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January 10, 1986 - Image 30

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1986-01-10

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1)3CHEF1

30 Friday, January 10, 1986

THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS

- THE REBBE'S EMPIRE

Continued from preceding page

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leader in Torah must speak out on issues
that need leadership. The Torah covers all
aspects of human life, nothing is irrelevant
to God or the Jews. The Rebbe leads us in
what the Jewish belief on issues is. The
world is his domain."
Most recently, that domain has included
two issues that have generated consider-
able controversy and anger — separation
of church and state in America and Who
is a Jew? in Israel.
Lubavitchers, almost alone among Jew-
ish organizations, have been advocating
what many Jews have been fighting — the
introduction not of prayer, but of an
organized moment of silence in the public
schools.
"The Rebbe is not about to give up
responsibility for the hundreds of thou-
sands of Jews attending public schools or
for non-Jews," said Rabbi Kagan. "He
feels the whole malaise of youth today is
due to the erosion of any sense that there
is a higher being. The Constitution says we
must be free of religious coercion. It
doesn't say we should be a religion-free
country.
"If kids see that even just a moment is
taken at the start of the day to meditate,
to thini about higher entity, that will set
the tone for the rest of the day. We are
turning out trained technicians, stuffed,
with information but devoid of moral val-
ues. We have a responsibility to fill that
void."
Rabbi Schindler argues that support for
a moment of silence is a threat to the tradi-
tional separation of church and state and
provides a dangerous 'foot in the door.' It
is for that reason, too, that he opposes
Lubavitch's placing of Chanukah menor-
ahs on public property. -
It is that last argument especially that
makes Rabbi Krinsky angry. "Are they
afraid Reagan will make the Jews go to
church on Sunday? Why don't they take
their money and blood, sweat and tears
and use it to fight anti-Semitic acts. They
make fools of themselves. Men, women
and children are proud to see a Jewish
symbol, happy that someone is thinking
of their yom tov."
But while the church/state issue has led
to heated debate, it is not, said Rabbi
Greenberg, what, he's concerned about. To
him much more important and much more
potentially damaging is the issue of Who
is a Jew and the Lubavitchers' efforts to
amend Israel's Law of Return. At present,
the law grants Israeli citizenship to those
born Jewish or converted to Judaism. The
Lubavitchers want that last part chang-
ed to converted to Judaism "according to
Halachah."
About the only thing the two sides of the
debate agree on is just how important the
issue is.
"It is something that could - destroy the
Jewish people," said Rabbi Kagan. "It

threatens to tear the Jewish world apart,"
said Rabbilchindler.
But that's where the agreement stops
and the arguments start.
"Some have said the issue affects only
a small number, that there's not really
much damage," said Rabbi Kagan. "In
fact, it's not a trickle but a torrent, involv-
ing thousands every year It is creating a
fifth column of non-Jews. in Israel, who
have gotten a quickie conversion."
At issue, said Rabbi Krinsky, "is the
very core of Judaism. What is Judaism
without Halachah? If there is a misleading
ceremony, that person is not Jewish. It's
a big lie, a tragic situation. Our desire is
that someone be regarded as Jewish only
on the basis of a true and authentic con-
version."
Rabbi Schindler said he's not sure that's
really the issue. "They don't care about
the conversion but only about who does
the conversion. When I do a conversion it
is in accordance with the strictest de-
mands of Halachah. But the fact that I'm
doing it makes it not kosher because, to
them, I'm not kosher. They're trying to
read me out of Judaism by deciding who
is a Jew and everyone else is a sinner.
"Lubavitch's relentless pressing of the
issue is the most divisive force in Jewish
life today. All their good is undone by this
madness. They cry Klal Yisrael, but they
don't practice it. They are acting like that
monster Mengele, making selections. But
at least he didn't separate Jew from Jew.
There is no greater danger to Jewish uni-
ty."
As for Rabbi Greenberg, he says he is
"mystified" by the Lubavitch stance.
"They have built up a lot of goodwill and
they're blowing it. The goodwill came from
their emphasis on Klal Yisrael, but now we
find that that's only on an individual basis.
They will deal with any. Jew. If a Jew is
in trouble, they don't ask what kind of Jew
he is, bdt do what they can to pull him
back in. ,
"What I don't think we grasped until
the Who is a Jew issue is that they only
deal with the personal, individual Klal
Yisrael. When it comes to the collective—
!;o Reform or Conservative or any organ-
ized group, they're not pluralistic. They do
not attribute any equal spiritual dignity
to other organized collectives."
The result, said Rabbi Greenberg, could
be "devastating, causing damage to them-
selves and the community. It is contri-
buting significantly to the split and grow-
ing polarization of the Jewish world."
The Lubavitchers say, on the contrary,
their goal is to unite the Jewish world.
"We welcome everyone," said Rabbi
Kagan. "We are the ones who reach out to
any group, we reject no one. ' If anyone
says, 'We Are One,' it is Chabad. To say
we don't look at Conservative and Reform
as Jews is inexcusal?le, an outrageous

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