Kingdom of Priests

Kingdom of Priests

What Jewish Mission?

posted by David Klinghoffer

A remarkable opinion piece by Joel Alperson and carried by JTA includes this observation:

I’ve collected the mission statements of the largest 17 Jewish federations in North America, and not one mentions “God,” “Torah” or “Judaism.” Nor do the mission statements of the B’nai B’rith Youth Organization, Hillel, the National Council of Jewish Women, The Wexner Heritage Foundation, the American Jewish Committee, the Anti-Defamation League, Hadassah and the Jewish National Fund. Of all the organizations I looked into, only United Jewish Communities mentions but one of the three words, Torah, in its mission statement.

Some surely will be quick to say that the above organizations were not created to convey religious concepts. That is precisely my point: How can we say these organizations are Jewish and at the same time don’t need to mention God, Torah or Judaism?

This fits with everything I know about Jewish communal leadership but the results of Alperson’s having sifted through all those mission statements — and found just one lonely reference to God, Torah, or Judaism! — still represents a startling piece of information, reflecting a massive desertion from the very purpose of Jewish existence.
Thanks to Rabbi Yaakov Menken for noting this on a Baltimore Sun blog.

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posted July 3, 2009 at 9:57 pm

Not being Jewish (or part of any organized faith), perhaps my comments are irrelevant, but here they are, nonetheless:
I don’t think there is any mission to spread Judaism or even religious faith in general. Unlike Christianity, Judaism does not proselytize and is not soteriological. So if there is a mission, perhaps it is simply to exemplify a just and moral approach to life. And that can be done without any mention of God, Torah, or Judaism.

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concerned evangelical

posted July 4, 2009 at 6:48 pm

Please, David, accept Christ as your saviour. I’d hate for your and your children to spend an eternity in the very real hell. You are abusing your children by not sharing the good news with them.
hetrosexually yours,
Concerned evangelical

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posted July 4, 2009 at 9:29 pm

I am not only dumbfounded but deeply saddened. I’d like to explain why this is distressing to me, a Lutheran Christian.
We Lutherans divide our faith into two realms – The Kingdom of the Law (aka the Torah) and the Kingdom of the Gospel (Salvation). The former governs our behavior in the service of glorifying God. The latter speaks to faith as a salvific good. Lutheran faith is empty without both.
In other words, I believe that a Christianity that rejects the Torah steers a course untethered to God’s will. Accordingly, I’ve always looked up to Judaism as exemplifying the Kingdom of the Law (as did Martin Luther, by the way). What must be the future of Christianity when Jews around the world see themselves as, well, a community of people no different than, say, the brotherhood of Elks or the NAACP?
It’s clear that Christians have failed to keep the Torah alive. So, if the Jews can not sustain the Torah, we are truly in deep doo-doo.

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David Klinghoffer

posted July 5, 2009 at 2:09 am

You know, “concerned evangelical,” I’m certain you’re a phony — real Evangelicals don’t talk or write that way. No one can know what someone else thinks, but this is not the way that community expresses itself for public consumption. So you’re a fake and a liar.

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posted July 5, 2009 at 11:15 am

Haven’t you listened to some of the television evangelists who love to bring fire and brimstone and have been known to specifically identify Jews? Aren’t you aware that the KKK was populated by religious folks? You may think that “concerned evangelical” is neither concerned nor an evangelical and I probably agree with you, but I’m sure we could find people who have said the same thing in real life and intended their hateful words to be taken seriously.

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Gabriel Hanna

posted July 5, 2009 at 11:59 am

I KNOW “concerned evangelical” is a fake, because he didn’t know that Catholics believe non-Christians can be saved.
This fact is well-known in evangelical Protestant circles and is cited as more evidence of how wrong Catholicism is. If ce had been the genuine article, he wouldn’t have been caught without any response when I quote a passage from Cardinal Ratzinger on the subject.
There is a wide diversity in Christianity, as two thousand years of anathemas make abundantly clear.
I think it is a shame that Jewish organizations don’t feel quite comfortable mentioning their religion. More of Pournelle’s Iron Law of Bureacracy, I imagine.
David Klinghoffer’s time would be well spent in rectifying this, rather than in trying to mislead people about science he doesn’t understand.

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Gabriel Hanna

posted July 5, 2009 at 12:06 pm

I used to assume the same thing “concerned evangelical” did, that all Christians believed that all non-Christians were going to hell. I learned differently when a Catholic commenter took me to the woodshed over it. I was embarrassed and deservedly so, and I learned.
But I never did anything so sleazy as to pretend to be a caricature of something I wasn’t; and I would (I hope) never be so stupid as to do it so ignorantly, as “concerned evangelical” has been.
It’s like those jerks, like Moby, who start with “As a lifelong Republican” and then say something racist, or say they heard George Bush drove a girl to the abortion clinic.

