Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Shafran rips Yoffie

Agudah's Rabii Avi Shafran in the Jerusalem Post takes aim at Yoffie and Reform Judaisim:

At the recent 68th General Assembly of the Union for Reform Judaism, in Houston, the group's president, Rabbi Eric Yoffie, said some important things. He noted that the children of Reform parents have been "told… again and again that Judaism is an all-embracing way of life," and that those youths "expect that their tradition will have something to say" about fundamental moral matters.
He also called on all the movement's members to "give our young people love, clear direction and the guidance of our ancestors" and, pointedly, to "show them that we are ready to sacrifice for our Jewish ideals."
They were wonderful words to hear, but they stood in disturbingly stark contrast to much of the rest of his speech. Like his admission that "we are not very good at saying no in Reform Judaism," and that "in the realm of personal behavior we are reluctant to ever use the word 'forbidden.'"
Similarly discordant with ideas like seeking "the guidance of our ancestors" and a readiness "to sacrifice for Jewish ideals" were things like Rabbi Yoffie's statement that "we do not tell our kids that sex before marriage is forbidden" because, after all, it is "unreasonable to suggest that this traditional standard should be maintained for young people who are adults."
Well, which is it to be? Is Judaism an "all-embracing way of life" or are its standards not reasonable to maintain? Should Jews be prepared to "sacrifice for Jewish ideals" or throw in the towel to prevailing social norms?
In one fell sermon, Rabbi Yoffie laid bare the inherent inconsistency of his movement. The words are there, the talk about "ancestors" and "tradition" and "sacrifice." Words are important, but when they're empty, they're worthless....

Rabbi Yoffie bemoaned the fact that so many who join his movement's temples end up leaving, "usually in three to five years, often right after celebrating a child's bar or bat mitzva."
Has it not occurred to him that the reason for that hemorrhaging of members might have something to do with the inadequacy of mere words? That when young people in his movement come to their spiritual leaders seeking "the guidance of our ancestors" they are looking not for platitudes but for true direction?
Does it really not occur to him that there is another Jewish approach, the original one, not only faithful to the Jewish past but clearly pointing the way to the Jewish future?...
posted by Yeshiva Orthodoxy
at 1:44 PM

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