The Coalition for Jewish Values (CJV), representing over 1000 rabbis in public policy, today rejected comments by Israeli Knesset Member and Deputy Minister Michael Oren as “part of a worrying trend of politicizing anti-Semitism.” Mr. Oren, in media statements and a New York Times Op-Ed, called for replacement of traditional Jewish standards with those used by American liberal streams in the wake of the massacre at Congregation Tree of Life in Pittsburgh, PA, which is not Orthodox.
“While we greatly appreciate Michael Oren’s service and advocacy for the People of Israel,” said Rabbi Avrohom Gordimer, Chairman of the CJV Rabbinic Circle, “his insistence for full recognition of all practices of all groups of Jews is at odds with thousands of years of Jewish tradition. Jewish sources have specified the requirements and practices which have ensured our survival for millennia. To jettison these foundations is to undermine and destroy both the Jewish future and our best hopes for present-day Jewish unity.”
The CJV noted that in America, unilateral changes to the definition of Jewish peoplehood, such as standards for conversion and acceptance of patrilineal descent, have brought about a situation where children from Orthodox and non-Orthodox homes can no longer be assured that they may marry and build families together according to Jewish tradition. Non-Orthodox newlyweds now choose to marry outside the Jewish community over 70% of the time. Earlier this year, Mr. Oren himself floated a proposal to “pay thousands of young non-Orthodox Jews in the United States” to immigrate to Israel annually, acknowledging that they are otherwise “prone” to assimilation.
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“It is a calumny to say this is about ‘liberal Jews,'” added Rabbi Pesach Lerner, President of the CJV. “It is about misusing a tragic slaughter to try to upend millenia of consistent Jewish practice. This is part of a worrying trend of politicizing anti-Semitism, taking divisive, partisan positions at a moment when we should be striving to maximize Jewish unity. Precisely because Robert Bowers took aim at every Jew, we should be focusing upon that which brings us together, not agendas designed to drive us apart.”