Sunday, August 2, 2015

Murderers are Murderers - There is no defense for this.

Thursday night, July 30, 2015.

4 masked Israelis physically attack two Palestinian homes in the town of Dama.  Both have windows smashed, and fire bombs thrown inside. At least one has the word, Nekama, "Revenge," spray painted on the side of the house. One is empty, while the other contains a family of four asleep in their beds. The father, mother and one child are brutally burned and now in the hospital with 2nd and 3rd degree burns over 60-90% of their bodies.  The 18 month old baby, Ali Saad Daobasa, is killed by the smoke and flame. The parents are on life support.

Murderers.  Terrorists. Animals.

There is no defense for this act.  There is no political or religious justification that will hold up in the heavenly court of Justice or any just court on earth. This is why we have laws, police, courts and executioners. Saving ourselves as victims from this kind of pogrom is why we have Israel.  These killers have become what Israel deplores at its deepest levels.

The four fled to a nearby Jewish settlement, where they have not been identified or located by police.  They must be found, reported, turned in - whatever it takes.

Israel has an ideal to which it must live.  Israel must not use the tools of blood on blood between citizens. Revenge is not for the individual to dole out.

In the past several years, a creeping criminality has found support in the anti-Palestinian side of the political spectrum.  The "tag machir movement" is the clearest example. "Tag machir" is Hebrew for "price tag." Throughout Israel, unknown hoodlums have taken to spray painting Palestinian or Arab Israel property - most commonly cars - with those Hebrew words.  Sometimes there is more. But mostly it is a defacing of property to make the claim that a price must be paid for Jewish blood or for violence against Israelis.  Did anyone think it would stop there?

Vigilante criminals come in many sizes. On one side, they are the terrorists who drive a car onto the sidewalk to kill Israelis.  On the other side, it is tag machir or the murderers of Ali Saad Daobasa. Palestinian vigilantes almost always seek blood and murder. If you hate that, don't become it. Don't support it.  Don't justify it with even a half of an apologetic sentence for its motivation.

Israeli believes in better. Israel is better.  Israel must prove its values once again: justice for the family of Ali Saad Daobasa. The murderers must be found, arrested, and suffer the full abilities of the law as terrorists.

The real "price tag" if this crime is not prosecuted is the loss of the Israeli heart and its Jewish soul to barbarism and crime in the name of righteousness.

The protests have flared up. More violence is happening in the name of the murdered baby. The army must come out... the murderers on both sides are being rewarded.

Friday, July 31, 2015

Hateful, Murderous Prejudice against Gay Rights in Israel

Posted on Jul 30, 2015
NEW YORK – Today, six marchers were stabbed during Jerusalem’s annual gay pride parade, allegedly by a Haredi Orthodox man released from prison two weeks ago after stabbing people at the same event in 2005. The Rabbinical Assembly, the international association for Conservative/Masorti rabbis, condemned the attack; calling for acceptance of and equality for the LGBTQ community and an end to violence against the LGBTQ community. The organization’s president, Rabbi William Gershon; and executive vice president, Rabbi Julie Schonfeld, issued the following statement:
Jews around the world are saddened and appalled that an event in the holy city of Jerusalem, designed to celebrate that all of humanity is created b’tzelem Elohim, in the divine image, was marred by a senseless hate crime. The horror of an attack on these innocent marchers is made more painful by recalling the passages we read from Eicha on Tisha B’Av, lamenting the shedding of innocent blood in the midst of Jerusalem (4:13). We wish the victims a refuah shlemah, a quick and speedy recovery, and our prayers remain with their families. This incident further highlights the ongoing need for Israeli law enforcement and government officials to vigorously police and prosecute crimes motivated by religious extremism. We appreciate that many prominent rabbis across the spectrum have condemned this act of violence.
In 1990, the Rabbinical Assembly passed a resolution calling on the community to ‘work for full and equal civil rights for gays and lesbians in our national life, deplore violence against gays and lesbians, encourage inclusion of gay and lesbian Jews in our congregations, and increase our awareness of issues facing gay and lesbian Jews.’ We continue to follow these principles in hopes of guaranteeing a safe space in our synagogues and our wider communities.

