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Monday, September 12, 2011

J-Street seeking rabbinic cover for anti-Israel activities

J-Street is looking to hire a new Rabbinic Organizer:
J Street has a Rabbinic Cabinet of more than 650 rabbis, cantors and seminary students. Rabbinic leadership is vital to J Street’s advocacy work. Rabbis help on a local and national level to shape J Street policy, communicate J Street’s message publicly, lead rabbinic actions, organize events, and expand our rabbinic community, as well as serve as validators for the pro-Israel pro-peace movement.

 J Street is seeking a rabbinic organizer to build and cultivate rabbinic leadership within the pro-Israel pro-peace movement. The rabbinic organizer will work with the JSEF Vice President, J Street’s rabbinic leaders and J Street’s field team to develop and implement a strategy for rabbinic outreach and organizing within J Street’s strategic framework.
Rabbis are being recruited to put the J in J-Street - to pretend that their anti-Israel advocacy has rabbinic certification. Since their positions are so evidently against what the Israeli public wants, and completely out of step with what most American Jews want, they are bending over backwards to pretend that there is something vaguely "Jewish" about J-Street.

This allows Jews who desperately want to believe that they are not abandoning the Jewish state when they join J-Street to feel better about themselves; if a supposed rabbi (or cantor! or seminary student!)  agrees with J-Street, then critical thinking about the religious aspects of J-Street go out the window.

This also helps fool credulous low-level politicians who are not aware of how badly J-Street has already shown itself to be anything but pro-Israel.

After all, when it comes down to it, the entire purpose of J-Street is to put forth the pretense that there is a large number of American Jews who believe that the best thing for Israel is to abandon its democratically elected officials and to replace them with more liberal-friendly alternatives. They want to pretend that pro-Israel groups like AIPAC are not in sync with American Jewry - and J-Street is. How better to further the charade than to organize a tiny minority of rabbis for whom politics is more important than religion? What can be more effective than to give a kosher seal of approval to acts that make the average Israeli - and involved American Jew - blanch?

Do you want to know how J-Street is using its rabbis to prepare for giving up Judaism's holiest places? Read this sickening pseudo-d'var Torah on the J-Street site by Rabbi Donna Kirshbaum, Congregation String of Pearls, a Reconstructionist congregation in Princeton, NJ that hold services in a Unitarian church. This is the most intricate pilpul on J-Street's site:
[T]he Torah itself places our textual tradition squarely in the realm of a literary, rather than a literal, tradition. The need for a lively symbolism trumps the need for historical accuracy.

But throughout this literary masterpiece, perhaps most clearly in Deuteronomy, its fifth book, we can discern a political stance that takes the form of an arc toward justice, especially distributive justice. The Torah claims that justice and peace can not exist without economic parity. And we also find in it the radical notion... that land does not belong to any of us, that we are all its tenants. As the narrative’s protagonist, God, says in parshat Yitro: indeed all the earth is Mine, ki li kol ha’aretz.

...Right now we need to bring these resilient foundations of our tradition to bear on a seemingly intractable problem. Of course a sovereign state needs clear and verifiable boundaries, but let us remind ourselves that we come from a literary tradition in which land has long been revered for its symbolic value at least as much as its economic or strategic value; we do not come from a literal tradition. A literal interpretation would claim land ownership, down to the last hectare and dunam, based on our ancient ancestors’ understanding of what God wanted from them and from their descendants.
Yes - Reb Donna (which is what her temple's website calls her) takes God's words of "all the Earth is Mine" and applies it literally.

But the eighth verse in Deuteronomy, the book she praises for its political stance, says quite clearly: Behold, I have set the land before you: go in and possess the land which the LORD swore unto your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give unto them and to their seed after them.

That explicit promise, and many similar promises that God made to the Israelites in the Torah, we are told, are literary.

And Reb Donna is just the person to understand what parts of the Torah are literal - the ones she believes in - and which parts are disposable.


When God says to treat widows and orphans well, that is of course literal. When He says to circumcise Jewish males, well, we have to ask Reb Donna if it fits in with her personal political feelings at the moment to decide what exactly it is. Maybe yes, maybe no, maybe it will change next year depending on the political climate or what Jeremy Ben Ami decides.


This is the type of rabbinic approval that J-Street needs so badly - personal interpretations of Torah texts by dilettante "rabbis" to give a sheen of quasi-Judaism to its thoroughly political, anti-Israel (and anti-religious) positions.

It is a well-paying job, commensurate with experience, as well it should be. Putting lipstick on a pig and declaring it kosher is no small accomplishment.

(h/t DJK and CHA)