Rabbi Brant Rosen posts a mass e mail sent to U.S. Conservative rabbis by the Rabbinical Assembly advising them on the “proper” Jewish response to the UN human rights report which blasts Israel for war crimes against the Gazan people. The formula adopted by the rabbis seems to be: when facing possibly immoral behavior by Israel start singing Hatikvah furiously to drone out the accusation. So in this way, Jewish nationalism trumps morality. Now here I always thought rabbis were supposed to be the Jewish arbiters of moral behavior. Silly me. And also note how the rabbis work in Iran into the mix in order to really tug at Jewish heart-strings.
Here’s the e-mail:
On this Rosh Hashanah our brothers and sisters in Israel face the threat of a nuclear Iran – a threat to Israel’s very existence.
Today, we Jews around the world also confront the anti-Semitism and anti-Israel sentiment of the Goldstone report which blames Israel disproportionately for the tragic loss of human life incurred in Operation Cast Lead, which took place last winter in Gaza. This unbalanced United Nations sponsored report portends serious consequences for Israel and the Jewish people.
On this holy day, which is not only Rosh Hashanah, but also Shabbat, the Shofar is silent in the face of this spurious report, the world is far too silent.
Today the state of Israel needs us to be the kol shofar, the voice of the shofar!
We ask you to write to our governmental leaders and call upon them to condemn the Goldstone report and to confront the threat of a nuclear Iran.
While the shofar is silent today, all Conservative rabbis, cantors and congregations have been asked to sing Hatikvah at this moment in the service.
We rise in solidarity with our brothers and sisters in Israel.
Rabbi Rosen provides the most apt Jewish response to such utter nonsense which could have been, and probably was produced by some Israel lobby group like the Conference of Presidents. He calls the Israel-worship of the statement, idolatry:
What troubles me most about this suggestion is how profoundly it flies in the face of the very meaning of the festival itself. On Rosh Hashanah, we affirm Malchuyot – God’s sovereignty over the universe. Rosh Hashanah is the only time of the year that Jews are commanded to bow all the way to the ground and pledge our allegiance to God and God alone. We acknowledge that our ultimate fealty lies…beyond any mortal ruler, any government, any earthly power.
Beyond the political arguments over such a statement, it strikes me as something approaching idolatry.
I was in shul today but attended the family service and so did not hear whether my congregation prayed at the altar of Israel or God. But I pray my rabbi did not succumb to the siren call of those who circle the Jewish wagons at the first hint of criticism of Israeli policy or behavior. Rabbinic statements like this one are an attempt to hijack our religion for the purpose of bolstering narrow Jewish nationalism. Now, to be clear, I have no problem with Jewish nationalism that understands its rightful place within the sphere of Jewish identity. I have no problem with Jewish nationalism that is PART of that identity. But I object strenuously to Jewish nationalism that subsumes it entirely. That is what the Rabbinical Assembly has done in this statement. And as a Conservative Jew I object to it strenuously and urge any and all rabbis or synagogue lay leaders reading this to do so as well.
Israel is part of us. But it is not all of us. Israel should be in service to the Jewish idea, but never the be-all and end-all. Let us not be idolators who worship solely at the altar of Israel.