Wednesday, September 12, 2012

The problem with getting cozy with Christians

We see on the Facebook that Chesky Koppel,editor-in-chief of Kol Hamevaser, has published an editorial criticizing Meir Solivetchick for being too cozy with the Christians. This, as long time readers may have gathered, is a personal pet peeve of ours. Not that we disapprove of cross-cultural friendship and acceptance.... however...

When Jews and 
Christians break political bread the Christians nearly never welcome all Jews to the table. Its not about finding common cause with Jews qua Jews, but about building political alliances with Jews who happen share their political opinions. In of itself, these sort of pragmatic associations are fine.  If you want to say, "I happen to agree with what Christian theologians say about abortion, capital punishment, gay marriage and social welfare", that's fine. Its also OK with me if you wish to point out that some Jewish legal experts happen to agree, to some degree or another, with Christians theology.  

The problem begins when you start pretending that your view of political issues - the one that happens to coincide with the Christian view - is the one and only possible legitimate Jewish view. This is especially pernicious when it comes to abortion. Christian say they don't want to allow it under any circumstances, but under normative Jewish law as it has been understood and accepted for generations there are all sorts of situations when an abortion is allowed, and even required. 

Thanks in part to the sort of alliances disdained in the Kol Hamevaser article and promoted by Rabbi Dr. Solivetchik it is becoming more and more difficult for sincere, knowledgeable, honest Jews to assert that Judaism has its own mesorah and its own theology on issues like abortion and that this does not always coincide with the Christian take. There is a very real fear in some circles of appearing "less frum" than the gentiles. 
"If we Orthodox Jews in America begin to see ourselves and are seen by others as more closely associated with Christian communities and interests than with the other members of our own nation, I will feel a sense of profound failure. " 
That's Chesky Koppel pointing out a second problem with Jews and Christians climbing into bed with each other.

His fear is that R.W Jews are starting to feel more closely related to R. W Christians. There is too much truth to this.

Certainly, professional bozos like Daniel Lapin are more comfortable with like-minded Christians than they are with Jews who disagree with them on gay marriage or abortion. But unfortunately, the hamon am is starting to fell the same way. A Jew (like me!) who keeps shabbos, kashruth, taharas hamisphacha and is koveah itim, but likes Obama and supports gay marriage and abortion on demand is very likely to be called a "self-hating" Jew on some stupid blog, whereas its unlikely this appellation will ever be applied to a Jew such as Holy Hyrax or Nate, Jews who cut various halachic corners yet remain stoutly opposed to showing gay people any decency.

There's something wrong with that, no?

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