July 14: Readers weigh in (again) on Azoulay, religious matters

Letters (photo credit: REUTERS)
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Such a hullabaloo about Religious Services Minister David Azoulay’s “insult” to Reform Jews that they are not Jews (“Readers react to Religious Services Minister David Azoulay’s statements,” Letters, July 12). Religious Jews are being attacked and vilified every day at the Temple Mount.
That is what I call an insult.
If a halachic Jew has chosen the Reform way of life, regrettable it might be, he or she is still a Jew. However, we are a living religion, obliged to keep God’s laws. It is not rocket science, just a fact.
Another fact is that if the mother is not Jewish, the descendants are not Jewish.
We have thousands of Russians living here who are in no way Jewish and with no interest in our way of life. This travesty has brought us non-kosher restaurants and shops, together with predictable fallout, such as cries for traffic on Shabbat, the opening of shops on Shabbat, the acceptance of same-sex marriages, and homosexuals provocatively parading in our capital and other cities in disgusting states of undress. We are actually supposed to be proud of being the sole country meant to welcome all aberrations of society.
Jewish Agency chairman Natan Sharansky worries about the problems of the non-Orthodox streams in Israel, and encourages them to expand in order to have greater influence (“PM announces government dialogue with non-Orthodox,” July 12). He states that “if 2 million [non-Orthodox] Jews make aliya, then of course the dialogue will be very different.”
It certainly will, Mr. Sharansky.
We can say goodbye to the Jewish state, the one that God promised to our forefathers as the Jewish homeland in perpetuity – so long as we live by His laws, not watered-down versions adapted to the vagaries of the non-Orthodox.
Religious Affairs Minister David Azoulay should be congratulated for exposing the true face of his party’s ideology and, unfortunately, that of a large part of haredi Orthodoxy. It is the face of extremism, corruption, ignorance, intolerance and bigotry.
Many have rightly rushed to condemn him, including politicians, public figures and newspapers such as The Jerusalem Post. The fact that he and his disgusting colleagues remain in the government is an unforgivable blot on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and a shame on Israel.
The condemnations have, however, largely surrounded the tactical and strategic stupidity of alienating, hurting and insulting the majority of Jews within and outside Israel. I would like to add a further dimension to the debate.
At some point, the non-haredi and (minority) enlightened-haredi communities are going to have to take a stand, which they palpably have not yet done. This is a stand that not only accepts non-Orthodoxy as a “necessary evil” or inevitable weakness, but embraces it completely and equally as a crucial part of the living heritage, a source of renewed debate and questioning rooted in Jewish history, and a vital component of a healthy, vigorous way of life.
As a founding member of a pluralistic community myself, I can bear personal witness to the beauty and excitement of building an authentic Israeli Judaism that attracts many for whom Orthodoxy is a sterile, ritualistic anachronism.
Rosh Pina
Religious Services Minister David Azoulay is simply a Sephardi whose culture is to be dugri, or straight to the point, with no apologetics.
Ashkenazim are imbued with the Diaspora mentality that teaches us to keep our mouths shut while we are in hostile environments – which has been the case these past 2,000 years, up to and including our sojourn in Israel.
The Protestant movement differed with the Catholic Church on fundamental issues and invented a new religion. Its members had the intellectual integrity of not calling themselves a new or reformed Catholic Church.
Judaism is based on the 13 fundamental principles. If one denies these principles, can he be considered Jewish? The Reform movement came along and offered an easy Judaism that appeals to the masses, in essence that you do not have to be Jewish – no kashrut, no Shabbat, no God, no Torah, no mitzvot – just pay your dues and you will be Jews.
Reform leaders (they have the audacity to call themselves “rabbis”) are willing to officiate at a wedding where a Jew marries a Buddhist, Catholic or whatever.
Your dog can have a Reform leader officiate at its bar mitzva.
(Think I’m joking? Google “bark mitzva” and hold your hats.) They leave a vast wasteland that is becoming more and more wasted as their members intermarry into other religions and stop paying their dues.
Though Zion and Jerusalem started being mentioned in Reform prayer books only in 1975, Israel has been in the movement’s sights for a while now, and it has made terrible inroads. We are now a minority in our own land, and it is headed by people who do not have regard for religion unless coalition agreements force them to.
Rabbi Azoulay said it as he saw it. But those in the majority – who have little, if any, bond to the religion – are outraged. That is to be expected. I suppose one of them will try and enact legislation doing away with conversions entirely, but if you pay your dues, you will be a Jew.
While the outcry objecting to Religious Services Minister David Azoulay’s crude statement regarding Reform Jews is to be expected, there is yet another face of “reform” that Rabbi Azoulay appears to wholeheartedly support – namely, the ideologies of some branches of haredi Judaism.
If one understands “reform” as following a revised, modified or reinforced approach, then haredi Jews, too, have amended certain areas of Jewish law. They call them humrot, or stringencies.
The Reform call them kulot, or leniencies, a few of which Rabbi Azoulay no doubt accepts, being found within traditional Judaism!
The writer is a rabbi.
“It’s clear to everyone that Jews, even though they sin, are Jews...” you quote Religious Services Minister David Azoulay as saying in “US Jewish leaders blast Azoulay for insult to Reform Jews” (July 9). Maybe the religious services minister was referring to lecherous rabbis?
Dov Lipman (“We are our own worst enemy,” Observations, July 10) pleads the case for a more positive and accessible approach to the conversion of persons, particularly those already living here, who are not Jewish according to Jewish law.
Where the Chief Rabbinate is a totally autonomous body, free to rule however it pleases, regardless of the consequences, how can citizens who care about maintaining a vibrant, inclusive, halachic Judaism influence the attitudes of the current chief rabbis? Rabbi Lipman seems to seek some sort of active support from readers. What does he suggest?
The Chief Rabbinate has proven itself to be spiritually and morally bankrupt. The fact that a number of high-profile rabbis have been under investigation by police for sexual or financial misdeeds, or that 300,000 Israelis need help in converting to Judaism, is of no interest.
What does get its attention is the attempted removal of Rabbi Shlomo Riskin of Efrat because of his fabulous success and knitted kippa. In other words, it’s all about the power and the patronage.
Is it any wonder that the rabbinate in Israel has lost all meaning in our daily lives?
Petah Tikva