I recently wrote about how I wouldn’t permit my kids to attend an event held at the Stephen Wise Synagogue because of Wise’s disgraceful record of behavior during the Holocaust. The archivist of the synagogue condemned my “one-sided indictment of Rabbi Wise, saying we must remember that we are looking back into history – always easy to use a ‘retrospectoscope’ to accuse and condemn.” The archivist is right – hindsight is 20/20 – which is why Wise shouldn’t be celebrated as a hero or have his name on any Jewish institutions.
Now there is another synagogue on the Upper West Side which no decent Jew should ever step foot into – B’nai Jeshurun. This so-called “Jewish institution” celebrated the victory of Israel’s enemies this week by issuing a statement “enthusiastically supporting the vote by the United Nations to upgrade Palestine to a nonmember observer state.”
As the email, signed by B’nai Jeshurun’s three rabbis, cantor, board of directors and executive director said: “The vote at the UN yesterday is a great moment for us as citizens of the world. This is an opportunity to celebrate the process that allows a nation to come forward and ask for recognition. Having gained independence ourselves in this way, we are especially conscious of this.”
Now, whether one believes a Palestinian State is just or not, why strengthen an enemy who refuses to negotiate with us for peace? This nation has killed Jews and is engaged in an on-going war with Israel. All the major political parties of Israel opposed this move, as did all American Jewish organizations that I know of, and the vote was opposed by the governments of the United States and Israel. BJ’s extremist rhetoric simply gives aid and comfort to Israel’s enemies. As one member of the synagogue was quoted as saying “it is like a high-five to the PLO, and that has left us numb.”
At the other end of the religious spectrum of anti-Zionist Jews are the Neturei Karta, Orthodox extremists who embrace Jew-haters of all sorts. As Lenin famously said, those who work against their own people’s best interests in support of their enemies are “useful idiots.” The useful idiots of B’nai Jeshurun have decided to root for our enemies and in my eyes they can no longer be deemed a synagogue or a Jewish institution.
In 1929, Ze’ev Jabotinsky wrote in an essay called Peace:
A noisy whining is now being set up by a chorus of ‘peace seekers’ who aim to achieve (by preaching exclusively to Jews) conciliation with the Arabs. It is difficult to free oneself from a feeling of disgust. On the morrow of a slaughter so mean and so foul – let us confess our sins and ask that they not beat us again.
As Harvard professor Ruth Wisse says, “the rapid demoralization of Jews in the face of anti-Zionism… shows the depth of the influence of the past, for many have yet to achieve the simple self-respect that has been eluding the Jews collectively since the dawn of modernity.” May the members of B’nai Jeshurun who still have some self-respect find a real Jewish institution to affiliate with.
Ronn Torossian is an entrepreneur, author and philanthropist.