Are We Still Am Echad?
Four days ago, Rabbi Eric Yoffie, the leader of the Reform movement, gave what he called a sermon to the delegates attending the General Assembly of the Union for Reform Judaism. This was a long speech and it has already attracted considerable comment because of a connection he makes between opposition to gay marriage and Hitler’s opposition to gays. Much of the speech deals with intermarriage, specifically the need to welcome non-Jewish spouses, perhaps through a “formal ceremony of recognition” that might occur during “a dramatic point in the liturgical cycle.” And then we get the following:
“Rabbi Janet Marder asks non-Jewish spouses to come to the bimah on Yom Kippur morning and then has the congregation stand as she blesses them with the Birkat Kohanim.”
How much longer are we going to play the Am Echad game? Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch established the austritt community on far, far less provocation.
In what way are Orthodox Jewish organizations considered “Am Echad” with Yoffie’s group?
Who decides whether we are an Am Echad? Perhaps a review of how we ever managed to become one is in order… was it ever up to us? Did not we each and every one stand at Sinai?
The fact that many paths have diverged, and with increasing disparities, since, has always been true. But until today, there was not the increasing luxury of self definition.
Perhaps I am picking at the selection of those few words… but I think not; I think it’s important to consider carefully, especially now that our potential effectiveness as *Am Hashem* is magnified by efficient communication of all types… to consider carefully the strategy and desire for exclusion and inclusion.
Diversity among an Am Echad is no vice. But exclusiveness is. As is judgement about inclusion in an Am Echad, a judgement that is not and never has been ours. May we each find the strenth to do Hashem’s will this day, as it appears to us, and by our best lights to support the best in our brothers and sisters, as should an Am Hashem.
RSR Hirsch established the Austritt community/policy based on financial oppression at the hands of the Reform-controlled community councils. It wasn’t on theological or religious grounds, it was economic. So your comparison fails.
I would also point out that most German Orthodox remained “Gemeinde-Orthodox”, involved with the rest of the Jewish community. I don’t think RSR Hirsch’s congregants would have refused to marry a Reform Jew, which today has become problematic. On that basis, Am Echad has already fallen apart, dismantled by the group which would change the criteria for national citizenship.