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October 06, 1995 - Image 10

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1995-10-06

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rectly endangered by this 'peace
process.' "
"Explain the dangers to them,
and the urgent need to stop the
`peace process' now before irre-
versible changes are made," it
* Abraham Foxman, national
director of the Anti-Defamation
League of B'nai B'rith, dropped
his 25-year commitment to his
Orthodox synagogue after the
rabbi there spewed "hate and vit-
riol toward the elected leaders of
"Having been a longtime mem-
ber of this congregation, I re-
member it as a center of diversity,
tolerance and civility," Mr. Fox-
man wrote in a letter published
in the Jewish Standard, a New
Jersey newspaper. "By the rab-
bi's mandate, these values are no
longer upheld there."
Recent actions both here and
across the United States have
stirred a debate over the issue of
politics during the holidays: Is
it a moral obligation or is it sim-
ply whipping up the political sen-
timent of congregants during an
emotionally vulnerable time?
Over the years, political agen-
das often have found their way
to congregants through their
rabbis. During the Vietnam War
and more recently the Gulf War,
the pulpits were a vehicle for
transmitting Jewish values in
relation to actions taken by gov-
Fueled by a passion for Israel,
some Jewish leaders this year
are speaking out against the
peace process. They argue that
Israel Bonds are funds, lent to
the Israel government, which
are spent on support services
given only within the green line.
Funding is generally cut off for
the 150,000 Jews living in the
Some leaders are urging an-
nual contributions be made to or-
ganizations that support settlers,
either in lieu or in parity with Is-
rael Bonds.
"What is one person's politics
is another person's fundamental
Jewish value," said Rabbi Steven
Pruzansky of Congregation B'nai
Yeshurun, an Orthodox syna-
gogue in Teaneck, N.J.
Rabbi Pruzansky, the former
rabbi of Abraham Foxman, has
written several opinion pieces
about what he calls the "traves-
ty" of the peace process. Citing ac-
counts of settlers who have been
beaten, as well as expressing his
outrage over funding going to the
PLO, he has compared the Rabin
government's actions to the Ju-
denrat, the Jewish councils or-
ganized by the Nazis in World
War II Europe to administer Jew-
ish affairs.
"(Urging action against the
peace process) is more than ac-
ceptable. It is mandatory," he
said. "One hundred and sixty
Jews have died since September
s savingihat is an

untruth. We have an obligation
to speak out and prevent any
more from dying."
He is especially sympathetic
about the plight of the settlers,
Israelis who moved into subur-
ban areas with the help of fund-
ing from the Israeli government
in the years before the peace ac-
cords. During the peace process,
the settlers were cut off from gov-
ernmental funding and urged to
move into Israeli-controlled ar-
eas. They rely on funding from
anti-peace process, pro-settle-
ment groups such as YESHA to
pay for basic infrastructure such
as road repairs and ambulances.
"There is a Torah principle,
`You cannot stand by as the blood
of your brother is shed,' Rabbi
Pruzansky said.
Although his congregation will
still have the annual Israel Bond
appeal on Yom Kippur, Rabbi
Pruzansky's congregation also
will push another appeal four
weeks later, for the One Israel
Fund/YESHA Heartland Cam-
paign to aid the settlements.
Rabbi Pesach Lerner, vice
president of National Council of
Young Israel, said the issue of in-
fluencing a congregation to give
to a particular fund rises above
politics; it is saving a life.
"We are not gambling here
with a piece of property, we are
not gambling with water rights,"
he said. 'We are gambling with
people's lives. We are talking
about life and limb."
Others, mostly from Conserv-
ative and Reform backgrounds,
said the time for such appeals is
not the High Holidays.
Rabbi David Wolpe, assistant
to the chancellor of the (Conser-
vative) Jewish Theological Sem-
inary in New York, said the High
Holidays are a time to explore
personal relationships as well as
relationships with God. To incite
political sentiment through the
pulpit is not appropriate.
"The primary guideline is that
this is a time to guide Jewish
souls and not rally around polit-
ical causes," Rabbi Wolpe said.
"To counsel against buying Israel
bonds is a disgrace but ... what
can you say?"
Rabbi David Nelson of Con-
gregation Beth Shalom believes
that rallying against the Israeli
government holds potentially
dangerous ramifications.
"I have great respect for the
people who are leading the State
of Israel," he said. "I am person-
ally incensed and offended when
it is said that they are not serv-
ing the best interest of Israel."
"I really believe in the freedom
of the pulpit, but on the other
hand you have to realize that you
can't be a bully," Rabbi Nelson
While the alternative cam-
paigns are new, their effect is al-
ready anticipated. However,
totals for all campaigns will not

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