You may have heard—actually, it was here last week—that I published a 17,000 word essay on our political system and the problems any president, Obama in particular, but any potential progressive would face in trying to move it, on The Nation’s website last week. That’s here.
For my Think Again column this week, I round up some of the responses it has so far received. It’s called “Kabuki Democracy: The Responses” and that’s here.
Also, my latest Moment column is called "Israel’s Greatest Enemy: Israel" and it’s here.
When I write about Israel, I tend to focus on its political issues with the Palestinians and the rest of the world. But right now, there’s an enormous storm brewing between Israel and American Jews; one that calls into question the legitimacy of reform, reconstructionist and conservative Judaism in the official eyes of the Israeli state. My friend (and rabbi) David Gelfand wrote a letter to Bibi Netanyahu about it and gave me permission to print it below.
The Honorable Benjamin Netanyahu
Prime Minister of Israel
Office of the Prime Minister
Dear Prime Minister Netanyahu,
I am writing to you with urgency to quickly and passionately request your immediate intervention to prevent passage of the legislation being brought forward by MK David Rotem which challenges the authenticity of tens of thousands of people who have and who will yet choose Judaism and become active Jews, committed to the perpetuation of Judaism and thereby supporters and lovers of Israel.
My congregation in New York City is surely overwhelmingly and deeply concerned about the intention to grant the Chief Rabbinate sole control over conversion in Israel. This is truly a hot button issue in our community and one that people care about with much intensity and concern. Such legislation would be an open attack on the legitimacy of non-Orthodox Jewry, which composes the vast majority of world Jewry.
While we are supportive of efforts to create greater accessibility to conversion courts in Israel, the overall impact of the Rotem Bill will seriously set back these efforts. Should this bill be enacted, it will exacerbate a widening gap between Diaspora and Israel communities, which we are working very hard to avoid.
Temple Israel of the City of New York where I serve as the Senior Rabbi firmly and strongly believes that it is imperative that you, as leader of Israel, and as one who cares deeply about the well-being of Klal Yisrael, the unity of the Jewish people, intervene and urge immediate withdrawal of this bill.