Real Kiruv Opportunity/Obligation

Ben Packer,

לבן ריק
לבן ריק
צילום: ערוץ 7
Ben Packer
Originally from Petersburg, Virginia, Ben Packer moved to Israel in 1999, where he served in the IDF's Givati Brigade in the Gaza Strip. Ben served as a Rabbi on campus at Univ. of North Carolina and at Duke Univ. Ben now serves as Director of the Jerusalem Heritage House ( and Co-Director of Young Jewish Conservatives ( He lives in the Old City of Jerusalem with his wife and 6 children....

There is an important article in the otherwise garbage "Times of Israel" that deserves our attention. The article, "Reform movement’s challenge: Protesting Trump and remaining inclusive", is written by one of their more anti-religious writers (quite an achievement at that operation). 

The piece is at times incredibly entertaining, for example this line is probably the best (ie. most ridiculous): “If you add up the total activism of the Reform Jewish movement, the overwhelming majority of what we do is the study of Torah and the worship of God.“

Hilarious! Impossible to keep a straight face while reading that nonsense. 

But to the point of the article that is important: The reform movement is seriously alienating anyone with even slightly more conservative and bonafide pro-Israel views than the extreme left-wing of the democractic party. It is the responsibility of all sensible Jews to reach out to our brethren who no longer feel comfortable in the temples of these charlatans. The reality is that these people are and can be great Jews and can contribute immensely to the Jewish future. Many of these people, because of their lack of mitzvah observance/knowledge have never seriously considered more traditional/Orthodox Synagogues as a potential spiritual home. G-d bless them, they couldn't be more wrong. Of course for many there might be alot of playing catch-up needed for following the Hebrew service and understanding basic concepts during classes, but its totally doable. The real, long-term benefit of being part of a like-minded, tolerant community would outweigh the temporary struggles. And we know that if something is important, its worth the struggle. We should not sell our brethren short, simply because of their background. Afterall, we are constantly reminded that Rebbi Akiva didn't start until he was 40. 

I was once speaking to a Rabbi in a community in America and he told me that anyone politically conservative and/or pro-Israel is forced to come to his Synagogue because they can't stomach the overtly liberal politics in the other places. When I was a Rabbi on Campus, I met with possibly the most politically-conservative student on campus. I asked him if he ever goes to the Hillel or went to a synagogue where he was from. He told me he couldn't stand those places because of their liberal intolerant rantings - he is now a senior advisor to the President of the United States!!! He felt very comfortable praying and shmoozing with others at Aish HaTorah in Jerusalem and at the Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hevron. 

Its not just the reform's absurd views that are antithetical to Judaism, but their extreme intolerance of other views that further compel us to reach out to our persecuted brethren in their midst and bring them closer to authenitc Torah Judaism. 

Ben Packer

Old City, Jerusalem