Is it possible that a person with the title of ‘Rabbi’ would meet with such enemies of the Jewish people and give them a free pass?

Nine rabbis in the New York area have reportedly urged their congregants to participate in the upcoming Women’s March.  The endorsement comes after those Rabbis met with March organizers Linda Sarsour and Tamika Mallory, who apparently satisfied the rabbis’ concern about their history of anti-Semitic utterances and support for Louis Farrakhan.

I want to believe that the rabbis expressed their disgust with Sarsour’s and Mallory’s long-standing Jew-hating, Israel-bashing, Zionist-conspiracy public postures and that those rabbis laced into Sarsour and Mallory for their unapologetic idol-worship of Farrakhan, a man who never met a Jew he couldn’t dehumanize and disparage.

Against Women's March

Protesters against Women’s March NYC hold signs while standing behind police barricades across the street from the Women’s March in Lower Manhattan, Jan. 19, 2019. (AP/Kathy Willens)

Surely, representatives of the Jewish community would stand up to and challenge unequivocal and blatant anti-Semitism, wouldn’t they?  It’s not possible – or is it? – that a person with the title of ‘Rabbi’ would meet with such enemies of the Jewish people and give them a free pass because those rabbis are more concerned with protecting their progressive credentials than standing up for their fellow Jews?

Have Jews in the Diaspora become so alienated from the Israel and Zionism that they can not only feel comfortable breaking bread with the likes of Sarsour and Mallory, but can actually support and condone their actions?

As Jewish religious leaders, the rabbis might want to remember that their principle job function is to nurture and defend their congregants and the Jewish community.  To prioritize women’s issues over the serious threats to the worldwide Jewish community led by the likes of Sarsour and Mallory reveals the rabbis’ frightening level of detachment from reality, and to believe as they seem to do that Jewish women need the blessing of their rabbis to participate in the Women’s March lays bare their completely unwarranted self-importance.

That these rabbis couldn’t bring themselves to simply refuse to work alongside Mallory and Sarsour is sadly reflective of how pervasive progressive politics have become in too many sectors of the American Jewish community.  Congressmen (and ex-Presidents) happily pose in photographs alongside Farrakhan, Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib makes comments that are the vilest of anti-Semitic tropes, the Democratic Party can’t bring themselves to support anti-BDS legislation: not a peep out of the rabbis.  I may be more conservative than many (if not most) of my fellow North American Jews, but surely even the most liberal Jew does not need, want or expect his/her rabbi to participate in an event that requires cooperation with and endorsement of people with detestable opinions of Jews and Israel.

It would be worthwhile to know if their congregations support the position of these rabbis.  If they do, then I despair at  how out-of-touch Diaspora Jews are with the dangers and challenges facing the worldwide Jewish family.  If their congregants do not agree with their rabbis’ naïve pooh-poohing of unquestionable anti-Semitism, then I look forward to robust push-back and serious knuckle-rapping.

Regrettably, I’m guessing that these nine rabbis do indeed reflect the political orientation of their congregations.

Article by Henry Roth

Henry Roth was born in Haifa and immigrated to Canada in the early 1950s. The son of Romanian Holocaust survivors, he has been married to Brenda for 43 years, is the father of two sons, Marc and David, the happy grandfather of Nicolas and a proud and loud Zionist.