The Zuckerberg Issue through Fleisher’s Eyes; My Response

Yishai Fleisher posted the following in the Jewish Press in response to the article several weeks ago about Mark Zuckerberg, called “Losing Zuckerberg”:

http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/losing-zuckerberg-and-reform-judaisms-opportunity/2012/07/02/

Here’s my response to Fleisher:

Shalom, Yishai,
I read Rabbi Kaplan’s piece about Zuckerberg a couple of weeks ago and found it to be fascinating…..I posted it on my blog and got into some good conversations about it.

Unfortunately, I think that your open letter to Rabbi Kaplan is somewhat lacking. While it may be true that many secular Israelis’ identity is wrapped up in serving in Tzahal and in service to the people of Israel, this is largely a product of having been born and raised in Israel. The American Reform Jew’s default position is secular life in America. What imperative, impetus, is there for Reform Jews en masse to pick up and move to Israel, to build the ancestral homeland? Reform was, as you know, originally anti-Zionist, and only changed its direction several decades ago once it saw that such a stance was untenable in a post-Holocaust reality. But there is no theological basis for Reform to embrace Eretz Yisrael, barring a concept of a unique Jewish mission best achieved in the context of a such a homeland.

If Reform cannot articulate a meaningful Jewish religious identity, what makes you think they will be able to – sans the Torah – inspire their youth to leave the material level of American life for a materially tougher life in Israel?

Moreover, I think that by publishing such articles, you do a disservice to the religious Zionist enterprise. Rav Nebenzhal, in his Sichot L’Sefer Bamidbar, says that the following is problematic: “He’s a devout Jew, and a real (Ohev Yisrael) (Ohev Eretz Yisrael)” This kind of a statement implies that devout commitment to Torah and Ahavat Yisrael, and Ahavat Eretz Yisrael are two separate tracks. But our mitzvah of Ahavat Re’a and Ahavat Ha’aretz stems from the Torah imperative! So by publicly sanctioning a Jewish identity void of Torah and Mitzvot – a Jewish cultural identity as a L’chatchila – you are misrepresenting Judaism as well as creating a moral equivalence between Torah Judaism and Secular Zionism….

The great advantage of “marrying Jewish” for Reform Jews who move to Israel, while understandable and appreciated by Orthodox Jews, cannot have great meaning for Reform Jews, whose rabbis sanction, and perform intermarriages, and for whom patrilineal descent is a religious truth….

If Yishai Fleisher was trying to say something similar to Jonathan Rosenblum (see my last post) I think Rosenblum said it better, without sacrificing the integrity of classical Judaism….

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