Love and Tolerance Do Not Constitute Grounds for Conservative Judaism to Abandon Its Position on Intermarriage

June 16 2017

In a recent essay, Amichai Lau-Lavie, a rabbi ordained by the Jewish Theological Seminary, has proposed a way for his fellow rabbis in the Conservative movement to condone, and even perform, intermarriages under certain circumstances. Julie Schonfeld is unconvinced:

[Lau-Lavie] notes that his paper is not a t’shuvah or rabbinic responsum per se. . . . It is [nonetheless] framed in rabbinic terminology and style. But the literary device of saying “this is not a t’shuvah” should not conceal the fact that it cannot be [one], because such an enterprise cannot succeed. The reason a Conservative rabbi cannot officiate at the wedding between a Jew and a non-Jew is not because he or she doesn’t love and care about [the couple] enough. Rather it is because a commitment to the halakhic framework makes this impossible. . . .

Judaism, as a continuous 3,000-year-old tradition, promotes the highly countercultural idea . . .  that [there is] special opportunity for spiritual and moral growth in the maintenance and appreciation of boundaries—whether regarding time, food, consumption, moral conduct, and even relationships. . . . Those boundaries include the reservation of Jewish rituals that are the explicit performance of Jewish commitments to Jews.

Rabbi Lau-Lavie opens his paper speaking of the pain he felt when saying no to couples whose weddings he could not officiate. Indeed, the anguish felt by couples in love, their extended families, and the rabbi who cannot perform an interfaith wedding is very real. But there is a group of people, a rather large group, whose feelings were conspicuously absent from this paper. Those are the people who, seeking an open but traditional Jewish community, count on the Conservative rabbinate to maintain the halakhic framework and the network of Conservative communities, synagogues, camps, and schools which they call home.

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Read more at Forward

More about: Conservative Judaism, Intermarriage, Judaism, Religion & Holidays

The Significance of Mahmoud Abbas’s Holocaust Denial

Aug. 19 2022

On Tuesday, the Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas, during an official visit to Berlin, gave a joint press conference with the German chancellor Olaf Scholz, where he was asked by a journalist if he would apologize for the murder of Israeli athletes by Palestinian terrorists at the 1972 Munich Olympics. (The relationship between the group that carried out the massacre and Abbas’s Fatah party remains murky.) Abbas instead responded by ranting about the “50 Holocausts” perpetrated by Israel against Palestinians. Stephen Pollard comments:

Scholz’s response to that? He shook Abbas’s hand and ended the press conference.

Reading yet another column pointing out that Scholz is a dunderhead isn’t, I grant you, the most useful of ways to spend an August afternoon, so let’s leave the German chancellor there, save to say that he eventually issued a statement hours later, after an eruption of fury from his fellow countrymen, saying that “I am disgusted by the outrageous remarks made by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. For us Germans in particular, any trivialization of the singularity of the Holocaust is intolerable and unacceptable. I condemn any attempt to deny the crimes of the Holocaust.” Which only goes to show that late is actually no better than never.

The real issue, in Pollard’s view, is the West’s willful blindness about Abbas, who wrote a doctoral thesis at a Soviet university blaming “Zionists” for the Holocaust and claiming that a mere million Jews were killed by the Nazis—notions he has reiterated publicly as recently as 2013.

On Wednesday, [Abbas] “clarified” his remarks in Berlin, saying that “the Holocaust is the most heinous crime in modern human history.” Credulous fools have again ignored what Abbas actually means by that.

It’s time we stopped projecting what we want Abbas to be and focused on what he actually is, using his own words. In a speech in 2018 he informed us that Israel is a “colonialist project that had nothing to do with Judaism”—to such an extent that European Jews chose to stay in their homes and be murdered rather than live in Palestine. Do I have to point out the moral degeneracy of such a proposition? It would seem so, given the persistent refusal of so many to take Abbas for what he actually is.

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Read more at Jewish Chronicle

More about: Anti-Semitism, Germany, Holocaust denial, Mahmoud Abbas, Palestinian Authority