I crashed the annual Chabad Kinus Hashluchim and spent Sunday with over 3000 Chabad rabbis from around the world. I wrote about it in Tablet:
Read the rest--including the source of the quote in the title of this post--here.
I got some superb rabbis from across the different Jewish denominations to argue about the question over at Tablet. And I took the opportunity to explore some of the fascinating history of this dispute:
It’s an old controversy. For many decades, rabbis have debated the place of politics in American Jewish life. For some, Jewish texts become irrelevant if they are not made to speak directly to the pressing issues of the day. For others, the tradition is made superfluous when it becomes near indistinguishable from a particular political platform or party.
Back in the 1980s, prominent Reform Rabbi Daniel Jeremy Silver criticized his own movement for becoming synonymous with American liberalism, writing that “what was called prophetic Judaism was often a political statement more than a statement of concern about Jewish religious life.” (Tellingly, he noted, when the Reform movement established a lobbying center in Washington, it initially dubbed it the “Social Action Center,” and only later renamed it the “Religious Action Center.”) Other Jewish leaders however, like Abraham Joshua Heschel, stressed the interconnection of religious reflection and political action and marched for causes like civil rights under the banner of Jewish tradition.
Read it all here while you're waiting for the election results to come in. Rabbi Daniel Jeremy Silver's critique, tucked away in an obscure 1985 academic volume on modern Judaism, is worth reading in full (feel free to get in touch if you'd like a scanned PDF). Silver himself was a very impressive figure in American Judaism and today, a fellowship for rabbis at the Harvard Center for Jewish Studies is named in his honor.
I see journalism as an excuse to interrogate people who interest me under the guise of professional obligation. So when I report, I tend to collect a lot more information from my sources than can fit into my pieces. Here I post some of the greatest hits for your entertainment, along with other brief thoughts on religion, politics and culture. Well, that and funny YouTube videos.