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Friday, December 18, 2015 

Haredi-governed rabbinate speaks for nobody

Rabbi Shlomo Riskin went into discussion of how the country's chief rabbinate is proving itself an embarrassment:
Rabbi David Lau, the Ashkenazi chief rabbi, unwittingly committed a serious error when he announced that he would have forbidden Education Minister Naftali Bennett from visiting a Solomon Schechter (Conservative) High School on his last New York trip.

Unfortunately, not only did the Chief Rabbinate head demonstrate his (understandable) lack of knowledge of the Conservative Movement in America, he also exposed how far the present chief rabbis of Israel have wandered from the inclusive vision of our first chief rabbi, Rabbi Yitzchak Haohen Kook.

Yes, the Conservative Movement does not accept Orthodox fealty to Halacha, and so it officially mandates mixed seating in the synagogue and permits driving to the synagogue on Shabbat. And yes, rarely do Conservative Rabbis preach taharat ha’mishpacha (family purity) or the prohibition of cellphones and electricity on the Sabbath.

As a consequence, an Orthodox Jew may not participate in a Conservative mixed-seating prayer service.

Nevertheless, I view Conservative rabbis in America as my partners, not as my enemies. My enemy is assimilation, the tragic loss of American Jewry to assimilation and intermarriage (41.2 percent according to the recent Pew report). Conservative and Reform rabbis today are not making inroads into Orthodoxy, which has never been stronger in America, but Conservative and Reform rabbis are striving to influence Jews with less commitment to Judaism and Zionism to become Jews with greater commitment to Judaism and Zionism.
This is where I want to make a reminder that my grandparents were Conservative-leaning. But whatever the politics of today's Conservative movement, I want to make clear that my grandparents were not anti-Israel, not pro-homosexuality, and my grandfather from my dad's side of the family fought in WW2, in an artillery unit. He would've saved the lives of Haredis like Lau if they were in danger, and if they needed warm clothing, he would've given them the shirt off his back.

And Haredis like Lau have insulted the memory of my grandparents, who, while not perfect in every way, still did their best to make this a better world on their part. Lau owes an apology to my grandfather, whose aforementioned role in WW2 was to save innocent lives, and he did much of the hard work Haredis like Lau are refusing to do, by serving in the army for the better of mankind.

Which brings us to the most laughable irony about the Haredis who're against Conservatives and Reforms: it makes no difference whether today's are anti-Zionist or anti-Israel, they still don't see them as good enough. So what's the point of all that animosity?

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