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Here we go again

Just two days ago I put some comment on this site defending criticism of the Maccabean. I stand by the need for the paper to be supported and embraced by the community, for people to contribute, for the editor to be supported, and for the paper to fulfil its role of unifying and representing the community.

However this works both ways. If you think this is about the front page item that attempts to draw a nexus between the freedom of Pesach (spritual and Jewish) to the freedom of ANZAC day (military and Civil), then you are wrong. This headline just reflects a poor appreciation for what Pesach represents.  We have covered this topic already in our post Runaway Ideology.

This is about the disgraceful article by Ken Arkwright in this weeks Maccabean. The article parallels Christian denominalisation with Jewish streams of observance.  It goes on to say that “Orthodox philosophy accepts the Torah as God’s word without doubt. Progressive philosophy perceives the Torah as a divinely inspired human document to be scruitinised throughout history and to be tempered with the new insights attained by each generation of Jews. Conservative philosophy believes that God reveals Himself in history. It conserves what can be retained and changes Judaims in accordance witht he dictates of history.”

The article then goes on to assert that Jewish religious belief accomodates a physical manefestation of Divine presence through birth, and attempts to evidence this in the Torah (I think that he means the historically authored one), misquotes the Tetragammon, refers to the names of Hashem without the aid of the Rambam’s interpretation, selectively draws on Kabbalah without linking it to the arguement, links it to Greek theology, delivers a lesson in Christain resurrection, represents God through female imagery, draws in sex as a pagan ritual, and defines the role of women in cohabitation as an earthly representative of the Shecinah.  The article ends by comparing the Jewish relationship with Shabbat to the Christian relationship of Mary to G-d, and then says “I salute the West Australian that also respectfully declined to comment whether the Resurrection in the Easter story was physical reality or mere symbolism”. 

There is so much to be challenged through these inaccurate generalisations. I just want to make the following observations, but do not have the inclination to pick the item completely to bits. The following points stand out:

  • Judaism is about Kulam Beyahcad. We do not have legitimate demoninations that alter Jewish thought by tribe, ethnicity or anything other than personal preference of interpretation. There are different forms of tradition and ways of demonstrating our belief, but ultimately there is a framework of Jewish Torah law and anything that sits outside it is not compatible with Jewish definition. There is only one version of the Torah, and it is by definition not Humanistic.
  • Orthodoxy tempers its observance with the new insights and technology of each generation through its system of Rabbinic law. It is baseless for Progressive philosophy to claim this ethos as their own strategic niche.
  • The first of the Ten Commandments “Ani Hashem” is about belief in G-d. Any rejection of the Torah as a Divinely authored gift is a rejection of Judaism itself.
  • Judaism does not believe in any physical form of God, as written in the shalosh esrai midot. The “son” or “daughter” of G-d is a Christian concept, not a Jewish one. Jews are created betzelem elokim, in the image of G-d.  G-d is a ruach, a spirit, and cannot feature within Judaism as a physical being.
  • G-d in Jewish tradition is genderless, as was the original creation of Adam.  The kabbalah assigns male and female attributes to the way in which G-d delivers tradition and morality to us.
  • Concepts such as the Jesus ascension and resurrection, Mary as the Mother of God, and the entire debate about whether Easter is a physical or symbolic Ressurection are discussions of Christian theology. They bear no relevance, interaction or association with Judaism, and a Jewish newspaper is the wrong forum in which to raise these matters.

Once again, it is an utter disgrace and an insult to all Perth Jewish people for this content to be published in our newspaper.

I wonder if I gave an article to the editor saying that Progressive Judaism was a destructive influence on the Jewish community if they would publish it? Or if I gave in an item claiming Jesus to be the Messiah of the Jews?  I doubt (and hope not). But it is OK to write that the Torah is a humanistic work, that Judaism can accomodate a union between the Deity and a women, and that sex is a reflection of the female imagery of God?

Action needs to be taken, and it is now incumbent on the Maccabean to retract the insulting statements it has made to its readership, in the midst of the celebration of Jewish nationhood.

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