Sunday, December 23, 2007

More Harm than Good

The Reform Movement has commissioned a group of studies that are to be presented at the Van Leer Institute this week in Jerusalem. Most of this is to academically prove what we already know: Israelis don't like Reform Jews. I suppose it is better to have the numbers to tell us all of this.

But hey why spend the money when we can just ask Ynet News to report on the fact? In the coverage of the summit and studies, Ynet goes out of its way to report only on homosexuality and full participation of women. While very important aspects of Reform Judaism, I would argue they are not the most important.

I guess it is about framing the conversation. However a news service is in the business of framing stories. The frame provided in this story pits one against the other, not a fair compare and contrast. The fact that the Reform Movement in Israel really is a political body, bringing civil rights cases to the High Court has not only helped the small and weak Movement but also women in general, homosexuals in general, Arabs, religious minorities, and a majority of Jews who believe in something other than the ghetto life of haredi fascists.

But Ynet focuses on the fact that fighting for what is right (and within the value set of Judaism) only will tarnish the image of the Reform Movement in Israel to the Israeli people.

The caption on this picture is "Damaging the movement?" Well Ynet, it will only damage the movement if we don't stand up and ask our women to read from the Torah and have our GLBT brothers and sisters read Leviticus 18:22 - 20:13. Then we would be damaging our Movement.

A friend of mine said that he took on the halacha to try and make himself an inherently better person. After a few years of keeping the laws he found that he was no better and the society in which he lived had not been the benefactor of his self-imposed prohibitions. We take our traditions extremely seriously but not to determent of humanity and equality. Our Movement will always take the risk and possibly damage our image in the eyes of a backwards and somewhat barbaric society.

Oh yeah and we aren't going anywhere. We will keep fighting for equality and humanity in this somewhat backwards and barbaric society.