Falling short on Jewish education


To the Editor:

In response to Rabbi Eric Yoffie’s Op-Ed "Judaism is always ‘tikkun olam’ — and more," as Rabbi Yoffie is the president of the Reform Union, I took a look at the resolutions adopted by the Union of Reform Judaism dating back to 2007. I saw resolutions on climate change and energy, ethical employment practices, immigration reform, traumatic brain injury and the war in Iraq.

While there were many more similar resolutions, there was only one I could find regarding improving Jewish education. That was in 2008. And there was one resolution specifically regarding ritual observance — encouraging Shabbat observance. That was in 2007.

I have no doubt there is far more taking place to build Jewish life within the Reform movement than I’m aware of. Yet the resolutions are telling in terms of the airtime “social justice” receives as compared with study and observance. Given the highly challenged state of Jewish life in the non-Orthodox world, shouldn’t more resolutions reflect the Reform movement’s aspiration to inspire greater Judaic knowledge and observance? Yet one wouldn’t know this from reading the resolutions, as “social justice” issues appear to dominate the movement’s attention.

Rabbi Yoffie proclaims that the height of my “folly” in my JTA Op-Ed  is that I say we can’t “both insist that tikkun olam and social justice are central to Judaism and also embrace serious Jewish education and Jewish practice.” He then insists that “we can, and in fact, we must.” Tellingly, what he doesn’t say is “we are.”

Joel Alperson
Omaha, Neb.

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