Reform Jews Take Out Ad Against URJ Leader Rabbi Richard Jacobs over his J Street Ties
32 Reform Jews across America took out an ad that appeared this week in the Los Angeles Jewish Journal and national Jewish Newspaper, The Forward. The group calls themselves Jews Against Divisive Leadership (JADL). They were objecting to the patent Anti-Israel stands of the new Reform Movement President designee, Rabbi Richard Jacobs, the ‘visionary’ spiritual leader of the Westchester Reform Temple in Scarsdale, New York.
The JADL signatories to the ad declared:
The Union for Reform Judaism’s nominee for President, Rabbi Richard Jacobs, does not represent the pro-Israel policies cherished by Reform Jews. He does not represent us.
He is . . . Anti-Israel and No Zionist given his current and past memberships in the J Street Rabbinic Council, the board of the New Israel Fund (NIF), chair of its ‘Pluralism Grants Committee’ and co-chair of its Rabbinical Council. He may have been one of the rabbis who attended White House sessions with Jewish communal heads as an acolyte of President Obama’s peace process to be imposed on Israel in a dangerous and chaotic Middle East.
The FresnoZionism.org (FZ) blog post, “New URJ Head has appalling Ideology”, we cited in our March 23rd Iconoclast post, had several telling examples of Rabbi Jacob’s views. The JADL ad noted, among these, Jacob’s presence on the J Street Rabbinic Cabinet, the board of the NIF, and the anti-Zionist Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood demonstration in Jerusalem.
The trio of reform rabbis gave several reasons why Jacob’s form of Zionism was the real deal. They excoriated the ad sponsors for allying themselves with right-wing extremists and put a sheen on the infectious approach of the new URJ head, Jacobs, appealing to young unaffiliated 30 to 40 something Jews ‘embarrassed’ by Israel.
The fact that those who have assaulted Rabbi Jacobs’ integrity have wrapped themselves in the flag of Zionist purity is particularly galling. Since its inception, the Zionist movement has provided a forum for a range of opinions. If these self- appointed purists try to bar a great congregational rabbi whose views represent the mainstream of the American Jewish community and the Reform Jewish Movement from the fold of the True Believers, who wins? The campaign to discredit the work of the NIF (which hundreds of Zionist rabbis support) shows all the symptoms of separation plague — self-righteous certainty, disregard for nuance, allergy to reason and a strong appetite for the whiff of a witch-hunt. Support for Israel is not the exclusive property of one party or another.
Lovers of Israel with a range of political commitments should welcome with enthusiasm that the mantle of leadership of the Reform Movement will go to a man who cares deeply about Jewish learning, Jewish creativity and Jewish unity. They should decry tawdry attempts to sully the integrity of a good man. Rabbi Jacobs is a model of constructive engagement. At a time of rampant confusion and galloping alienation, the tactics of witch-hunting and demagoguery are not what we need. The leadership epitomized by Rabbi Richard Jacobs is.
That is clearly not what either the FZ or the JADL believe. Witness these concluding comments from the FZ post:
I am not sure about what wrapping oneself in the flag of Zionist purity is, but this brings me to the next fallacy that is so prevalent in this piece: I call it the Humpty Dumpty fallacy (apologies to Lewis Carroll): the view that words can mean whatever one wants them to mean. ‘Zionism‘is a word that already means something, and the rabbis cannot simply redefine it to mean “knowing what’s good for Israel better than Israelis themselves,” as they seem to want to do.
The tone of this article is insulting. The writers say that critics of the NIF display “self-righteous certainty, disregard for nuance, allergy to reason and a strong appetite for the whiff of a witch-hunt.”
May I suggest that this better characterizes the writers themselves?
Three of the JADL ad signatories came from Temple Beth Avodah in Newton Centre, Massachusetts. They are Richard Calmus, Judi and Norman Greenberg and Margot Einstein. They have reason to be concerned about Rabbi Jacobs given that their spiritual leader, Rabbi Keith Stern, was a roommate of Rabbi Jacobs at the Hebrew Union College-the Reform movement seminary. Stern is also on the board of the J Street Rabbinical Cabinet.
Stern and Jacobs were among the 400 rabbis who signed a letter sent by the progressive group, Jewish Funds for Justice that ran in the Wall Street Journal and The Jewish Forward requesting that Fox News owner Rupert Murdoch ‘sanction’ Glen Beck for alleged anti-Semitic remarks about the adolescent George Soros’ involvement in confiscation of Jewish property during the Holocaust in Hungary revealed in a 1998 interview with Steve Kroft of CBS 60 Minutes. Stern was one of the 70 members of the Sanhedrin of foolish rabbis who signed a letter to the Boston Jewish Advocate, effectively issuing a ‘rabbinic fatwa’ against Dr. Charles Jacobs (no relation). This banned him from their pulpits for the unforgiveable sin of criticizing one of their own members, Rabbi Eric Gurvis, immediate past-President of the Massachusetts Board of Rabbis. Rabbi Gurvis was photographed in a bear hug with an anti-Semitic leader of the Islamic Society of Boston Cultural Center, Bilal Kaleem, head of Boston Chapter of the Muslim American Society, a Muslim Brotherhood front. See our NER interview with Jacobs, “Fighting Muslim Brotherhood Lawfare and Rabbinic Fatwas.”
There was a free speech incident that involved Rabbi Stern and J Street leader, Jeremy Ben Ami, at Temple Beth Avodah. A number of congregants had submitted suggested speakers to appear at adult education lectures, one of whom was Dr. Charles Jacobs. Stern refused the congregants’ suggestions. But then Stern was presented with an opportunity to have J Street Leader, Jeremy Ben Ami speak at Temple Beth Avodah, which caused an uproar among his congregants. As a result he was forced by members of his congregation to change the venue to a local elementary school.
Doughty JADL signatory, Margot Einstein, stood up at the public school J Street presentation and said:
What kind of free speech is it when our rabbi said that Dr. Charles Jacobs would never set foot in my Temple?
So, the reform rabbinate in America is bound and determined to lead the Reform Movement into abject dhimmitude to Jihadist allies both in America and the chaotic Middle East. All perpetrated under the Orwellian mantra of Jeremy Ben Ami of J Street demanding an immediate Palestinian state putting Israel at risk behind the infamous pre-June 1967 War armistice line that divided Jerusalem. A Palestinian unity deal was announced this week between the PLO-Fatah on the West Bank and the Hamas ‘terrorstan’ in Gaza, now formally allied in seeking the destruction of the Jewish State of Israel. This nefarious unity deal was immediately rejected by Israeli PM Netanyahu because it directly threatened the security of six million Jewish citizens of Israel. J Street Rabbis Jacobs, Stern, Ellenson, Kelman, Marmur and hundreds of others may find themselves besieged by a lot more reform members than just the 32 JADL ad signatories. By persisting in this deception, that J Street is ‘pro-Israel, pro peace’ they are, in actuality, traitors to the Zionist cause and the Jewish State of Israel.