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


Israel’s Covert War on Iran’s Nuclear Program Is Impressive. But Is It Successful?

Sept. 26 2023

The Mossad’s heist of a vast Iranian nuclear archive in 2018 provided abundant evidence that Tehran was not adhering to its commitments; it also provided an enormous amount of actionable intelligence. Two years later, Israel responded to international inspectors’ condemnation of the Islamic Republic’s violations by using this intelligence to launch a spectacular campaign of sabotage—a campaign that is the subject of Target Tehran, by Yonah Jeremy Bob and Ilan Evyatar. David Adesnik writes:

The question that remains open at the conclusion of Target Tehran is whether the Mossad’s tactical wizardry adds up to strategic success in the shadow war with Iran. The authors give a very respectful hearing to skeptics—such as the former Mossad director Tamir Pardo—who believe the country should have embraced the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran. Bob and Evyatar reject that position, arguing that covert action has proven itself the best way to slow down the nuclear program. They acknowledge, however, that the clerical regime remains fully determined to reach the nuclear threshold. “The Mossad’s secret war, in other words, is not over. Indeed, it may never end,” they write.

Which brings us back to Joe Biden. The clerical regime was headed over a financial cliff when Biden took office, thanks to the reimposition of sanctions after Washington withdrew from the nuclear deal. The billions flowing into Iran on Biden’s watch have made it that much easier for the regime to rebuild whatever Mossad destroys in addition to weathering nationwide protests on behalf of women, life, and freedom. Until Washington and Jerusalem get on the same page—and stay there—Tehran’s nuclear ambitions will remain an affordable luxury for a dictatorship at war with its citizens.

Read more at Dispatch

More about: Iran nuclear program, Israeli Security, Joseph Biden, Mossad, U.S. Foreign policy