Mufti's Hate Call Taints
Bid To Find Real Peace
Going all-out to raise our children Jewish.
he Jewish mystics teach that there is no
such thing as a coincidence. Perhaps
this is why I believe that it was not
just happenstance that 40 years ago when I was
installed in my first post as an assistant rabbi at
one of the larger Eastern U.S. suburban congre-
gations, the synagogue replaced all of the paper
towel dispensers in its bathrooms with electric
A few weeks later, when I attend-
ed my first board meeting, I discov-
ered that the hand dryer innovation
became a major "issue." Though
there were pressing problems plagu-
ing the Jewish world in general —
and this congregation in particular
— the debate over hand dryers was
No. 1 on the agenda and raged for
Some of the board thought that
the hot air emitted was too hot,
and some thought that its usage
was more sanitary than paper. Some believed
the machine did not dry hands adequately
even after two pushes of the button and others
believed that using paper towels was bad for the
environment. There were a few who were con-
vinced that the machine made too much noise
and others who thought that the entire debate
was beneath them.
And as I observed the board that night, I
came to two conclusions: First was the realiza-
tion that five years of rabbinical school with all
of its courses on Talmud, Torah, liturgy and lin-
guistics had not prepared me for the real world
of the rabbinate. The second was whoever said,
"If you ever want to see God laugh — tell him
your plans:' was a genius.
The debate was mercifully tabled until the
next meeting, which was scheduled after the
completion of the High Holidays. As luck or
fate would have it, the hand dryer affair was
miraculously settled on Rosh Hashanah Day
when someone taped a sign onto the contro-
versial machine that read: "If you wish to hear
our rabbi's sermon, press here' By the time Yom
Kippur rolled around, hot air was gone and the
towel dispensers were back.
There was a time that I thought that Jewish
organizational life's attention to minutia was just
an amusing sidebar. Now I believe that it is akin
to rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.
The signs of decay are all there: Our demo-
graphic is shrinking. Our economic stability is
weakening. And even the most optimistic stud-
ies are telling us that an overwhelming majority
of our children are questioning the very need to
In spite of this, I believe with all of my heart
— even with denominational divisions and
abysmal educational models over the centuries
— that Jewish philosophy, theology
and our cultural underpinnings are
the most meaningful of any other
belief system in history.
I believe with all of my soul that
Jewish thought and structure can
truly change people's lives and is a
lifestyle that can create immense joy
and meaning to those who utilize it in
its purest form.
I also believe with all of my might
that the majority of our synagogues
(of all denominations) have turned
into "service stations" and, for the most part,
our approach to making Judaism attractive as a
faith, a philosophy or a way of life is at best irrel-
evant and at worst non-existent.
In my opinion this is not a catastrophe —
just a moment of truth. I agree with Stanford
economist Paul Romer who once said, "A crisis is
a terrible thing to waste."
Though the purists among us never like to hear
that we should run our congregations like a busi-
ness, that is exactly what we have to do. Not mere-
ly with budgets that work but with relevant and
proven business models and innovative market-
ing concepts and 21st-century delivery systems.
We have to admit to ourselves that we are in
the business of making Jews, and we should be
using the best and the brightest to do exactly
that. Our teachers and our educational tech-
niques should be the most innovative and the
best that money can buy because our children
are our most important product — and if they
are sold on Judaism they will be the best sales-
people on Earth.
We should finally be taking a page out of the
Lubavitcher Rebbe's playbook and utilize every
ounce of talent and technology that is possible
to make Jews, and that will be our salvation. ❑
Dannel Schwartz is the founding rabbi of Temple
Shir Shalom in West Bloomfield.
esteemed religious authority
in the West Bank quotes reli-
gious text declaring Muslims
should kill Jews as a tenet of
Islam, you unequivocally get
Mufti Muhammad Hussein
the message that Palestinian
leadership shuns peace of
any sort with Israel.
At a Jan. 9 rally marking the 47th anniversary of the found-
ing of Fatah, Mufti Muhammad Hussein cited the Hadith, the
Islamic tradition attributed to Muhammad, in declaring the
Hour of Resurrection would not come until Muslims fight the
Jews and kill them. The pronouncement that it's the destiny
of Muslims to kill Jews came even as Israeli and Palestinian
negotiators met in Amman to try to restart stalled peace
talks. Islamic religious hatred is no way to bring the Jewish
state back to the negotiating table.
The mufti's words, exposed by Palestinian Media Watch
(PMW), a respected Israel watchdog agency, aren't surprising,
but still stinging. Quoting the Hadith, but appearing to link the
religious text to the current conflict with Israel, he said: "The
Jew will hide behind stones or trees. Then the stones or trees
will call, 'Oh Muslim, servant of Allah, there is a Jew behind
me; come and kill him.— The passage further proclaimed that
the Jews have planted obscuring Gharqad trees around their
communities to hide them from killing-minded Muslims.
The mufti's appointment came from P.A. President and
Fatah Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, elevating Hussein to the
highest level of credibility within the West Bank. It's Abbas
who insists negotiations with Israel won't resume without
preconditions on settlements and borders that clearly are
The mufti, who once preached that Jews are the "enemies
of Allah," this time went so far as to underscore that the
Islamic belief that Muslims must kill Jews as a prelude to the
Resurrection is part of the Hadith's reliable collections.
His death call citing harkens to the 2000-2005 round of
Palestinian terror attacks on Israel, when P.A. clerics took to
official P.A. TV to intone this same Hadith to drive Palestinians
toward terror. The core message: That Muslims had an Islamic
obligation to kill Jews. PMW punctuates the continuing under-
lying religious view of Palestinians toward Israelis and how
killing Jews is central to P.A. religious teaching even though it
is less frequently promoted on P.A. TV.
Reports indicate the moderator who welcomed the mufti
to the January rally invoked another defaming Islamic belief.
"Our war with the descendants of the apes and pigs," he said,
referring to Jews, "is a war of religion and faith." The mufti
not only didn't condemn that invocation, but also bolted it to
the goal of Islam to kill Jews.
Years of citing this Hadith to justify killing Jews may well
have inculcated Palestinian society with this religious direc-
tive. It's evident that vulnerability to indoctrination has
become part of the Palestinian people's DNA.
Israeli-Palestinian peace is essential to the bedrock of
Middle East stability. But religious and political canards of
hatred from Palestinian leaders may prove too much of an
obstacle for Israel. El
January 26 s 2012