Monday, November 27, 2006

The CEO's of American Judaism

Haaretz (6/23) had a report of a conference between the heads of large Jewish organizations and various intellectuals and heavy thinkers on the topic of the future of the Jewish world, or as the hysterics like to frame it THE SURVIVAL OF THE JEWISH PEOPLE !

We know for certain that as individuals our days are finite; nevertheless, except for a few we manage to buy green bananas. Even if the threat of Islam is serious and the situation in Israel is dire this is not exactly earth shattering news. Muslims have been on the march since their origins in Arabia, and the situation in Israel has been alarming, pretty much since Herzl had his light bulb moment over a century ago. We recognize that Yogi was right as always, and it ain’t over until it’s over.

Haaretz reports one of the main conclusions of this major conference was that the future is unclear and some but not others believe there are many risks ahead. Results such as these are reassuring and should help the rest of us go about our ordinary activities. The basic premise of the ’’executive branch’’, the 15 heads of the large Jewish organizations seems to be that if there is no future their organizations would not have a point. Since they are convinced their organizations have a point, the Jews must have a glowing future. This reasoning alone explains why one might be a bit more pessimistic. Not every people on the planet are privileged to be led by leaders so astute. The intellectuals and thinkers however saw risks, pitfalls and obstacles in years ahead.

Some felt it was not strategically clever to get all the Jews of the world moved to Israel. One never knows, accidents happen, etc. Others, following the inverted logic that permeated the conference, argued that giving official legitimacy to the Diaspora would be the end of Zionism as we know it. Since it would be out of the question to modify any of the basic tenets of classical Zionism, the Diaspora must move to Israel, and we must conclude such a move would be the best strategy for the survival of the Jewish people. In Chelm, the reader might remember, they discovered the important scientific law that when a piece of bread falls on the ground it always lands on the buttered side. One day a piece of bread fell and landed on the unbuttered side. There was a conference held, very similar to this one, attended by all the heads of the town’s major Jewish organizations and many of its leading intellectuals. After a 3 day all expense paid conference and the appropriate rounds of golf, the leaders concluded the bread was buttered on the wrong side.

For the most part there was agreement among the participants, and they did manage to define aims and goals for the future. These goals included:

Investing in education for the young generation
Lowering the price of access to Jewish life, e.g. the cost of synagogue membership, Jewish schools.
The importance of drawing those on the fringes of Jewish civilization inward. (I love the word ‘civilization’ in this context. Are Jews who intermarried steppe people, nomadic warriors, Germanic barbarians?)

As usual there was a shortage of concrete proposals, an agreement that further study was needed, and a decision to meet again next year. Everyone seemed to feel the very gathering itself was an achievement. “It is the first time the heads of Jewish organizations have sat down round the same table and sought ways to cooperate, pushing aside the competition, suspicions and sometimes even latent hostility.” I am confident I can speak for everyone in saying we are very proud of our leaders for being so broad minded and inclusive.

Haaretz offered a very concrete example of such cooperation. Tzvi Weinreb, an Orthodox Rabbi and head of the Orthodox Union, had no problem calling the head of the Reform movement, David Ellenson, up to the Torah, even though the week before President Moshe Katsav, the President of the State of Israel upon meeting Ellenson refused to attach the title “Rabbi” to his (Ellenson’s) name. President Katsav, the very same man who has been accused of molesting if not raping multiple women plus various other unsavory activities could not allow the word ''Rabbi'' to escape from his lips when addressing the head of the Reform movement.

Words are inadequate at moments like this. If you are in any doubt I made all this up read the article.

At the rate our leaders are moving there will be no real need for any serious planning. By the time they decide to move, a large percentage of World Jewry with the exception of Israel will have left the fold.

3 Comments:

At 12:43 PM, Anonymous Berthold in Arizona said...

What is so striking is that these organizations are not democratic in any real sense of the word. They are run by the rich and the 'machers' and the professionals, and the 'Jew in the Street' has no input--and hence no interest. Whenever Foxman rises from his throne to make a statement in my name, I ask myself with anger--who made him King of the Jews?

 
At 7:24 AM, Blogger Bob Miller said...

The press releases and position papers and other communications emanating from meetings like this could stretch from here to the moon. How may trees and electrons placed on earth to do good are instead wasted like this?

 
At 11:59 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

nice article

btw you meant secession but you spelled it succession which are in fact quite antonyms but its probably a typo

 

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