The Release of Jonathan Pollard

Posted on Jul 29, 2015
NEW YORK – Welcoming the news that Jonathan Pollard will be granted parole and released from federal prison on November 21, the Rabbinical Assembly, the international association for Conservative/Masorti rabbis, released the following statement:
“Jonathan Pollard has served the longest sentence of any individual convicted of similar offense in the United States and his freedom is long overdue,” said Rabbi Julie Schonfeld, executive vice president. “Having visited with Jonathan Pollard at Butner Federal Correction Complex in North Carolina two years ago with members of the Reform and Conservative Movement, I saw firsthand the detrimental effects that this long incarceration had on his health. The RA has advocated tirelessly for Jonathan Pollard’s release for many years and we welcome this long-awaited news.”
“The Conservative Movement has numerous resolutions (1992, 1994, 1995, 2011) and statements (20122013), highlighting Pollard’s remarkably unfair sentence,” said Rabbi William Gershon, president. “After all these years and decades of injustice, he will continue to be in our thoughts and prayers until the moment he is released. We look forward to when Jonathan Pollard can be back with his family as a free man.”

Friday, July 10, 2015

A Hatchet Job On Michael Oren

A Hatchet Job from Phillip Weiss. 

Sadly, founder and co-editor Phillip Weiss reached out to our community under false pretense to write a hatchet job on Michael Oren. When our community responded to his invitation to be interviewed about the bombing of our synagogue back in 1971, we thought that he was going  to honor the lessons of our past. 

Instead, with overt personal bias from his own childhood, and resentment against our congregant Michael Oren, he chose to do a hatchet job pure and simple. As he writes, his purpose was not to tell our story or what it meant for our community, but to attack the memory of a then teenage Michael because it was a different experience than he had growing up

His approach under false pretense is truly lamentable - another example of journalism as bias. He left a message in my voicemail saying he was "writing a story about the bombing, and would like to get a quote."  That is not a fair description of what he was doing.  He already had the story he wanted to write, long before his interviews, and then he went looking for quotes to support it.  To get those quotes, he misrepresented the point of his article.

Reading through the editorial selections on his site, it is clear why he would have animosity against Michael Oren, who lives far far away from him on the political spectrum.  

I did not return Mr. Weiss' invitation to be interviewed, as I am always wary of reporters. Today, my suspicions are completely confirmed.  There is no fourth estate, and the one being interviewed should always beware.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Vaccinations are Religiously Mandatory for Conservative Schools and Families

Quite some time ago I was asked, as the supervising rabbi of a Jewish early childhood education center, to approve the admission of a new preschooler whose parents refused to immunize him/her.  In the public school, all you had to do was sign a waiver form that declared immunizations to be against your religious beliefs, and the school system had to let you in.  But this was my synagogue's school, and the rabbi sets the religious standards. I required immunization, and we lost the family from the school.

Recently, as I took my own child for immunizations, I recalled this fact.  My child made all the same arguments to me:  "Now one has measles any more!"  "Why do I have to get this shot? It hurts, and it does nothing!" Etc.

The simple truth of the matter is that the child who does not get immunized, and does not get the disease, can not claim that immunizations don't matter.  They are benefitting from the fact that all of their classmates did get immunized, and therefore they are not being exposed to the pathogen in question. They are still very vulnerable and present a risk to the community.  To bank on the fact that no one else has the disease is the height of irresponsibility as a member of any community.

Many myths circulate against immunizations, but the truth is that they are safe - and certainly safer than the old days of polio in the public swimming pools. The world population boom, and the decrease in childhood diseases are objective proof in part to the efficacy of immunization.

Judaism demands protection of life - all life - in the form of pikuach nefesh. Leaving one's child vulnerable to avoidable infection, and sending them out into public where they could then infect others would be an egregious sin if done unknowingly. To do it after being given the facts would be tantamount to intentional endangerment of a minor and reckless endangerment of the public.

An Israeli Reaction to our kind of Pluralism

הרב רוברט טובין, ברכה ושלום!

הביקור בקהילת בני שלום, שהיה חלק ממסע אל יהדות ארה"ב, נתן לנו את ההזדמנות להבין טוב יותר את היהדות הזאת.

כל חברי קבוצת גוונים מגדל העמק, ללא יוצא מן הכלל, ראו במפגש אתך כאחד המפגשים המאלפים ביותר.

התרשמנו מאוד מן הרצינות הרבה שבה את לוקח את התפקיד הרוחני שלך והתרשמנו מן היכולת המדהימה שלך לנהל אתנו דיאלוג רציני באופן מחבק ואוהד.

