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