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The Problem is Not Protesting

My problem with Rabbi Stern’s comments is that, while acknowledging the propensity for violence among the ultra-Orthodox, he dismisses it as a relatively minor phenomena in comparison to extremist violence by Muslims and Christians (though I am not sure of what recent Christian violence he is referring to unless it is the Serb slaughter of the Croats over a decade ago). In a world of rising anti-Semitism, I can understand his defensiveness. However, I would find it more commendable if he condemned such violence without apology or defensiveness, tried to uncover why it is that support for such violence is spreading within Orthodoxy, and why moderate Orthodox leaders like him are not campaigning passionately and actively against it. It is what we hope from Muslin religious leaders. Ultimately, it is only the willingness of religious leaders to condemn the violence of their co-religionists that helps stem the tide of the spread of s uch ha tred.


The passing this week of Teddy Kolleck, former mayor of Jerusalem who spent his life building a city that showed respect and tolerance for different religious traditions and perspectives, is a sad reminder of how far we are from the dream of a Jerusalem at peace and the ability to build a world in which we share a mutual respect for our differences engendered by realizing we worship the same God.

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posted January 5, 2007 at 7:51 pm

While only 1% of Orthodox Jews might ‘lift their fists’, there are certainly a larger number of them that are openly hostile to liberal Jews and modernity in general. It also depends how we define violence. When an Orthodox posek in Israel writes a resonsa that O Jews cannot go to their cousin’s Reform Bar Mitzvah, isn’t that a type of violence? When certain Orthodox leaders stepped in a few years ago to stop Yaakov Reinman from appearing at book tour stops with his Reform Rabbinical counterpart because of wanting to avoid the appearance of validating liberal Judaism, is that violence? What about Moshe Feinstein’s responsa that the child of a Jewish intermarried mother couldn’t attend Yeshiva, despite being 100% halakhically Jewish? I am not saying that the Orthodox need to become liberal Jews. I am saying that what would have passed for moderate Orthodox leaders 50 years ago, such as the Rav and Rabbi Kook who understood the importance of all Jews whether they were shomer shabbos or not, is a nonentity now. As Orthodoxy slides father amd farther to the right, and as they gain more adherents, their critique of their liberal brethern seems more intolerant. Will Orthodox Jews become physically violent against liberal Jews? Quite rarely, I suppose. Will they exercise other forms of violence, including denying that what liberal Jews practice is actually a variant of Judaism? Yup.

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posted January 10, 2007 at 4:18 am

Or will they simply declare us non-Jews?

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