Non-Orthodox Rabbis who attack Israel at war in Open Letters

Let all of Israel take notice of that perfidious, treasonous Open Letter just issued by the next wave of Reform, Conservative, and Reconstructionist rabbis. And know of a certainty that some of those rabbis themselves are not even Jewish. Op-ed.

Rabbi Prof. Dov Fischer ,

Reform Jews with unwound Torah.
Reform Jews with unwound Torah.
PR photo
I have three fabulously wonderful sisters, Debbie, Rhonda, and Sharon. They and their husbands always have been amazing friends and even life supports. Like all families, we have had moments of not being on the same page. But particularly at moments of need or crisis, we “circle the wagons” and protect each other, no questions asked. That’s us.

At the time my first marriage ended, when the divorce zonked me financially, they stepped in. Later, when Ellen, the love of my life these past twenty-plus years, came into my life, they welcomed her not “merely” as a beloved new sister-in-law but as a fourth sister. Two decades later, when my beloved Ellen took ill, they could not have been closer and more supportive.

I have tried to be a good brother, too. When situations have arisen, I have tried to be there. A nephew got himself into a heap of trouble, and I provided him with legal representation that would have cost a law client well in excess of $50,000, but I did it free as “Uncle Dov” and got the entire case thrown out. He later got in trouble again, and I did it again. Another tight-knit relative approached me for free legal representation, and I did that relative one of the best things I ever did as an attorney. With the benefit of my years of litigation experience, I persuaded her to walk away from it all because, although she would have won a lawsuit, the price of that victory would have proven more costly to her in ways other than money.

That is how family works. You all know. There are moments to agree, moments to disagree. As a rav (Orthodox rabbi) of more than forty years, I am privy to situations where siblings have gone extended periods without talking. I know how the world works. But when the “chips are down,” most fundamentally healthy families “circle the wagons” and pull together. They gather at the hospital, at the cemetery, at the shiva home. They collect some cash to tide over the family member in trouble. They solicit their network to help find a job for the relative who has been fired. This is normal.

And so it goes for a people, a nation. When 15 Saudi Arabians and four other Muslim Arabs crashed planes into the World Trade Center and aimed at other targets, America came together. It was not a time for conservatives to lecture liberal “blue” New York about the price for trusting Arab Muslim countries over Israel and for opposing advanced spending on national security. And New York dropped its nonsense, too. President Bush, who never — ever — could hope to win an election in New York, came to Yankee Stadium in the Bronx to throw out the first ball, and the loving reaction of New York fans to the President of their United States was so deliriously supportive that it bears rewatching this link at 2:30.

That is family. That is nation. A time to cast away stones and a time to gather stones. There is a time to pull together.

It thus was striking when the left-wing Jewish media reported a day before Shavuot that a group of more than 100 non-Orthodox rabbinical-seminary students had come together to sign an Open Letter attacking Israel amid the war with Hamas. This was war time.

These are the seminary students of Reform rabbis, of Conservative rabbis, and of Reconstructionist rabbis. These are not just average people but the people being taught and trained to be the kinds of leaders of Reform Judaism, Conservative Judaism, and Reconstructionist Judaism that their movements stand for.

With three thousand Hamas rockets flying and striking all over Israel civilian centers, they wrote:

“What will it take for us to see that our Israel has the military and controls the borders? How many Palestinians must lose their homes, their schools, their lives, for us to understand that today, in 2021, Israel’s choices come from a place of power and that Israel’s actions constitute an intentional removal of Palestinians?”

The letter does not once mention Hamas.

That Open Rabbinical Letter from the non-Orthodox seminaries’ rabbinical students offer all of Israel a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for this generation to witness and experience what previous generations have witnessed and experienced from the non-Orthodox movements. At a time of crisis, a time of war, with three thousand Arab Muslim Hamas rockets being fired not “only” at Sderot, Ashdod, and Ashkelon but at Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, a time of national peril when people put aside their differences for another day, future rabbis of Reform Judaism, Conservative Judaism, and Reconstructionist Judaism exposed themselves to be traitors to Klal Yisrael, the Jewish People.

Strong words? OK, so let’s say them again: They — who would dare stand one day in Reform temples, Conservative temples, and Reconstructionist temples as “Jewish leaders” — showed themselves to be traitors to the Jewish People. They should be cast out.

Reform Judaism in particular always has been Zionism’s weak link, the gap in the Jewish People through which Jew-haters have been welcomed to enter. Early on, Abraham Geiger, primary figure among the founders of Reform Judaism in Nineteenth Century Germany, denounced Zionism as a core foundational principle of Reform Judaism and insisted that Berlin is our Jerusalem, and Germany is our Zion. Hebrew was taken out of prayers, replaced with vernacular. To symbolize that they did not wish to see the Temple in Jerusalem, they called their own houses of worship in Germany their “temples.” They removed from their prayer books all references to Jerusalem and Israel. In its first formal statement of principles in America, the 1869 Philadelphia Conference, Reform Judaism stated:

“[T]he Hebrew language . . . has become unintelligible to the vast majority of our coreligionists; therefore, as is advisable under existing circumstances, it must give way in prayer to intelligible language, which prayer, if not understood, is a soulless form.”

