Once again, we ask - Are rabbinical schools becoming anti-Israel pulpits? by Gil Troy


Maybe you missed it the first time, but this is an important question, so we are reposting this. We should be paying more attention to our rabbi's sermons, especially when they're talking about Israel from a political rather than a religious angle.


It is not for us to tell our rabbis how to do their jobs or what to believe. One thing that we at MJAC have noticed though, is that there are local rabbis who are quite "progressive." Some of them are so progressive that they've been edging away from supporting Israel. While they may have always carried their progressive beliefs, they may be getting those beliefs enhanced at rabbinical school.

In 2011, when Rabbi Daniel Gordis highlighted “how lonely it can be for an unapologetically pro-Israel student at some of today’s rabbinical schools,” his Conservative and Reform colleagues excoriated him for exaggerating. Today, his criticisms seem mild; things are far worse. Every year, I hear from non-Orthodox rabbinical students that, in their programs, the once-marginal anti-Israel voices, while not the majority, have gone aggressively mainstream – often bullying Zionist students and speakers.
I could generate clicks and controversy by spreading hair-raising stories: about rabbis-to-be seeing Israel only through the Palestinian anti-occupation lens and condemning antisemitism only if it’s right-wing; about totalitarian teachers imposing their worldviews intolerantly; about administrators insensitive to the conversational no-fly zones silencing their pro-Israel students. The anecdotes would be weaponized to bash or defend various programs. And everyone would retreat into their usual ideological fortresses.

And then there is the intolerance. The anti-Israel "progressives," whether Jewish or not, do have a nasty habit of demonizing and shutting down all dissenting voices.

Note the words “formal Jewishly-based ideological standards”: no student would survive in most liberal Jewish frameworks by questioning progressive orthodoxies. Apparently, you can say “I hate Zionism”; you can’t say “I like to pray with a mehitza [partition].” Are some of these institutions replicating the PC campus’s suffocating tendency to hail “pluralism,” “diversity,” “inclusivity,” without tolerating genuine diversity of thought?

We're not saying that just because one is Jewish (or a rabbi) one has to support Israel. Even though it is the one place in all the world where Jews are wholeheartedly accepted (being the one majority Jewish nation and all) it is still possible to be a Jew and be against Israel.


In these cases, we will not question one's Jewishness or one's fitness for the pulpit (if applicable). We might question one's morals and one's sanity though.

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Michigan Jewish Action Council

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