Orthodox Group Rejects “Orthodox” Statement by Shmuly Yanklowitz
March 8, 2017

The Coalition for Jewish Values today rejected the so-called “Orthodox Statement on Spiritual Resistance,” issued yesterday by 22 people who self-identify as Orthodox clergy, as “unrepresentative of the Orthodox rabbinate or Jewish values.”

Yesterday’s statement was organized by Shmuly Yanklowitz, and presents itself as representing an “Orthodox” viewpoint. It called the current Presidency “an administration that poses a grave threat to our democracy” and exhorted readers to “pursue righteousness” and “challenge oppressive and dangerous policies.”

“The Uri L’Tzedek statement is alarmist — unfairly and inaccurately conjuring up grave and baseless imagery of oppression and persecution, in order to scare readers into concurrence,” commented CJV Senior Rabbinic Fellow Rabbi Avrohom Gordimer.

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CJV Senior Rabbinic Fellow Rabbi Aryeh Spero elaborated: “Judaism places profound emphasis on self-defense and protecting those whom we, as leaders, are assigned to protect. It is the duty of the President and those in leadership roles to protect the citizens of their country. The innocent citizens of Western countries have been repeatedly victimized by countless attacks, in both Europe and the United States. Jihadists took full advantage of our penchant for moral compassion, and unrestrained good will and noble intentions has led to atrocities. Those calling for open borders are acting irresponsibly, and seem indifferent or blind to the previous results of the ‘open borders’ they are demanding.”

In this context, it is relevant to note that Shmuly Yanklowitz, director of Uri L’Tzedek — and the majority of signatories to yesterday’s statement — are not recognized as Orthodox rabbis by any mainstream Orthodox organization. They are, instead, part of “Open Orthodoxy,” a fringe group whose leading figures routinely express views markedly at odds with basic Jewish tenets and traditional practice. Yanklowitz in particular has called parts of the Torah “evil” and recently expressed his opposition to the reading of the Book of Esther on Purim, which falls this year on Saturday night and Sunday. Press coverage calling their words an “Orthodox statement” does a disservice to Judaism and factual accuracy.

The Coalition for Jewish Values (CJV), a national organization directed by prominent rabbinic leaders, articulates an authentic Jewish perspective on current events, and promotes Jewish values through writing and teaching derived from traditional Jewish thought.

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