The “Rainbow Family Movement”

Responding to Rabbi Eric Yoffie’s speech at the Biennial this past week, Shmuel Rosner at Ha’aretz had much to say in his blog. Drawn to Rabbi Yoffie’s assertion that “if there’s no Reform movement in Israel, there’s no Reform movement,” (Rosner’s paraphrasing of Yoffie’s words) he writes about how the Reform movement should stand up in Israel.

As usual, the most colourful and provocative comments were not found within the article itself, but rather in the public responses to the article. Here’s my favourite response – one from an Israeli Reform Jew:

…as a Reform Jew, I see the inherent weakness in our structure. We are like hippies, wondering why the Rainbow Family movement doesn’t have better organization or funding…

…Many Jews who arrive in Israel suddenly discover their lack of identity and become Ba’al T’shuva in any case….

Is that the crux of the problem? Is it that simple? Is a religiously organized structure completely antithetical to the foundation of autonomy that Reform Judaism stands upon? Is that why we have such a hard time defining ourselves? Is it akin to anarchist hippies writing a political platform?

I don’t have the answers, although I try to look for them. The question is posed tonight. The attempted answers will come later this week.

*I also realize, that it has been 4 months since Rabbi Yoffie posted a response to my writings, and that I still not have responded in kind. What with moving cities and signing my life over to a new school, I have literally not had a free weekend to sit down and think it through. Because of the heaviness of what I wrote, I wanted to dedicate an entire weekend to formulating a proper, thoughtful, and respectful answer to him. I’m now on winter break, and intend to get that taken care of. So be on the look out for that.

1 Comment

  1. reformislam says:

    What is wrong with today’s Jews?
    A perspective of a moderate Muslim.

    When Muslims criticize Jews chances are it’s Islamists. You rarely see moderate (an I do mean real moderate, not Islamists like CAIR who claim to be moderate) Muslims saying unflattering things about the Jews. So, normally, when I see the Jews do dumb things i.e., supporting an Islamist congressional candidate because of partisanship (American Jewish World’s support for Keith Ellison) or providing utilities to a terrorist enclave (Gaza), I try to keep my mouth shut. For obvious reasons. But not this time.

    I thought I’ve seen everything: Cuban missile crisis, fall of Berlin wall, 9/11. Until recently, I thought that the father of modern terrorism getting awarded a Nobel Peace Prize was the most peculiar event in my lifetime. But a recent, largely unnoticed event, could take the cake in peculiarity contest.

    On December 15, Rabbi Eric H. Yoffie, the president of the Union of Reform Judaism (one of the largest Jewish organizations in America), gave a sermon in San Diego in front 5,000 Jews in which he announced URJ’s alliance with Islamic Society of North America (ISNA – one of the largest Muslim organizations in America).

    As a part of the sermon, Rabbi Yoffie stated that “[ISNA] has issued a strong and unequivocal condemnation of terror, including a specific condemnation of Hizbollah and Hamas terror against Jews and Israelis. It has also recognized Israel as a Jewish state and supported a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.” But has it really?

    Read more:

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