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posted July 5, 2009 at 2:37 pm

It makes complete sense to me, because these federations contain all Jewish groups, and the different Jewish denominations have almost no common ground religiously. They could never agree on a mission statement mentioning religion.
Nearly every group has a mission statement, but the mission statement doesn’t govern what they do.
Jewish federations are not the major force in Jewish life. They are just loose groups bringing all the denominations together (except for many among the Orthodox who refuse to associate with the others). I wouldn’t look to federations to see what the Jewish community is really up to.

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posted July 5, 2009 at 3:06 pm

I KNOW “concerned evangelical” is a fake, because he didn’t know that Catholics believe non-Christians can be saved.
Of course there are plenty of evangelicals and fundamentalists who insist that Catholics are not Christian and will not be saved because they worship Mary and the saints and let the Pope create new doctrines. So, if Catholics aren’t going to be saved anyway, why would they care what Catholics say about others who don’t even call themselves Christian?

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Dave Weidlich

posted July 5, 2009 at 9:56 pm

The “Concerned Evangelical” comment and follow-ups are beside the point, of course. But, it’s kind of funny how this spoof successfully baited so many. It is so easy to believe media-created stereotypes – like Evangelicals are obsessed with hell and heterosexuality and are ignorant (can’t spell heterosexual). Maybe some of you who bit should befriend a few evangelical Christians.
By the way, I am an evangelical Christian – with spell-checker – and I love David’s blog.
Blessings to you all.

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posted July 5, 2009 at 11:29 pm

Dave Weidlich –
Once upon a time, evangelical only described something of the approach of the church body (with the particular irony that the Evangelical (Lutheran) Church is not generally considered evangelical). The involvement of highly visible evangelical and fundamentalist preachers in politics starting in the ’80s changed the general view of evangelicals. When people hear preachers saying that God is punishing us for not being sufficiently intolerant, it is pretty easy, if inaccurate, to extrapolate to all evangelicals, just as stupid things said by the Pope don’t necessarily reflect the opinion of the average American Catholic.

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Gabriel Hanna

posted July 6, 2009 at 1:30 pm

if Catholics aren’t going to be saved anyway, why would they care what Catholics say about others who don’t even call themselves Christian?
Because they want to persuade people that Catholicism is wrong. Part of evangelical Protestant outreach is warning people away from Catholicism and Mormonism and Jehovah’s Witnesses and what not. So they spend a great deal of time explaining to their young people, and people of other faiths, what is wrong with other flavors of Christianity.
I have a very hard time believing that a REAL evangelical, like Dave Wiedlich, can’t give us chapter and verse on the “false” versions of Christianity. Wiedlich seems like a good-natured sort who probably wouldn’t–but he certainly COULD.

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David Klinghoffer

posted July 6, 2009 at 4:41 pm

“s. weiss,” a/k/a Grover, a/k/a Rochelle, a/k/a Yochanan, a/k/a bar emes, etc., etc. — please do choose and stick with one false name — I unpublished your previous comment for childish name-calling. If you’d like to reformulate it, you may do so. If you click the link, you’ll see it indeed goes to the Baltimore Sun. The Alperson piece was from JTA and probably appeared in your own local Baltimore Jewish paper and other Jewish papers around the country. It was noted and commented upon in the Sun’s religion blog.

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posted July 9, 2009 at 6:51 pm

goldknopp wrote:

…Rabbi Moshe Feinstein has ruled on this issue: except in the context of exact quotations from the Bible and liturgy, the plenary spelling of God is to employed. Anything beyond that is faux piety and superstition.

I would appreciate a reference to this ruling from R’ Moshe.
Although my personal practice is to use the full English spelling of “God”, I don’t agree with your assessment of those who chose to write “G-d”. Those who chose to show fear of His name, even beyond the letter of the law, are to be praised, not condemned.

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Concerned Evangelical

posted July 9, 2009 at 11:28 pm

Dave Weidlich, as a Christian I need to ask you a simple question. Can one enter heaven without accepting Christ in his lifetime? If not, would this not mean that David will end up in hell? Please reach out to him and his lovely family and help guide him and his family to Christ, the only true path to god.
Heterosexually yours,
Concerned Evangelical
I just learned to use spell check. You see I am from a poor southern family. Daddy died early and Mamma was poor.
Praise Jesus, Praise Jesus, good times

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