In 1885, it was Reform Judaism’s “Pittsburgh Platform”:

“We recognize, in the modern era of universal culture of heart and intellect, the approaching of the realization of Israel's great Messianic hope for the establishment of the kingdom of truth, justice, and peace among all men. We consider ourselves no longer a nation, but a religious community, and therefore expect neither a return to Palestine, nor a sacrificial worship under the sons of Aaron, nor the restoration of any of the laws concerning the Jewish state.”

The hate for Israel and Jerusalem among Reform’s highest leaders extended into the late twentieth century. Rabbi Maurice Eisendrath, the anti-Zionist rabbi who literally headed America’s nationwide Reform congregational association, the Union of American Hebrew Congregations (UAHC), for thirty years from the mid-1940s into the 1970s, was virulently anti-Zionist until his death. Only recently, that same organization, now renamed Union for Reform Judaism (URJ), honored Al Sharpton, the firebrand race huckster who has incited at least two anti-Jewish pogroms that resulted in deaths.

More than that, Reform Judaism leaders and rabbis at a majority of their temples criticize Israel constantly. Leading Reform rabbis have been on the pro-boycott New Israel Fund leadership list. At their 2018 graduation ceremony for new Reform rabbis, Reform’s keynote speaker, Michael Chabon, used the moment to attack Israel for the “occupation” and to encourage Jewish intermarriage with Christians.

The Reform movement urged America to delay moving its Israel embassy to Jerusalem, and 42 percent of Reform Jews opposed the embassy move altogether.

While this Reform temple’s rabbis replaced the Rosh Hashanah Haftarah by instead chanting from Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s writings, the leader of URJ has boasted that the majority of all Reform temple households now are intermarried, and he condemned Israel when it barred a notorious BDS Reform Jew, Ariel Gold, from the country.

The overall statistic of Jewish intermarriage today informs us how much Reform Judaism has departed completely from authentic Judaism. Before 1965, the rate of Jews “marrying out” was nine percent. From 1965-1974 it exploded to 25 percent. Between 1975-1984, the intermarriage rate erupted to 44 percent. By the time of the 1990 National Jewish Population Survey, it was pegged at a whopping 52 percent. Beyond all that, the intermarriage rate of non-Orthodox Jews with non-Jews in America was documented at more than 71 percent by 2018.

At war time in the past, each tragically unfortunate time, Reform Judaism is the first movement to cancel trips to Israel and programs in Israel. They make a world of noise over their rights to conduct services at the Kotel (Western Wall) that deviate from traditional Judaism, but they are the ones who would recognize Arab Muslim rights to sovereignty in Jerusalem, even as they oppose Jewish rights to other land in Israel that became part of Israel in 1967.

Along the way, their intermarriage rate now has been documented by the Pew organization — once again — to exceed 70 percent. That means that approximately 20-40 percent of Reform Jews today are not even Jews. A Jew only is someone born of a Jewish mother or who has converted to Judaism by accepting halakha (Jewish law). Reform “Marilyn Monroe Conversions” are ridiculous, a game. With a 70 percent intermarriage rate this generation, and an explosive rate last generation, and the preponderance of intermarriages taking place between Jewish men and non-Jewish women, the children of such unions are not Jewish. Those mothers’ children likewise are not Jewish.

Moreover, since 1983 Reform rabbis have been teaching that non-Jewish women do not even have to undergo “Reform conversion” because the children still may call themselves “Jewish” if their intermarried fathers are Jewish.

So all of Reform Judaism now is a mess. Even a good number of their rabbis are not Jewish. Every single practicing Orthodox rabbi in America will tell you, if you ask him quietly and off the record, that Reform has caused such a mess in America that any prospective couple who ask an Orthodox rabbi to conduct their marriage now have to undergo a lineage investigation because the odds are strongly possible, if not outright probable, that at least one of them is not Jewish without even realizing it.

Understand that I am a mainstream normative Orthodox rabbi of four decades, now a leading member in three different mainstream Orthodox rabbinic bodies, and this is the lay of the land. It no longer is assumed in America that someone is Jewish merely because he or she says so; every single normative congregational Orthodox rabbi now quietly investigates when newcomers arrive, especially if they seek to marry or to enroll their kids in a Jewish day school or bar/bat mitzvah program.

Let all of Israel take notice of that perfidious, treasonous Open Letter just issued by the next wave of such Reform, Conservative, and Reconstructionist rabbis. And know of a certainty that some of those rabbis themselves are not even Jewish. They have perpetrated an act of treason within the Family of Israel at war time. For such treason we urge no punishment at all because it is what it is.

We always have had traitors in our midst like Karl Marx and Leon Trotsky, and apostates like George Soros and Bernie Sanders. But do take notice. When it comes to such movements — even their rabbis. Even at war time.

May we merit living to see them cast out from our midst.

Special Haftarah for Supreme ... Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Rabbi Prof. Dov Fischer is adjunct professor of law at two prominent Southern California law schools, Senior Rabbinic Fellow at the Coalition for Jewish Values, congregational rabbi of Young Israel of Orange County, California, and has held prominent leadership roles in several national rabbinic and other Jewish organizations. He was Chief Articles Editor of UCLA Law Review, clerked for the Hon. Danny J. Boggs in the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, and served for most of the past decade on the Executive Committee of the Rabbinical Council of America. His writings have appeared in The Weekly Standard, National Review, Wall Street Journal, Los Angeles Times, Jerusalem Post, American Thinker, Frontpage Magazine, and Israel National News. Other writings are collected at .