Religion & Beliefs

I Take Back Everything I Said About the Reform Movement

You know, just when I write off the Reform movement they come at me with this amazing programming and I have to admit how much they rock. Check out this article from The Washington Post: Jews and Muslims Set Up … Read More

By / December 17, 2007

You know, just when I write off the Reform movement they come at me with this amazing programming and I have to admit how much they rock. Check out this article from The Washington Post:

Jews and Muslims Set Up Big Interfaith Effort By Michelle Boorstein

Two major Jewish and Muslim organizations unveiled an interfaith dialogue curriculum yesterday and are urging their hundreds of thousands of members to use it. Both sides say it is the broadest Jewish-Muslim interfaith effort in the continent's history.

Rabbi Eric H. Yoffie, president of the Union for Reform Judaism, North America's largest Jewish movement, announced the partnership with the Islamic Society of North America at his group's biennial convention in San Diego.

"As a once-persecuted minority in countries where anti-Semitism is still a force, we understand the plight of Muslims in North America today," Yoffie said yesterday. "We live in a world in which religion is manipulated to justify the most horrific acts, a world in which — make no mistake — Islamic extremists constitute a profound threat. For some, this is a reason to flee from dialogue, but in fact the opposite is true. When we are killing each other in the name of God, sensible religious people have an obligation to do something about it."

This summer Yoffie became the first major Jewish leader to address ISNA, the continent's largest Muslim organization with 30,000 attendants coming to its annual convention. ISNA President Ingrid Mattson will address the 980-congregation Jewish group today, the first leader of a major Muslim group to do so.

The manual and video are built around five sessions that touch on topics including the place of Jerusalem in Jewish and Muslim tradition and history. The toughest potential sticking points will probably be related to Israel and to stereotypes both groups carry about the other, Mark Pelavin, director of interreligious affairs for the Jewish group, said in an interview. "Jews want to know how Muslims feel about terrorism in the name of Islam, and Muslims want to know how Jews feel about Palestinian suffering."

Full Story The amazing thing about this effort is that it’s not one of those lame, ‘we’re not going to talk about Israel we’re just going to talk about how important it is to respect each other’ gigs. Both sides plan on addressing really serious issues. My guess is it won’t be pretty, but I’m SO psyched that they got this going. Now what I want to know is when the Conservative movement going to step up to the plate. Meanwhile, over at Jewschool there’s a pretty decent breakdown of all the cool things Yoffie has planned for the next year or so. My favorite part is an excerpt from Yoffie’s big sermon on Saturday:

In recent years, there has been a feverish conversation among communal leaders about how to connect young adults to Jewish life. We all agree that they need Torah study, Jewish ritual and connection to Israel. But all of this has not been enough.

Well, here is my suggestion to these leaders about what they need to do next: They need to speak up for justice. They need to speak up loud, proud and unafraid.

Because our young people are very wise. They know that a Judaism that ghettoizes itself has no real mission and therefore no real purpose. They don’t understand how Jews can pray for the sick every day and then do nothing to get health care to those who need it. In the end, if the Judaism we offer our young does not speak to the great moral issues of the world and of their lives, it will fail to capture their imagination or their hearts.

I kind of have a crush on Eric Yoffie now. But don’t worry, I promise not to have meaningless sex with him.