Bashing Reform Jews is not unity

Bashing Reform Jews is not unity

I’m puzzled why NJJN enables Jared Silverman in “Liberal Jews overlook Hillel’s adage ‘If I am not for myself, who will be for me?’” (April 27) to proclaim that he is unifying the Jewish world while slurring Reform Jews and claiming that liberal Jews are unaware of the “classic convictions of the Jewish faith.” 

Silverman is entitled to his own interpretation of what it means to live in an open society, but he seems unaware of scholarship by Orthodox, Conservative, and Reform professors on how Judaism self-consciously changed and evolved in the way that religious Jews prayed and observed — not just in America — but in Israel, Russia, Poland, and England over the past three centuries.  

Silverman may not like that Jews who affirm autonomy might disagree with his views on Israel, but he is hardly going to win them over by misrepresenting Judaism.  When I chased down his research from Tuvia Tenenbom on American Judaism, the full quote was just absurd: “In state after state, temple after temple, what I saw and what I witnessed was a nightmare. You see rabbis, or so-called rabbis, leaders, supposed leaders, standing at a podium and all they can tell to their listeners is that Israel is an apartheid state and that Judaism is racism. That’s what they preach.” It’s hard to comprehend what research went into that!

At root, Silverman seems disturbed that 70 percent of American Jews voted for Hillary Clinton. Well, as Haaretz reported, 56 percent of Orthodox Jews voted for Clinton, too. So, if Silverman really wants to know why American Jews care for the outcast and downtrodden, transgender students and the working-poor, he might begin by asking that question at his local Orthodox synagogue.

John S. Schechter
South Orange

read more: