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December 16, 1988 - Image 20

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1988-12-16

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

COMMENT

The Odd Consequences
Of 'Love And Respect'

HAROLD M. SCHULWEIS

Special to the Jewish News

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FRIDAY, DECEMBER 16, 1988

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abbi Menachem
Porush's appeal for his
and his party's persis-
tent efforts to amend the Law
of Return is irresistible and
beguiling (Dec. 2 Op-Ed).
Whose Jewish heart will not
melt before the protestation of
love for the Jewish people?
"We love all Jews deeply,"
Rabbi Porush declares and
later couples "love" with
"respect." But upon reflection
he offers a strange love.
lb begin with, the love of all
Jews turns out to have noth-
ing to do with respect for my
individual Jewish self. The
historic roots of my soul may
be accepted but not my Jew-
ish sensibilities, Jewish in-
telligence, Jewish convictions,
Jewish beliefs, Jewish inter-
pretations, Jewish philosophy,
or Jewish behavior. My soul
may be "kosher" but not the
Jewish mentors, scholars, rab-
bis, thinkers who have in-
fluenced myself-under-
standing of Judaism. My rab-
bis are all unreservedly dis-
counted. Nor is there respect
for the rabbinic seminary
where I have studied and
received my ordination. Nor
for the synagogue to which I
have been elected by the con-
gregants nor for the religious
movement with which I am
proudly affiliated. Quite the
contrary. The sanctuary in
which my people and I pray is
denigrated and regarded as
off limits to those who protest
love and respect for all Jews.
It may be understandable
that I have come to take the
rhetoric of ahavas Yisrael
with a spoon of salt. That
kind of love is punctuated
with the same ambiguity
with which the Ibrah dots the
"kiss-bite" of Jacob and
Esau's embrace (Genesis
33:4).
Rabbi Porush speaks about
the exclusion of Reform and
Conservative rabbis from the
conversion process of non-
Jews to Judaism as if it were
an isolated issue. He says
nothing of the discrimination
by the Orthodox parties in
Israel who have long sought
and continue to seek to
delegitimize the non-Ortho-
dox religious communities in
Israel, who bar their rabbis
from officiating at divorces,
marriages, burials, or serve
as chaplains in the armed
forces. Those who verbally
profess love for all Jews do
their utmost to close down
synagogues and youth hostels

run by the Conservative and
Reform movements. Such are
the odd empirical conse-
quences that follow from
"love and respect."
Even in the instance of the
Law of Return, a disingenuity
crops up in Rabbi Porush's
plea for unity and conversion
in "a traditionally acceptable
manner." For while the
Reform movement is targeted
and its rabbinic decision to
accept Jewish patrilineality
as one of the criteria for the

It is not piety,
knowledge or
competence that
are paramount but
the partisan
rabbinic union to
which the rabbi is
affiliated that
determines who is
a Jew.

religious status of the child
mocked, Rabbi Porush deletes
mention of Conservative rab-
bis or their movement in this
critical matter. Why the omis-
sion? Why the reticence to
mention Conservative prac-
tice in conversion, though in
Porush's mind and behavior
conversions conducted by a
Conservative bet din (rab-
binic tribunal) are deemed in-
valid? Here is a Jewish Con-
servative movement and a
rabbinate committed to the
halachic conversion of non-
Jews, insisting on thorough
instruction, circumcision and
immersion in a mikvah and
the rabbinic interrogation of
the candidate for proselytiza-
tion. Yet for all the rabbi's ex-
hortation endorsing a single
standard, love and unity,
halachic Conservative conver-
sions are given no Jewish
weight in the eyes of the Or-
thodox rabbinate, here or
abroad.

It seems evident that not
"how" or "what" but "who"
is the discriminating princi-
ple. It is not piety, knowledge
or competence that are para-
mount but the partisan rab-
binic union to which the rab-
bi is affiliated that deter-
mines who is a Jew. Politics,
not Halachah, is the decisor.
And even if everything is
done according to Halachah,
the next stratagem to disbar
Conservative rabbis is to
raise the ante on the issue of
rabbinic qualification. Does
the non-Orthodox rabbi pray,
observe, practice and believe

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