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November 08, 2002 - Image 22

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2002-11-08

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

Worlds Apart

An Orthodox rabbi decides not to join his book's Reform co-author in religious dialogue.

SHELLI LIEBMAN DORFMAN
St4ffWriter

T

were directing him to do," Rabbi Freedman said.
"It's the actual debating process the rabbis didn't go
for."
Rabbi Freedman explains the philosophy of teach-
ing in Orthodoxy. "We don't say, 'Here's a bunch of
truths', choose one," he said. "Because Orthodoxy
follows the belief that Torah is the absolute God-
given truth, we typically do not participate in reli-
gious debates or dialogues, comparing other reli-

gious pluralism, characterized Rabbi Reinman's
withdrawal as "a victory for those seeking to kill this
dialogue, which we have been struggling to sustain
in an unprecedented way.
"Obviously, I'm deeply disappointed in him,"
Rabbi Hirsch said. "I suspected at some point that
he would come under a lot of pressure. He assured
not only me, but all of us involved, that he would
withstand the pressure in the haredi camp." .

he cancellation of a 17-city promotional
book tour by one of two authors of One
People, Two Worlds, has brought both out-
rage and understanding from the Jewish
community.
Yielding to pressure from his ultra-Orthodox com-
munity, Rabbi Yosef Reinman
backed out of speaking engage-
Publisher's Surprise
ments with co-author Reform
Schocken Books, which published
Rabbi Ammiel Hirsch, executive
the book in August, said in a state-
director of the Reform move-
ment that it "fully supports and
ment's Zionist organization, the
stands behind the publication of
Association of Reform Zionists
One People, Two Worlds and its
of America-World Union.
authors.
The tour includes an appear-
"This book was published with
ance at the Jewish Community
the
intent to open dialogue and
Center of Metropolitan Detroit
encourage
discussion of theological
Annual Jewish Book Fair.
differences. The denouncement of
"We are greatly disappointed
the book serves only to close down
that Rabbi Reinman is unable to
that dialogue."
attend, however, we are looking
Meanwhile, Altie Karper, editori-
forward to Rabbi • Hirsch's
al
director at Schocken, said the
appearance," Book Fair co-chairs
Rabbi E.B. "Bunny"
,
Rabbi Yosef Reinman
publisher would not have signed
Teri Sinkoff and Sandy Stark say Rabbi Ammiel Hirsch

Freedman
the deal for the book had Rabbi
in a statement confirming Rabbi
Reinman not "had in hand all the
Hirsch's 8 p.m. talk on
necessary rabbinic approvals that
Wednesday, Nov. 13 at the JCC
would
enable him to go forward
in West Bloomfield.
with the publication of the book and to partici-
gions or streams. of Judaism. To have a discussion
The book, subtitled, A Reform Rabbi and an
pate in the publicity campaign after the book was
about God speaking to the Jews, in debate form, is
Orthodox Rabbi Explore the Issues that Divide Them,
published."
talk
to
us."
did
almost questioning whether God
consists of an 18-month e-mail correspondence
She said she was surprised by Rabbi Reinman's
One
thing
Rabbi
Freedman
stresses
is
that
"the
between the two men on a range of religious issues
withdrawal
because the publisher had been sensi-
rabbis
did
not
have
a
problem
with.what
he
(Rabbi
— from the authenticity of the Torah to the role of
tive to Rabbi Reinman's requests, which included
Reinman) wrote in the book. He presented the clas-
women in Judaism. It offers a candid look, not only
not referring to either author as "rabbi" on the
sic traditional viewpoint of an Orthodox Jew."
at differing ideologies, but the personalities of the
book's jacket or title page "because the haredi
authors, who gradually move from suspicion of each
community does not refer to members of the
other to friendship.
Rabbinic
Reaction
Reform clergy as 'rabbi'," she said. "I'm having a
While the book was created with the approval of
hard
time explaining to my colleagues why a book
Rabbi
Reinman,
a
Talmudic
scholar
who
lives
in
some Orthodox rabbis, after its completion two
that was rabbinically acceptable six months ago is
Lakewood, N.J., issued a brief statement saying he
leading groups of haredi (ultra-Orthodox) rabbis
now not acceptable."
has acted lesheim shamayim (in Heaven's name) and
issued statements condemning it, prompting Rabbi
And she said, Jewish book fair coordinators will
on the advice of people older and wiser than I am.
Reinman to cancel his participation in a traveling
have
"a hard time explaining to the thousands of
"I
accept
the
declaration
of
the
Moetzes,
as
I
am
dialogue on the book with Rabbi Hirsch.
unaffiliated
Jews who would have had the oppor-
sure
my
advisors
do
...
without
reservation,
"
Rabbi
Rabbi Reinman's withdrawal from the book tour
tunity to meet and talk with Yosef (Reinman) —
Reinman said, referring to the six-member Moetzes
was not based on disrespect for his Reform col-
who is a brilliant and articulate scholar, who radi-
Gedolei HaTorah of America, the Council of Torah
league, according to Rabbi E.B. "Bunny" Freedman,
ates love for his fellow Jews and who makes a kid-
director of Jewish. Hospice and Chaplaincy Network Sages. The group had called the book "a distressing
dush Hashem [blessing] wherever he goes — why
development
...
that
presents
a
debate
between
a
in Southfield, which sponsors the Book Fair appear-
have suddenly had that opportunity taken
they.
faithful
Jew
and
...
a
Reform
leader
whose
premises
ance in Detroit along with the Association of Jewish
away
from them."
reflect
his
denial
of
the
very
basis
of
our
faith."
Libraries-Michigan Chapter.
Karper said organizations that had booked both
Rabbi Hirsch, a leading Reform advocate for reli-
"He just felt he needed to follow what authorities

.

11/8
2002

22

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