove an airtight theory usually wrongly attributed to Albert Einstein: the definition of insanity is to keep doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

In fact, almost exactly four years ago, during Obama’s first term he had his first major sitdown with roughly the same set of Jewish “leaders.” The meeting was called at a time when American Jews who very uneasy about Obama’s interest in being supportive of Israel. At that meeting, one man actually did square his shoulders and dared to make a sideways suggestion to the president.

According to an account in the Washington Post, the executive vice president of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, Malcolm Hoenlein said to the president, “If you want Israel to take risks, then its leaders must know that the United States is right next to them.”

The president’s response did not give Jews or Israelis the assurance they had been seeking.  Obama said to Hoenlein, ““Look at the past eight years,” he said, referring to the George W. Bush administration’s relationship with Israel. “During those eight years, there was no space between us and Israel, and what did we get from that? When there is no daylight, Israel just sits on the sidelines, and that erodes our credibility with the Arab states.”

In other words – being such good friends with Israel did nothing for President Bush’s ability to make progress on the peace process.  It looks like Obama’s Middle East team holds the same view the president expressed right to the faces of the American “Jewish leaders” back in 2009.   And now no one in that group is going to challenge him or his surrogates.

Why Do We Let Abortions Become a ‘Leftist’ Issue?

Friday, June 21st, 2013

JTA’s Ron Kampeas reported Thursday, under the headline “Liberal Jewish groups unleash on doomed abortion bill,” that liberal (meaning left-wing) Jewish groups “fired a verbal barrage against a restrictive abortion bill passed by the Republican-dominated U.S. House of Representatives, calling it ‘egregious,’ ‘outrageous,’ ‘an affront,’ and ‘deeply disappointing.’

According to Kampeas, the bill, which passed the House last Tuesday in a 228-196 vote, would ban abortions after 20 weeks, a time when the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Trent Franks (R-Ariz.), says “the fetus feels pain.”

“We know that yesterday’s vote was symbolic, since the Senate will not take up the bill and the president has said he would veto it,” Barbara Weinstein, the director of the Reform movement’s Commission on Social Action, said in a statement. “Yet the symbolism of the bill’s House passage is indeed important, demonstrating the unfortunate reality that women’s reproductive rights remain at risk.”

According to the National Council of Jewish Women, the bill “imposes one particular set of religious beliefs on the entire nation, and denies women the ability to make their own decisions about their health and their future without political interference.”

Why do we, observant Jews, leave the talking on the abortion issue to the Reform? Why do we create the impression—with the absence of prestigious, Orthodox Jewish voices on the halacha regarding abortions—that our tradition is synonymous with the Christian teachings on the same issue?

Jewish law does set a point in the gestation, following which the fetus becomes viable – 40 days. Past that period, as Menachem Elon—who authored the Encyclopedia Judaica article on abortion—put it: “…abortion, although prohibited, does not constitute murder (Tos., Sanh. 59a; Hul. 33a).”

In fact, in considering the rights of the unborn child versus the mother’s, Jewish law sides with the viable life—mother, against the potential life—fetus. Therefore, as Rashi comments, on Sanhedrin 72b: “Regarding a woman having a difficult birth which threatens her life, the midwife may insert her hand and cut up the fetus and extract it in pieces, because as long as it hasn’t come out into the world it is not considered a living being and one may kill it to save its mother.”

Now, obviously, Jewish law does not promote abortion, nor even approve of it tacitly. All it says is that, under no circumstances, is it tantamount to murder, and that when the health of the mother is in conflict with the health of the unborn baby, we save the mother’s life at the expense of the fetus’s, even at the last minute of the third trimester. So long as the fetus has not taken its first breath, it does not have equal rights.

This is the core of our belief in the rabbinical permission to perform abortions. Not because the fetus isn’t a viable person until the 40th day of gestation, but because it is not a complete person until the very end of gestation. When it has taken its first breath it has become equal to its mother, two living human beings each with the right to life. In that state, if the fetus poses a life-danger to the mother, it is ruled a “rodef” or potential killer, and may be removed. Until it has completed its exit from the womb, even if it is stuck halfway, as long as it hasn’t taken a breath it’s still part of its mother, and, sadly, we would terminate its life to save the mother’s.

In other words, not only do the Rabbis permit late-term abortion, they actually base their entire understanding of the legal relationship between mother and fetus on the late-term conflict between those two lives, one which is fully realized and one which is still only potential. And in rabbinical law we always go with the life we have, not the life that might appear in the future.

We desperately need, at a time when the discussion over abortion appears to be between the religious, who are anti-abortion no matter what, and the secularists, who are pro-abortion, any time any place, an authoritative halachic voice that would teach the world our Rabbis’ excellent understanding of this painful issue.

Why do we concede the arena to hysterical voices from both sides?

The Rabbinical Council of America does have a fine, even eloquent position on abortions, dated 1990. I could not find a later statement. This one is unambiguous, for sure, but it doesn’t exactly constitute an attempt to be a guiding light to the unwashed masses:

Jun 1, 1990 – Abortion

The Rabbinical Council of America in Convention assembled Takes note of the different values of the many religious communities in America that are often at variance with one another, in the nature of a politically pluralistic society;

Is aware that the question of abortion is currently in the forefront of moral concerns in American society;

Proclaims that neither the position of “pro-life” nor the position of “pro-choice” is acceptable to Halacha;

Precludes the endorsement of legislative measures which would impede the appropriate application of Halacha;

Calls upon the total Jewish community to acknowledge that abortion is not an option, except in extreme circumstances and in consultation with proper Halachic authority.

I think it’s time for louder voices in support of sanity in the spirit of Jewish tradition on this issue, where the crazies have been running the show for quite some time now.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/why-do-we-let-abortions-become-a-leftist-issue/2013/06/21/

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