I’m writing regarding the debate over the opera “The Death of Klinghoffer,” in relation to an article several months ago about the Rabbi Sharon Kleinbaum of Congregation Beth Simchat Torah, the largest gay and lesbian congregation in the world. The article from the recent past (“Gaza War Pushes Israel, Reluctantly, Onto Holiday Bima,” Sept. 19) described how the rabbi read a list of [Palestinian] casualties during the Gaza crisis as well reading from the Koran. A member of the board had to resign due to the unwillingness of the board to censor the rabbi in any way.
Regarding the current “Klinghoffer debate,” CBST repeatedly listed the following in its last several newsletters, promoting a Friday evening discussion: “Join CBST Director of Social Justice Programming Rabbi David Bauer (former … Metropolitan Opera stage manager) for a schmooze …” and “Is it anti-Semitic … to make an opera that gives emotional voice to a murderer?” This statement immediately followed with a link to the Metropolitan Opera that stated “Purchase Tickets here!”
The Jewish Week, as always, did a good job giving space to both sides of the debate in the Oct. 17 and 24 issues. Whether “The Death of Klinghoffer,” in “giving voice to the murderer,” only gives a platform to those who spout venomous hate towards any Jew in connection to Israel is not why I’m writing.
Let me leave aside the fact that hosting a discussion involving the synagogue’s director of social justice programming, who was a stage manager at the Met, is total collusion; that’s obvious. And I believe that free speech means the opera had every right to be written and performed at the Met.
My objection is simple; I objected to the link advertising the opera and promoting the purchase of tickets on the synagogue website and in its newsletter.
All I got back was a paragraph from the rabbi about her love of opera and how she “was very glad to be able to go with some CBST members.” By her response, it was clear that I didn’t get across my belief that anyone was free to see the opera. My point was that I was embarrassed by the link advertising the opera in conjunction with a former Metropolitan Opera stage manager promoting their “Opera Shmooze.”