Reform Judaism Will Lose Its Soul if It Forsakes Its Commitment to Jewish Peoplehood and Zionism

According to a 2020 study, 2.1 million American Jews describe themselves as Reform, making the denomination—as it has been historically—the largest in the U.S. Yet Ammiel Hirsch, the rabbi of a major synagogue in Manhattan, believes the movement stands at a crossroads. He set the problem before an audience at a recent conference:

I fear that we are losing the soul of the Reform movement. . . . I worry—deeply—that increasing numbers of liberal young adults, including those entering Reform leadership, express indifference to Israel, or worse: opposition not to the policies of Israeli governments, but to the very legitimacy of the Zionist enterprise and the Jewish state.

To critique decision-makers is what Jews do. It is a sign of health, energy, and vitality. To turn against Israel; to join our ideological opponents and political enemies in castigating Zionism, is a sign of Jewish illness, an atrophying of our intellectual and emotional commitment to our people. . . . Given the growing hostility to Israel in our circles, liberal and progressive spaces, and mindful of the increasing disdain for Jewish particularism, it is not enough for us to proclaim our Zionist bona fides every now and again, often expressed defensively, and with so many qualifications, stipulations, and modifications, that our enthusiasm for Zionism is buried under an avalanche of provisos.

Reform Judaism occupies the seam in Western religious life, bridging both the universal and the particular. It is a good place to be. But, in truth, we have often distorted the balance between tikkun olam [“mending the world”] and klal Yisrael [the Jewish people], thus disfiguring Judaism’s unique approach, and contribution, to the world. . . . Loyalty to the Jewish people absent concern for all the families of the earth, is a distortion of Judaism. And tikkun olam divorced from Jewish peoplehood is not Jewish universalism; it is just universalism.

The speech can be viewed here (video, 39 minutes), and the full transcript is available at the link below.

Read more at Jewish Journal

More about: American Judaism, Reform Judaism, Tikkun Olam

Hizballah Is Learning Israel’s Weak Spots

On Tuesday, a Hizballah drone attack injured three people in northern Israel. The next day, another attack, targeting an IDF base, injured eighteen people, six of them seriously, in Arab al-Amshe, also in the north. This second attack involved the simultaneous use of drones carrying explosives and guided antitank missiles. In both cases, the defensive systems that performed so successfully last weekend failed to stop the drones and missiles. Ron Ben-Yishai has a straightforward explanation as to why: the Lebanon-backed terrorist group is getting better at evading Israel defenses. He explains the three basis systems used to pilot these unmanned aircraft, and their practical effects:

These systems allow drones to act similarly to fighter jets, using “dead zones”—areas not visible to radar or other optical detection—to approach targets. They fly low initially, then ascend just before crashing and detonating on the target. The terrain of southern Lebanon is particularly conducive to such attacks.

But this requires skills that the terror group has honed over months of fighting against Israel. The latest attacks involved a large drone capable of carrying over 50 kg (110 lbs.) of explosives. The terrorists have likely analyzed Israel’s alert and interception systems, recognizing that shooting down their drones requires early detection to allow sufficient time for launching interceptors.

The IDF tries to detect any incoming drones on its radar, as it had done prior to the war. Despite Hizballah’s learning curve, the IDF’s technological edge offers an advantage. However, the military must recognize that any measure it takes is quickly observed and analyzed, and even the most effective defenses can be incomplete. The terrain near the Lebanon-Israel border continues to pose a challenge, necessitating technological solutions and significant financial investment.

Read more at Ynet

More about: Hizballah, Iron Dome, Israeli Security