Tuesday, July 7, 2015

I am who I say I am! Recent responses (on Facebook) to statements about Jews not being real Jews and Reform Jews not being real Jews...sigh...

July 3, 2015
    I have had a few people, over the years, call me and say that I am not a "real Jew," and I don't mean someone from another branch of Judaism. It is someone from the outside who claims that Jews from Eastern Europe were late converts to Judaism and therefore have no direct lineage to the Middle East. I would assume that someone making this claim would probably assert that the the 23andme DNA testing is rigged if it came up with a different result. Just as I thought, according to 23andme, my Ashkenazic/Eastern European Jewish ancestry also includes a major component that goes back to the Middle East 2000 years ago. It was sad to hear that an activist used this worn-out canard - that Ashkenazic Jews were late converts to Judaism - while speaking at the convention of a major Protestant denomination this week in order to undermine what I and other Jews would consider to be our story. How about this....I am willing to listen to your story if you just tell it without trying to pull the rug out from under mine. Share your story well, be willing to listen to me, and I will listen to you. And if you don't want to listen, then do we really have anything to talk about? I hold out hope that civility and a meeting of the minds is still possible in almost any situation to reach a resolution...even the Middle East. That continues to be my prayer.

July 7, 2015
PLO ambassador endorses Protocols of the Elders of Zion 
What was declared at the gathering of church members and leaders of one denomination is now spoken openly in a diplomatic setting. This is anti-Semitism that will not disappear, and it has nothing to do with the State of Israel, as the Protocols forgery was a product of 19th century hatred of Jews as an "out-group." When I was in Cairo and Amman with an ARZA Rabbinic tour in 1996, we heard about the Protocols being sold in both of those cities despite peace accords between Israel and both of those countries. The linking of these falsehoods (the Protocols plus the-Jews-are-descended-the-Khazars-and-therefore-not-legitimate) together by a leader like this, and by other activists in his cause, should be condemned. It will not lead to peace. The Karols of Akmine, Lithuania from whom I am descended knew who they were, and I know who I am.

Reform Jews can't be considered Jews (Minister Azoulay)
(July 7, 2015) 
April 1977 - I was a first year rabbinic student in Jerusalem. I went on a bus ride with a college friend who was at Yeshivat Hamivtar for the year to what I didn't totally realize was an early version of an newly-identified settlement (no buildings yet) in Judea, probably a few miles beyond the green line (the 1967 border). The whole area was under Israeli control at the time. 
One of the other Americans on the bus started giving me the third degree. Eventually, I told him that my "studying" in Jerusalem was to be come a Reform rabbi. Then came the question. "On Yom Kippur, I fast so that I can atone for my sins before God. What do you do?" 
Me, with a slight sense of indignation but definite force: "I do the same thing you do!" 
Not out to prove anything myself, but I hope Minister Azoulay has some sense of the debate between Rabbis Akiba and Ben Azzai from 1900 years ago on the fundamental principle of the Torah. 
Akiba said, "Love your neighbor as yourself." 
Ben Azzai said, (Genesis 5:1) "This is the record of the line of humanity: When God made humanity, God made humanity (ADAM) in the divine image." 
Yes, Minister, we are both commanded to treat each other with respect and consideration. And we are both created in the divine image. 
I quote that a lot, because that quote is all too relevant in a world that tries to divide itself rather than seek more cooperation and unity. 
And on Yom Kippur, Minister, I do the same thing you do.

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