I was saddened to read the opinion piece by Jerome A. Chanes, “Orthodox And Liberal And Lonely On The West Side” (Oct. 26) I am Orthodox and liberal and lonely on Staten Island, where almost all of my fellow congregants are very conservative politically, but I assumed that things would be different on the more liberal West Side.
What makes the situation very disturbing to me is that I am a ba’al teshuvah, one who returned to Jewish practice because I found so many progressive teachings in Judaism about peace, justice, environmental sustainability and concern for the stranger, the widow, and the orphan, and because of the powerful messages of the biblical prophets, arguably the most radical people in history.
Even more disturbing is that these increasingly conservative Orthodox Jews are backing a Republican party that has moved way over to the right, under the influence of the Tea Party, with almost no moderates remaining; supports the wealthiest Americans at the expense of most Jews and other Americans; is in denial about climate change and other environmental threats to all life on the planet and supports policies similar to or worse than those of the last Bush administration, that left the U.S. on the brink of a depression.
It is because of these factors that I have recently published my latest book, “Who Stole My Religion? Revitalizing Judaism and Applying Jewish Values to Help Heal Our Imperiled Planet,” and made the eBook version freely available through a link at whostolemyreligion.com.
Professor Emeritus, College of Staten Island