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August 28, 2015 / 13 Elul, 5775
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Reform Jews’

Police Arrest Liberal Jewish ‘Rabbis’ in Garner Protests [video]

Friday, December 5th, 2014

Several prominent and liberal Jewish leaders and the president of a national teachers union were among nearly 100 people arrested Thursday night while protesting police brutality.

Sharon Kleinbaum, Jill Jacobs, and Shai Held, who hold the title “rabbi” that is not recognized by Orthodox Judaism, along with Randi Weingarten, the president of the American Federation of Teachers, were taken into custody for blocking traffic to protest a grand jury’s decision not to indict the New York police officer who choked Staten Island resident Eric Garner to death.

They also recited the “Kaddish” prayer for mourners in memory of Garner,

The protests, held on Manhattan’s Upper West Side, were organized by the organization Jews for Racial and Economic Justice.

Kleinbaum is the longtime spiritual leader at Congregation Beit Simchat Torah, the country’s largest LGBT synagogue, and is also Weingarten’s partner. Directly before the protest, she was honored by JFREF with a Marshall T. Meyer Risk Taker Award at nearby Congregation B’nai Jeshurun.

Attendees at the ceremony read the names of more than 20 black males who had been killed by New York police, followed by the phrase, “I am responsible.” They then marched to the nearby intersection at 96th and Broadway — blocking traffic and holding protest signs.

It brings back memories of the Jews joining Martin Luther King in the 1960s marches for integration.

It brings back memories of Jews marching in the 1970s to protest the war in Vietnam.

It brings back memories of the absence of Jewish leaders, especially from the Reform and homosexual communities, in support of Israel in the war against terror and in the rights for Jews to live in all of Jerusalem and Judea and Samaria.

The American liberal Jew always looks for a cause where it can show Americans how the descendants of slavery in ancient Egypt identify with the suffering of others, so long as they aren’t Jews.

Below is a video of the protest march.

JTA contributed to this report.

Knesset Synagogue Bars Reform and Conservative Jews from ‘Mixed Prayer’

Friday, November 28th, 2014

American rabbinical students from the Conservative movement studying in Israel were prevented from holding afternoon prayers with men and women together in the Knesset synagogue, JTA reported.

Haaretz reported that the decision was handed down by Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein, and the students were offered alternative place to pray. Reform and Reconstructionist students also were in the group at the Knesset, where the synagogue is designated as Orthodox.

“A lot of the students were very upset and shocked,” said Rabbi Joel Levy, director of the Conservative Yeshiva in Jerusalem, who submitted the request on behalf of the students, told Haaretz. “You’d think that the Knesset would be a place of ingathering of the Jewish people, but actually we learned that it has boundaries that don’t include liberal Jews. Paradoxically, this decision served as an appropriate end to our conversation about religion and state in Israel.”

(One wonders if they are equally as upset and shocked that no Jews are allowed to pray on Judaism’s holiest site, the Temple Mount.)

So here we go again. The Knesset implicitly a place that is not for the “ingathering of the Jewish people” because the synagogue is Orthodox.

Not only that, but “liberal Jews” are not allowed.

The minute they throw around the term “egalitarian prayers,” Orthodoxy has three strikes against it.

Once Judaism is defined by secular values, it becomes a monopoly of the liberals, who are tolerant of everyone who accepts them and then close the doors on anyone who challenges their power.

Power is what the argument is all about. It is the same issue that is behind the Women of the Wall movement, which gathered hundreds of thousands of supporters in the United States but which in practice cannot come up with more than a few dozen people –perhaps 100 on a sunny day – to demonstrate,  whoops – pray,  at the Western Wall once a month.

So here comes the Masoriti movement to the Knesset, where it wants their students to have a real spiritual experience and pray – men and women together – in the legislature’s synagogue.

When the Orthodox Jews set the rules, it is called a monopoly.

When the “liberals” set the rules, it is called democracy.

It would be interesting to know if the students at the Knesset have an afternoon prayer service every day, or is it only when they visit the Knesset?

And if they do, why cannot they respect the sanctity of the lace where there is a minyan of Jews every day, three times a day, instead of grabbing headlines for their “egalitarian” agenda that they think is “modern” and superior?

Okay. We gave them their headlines, just like we did with the Women of the Wall.

I wish the students an enjoyable visit in Israel but ask, “Why is it that Orthodox Jews make up such large numbers of those who move to Israel?”

Do the Reform and Conservative Jews visit Israel and go “home” because there is no mixed seating in the Knesset synagogue?

Haredim Dominate US Jewish Day School Enrollment

Sunday, November 2nd, 2014

Jewish day school enrollment in the United States is up 12 percent from five years ago, primarily due to growth in Haredi schools.

Then numbers present a scary picture of the future of non-Orthodox and non-Haredi-Hasidic American Jewry, who seem to be the only ones who seem to be able to attract parents to keep their children in a Jewish educational surrounding.

Nearly 255,000 students are enrolled in 861 Jewish day schools from the pre-K level through 12th grade, according to a new census of the schools conducted by the Avi Chai Foundation.

The day school survey, which has been conducted every five years since 1998-’99, found 59 more schools and 26,437 more students since the last study, in 2008-’09. Previous surveys found enrollment growth rates of about 11 percent in each five-year period.

The primary drivers of growth have been Hasidic students, whose enrollment has increased by 110 percent since the first census 15 years ago, and Haredi non-Hasidic yeshiva schools, which have grown by 60 percent since the 1998-’99 survey.

The challenge is “whether there will be sufficient resources to provide adequately for the growth in these two sectors,” said Marvin Schick, who conducted the survey for Avi Chai.

The Avi Chai survey counted the following approximately numbers:

—  82,000 students in 137 Hasidic schools;

— 76,000 students in 282 yeshivas;

—  46,000 students in 160 centrist or modern Orthodox day schools;

—  20,500 students in 97 community day schools;

—  12,600 students in 80 Chabad schools,

— 9,700 students in 39 Solomon Schechters;

—  3,700 students 13 Reform schools;

—  2,400 students in 19 immigrant/outreach schools;

—  and about 2,100 students in 34 special education schools. A few of the schools counted in the survey include non-Jewish students.

Overall, 60 percent of all Jewish day school students in America are Haredi.

By contrast, enrollment in non-Orthodox schools is declining.

Reform day school enrollment is down 19 percent from five years ago, to 3,704 students nationwide; enrollment in the Conservative movement’s Solomon Schechter schools is down 27 percent from five years ago, to 9,718 students; and non-denominational community day school enrollment has slipped by 2 percent, down to 20,413 students, according to the census. Together, these non-Orthodox schools have just 13 percent of all day school students. In 1998, the proportion was 20 percent.

The number of centrist or modern Orthodox students has stayed flat since 1998, at about 46,000 students. The survey divided those schools into two groups: modern Orthodox schools, which are generally co-educational and have about 27,000 students across 83 schools, and centrist Orthodox, which are generally gender-segregated and have about 19,000 students spread out over 77 schools.

In the 15 years since Avi Chai’s surveys began, Conservative day schools have taken the largest tumble. The number of Solomon Schechter schools has dropped to 39 from 63 in 1998, and the number of students has shrunk 45 percent, to 9,700 from 17,700 in 1998.

Some of those departing students were lost to community day schools, which since 1998 have grown by 22 schools and increased enrollment by about 5,500 students.

The figures were self-reported by every known Jewish day school in the United States, according to Avi Chai. In all, 37 states and Washington, D.C., have Jewish day schools. The primary concentration of Jewish schools is in New York and New Jersey, where day school students number 190,195, roughly 75 percent of the nationwide total.

The states with the next-largest day school populations are California, with 15,270 students, Florida with 9,248, Maryland with 7,556 and Illinois with 5,248 students. No other state exceeds 3,200 day school students.

Women of the Wall Smuggle Tiny Torah Scroll to Western Wall

Friday, October 24th, 2014

The Reform-led Women of the Wall group managed to sneak a miniature Torah scroll to the Western Wall Friday morning and used it celebrate the Bat Mitzvah of a girl who had to use a magnifying to read the letters.

An attempt earlier in the morning to enter the Western Wall with a regular-sized Torah scroll was stopped by officials. The Western Wall is operated as an orthodox synagogue, where women have no requirement to attend and where they have no obligation to read from the Torah.

The WoW group’s numbers have dwindled to only a few dozen in their monthly spectacle on Rosh Chodesh, the beginning of a new month that this month falls on Friday and Shabbat.

The Torah scroll that they smuggled this morning was only 11 inches high, including the handles. WoW said the scroll was ‘kosher,” meaning that it meets all requirement of Jewish law, and that it was loaned to them by someone whose ancestor had taken it from Lithuania 200 years ago.

There is no prohibition from using a Torah scroll that is so tiny that it requires a magnifying glass to read, but it is not known if the scroll has been in use in recent years. If it is not read during the year, there is no way of knowing whether there is no deterioration of even one letter, which would make it unfit for reading.

Even if the scroll is kosher, the WoW”s constant demand to read a Torah scroll at the Western Wall Plaza when rabbis already have agreed to allow the women to use a Torah scroll in another section of the same Wall but in a less visible area, makes a mockery of itself.

The women no doubt were all excited over themselves for being able to “fool” the rabbis, the ones who are real rabbis, and call Sasha Lutt, the daughter of a Russian immigrant to read from the scroll, with a magnifying glass.

They certainly were wildly singing Hallel, consisting of several Psalms recited on Rosh Chodesh, with every muscle in their mouths. They surely were dancing in celebration, but in celebration of what – that they tricked the rabbis and got some more publicity or in celebration that they were praying? That they felt so much holier than yesterday?

We will let God answer those questions, but the extravaganza does not absolve the WoW from the judgment of others, such as a counter organization called Women for the Wall.

“I find the use of a Sefer Torah as a PR prop extremely painful,” said Leah Aharoni, co-founder of the group. “The Sages have taught us not to use the Torah as a spade with which to dig, yet this is exactly what is happening here – an insensitive group co-opting religion to promote a political agenda.”

I have repeatedly written that the Women of the Wall should be allowed to make fools out of themselves. They are not innocent and harmless people, but they harm themselves more than anyone else.

A Yom Kippur Apology to Gwyneth Paltrow and Reform Jews

Friday, October 3rd, 2014

Dear Gwyneth,

Several readers harshly criticized me for my remarks here about your decision to convert to Judaism under the auspices of a Kabbalah-oriented rabbi.

I have nothing against Kabbalah. I have nothing against Reform Jews.

My kosher beef is against fashionable Kabbalah and the Reform Movement industry that turn Judaism into a personal fiefdom based on personal views of universalism that have nothing to do with Torah.

Kabbalah is beyond me. Its mysticism can lead one to a great understanding of God and the essence of God, through the Zohar, the 13th century book that is studied worldwide by many very Orthodox Jews but which also has been hijacked by many as a tool for skipping over the basics.

I termed the conversion process by Reform “rabbis,” and this also holds for many Kabbalists, “instant Judaism.” I also referred to it as “false Judaism,” but quickly deleted the phrase after seeing justifiably angry talkbacks.

I apologize to you and Reform Jews for using both phrases, which I stand by 100 percent but regret having published because it didn’t serve the purpose of performing the mitzvah of “kiruv” – reaching out to bring Jews closer to Judaism based on beliefs of our first Yid, Avraham.

Although you are not Jewish, at least not yet, you do have a centuries-long history of learned rabbis in your ancestry. You discovered that your great-grandfather was a learned sage.

I find it sad that that some have no qualms about teaching their Kabbalah wares to the Hollywood holies, and that the Reform Movement welcomes with open arms anyone who wants to enter the tribe without learning and understanding the religion from the viewpoint of Orthodoxy.  Judaism has survived and flourished for 3,000 years in the face of attempts to destroy our religion through the same assimilation that the Reform Movement accepts be re-defining the term “Jew.”

Our sages, like your great-grandfather, always have discouraged conversion, which is a serious business and is more than “feeling” Jewish, putting on a tallis, eating gefilte fish and delving into the secrets of Kabbalah without having learned Torah.

I had no intention of discouraging you. That is not my business.

I do have the intention of discouraging conversions that reduce the Torah to nothing more than an interesting book from which one can pick and choose what he wants.

You were raised by an assimilated father and a Christian mother, and that says a lot about what happens to Jews when they do not stick to authentic Judaism, falsely libeled as a “monopoly” of the Orthodox.

As I have written elsewhere, certified medical doctors decide who are legitimate doctors. The same is true in dozens of other professions. I don’t go to an “alternative accountant” or “alternative lawyer.”

I often follow treatments in “alternative medicine,” but I never go to someone who calls himself an ”alternative doctor.”

Gwyneth, I won’t dwell on “instant Judaism” because it will only will cause me to apologize again after another argument readers who either disagree or simple feel I should ”leave you alone” and be happy you are searching for your roots. I really am glad you are doing so, and it would be wonderful if you read some translations of your great-grandfather’s books.

I apologize to you, and readers, whom I have offended.

I wish you a happy and good year and will try to lean more towards Kiruv and less towards mockery.

One other item, Gwyneth. Assuming you convert, and through an Orthodox rabbi, don’t forget your Jewish roots go back further than your centuries of rabbis in our ancestry. Your roots, once you are Jewish, are in Israel.

Reform and Conservative Jews Upset over Plans for Robinson’s Arch

Wednesday, February 26th, 2014

Reform and Conservative Jewish groups are upset with a reported draft agreement that would  put the City of David Foundation in charge of the Western Wall’s Robinson’s Arch area, where they can pray in a women’s minyan with a Torah scroll.

The tentative agreement calls for the government to transfer control of the Jerusalem Archaeological Park and Davidson Center to the City of David Foundation, Haaretz reported. The foundation runs the extremely popular City of David tourist site in Jerusalem’s Old City and works to settle Jews in the Silwan neighborhood, across the road from the entrance to the Western Wall Plaza.

Avoid conflict at the widely-visited area of the Western Wall.

Israeli Conservative movement CEO Yizhar Hess told JTA that the draft agreement concerning the Davidson Center caught non-Orthodox groups by surprise.

“We were negotiating the final details of how it would be managed,” Hess said. “It was never mentioned that the City of David Foundation would be the one to actually run the place.”

Hess said that the Reform and Conservative do not take a stance on the foundation’s political leanings, which they claim are decidedly rightwing, but explained that if implemented, the draft agreement would depart from a compromise on the Western Wall outlined by Jewish Agency for Israel Chairman Natan Sharansky last year. Sharansky’s outline proposed creating a pluralist council to manage the site.

Avigdor Lieberman Warns US Jews ‘You Are Facing a Catastrophe’

Wednesday, February 19th, 2014

American Jews are facing nothing less than a demographic catastrophe, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman asserted on Tuesday in a speech at the Jerusalem meeting of the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations.

He quoted recent surveys that show that there are 6.1 million Jews in Israel and slightly less than 5.5 million in the United States, not including those who claim affiliation or identity with Judaism.

Lieberman emphasized that no Jew – whether in the Diaspora or in Israel and whether Reform Conservative or Orthodox – “is illegitimate and should be placed outside of the tent,” but he added. “There is a significant rise in those who have little or no Jewish content in their lives, marry outside the faith and are not raising their children Jewish.”

He pointed out, “The intermarriage rate has reached a high of 58% for all Jews, and 71% for non-Orthodox Jews, a huge change from before 1970 when only 17% of Jews intermarried.”

Attachment to Israel is markedly higher among older Jews, with only 32% of respondents under the age of 30 sharing the idea that “caring about Israel as an essential part of what being Jewish means to them.”

Lieberman then put the cards on the table and categorically stated they are stacked against the Diaspora.

“For many years, Israeli officials have called on our brothers and sisters in the Diaspora, like many of you gathered here tonight, to donate your time, energies and funds to Israel,” he said. “However, I turn to you today and say that, while we are enormously and forever grateful for your assistance, we believe it is now time to concentrate on the challenges facing your own communities, especially those emanating from the dangerous trends in the Jewish community demonstrated in the recent survey.”

Lieberman was being kind. He could just as easily have said, “You American Jews sit as armchair generals for Israel, undermine our government’s struggle by deciding how we should deal with the Palestinian Authority and the Arab world while you don’t see that the ground in the Diaspora is crumbling under your feet.”

In more diplomatic language, he said, “Above all discussions on Iran and the Palestinians, your discussions with the Israeli Government and the Jewish Agency should be focused on saving future generations.”

Lieberman stated that education is the key to fighting “assimilation, intermarriage and disengagement” but that “Jewish children are being kept from the Jewish classrooms because of the exorbitant and prohibitive costs of Jewish education in the United States.”

“On my last visit to New York, I met with a Russian Jewish family in Brooklyn,” Lieberman told his audience. “They told me that for their three children to attend good Jewish schools it would cost them around $100,000. They simply could not endure such costs. They are not alone. This situation is being replicated across the Jewish world, whether in the United States, Russia, France, Argentina, or elsewhere. If this situation persists, we will lose another six million Jews in a generation or two.”

He said that most Israeli diplomats abroad shun local Jewish schools and instead send their children to learn at international schools because the standard is higher.

“Sadly this is also reflective of the general Jewish population in places like the United States, where only around 12% of Jewish children attend Jewish schools, and when the Orthodox children are removed from the equation; it drops down to no more than a few per cent,” he added.

Lieberman proposed the creation of a global network of Jewish schools with a superior standard, and he committed the Israeli government to budget $365 million a year in matching funds for the project.

He also is looking forward to massive aliyah “The creation of an international network of Jewish schools is only the first part of my vision,” Lieberman declared. “In addition, my goal is to bring an additional 3.5 million Jews from the Diaspora in the next ten years so that the Jewish population in Israel will exceed 10 million.”

Jews are undoubtedly a major influence in American life, but the number of Jews who are Jewish “in name only” spells a dismal future for the Diaspora.

One of the most self-serving ways to deny the future is to accept the definition of a Jew as anyone who considers himself Jewish. That kind of identity is temporary, at best.

Jewish institutions and organizations maybe boasting larger numbers, but the meaning of Jewish is becoming emptier.

What Lieberman essentially told the Jewish leaders in Jerusalem Tuesday was, “Wake up. It’s later than you think.”

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/avigdor-lieberman-warns-us-jews-you-are-facing-a-catastrophe/2014/02/19/

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