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Rabbi's Week in Review - 3/25/2026

03/25/2024 01:59:52 PM

Mar25

In the past week, there have been a number of articles showing up regarding both the state of Judaism and the state of our world. It is the changing nature of both that caught my attention.  

As to Judaism, it is the suggestion by Noah Feldman that Judaism, particularly with younger Jews, is leaning away from the nationalism represented by our attachment to Israel and toward a more personalized, spiritual attachment to Judaism and Jewish identity.

In the broader world, it was a framework laid out by the journalist Fareed Zakaria regarding the tension between liberal democracy and individual freedom, and authoritarianism as an attractive alternative for those in fear of the disruption that comes with change — as well as the changing demographics (a much more diverse and inclusive community and world) impacted by a shift away from marginalizing minority groups as defined by race, ethnicity, religion and sexual orientation.

While these are vital issues for Jews as well as the broader society, my attention and my anger are focused on a most abhorrent antisemitic trope that came out last week. Specifically, that all Jews who voted Democratic hated their religion. Normally, I would not spend much ink on this, chalking it up to just another over-the-top, ugly slur in a long line of narcissistic ugliness and intended divisiveness, where hate seems to be the point. Likewise, that I even need to spend time on the obvious implications of such a statement in 2024 (or in 5784, if you will) boggles my mind. Yet, I think we as Jews ignore this at our peril.

In short, I and we don’t need someone who finds “fine people” among a group of neo-Nazis in Charlottesville, chanting “Jews will not replace us,” or who hosts white-supremacist Holocaust denier Nick Fuentes for dinner, to tell us that we hate our Jewish religion. After being in Israel during the height of the second Intifada, when you could roll a bowling ball down Ben Yehudah Street, having two sons do high-school semesters in Israel during that same period, I don’t need someone questioning my stance toward Israel, or what I think is in the best interest of Israel.

This is a difficult time for Jews. There is much disagreement among us as to the best path forward for Israel, for the Jewish people in relation to Israel, and the ongoing humanitarian crisis facing Palestinians in Gaza. I pray for an end to the war in Gaza; that the hostages come home; that there be an immediate end to the humanitarian crisis for Palestinians; and that they achieve a status of freedom, dignity and self-determination, as I always hope the same for us. Most of all, I pray for peace.

In the meantime, I don’t need someone to pit Jew against Jew for their own transparently self-serving political gains. The notion of “good Jews” and “bad Jews” is a classic antisemitic trope, wherein someone who has clear animus for Jews thinks they can judge who or who is not validly a Jew. 

In short, Trump needs to leave it to us Jews to determine what is Jewish identity. His courting of white supremacists renders him unfit for the task, and unfit for any other task.

Tue, April 23 2024 15 Nisan 5784