Will the real anti-Semite please stand up?

When I opened my eJewishPhilanthropy this morning, I scanned all of the snippets and headlines as I do each morning.  Typically, I make a mental note of what articles I want to come back to later in the day, but today, one snippet not only caught my eye, but stopped my heart:Screen Shot 2013-10-11 at 9.23.24 AMSo, I clicked on that “Read more” link and found myself face-to-face with one of the most offensive things I have seen in a long time.  As if I wasn’t already offended enough by the assertion that Limmud would bring about “tragic consequences for Anglo Jewry,” the rest of the letter this pull quote came from has me seething enough to jump into blog-mode.  Here is the text authored by the former head of the Beit Din of London and several other high-powered rabbis and judges:

Pluralism is the “political correctness” of the theological world.  The upshot of this is that even though opposing philosophical viewpoints are espoused, no one is deemed to be wrong.

As religious Jews, however, our fundamental bedrock is that there is only one truth – the Torah B’ksav and Baal Peh which is of Divine origin.

Limmud and similar organisations espouse the ethos of pluralism. Participating in their conferences, events and educational endeavors blurs the distinction between authentic Judaism and pseudo-Judaism and would bring about tragic consequences for Anglo Jewry.

As such, we strongly advise any Jew whose heard has been touched by the fear of G-d and who wishes to walk upon paths which will be viewed favourably by the Ribono Shel Olam, not to participate in any activity which is under the auspicies of Limmud or similar organisations.


In the recent weeks. American Jewry – of all different beliefs – raged against Hobby Lobby because a staff member, at one store in a chain of hundreds, said “we don’t cater to you people.”   The indifference to Jewish holidays from the corporate office enraged people  more and the blogosphere and social media alit with calls to boycott Hobby Lobby.   People generously threw out the term “anti-Semitic” to label both the employee and the corporation.

But what that one employee said out of ignorance is nothing in comparison to the blatant anti-Semitic statements authored by these seven religious leaders.

I teach the teens that I work with that when one Jew calls another Jew a “JAP” or a “big-nose greedy miser” or “kike” that it is just as anti-Semitic as if a non-Jew said it.  I teach them that we can’t allow people inside our community to say things to us we wouldn’t allow someone outside K’lal Yisrael to say.  Not only are the terms still hurtful and not only are they still driving stereotypes, but it sends the message that these things are okay to say and we role model to non-Jews this unacceptable behavior.

I would NEVER allow a non-Jew to call me a “pseudo Jew” and I certainly wouldn’t let a non-Jew accuse me, and the organizations I affiliate with as the cause for the demise of the Anglo Jewry.  So how can I sit back and read this statement published by the some of the highest Orthodox leadership of London and not say something.  How can we send dozens of letters and reach out the media to call for an apology from Hobby Lobby but just turn a cheek to this situation before us?

So, Rabbis and various religious leaders of in London, I demand an apology. I demand for you to rescind your statements accusing any Jew who is not like you for being a “pseudo Jew.”  I demand that you recognize that Judaism has not only taught us about One G-d, but also about questioning all aspects of our texts and tradition.  It has taught us to turn Torah again and again because there is always something new in it.   Judaism has taught us about Kavod – respect and about Shalom Bayit – peace in the home.   Every word of your letter violates these middot.  In deep contrast, Limmud (and organizations like it) teach these values.  It teaches us that each of us should question and explore our heritage;  it teaches that there are many ways to ‘turn Torah’ – through art, music, nature, chevruta, worship;  it teaches us to have deep respect for all the people who live in the house of the Jewish people even if they are different than us.   So quite opposite to the demise of Anglo Jewry, Limmud is fostering the future of Judaism – and doing a great job of it!

1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Alan Portman
    Oct 11, 2013 @ 11:55:32

    Robin, Welcome to fundamentalism at its finest. Notice how easy it would be for you to substitute “Torah B’ksav and Baal Peh” with “Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” or “As foretold in the Qur’an” and have the same paragraph.

    Fundamentalism is about absolutes. I am absolutely right. You are somewhere between naive and should be stoned to death. Fundamentalism is the root of evil.

    Understanding that we do not have to worship together to live together on this planet is noble.


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