I have never read such a self-defeating opinion piece as Gary Rosenblatt’s diatribe, “Don’t Cry For Us, Jerusalem” (Editor’s column, June 22). While tacitly admitting there are existential issues facing the Reform and Conservative movements in America, Rosenblatt’s advice to diaspora affairs minister Naftali Bennett is that the solution is the government and the people of Israel should adopt their American counterpart’s policies and way of life. In that way it will seem like Israel is embracing these barely affiliated Jews, as opposed to pushing them away. The problem is that this won’t solve the American Jewish movement’s problems. It will just import them to Israel.
Rosenblatt ignores the fact that the Palestinians don’t want peace with Israel, so there really is not much more Israel can do. If American Jews don’t get that, and yes, a majority of them don’t, this is still not enough reason for Israel to commit national suicide by embracing one-sided and dangerous Palestinian demands. And he more than once brings up the problem of egalitarian prayer at the Kotel, a hot button issue between American Jews and the Israeli government beyond any reason. Reform and Conservative Jews barely practice traditional prayer even in their own congregations, but they want to usurp the rights of Orthodox Jews, who care about and pray at Judaism’s holiest site.
Rosenblatt’s other basic answer to the problem between the world’s two largest Jewish communities is the traditional mantra of the Reform and Conservative movements, Tikkun Olam, such as ignoring Israeli demographic and cultural concerns by accepting all African immigrants. New social justice initiatives are fine and should be incorporated in every Jew’s practice of religion but tikkun olam, without the connection to basic Judaic religious principles, is not a singular Jewish way of living and treating the world around you. A 70 percent intermarriage rate for Jews outside the Orthodox stream does more than just take a “heavy toll.” It demonstrates a basic flaw by Jewish leaders and their educating of their constituencies, which causes an erosion of any kind of connection to Israel and eventually, to anything Jewish at all.
You don’t want Israelis telling Americans how to run their lives, but you have no qualms about lecturing Israelis on how to run theirs. That’s what keeps Naftali Bennett up at night and Rosenblatt should be having the same nightmares for the same reasons.