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April 25, 1986 - Image 28

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1986-04-25

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

28 Friday, April 25, 1986 .

THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS

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Jewish Unity

Continued from preceding page

sniping at each other, no group
grows."
Is the Greenberg proposal for
an intra-Jewish dialogue at
scholarly levels, at lay and rab-
binic levels, possible? He insists:
"Almost all of the outstanding
divisive issues could be solved or
at least reduced by policies and
halakhic approaches already in
existence. But first the commit-
ment to each other must be
strengthened enough to carry the
burden of such an effort to a suc-
cessful conclusion."
Yeshiva Univer ity President
Rabbi Norman La m, who is
viewed as dealing w th the issue
from the Orthodo perspective,
endorsing the duty to strive for
unity, commented that "no
amount of goodwill posturing will
resolve the problems facing Jews
today. Although there can be
more than one response. within
Jewish law, a pluralism which
accepts everything as legitimate
can lead to spiritual nihilism. If
everything is kosher, then noth-
ing is kosher."
Could this lead to a barrier to
the discussion, to a monkeyw-
rench in the discussion?
Union of American Hebrew
Congregations President Rabbi
Alexander Schindler expressed
concern lest some of the differing
views lead young Jews to say "a
plague on both of your houses."
He called for concreteness in
group relations, while recogniz-
ing the differences over such
matters as the Reform decision
on patrilineal lineage. His pro-
posal was improvement of group
relations between groups, includ-
ing exchange of ideas and pulpits,
joint studies and a regular, non-
binding religious forum where
possible mutual compromises
could be explored.
This is where the great strain
exists. In many local experiences,
Orthodox 'will not step into a
Conservative or Reform house of
worship. In most instances, they
will go to hotels to conduct their
dinners and fund-raising events,
although often most of the
generosity is from the non-
Orthodox. Does this undermine
the unity dream?
There is an interesting quota-
tion from the Schindler speech to
the Princeton conference: "Words
like Orthodox, Reform, secular
are adjectives. The noun is Jew."
This is where the challenge re-
ceives its most effective defini-
tion: are the differing elements
ready to accept the unifying Jew
definition as a totality in Jewish
life ?
Unless the views expressed are
treated seriously and respect-
fully, the issue could tangentially
develop into calamitous disunity.
Therefore, although, the opinions
thus resorted to are brevities,
they must arouse serious con-
cern.
Especially thought-provoking
have been the appeals for unity
uttered constantly by Rabbi
Emanuel Backman, chancellor
and ex-president of Bar-Ilan
University. His weekly column in
the Jewish Week of New York is
one of the most . thought-
provqking in the Jewish media.
He constantly urges conciliatory

'



.7.711,VORL ■ seracta

approaches, adherence to the
need for unity, calling for a cer-
tain measure of "tolerance" --
that is not his term used in the
discussion — by his fellow Or-
thodox.
Yet, "Yitz" Greenberg and Dr.
Rackman are under constant at-
tack by fellow Orthodox. There-
fore, their roles in the unity de-
bate are the most vital in efforts
to erase inner prejudices.
The issue is serious. It must not
be shelved. Regardless of the obs-
tacles, the aim must be pursued.
The centrality of it,. the Jewish
personality above destruction
partisanship, demands self-
respect, without which there can
be no genuine unity.

Additional
Divisiveness

Another threat to Jewish unity
and to religious "tolerance" and
self-respect was in evidence in Is-
rael earlier this month when the
official religious authorities re-
fused to grant recognition to the
marriage, at a public ceremony,
of 15 new immigrant .Ethiopian
couples in Tel Aviv. Israel's Chief
Rabbinates would 'not recognize
the authority of the Kessim, the
Ethiopian community's leader. In
spite, of the objections, the cere-
mony was performed by the Kes-
sim leaders.
There are threats from differ-
ing objectors to the evident
enforcements by the Israeli reli-
gious authorities that reach out
into many of the existing and
functioning Jewish organized
community tasks. Extremism has
already been widely resented in
Jewish communities in this coun-
try and in Great Britain. A letter
published in the London Jewish
Chronicle expresses the anger of
a Leeds Reform rabbi who tempo-
rarily withholds his contribu-
tions to the JIA, the British
equivalent of the UJA, because of
the Orthodox prejudices.
Leeds Rabbi Walter Rothschild
expressed his protests against a
rising tide of obscurantism and
fundamentalism, not from the
fringe of the community but,
what worries me far more, from
institutions at the "center." In
this. assertion is incorporated an
accusation that Israeli govern-
ment authorities share in the
guilt which causes him to with-
hold gifts to the leading philan-
thropic cause.
These are factors not to be ig-
nored. Responsibility for search-
ing for changes and improve-
ments and rejection of the
charged fundamentalism be-
comes a duty in Israel-Diaspora
relations.
A tragic note of dissention was
introduced at the Israeli Consu-
late in New York by Ashkenacic
Chief Rabbi Avraham Shapira
and SephardiO Chid Rabbi Mor-
decai Eliyahu whi) described the
Reform and Conservative move-
ments in America as "creating a
new Torah that can divide the.
Jewish people. They must not
change Halakha, the Jewish reli-
gious law, and must stop convert-

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