Thursday, November 03, 2005

Reform "Rabbi" explains

Reform "Rabbi" Richard N. Levy, director of the School of Rabbinic Studies at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in Los Angeles, in an interview with-

The Jewish Journal:

JJ: The (1999 Pittsburgh) principles now recognize the Jews as a nation. It says, “We are committed to the mitzvah ahavat yisrael, love for the Jewish people and to k’lal Yisrael, the entirety of the community of Israel.” Does this mean Jews should be helping only other Jews?

RL: We’ve seen that the distinctions are more and more meaningless as we live in a more integrated world. A lot of Jews are sobered by all the work done for Soviet Jews that in the end liberated not only Soviet Jews but the Soviet Union, because they became a force that inspired other people as well. I think the Reform Movement is much less concerned about which comes first [Jews or non-Jews]. Part of dialogue is where do you feel called to go? Katrina called people.
When our students have gone out to support worker justice in various ways, most of the grocery workers or the hotel workers or security workers weren’t Jews, but we’ve come as Jews...


There are a number of rabbinic students who are children of mixed marriages (some aren’t mixed anymore, because the non-Jewish partner converted), and they’re wonderful students, and we think, “What would the Jewish people have lost had they felt the Reform movement was not open to them?” ...


JJ: You write in your book, “We need not fear if we are called to do mitzvot similar to Jews in other movements that we are betraying the Reform.” How are Reform observances different from other observances?

RL: If we can come out with some guidelines of dietary practices, it will go beyond the halacha of kashrut. A Reform Jew who refuses to eat veal and who monitors the various products being boycotted by United Farm Workers — that Reform Jew is also observing dietary practice. So we in some ways are extending the halacha. Another example is the mezuzah. Most Reform Jews have one in their house. I think it would be wonderful if we had them in every room, with text that wasn’t only the Shema, but indicated the holiness of that room: mitzvot dealing with food in the dining room; with the welcoming of guests in the living room. Paradoxically, greater observance by Reform Jews in some areas might separate us from Orthodox or Conservative Jews.

JJ: Do you think the movement’s more traditional approaches will result in more acceptance from Orthodox Jews?

RL: Not so much acceptance as understanding. When this was promulgated, some Orthodox Jews were pleased to discover that Reform Jews believed in mitzvot. Other Orthodox Jews saw the new direction as an indication that Reform was useful, because it could start Jews on a path that the Orthodox could complete for them, rather than be antithetical.
...It’s no surprise that they feel their observance is stronger and deeper than mine. But to see that my observance is related to theirs, on the same path to theirs, is a good thing. In the end, each of us stands on our own beliefs and principles...

A philosophy/religion of being nice. Oprahism (without the gifts under your chair).
posted by Yeshiva Orthodoxy
at 7:31 PM

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