Stop the violence! Save the Reform rabbis!


In his post today, Rabbi Menken did not provide the definitive Orthodox statement that Rabbi Ellenson called for, but I will do so. First, here is part of the essay to which Rabbi Menken was responding, an article — written by the head of the Reform HUC — with the inflammatory title “Obscene Orthodox Hatred Demands a Clear Denunciation”:

To be sure, such Orthodox opposition to non-Orthodox rabbis is hardly a novelty in modern Jewish history. Indeed, if one considers an event such as the assassination of Rabbi Abraham Kohn of Lemberg in 1848 by an ultra-Orthodox zealot, the charges of Eliyahu and the protests of the Hod Hasharon Orthodox Sephardic congregation seem mild….These displays of unwarranted contempt and hatred demand a public response of condemnation on the part of my Orthodox colleagues….Citation of another historical precedent helps illustrate why I make this request. In July 1860, a group of zealous Orthodox youth in Amsterdam entered an assembly of the Shochrei Deah, a Reform group, and stoned the liberal rabbi Dr. M. Chronik, almost killing him….Rabbi Esriel Hildesheimer — then head of an Orthodox yeshiva in Eisenstadt, Hungary — did not hesitate to condemn these youth for their actions.

Rabbi Ellenson is quite naturally concerned that Orthodox opposition to Reform will lead to violence. Seeing as how a Reform rabbi was murdered in 1848, and another Reform rabbi was stoned as recently as 1860, it’s no wonder Rabbi Ellenson fears for his life. Those Orthodox fanatics, wow, every 150 years they explode like Krakatoa! So here is the definitive Orthodox statement that Rabbi Ellenson requested:

Orthodox Jews stand with Rabbi Hildesheimer, and unequivocally condemn the ad hoc killing or stoning of Reform rabbis. It is totally inappropriate and contrary to halacha to impose the death penalty in the absence of authoritative judicial proceedings, when we are in exile and there is no proper Sanhedrin. We await the coming of Moshiach speedily and in our days.

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Ori Pomerantz
8 years 5 months ago

My wife is considering conversion (to Conservative Judaism). She decided that it makes more sense to try to follow the Mitzvot first and then worry about the Mikveh – she’s serious about doing the right thing.

Right now she is trying to get used to the notion of life without bacon and cheeseburgers. That’s hard for a Texan, especially since we eat a lot at fast food (four young kids and no relatives less than a five hour drive away). She’s also worried about losing the ability to shop on Saturday, since stores are only open for a few hours on Sunday here.

T.A. Zev
8 years 5 months ago

Ori, have you discussed conversion with your wife? What are her reservations?

8 years 5 months ago

When I was a resident, a certain emergency room doctor frequently called for unneccessary consults. After being woken up by him, again, at 2 am, for yet another unncessary consult, I told him that he needed to return a substantial portion of his salary, because he was performing the duties of a triage nurse, not an emergency room doctor, and he should be paid as a triage nurse, not a doctor.

Of course a complaint was made, and a few days later my program director had a little chat with me in his office, and he told me “we all know he(the er doctor) is an idiot, but you didn’t have to tell him.” A few weeks later, at my director’s instigation, rules were put into place for emergency room consultations.

Now, one way to deal with those with whom you disagree is to use denigrating humor, sarcasm, or other dissmissive forms of speech. This usually makes the speaker feel better, but usually accomplishes nothing, except for infuriating the target of the speech. The more constructive approach is to have a dialogue and a meeting, and resolve differences as best as possible. I guess I expected more and better from someone who puts herself out as part of the public face of Orthodoxy on the internet. Is this how you want your Bais Ya’akov students talking and writing about those with whom they disagree?

Moishe Potemkin
8 years 5 months ago

Knowing facts is not the same as understanding the nature and obligation of halacha.

And none of this mitigates the damage caused when the average non-observant reader stumbles across yet another example of gratuitous mean-ness expressed by the Orthodox toward their brethren.