Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Schindler Then; Jacobs Now?

Found in

We Have a Problem, but Rick Jacobs Isn’t It

By J.J. Goldberg

Thirty-four years ago, when Menachem Begin first led the Likud to power in Israel, it was Rabbi Alexander Schindler, the leader of Reform Judaism, who reached out to embrace him. In doing so, Schindler averted a crisis in relations between America’s liberal-leaning Jewish community and an Israel where the right was newly ascendant. This would be a good time for Benjamin Netanyahu to return the favor.

The recent selection of Rabbi Richard Jacobs as Reform Judaism’s next leader is causing a bit of a stir. It’s mostly just a murmur, actually, but it’s worth watching. Some critics worry that in choosing Jacobs as its president-designate, the Union for Reform Judaism is signaling a sharp turn leftward. Some even fret that the liberal denomination is returning to its pre-World War I anti-Zionism.

Actually, that is a misleading portrayal.

At the time, Rabbi Schindler served as chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations and it was the responsibility that rested upon him in that position that made him realize he needed to be less a Reform Rabbi and more a representative leader of American Jewry.

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