המאמץ הניכר מצדך לדבר אתנו בעברית רהוטה הוסיף עוד חן ועוד הערכה רבה אליך ואל פועלך.

היינו רוצים לראות יותר רבנים כדוגמתך בישראל, הן בארץ והן בתפוצות.

קהילת מגדל העמק היא קהילה חמה ומזמינה והייתה שמחה מאוד לראותך בין אורחיה באחת ההזדמנויות הקרובות.

אנו מודים לך מקרב הלב על קבלת הפנים ביום עמוס שכזה.

חזק וברוך

יעקב מעוז

ד"ר יעקב מעוז  د. يعقوب معوز
זהויות וקידום סובלנות التعدية ودعم التسامح
החברה למתנ"סים شركة المراكز الجماهيرية
Dr. Yaacov Maoz

Monday, June 29, 2015

False Fear from the Anti-Homosexuals Among Us

Immediately in the wake of the mainstream rejoicing regarding the Supreme Court's ruling in support of homosexual unions, came multiple articles from the Catholic Church, certain protestants, and some of the Orthodox Jews in our American Jewish Community.

The united fear expressed by these articles  is that those who are religiously opposed to homosexuality may be forced to support and serve active homosexuality.  The questions raised have included,

(1) Must someone working in town hall provide a marriage license if it is against their religion to do so?
(2) Must a catering hall or florist accept a contract for a homosexual couple's wedding celebration?
(3) Does a therapist put themselves at risk of a civil rights law suit by counseling that homosexuality is both deviant and curable?

There are two simple principles here, and two compelling analogies.

When working in a public office, one represents and administers the laws and directives of the Constitution of the United States as interpreted by the Supreme Court. There is no freedom of conscience for a town clerk to withhold any service of the government based on their own personal convictions. That is illegal and morally wrong. Such a person should be removed from that office if they will not comply. This, however, also extends to services generally offered to the public, such as educational, retail or financial services, etc. General public services may not be withheld under the phrase, "we don't serve your kind here."

When operating as a private religious institution, the protection of religious rights and freedoms are paramount, and bias is not only legal - but essential in some form. Similarly, the right to assemble can be for any peaceful purpose. And finally, the right to free speech allows for the proclamation and distribution of those ideas.  The whole point of religious freedom is to protect the right to believe anything, and to form social groups whose purpose is to peacefully explore, celebrate and act upon those beliefs.  Catholics do not have to give communion to protestants. Jews do not have to count non-Jews in minyan prayer quorums. The Ku Klux Klan does not need at accept people with dark skin into their society. The Supreme Court has specifically asserted that these rights are still protected for those who believe as a matter of faith that homosexuality is a moral sin.

Imagine a town clerk refusing to issue a marriage license to a Jewish woman who had converted to Judaism with a Reform rabbi. Only in Israel would someone think that might be tolerable, though they too are wrong.  But in America it would not be allowed ever. Imagine a kosher restaurant refusing to serve an intermarried couple. Imagine a Jewish University refusing admission to someone who eats treife.  Intolerable, of course. Government and public services have been made available by the pious to the sinners in the country for years. And even if I don't believe these to be sins, I respect that others do. But they have no right to withhold generally available public services on the basis of that bias.

Yet a church, a pastor, a synagogue, or a rabbi are NOT forced, in any way, to support or engage any activity which is contrary to their religion, when acting as a church, pastor, synagogue or rabbi.  I do not have to rent my synagogue for forbidden activities, nor do I have to rent my synagogue for permitted activities.  There is nothing wrong with Christians observing Christianity.  But my synagogue may choose NOT to rent the social hall for an Easter service for a church that needs an overflow location.  Then again, we might. But we have the right, because it is a religious issue, to decide to apply a bias, even if our social hall is generally available to the public to rent.

 In Conclusion: Homosexuality has been determined by the court to be a civil right, and society will be held accountable to the equal treatment of homosexual citizens under the law.  As with gender and race, no person may say that their religion is a basis for bias in the public sphere.  Nevertheless, individual rights to privacy, religion, speech, assembly, etc., all protect those who disagree with the ruling to hold and act upon those beliefs in the private and religious spheres. Denying services on the basis of sexual orientation is no different than segregating the lunch counter, or denying university admission to women.

The next time someone asks one of these questions about "homosexuals," you might want to substitute the word "black,"  "Christian," or "woman," and see how it sounds to you.  When properly framed, the questions answer themselves.