February was another exciting month for CJV growth and pursuit of our mission. Thanks to your support, we impact the public policy dialogue in both the US and Israel, with both government officials and the general public. Please help our efforts to promote an authentic Jewish viewpoint in favor of our core values.
A great deal of our work this month was behind the scenes: establishing relationships with allied congressional caucuses, filing another Amicus brief in a religious liberty case (where a rapid response had special value), and participating in the Am Echad mission to Israel run by Agudath Israel of America.
Later this month, I will be addressing a group of legislators, members of the House Values Action Team. The VAT focuses upon family, life and religious liberty issues, all areas where our voice is sorely needed. We look forward to encouraging and supporting legislation that brings America back towards its founding values.
Our latest amicus brief comes in response to an urgent request. Brush & Nib is a custom calligraphy firm in Arizona that will not promote messages that conflict with the proprietors’ religious beliefs. They will not promote or create messages “that demean others, promote racism, or objectify the female body.” Yet now they are being forced to choose between creating a message that violates their beliefs, or to give up their business. This case is scarily similar to the Masterpiece Cakeshop case and several others around the country, but also provides a direct parallel to Sofrim who write Kesubos [Jewish scribes who write religious marriage documents].
Many of you have seen reports of the recent Am Echad mission. For several years, American liberal movements have been demanding changes at the Western Wall, despite their own rejection of Jewish prayers for the Restoration of the Holy Temple at that site or appreciation of its inherent holiness. They appear to believe it logical to demand an “equal” space at the Western Wall for people who rarely visit Israel and rarely pray, to match that provided for observant Jews.
Rabbi Lerner and I have been working on this issue — and advocating for a response — for several years. Rabbi Lerner wrote a letter to Mishpacha (an Orthodox weekly) two years ago, and last year wrote an op-ed that was published in many Orthodox journals calling upon the community to no longer be silent. Also last year, I wrote a two–part series for Hamodia (an Orthodox paper) that described the problem and opportunity for our involvement. Both Rabbi Lerner and I also helped the efforts of the Women For the Wall, the counter-organization in Israel of women who, like Am Echad, stepped forward to declare that “they do not represent me!”
Perhaps as a result, I was asked to write the six-page briefing paper that was distributed to the officials and Knesset members. I urge you to read it for further information about this issue. And, of course, thanks to you, we went representing thousands of people who signed our petition — with more signatures coming every day. Please continue sharing, because this is going to be an important issue for months to come!
And all of the above is besides being at CPAC (the Conservative Political Action Conference) and Shabbat at CPAC, which led to good coverage with more to come.
In that second release, we became the only organization to point out that anyone who criticized President Trump after Charlottesville loses all credibility if he or she does not echo our condemnation of Ellison. Notably, partisan Democrats in Congress have almost universally fallen into this category, including Chuck Schumer, who took what we described as a “swipe” at the Orthodox in our first release of last month.
Our first release was covered by the Yeshiva World News, widely read in the Orthodox community. Our second was the first time we were covered by the Daily Wire, Ben Shapiro’s still more popular website of conservative news, as well as the Jewish News Service.
The Am Echad mission, of course, got ample coverage, both friendly and not-so–friendly. Note that the Forward, in particular, interviewed no one from the mission itself, while interviewing the CEO of the (Conservative) United Synagogue and claiming that the women (and men) of Am Echad went to Israel to oppose “women’s prayer” at the Western Wall! This truly demonstrates the need for a louder voice in public affairs.
Earlier in the month, Nachum Segal of JM in the AM interviewed me about our organization and the Western Wall issue.
We did a lot of writing this month; Rabbi Fischer, in particular, was extremely prolific.
It’s OK to Deport, Rabbi Dov Fischer in Israel National News, Feb. 5.
The Orthodox Union speaks, Rabbi Stephen Pruzansky in INN, Feb. 5.
The Orthodox Union isolates the final four, Rabbi Dov Fischer in INN, Feb. 7.
The Grand Showdown Over Women “Rabbis”, Rabbi Avrohom Gordimer in Yated Ne’eman, Feb. 7.
What Every Prospective Convert to Judaism Deserves To Know, Rabbi Dov Fisher in The Forward, Feb. 8.
No, Orthodox Jews Are Not White Supremacists – And Neither Is President Trump, Rabbi Yaakov Menken in The Forward, Feb. 13.
What Does McDonald’s Put in its Cheeseburgers?, Rabbi Dov Fischer in INN and The American Spectator, Feb. 15.
When Do We Get to Talk About the Other Reasons?, Rabbi Dov Fischer in The American Spectator, Feb. 16.
What a fabulous time to shake up Israel’s government!, Rabbi Dov Fischer in INN, Feb. 19.
As you see, it has indeed been a very busy and productive month. And in order for all of this to happen, we need your help. Please give generously, to help the CJV continue in our important work.