Monday, July 27, 2009

Moderates – Stand Up!

A guest post by Fozzie

This is a critical moment for Moderate Jewish Public Leadership.

The Orthodox Jewish world has lost its integrity.

Orthodox Judaism now stands for scandal, violence, ignorance and bigotry.

Too many of the Orthodox institutions have failed. The NCYI stood by AgriProcessors. The Syrian Jewish community has self-destructed. The Chareidi community has descended into violence. Its economy is in tatters and their children are being failed by their education system.

We are now seeing the results of the right-wing Orthodox policies and practices of isolation and insularity. By cutting themselves off from wider society, they came to feel superior to it. They failed to see how they were ruining themselves and Orthodox Judaism by their ignorance and bigotry.

How can anyone have thought that the Chareidi school system would not create a generation of ‘graduates’ unable to live productive livelihoods? Who did not realize that the Jewish education preached in the Yeshiva system fails to create adults who are able to understand or practice a socially responsible lifestyle?

By leaving moral public leadership to the insular strands of Judaism, we have paved the road to moral, economic and social ruin.

The time has come for the Centrists to stand up.

There are still Orthodox religious leaders whose voices carry respect and integrity. Thankfully we have Rabbis Jonathan Sacks, Shalom Carmy and Benjamin Lau. Thankfully, there are many others.

We need to hear these voices louder than ever.

We need to hear them now.

They need to be setting standards for acceptable moral behavior.

They need to be constantly reminding us what is fundamental about being a good Jew.

Rabbi Sacks’ book ‘A Letter in the Scroll’ is of great importance because it puts the elements of ‘Ben Adam le’Chavero’ front and center. It points out that it is human relationships that are the key to being a good Jew. This is the point we need to be reminded of. This is what we need our Jewish public leadership to focus on.*

We cannot allow those whose focus is on the ritual element at the expense of the moral element to be our leaders.

We need strong moral Jewish public leadership now. We, the lay-people, need to turn to our leaders and demand moral public leadership now.

This is a critical juncture for Orthodox life. Will we allow criminals to destroy our integrity or will we take responsibility for fixing the damage that has been done? Will we make sure that improvements are made?

We must.

Please contact your rabbi and ask them what can be done in order that Judaism will once again be seen as force a Kiddush Hashem? We cannot allow Orthodox Judaism to become a synonym for ‘Chillul Hashem”. We are too close to that already.

Please act now.

*His new book “Future Tense” is an incredibly timely statement. It is an example of the type of leadership we need.

Search for more information about Rabbis Jonathan Sacks at 4torah.com.

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