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Intolerant Pluralism, American Style

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The American liberal movements are pushing for greater recognition in Israel, including in Israeli media. Arguing his case, Conservative Rabbi Yizhar Hess wrote not long ago that “all streams of Judaism have beauty,” claiming all must be recognized in Israeli law. Rabbi Pesach Lerner responded that no one is being excluded, but that the “foreign ideal” of pluralism is no reason to change the classical definition of Judaism. To this, Rabbi Alan Silverstein, a colleague of Rabbi Hess, took offense. He asked, rhetorically, “Pluralism is not Jewish?

Actually, no, it’s not. In fact, American Jewish “pluralism” is not even tolerant, belying the principles implied by its name.

As Rabbi Silverstein expresses so clearly, the pluralism of the American liberal movements is not what the word implies—coexistence between those with different beliefs. The American Jewish “pluralism” is a rigid doctrine, one that requires acceptance of the notion that all Jewish “movements” are equally valid, that there is no right or wrong way to “do” Judaism. This sort of “pluralism,” of course, is directly at odds with Jewish tradition.

Judaism, as understood for millennia, has had a right and a wrong. Rabbi Silverstein cannot and does not contest the fact that Hillel, Maimonides and Rabbi Isaac Luria, those used by Rabbi Lerner to exemplify this point, clearly delineated voluminous right and wrong beliefs and behaviors.

Instead, Rabbi Silverstein takes........

© The Times of Israel (Blogs)

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