Jewish 'Leaders' Are Driving Away Jews
Jewish religious leaders complain that American Jews are intermarrying, assimilating, and abandoning Judaism. These leaders include Eric Yoffie, the former head of the Union for Reform Judaism (URJ). The URJ was itself a major source of the problem on Yoffie's watch, and it still is. I refer to its support of political agendas that cannot help but alienate at least some people of Reform Jewish identity, such as myself.
Eric Yoffie first came to my attention through his speech, in his capacity as the head of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations (now the URJ) to the anti-Second Amendment Million Mom March in 2000. Mr. Yoffie, under color of Reform Judaism, declared war on every single Jew who supports the Second Amendment, and who knows from history what happens to Jews, Armenians, Ukrainians, African-Americans, and other minorities who have no weapons. I have included my own observations.
Yoffie: Is the need for sensible gun-control a religious issue? You bet it is. The indiscriminate distribution of guns is an offense against God and humanity. Controlling guns is not only a political matter, it is a solemn religious obligation.
Levinson: It is a solemn religious obligation only if your theology defines a Democratic Donkey as the Almighty, Franklin Roosevelt as God the Father, Barack Obama (or, at the time, Albert Gore) as God the Son, Lyndon Johnson as the Holy Ghost, and the Democratic National Convention as the High Holidays. Only in Eric Yoffie's highly unique Torah is there any "religious obligation" to attack the Second Amendment. A lot of people in states like West Virginia and Pennsylvania would have meanwhile loved to have known who was distributing guns indiscriminately; good ones normally cost several hundred dollars.
Yoffie: Our gun-flooded society has turned weapons into idols, and the worship of idols must berecognized for what it is -- blasphemy. And the only appropriate religious response to blasphemy is sustained moral outrage.
Levinson: If Eric Yoffie had been in charge of the ancient Hebrews, today's Jews and Christians would now be worshiping honest-to-Zeus idols because the Maccabees would have had no swords. Battlestar Galactica's theology reflects an alternate history in which this was the case.
Yoffie: We are ready for a knock-down, drag-out, no-holds-barred battle against the NRA, which is the real criminals' lobby in this country, and which is drenched in the blood of murdered children.
Levinson: Mr. Yoffie forgot to tell us how NRA's mascot, Eddie Eagle, makes matzos from the blood of those murdered children. (Militant "Muslims" are quite voluble as to how Jews do it.) The remark about the "criminals' lobby" is, meanwhile, a personal insult to NRA members such as myself.
Yoffie: And we're going to find out who's getting NRA funds, and benefiting from NRA ads, and we're going to vote for the other guy. ...The American people, I believe, are ready for a leader who will take on the fanatics and support sensible gun control.
Levinson: This sounds like an endorsement of Albert Gore while Mr. Yoffie was acting in his capacity as the head of the UAHC.
Jews who support laws similar to those the Nazis enacted to disarm Jews and other "undesirables" can work for that goal through the left wing of the Democratic Party. When a synagogue puts its name and resources behind this, or any other, political agenda, it has effectively declared war on those of its congregants who oppose the agenda in question. That is not a very intelligent way to keep people on board.
How "Idols" Preserve Religious Freedom
We have already seen how Mr. Yoffie's "idols" saved ancient Jews from worshiping real idols. Establishment of a country with Constitutional religious freedom required plenty of "idolatry" between 1775 and 1783. The result was the establishment of one of the world's few countries in which Jews could live safely.
The Warsaw Ghetto's Jews revolted against the Nazis in 1943, per Genocide Delayed by Jon Guttman. "The first armed resistance occurred when a 17- year-old [idolater] named Emily Landau flung an [idol] into a cluster of SS men from a rooftop on Gesia Street, killing or wounding a dozen of them. The SS promptly assaulted the building with [idols] blazing, only to be met by a volley of return fire that felled four or five Germans and drove the rest back in disorder. Emily Landau was bending down to recover an [idol] from a slain SS officer when she was struck by a bullet fired by a German [idolater] covering his comrades' retreat. The first to fight, she was also the first to die."
When Holocaust survivors moved to what is now Israel, they had to acquire as many "idols" as possible because they suspected, and rightly so, that the Arabs would attack them. If Eric Yoffie and his fellow travelers had been in charge, Israel would probably have been wiped out during the first day of its independence. The role of "idols," and the NRA, in upholding the civil rights of African-Americans also deserves mention.
Pamela Geller and Martin Niemöller
Eric Yoffie has retired as the head of the URJ, so why revisit his past activities? He came to my attention most recently through his personal attack on Pamela Geller of Stop the Islamization of America (SIOA): "Pamela Geller has no place in an American synagogue. She is a bigot and purveyor of hate."
If Mr. Yoffie had said, "A speech from SIOA has no place in a synagogue," I would probably agree. A house of worship should be neutral on divisive political issues, although certain Reform synagogues (and numerous churches) cannot claim innocence here. He did not, however, say that SIOA's speeches have no place in a synagogue; he said Pamela Geller, a Jewish woman, has no place in a synagogue.
A bigot dislikes people because of who they are, but an honorable and responsible person dislikes people because of what they do. The problem with the German-American Bund was not the German ancestry of its members, but its advocacy of Nazism. SIOA's problem is similarly with the Bund's equivalent: a certain class of purported Muslims who promote anti-Semitism, hatred of Christians, and even hatred of the wrong "kinds" of Muslims. They have demanded a Sharia legal system, claimed the right to rape any woman who does not cover her head with a sack, and even told Jews to "go back to the ovens." These individuals also talk about annihilating Jews and ruling the world, just as another ideology (it was not a religion) did during the 1930s.
Pamela Geller is speaking up the way Martin Niemöller says Germans should have spoken up while they still had freedom of speech. To paraphrase for the benefit of Eric Yoffie, and his fellow travelers in the Anti-Defamation League,
First they came for the Saturday people, and I did not speak up because I am not a Jew.
Then they came for the Sunday people, and I did not speak up because I am not a Christian.
Then they came for the "wrong kinds" of Muslims, and I did not speak up because I am not a Muslim.
Then they came for gay people, and I did not speak up because I am a heterosexual.
Then they came for women, and I did not speak up because I am a man.
Then they came for me, and nobody was left to speak up.
Eric Yoffie and those like him have every right in the world to hold political positions, advocate for those positions, and vote accordingly. They cross the line, however, when they confuse a political agenda with a religion, and claim to speak on behalf of other members of the religion in question.
William A. Levinson, P.E. is the author of several books on business management including content on organizational psychology, as well as manufacturing productivity and quality.