Chabad fires back at Rabbi Eric Yoffie

Organization defends its willingness to grant any child a bar/bat mitzvah, a policy the Reform leader has criticized.

By JTA
November 7, 2007 10:27

A Chabad educator took Rabbi Eric Yoffie to task for saying the movement is promoting Jewish minimalism. In an essay published last week on the Web site Lubavitch.com, Chana Silberstein defended her organization's willingness to grant any child a bar/bat mitzvah, a policy the Reform leader has criticized as enabling a party without any deeper significance. "What Yoffie fails to consider is that Chabad's willingness to offer all children a bar-mitzvah stems not from lowering of religious standards, but from a refusal to make children the pawns in a game of institutional extortion," wrote Silberstein, the educational director at the Chabad of Cornell University. Silberstein claimed that requiring synagogue membership and Hebrew school enrollment -- common requisites for bar mitzvah in Reform congregations -- has nothing to do with standards and everything to do with increasing revenue. She also noted that one becomes a bar mitzvah automatically on becoming an adult, and telling parents that standards must be met for their children to be considered Jewish adults is a "self-serving falsehood."


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