Reform formula doesn’t work

Reform formula doesn’t work

Rabbi Rick Jacobs is likely correct that “there are people in the highest echelons [of the Israeli government] who say, ‘In 20 years they’ll be gone, don’t even bother, don’t worry about them.’” (“In flexing muscle, URJ broadens Israel critique,” Dec. 14) But those naysayers are likely correct, too. This is not a theological or historical argument, but rather a pragmatic one.  The Reform movement has been trashing Jewish tradition for its entire existence; Rabbi Jacobs’ denial of the centrality of Israel and Jerusalem harkens back to the movement’s erasure of Zion from our prayers. 

Whereas for its first century and more, its formula of Jewish identity with minimal Judaic content drew masses, the formula no longer works. Rabbi Jacobs’ response, to further trash our rich Jewish tradition in favor of the progressive activism of the moment, will only hasten the slide into oblivion. People seeking meaning in liberal politics will join the Democratic Party, not Reform Judaism. It has become abundantly clear that tikkun olam and finding clergy members “to officiate interfaith and same-sex marriages” are portals of exit, not portals of engagement. 

Stuart Cohen

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