T’ruah Response: Missed Opportunity


In two columns in a row, Sept. 2 and Sept. 9, Gary Rosenblatt has insinuated that T’ruah falls outside of the Jewish mainstream in regard to Israel. This disparagement of an organization of 1,800 rabbis committed to a two-state solution and to creating a better future for both Israelis and Palestinians only encourages the smears on rabbis that Rosenblatt deplores.

In his most recent column, (“What Would Heschel Do?”), Rosenblatt dismisses T’ruah’s response to the Movement for Black Lives Matter platform as too far left, ignoring the fact that our response balanced support for many of the goals of the platform — including criminal justice reform and an end to police violence against people of color — with a strong rejection of the platform’s reference to Israeli occupation as “genocide” and for the call to boycott and divest from Israel.

A week earlier, in his lamentation on the attacks on Rabbi Neil Blumofe, Rosenblatt writes that Austin Jewish Federation CEO Jay Rubin “asserted that [local attackers] and others ‘use the Internet to smear people and didn’t bother to check facts,’ like saying the rabbi is a member of T’ruah, a left-leaning rabbinic human rights organization often critical of Israeli policies. Rabbi Blumofe is not a member.”

Rosenblatt here misses the opportunity to ask, “And so what if he were?” If Rabbi Blumofe were a member of T’ruah — as are several of the rabbis who are currently the victims of similar nasty smear campaigns — would he be out of the mainstream? Is our community willing to reject 1,800 rabbis of all denominations for our support of the human rights of both Israelis and Palestinians, for our willingness to hear multiple voices from the breadth of Israeli and Palestinian society or for continuing to work toward peace?

Rather than rejecting rabbis who use their moral leadership to work for peace and for the human rights of both Israelis and Palestinians, our communal anger would be better directed at ending attempts to silence rabbis through shaming campaigns and threats of violence, and at those who reject the Jewish tradition of “machloket l’shem shamayim” (argument for the sake of heaven) by demanding that we listen only to a narrow sliver of single-perspective voices.

Executive Director,

T’ruah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights

is the the CEO of T’ruah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights, an organization that trains and mobilizes more than 2,300 rabbis and cantors and their communities to bring a moral voice to protecting and advancing human rights in North America, Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories.