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Rabbi Eric Yoffie is a writer, lecturer, and President Emeritus of the Union for Reform Judaism

What Ariel Sharon would have told Netanyahu

Posted by on Jan 25, 2015 in Haaretz | 0 comments

What Ariel Sharon would have told Netanyahu

A year has passed since the death of former-Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. As Israel’s election campaign moves into high gear, it is interesting to imagine what Sharon, if he were alive and healthy, might have thought today. It is likely that he would not have been happy. He would have looked upon the antics and evasions of the election season with a combination of disdain and dismay. As a leader in this era when leadership is lacking and as an activist in a period of political passivity, Sharon, I imagine, would have dismissed both the right...

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Freedom of Expression Is Not Unlimited

Posted by on Jan 11, 2015 in Huffington Post | 2 comments

Freedom of Expression Is Not Unlimited

Freedom of expression does not mean that anyone has the right to be heard at any time and in any forum, no matter what. There are times when lines can and must be drawn for reasons both moral and legal, but there are other times when it is inappropriate and wrong to draw such lines. Recent events in France, so terrible and tragic, have given us reason to think through yet again when freedom of expression should be limited in our country and when it should not. David Brooks, writing on January 8 in the New York Times, points to the hypocrisy...

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De Blasio, Prevent Another Baby’s Death From Dangerous Circumcision Rite

Posted by on Dec 31, 2014 in Haaretz | 1 comment

De Blasio, Prevent Another Baby’s Death From Dangerous Circumcision Rite

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio needs to be more concerned about the death of Jewish children and less concerned about the clout of ultra-Orthodox rabbis who have done nothing to prevent those deaths. His administration needs to do whatever is necessary to outlaw metzitzah b’peh (MBP), the controversial circumcision ritual according to which the mohel, the ritual circumciser, cleans the wound by sucking the blood from the circumcised penis with his mouth. This is a matter of great urgency. Last week, New Yorkers learned that yet another newborn...

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Islam Should be Taught in Our Schools

Posted by on Dec 23, 2014 in Time | 2 comments

Islam Should be Taught in Our Schools

We Americans need to teach about Islam in our public schools. This is essential because there exists in our country among all Americans—whether Jews, Christians, people of other faiths, or non-believers—a huge and profound ignorance about Islam. It is not that stories about Islam are missing from our media; there is no shortage of voices prepared to tell us that fanaticism and intolerance are fundamental to Islamic religion, and that violence and even suicide bombing have deep Koranic roots. There is no lack of so-called experts who are eager...

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Six Shared Values and the American Jewish Future

Posted by on Dec 9, 2014 in Jerusalem Post | 0 comments

Six Shared Values and the American Jewish Future

American Jews are a fractious lot.  Our religious differences are real and important.  Our community, after all, is known for its passionate pluralism, which in many ways is a blessing and a source of strength. I recently read an interesting take on these differences in a blog post by David Strulowitz published on the Wexner Foundation site.  Mr. Strulowitz provides a fascinating and out-of-the-ordinary point of view.  Still, it occurred to me that it is a mistake to focus overly much on our differences.   For all the divisions between right...

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Religion, Hypocrisy, and Obamacare

Posted by on Nov 25, 2014 in Time | 2 comments

Religion, Hypocrisy, and Obamacare

“Now, when you die and get to the meeting with St. Peter, he’s probably not going to ask you much about what you did about keeping government small. But he is going to ask you what you did for the poor. You better have a good answer.” These words, spoken last year to a member of the Ohio legislature by John Kasich, the now reelected Republican governor of Ohio, are significant for two reasons. First and most important, they are a reminder of a simple religious truth: If you don’t care about the poor, the suffering, and the sick, you cannot be...

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Stop bashing America

Posted by on Oct 27, 2014 in Jerusalem Post | 3 comments

Stop bashing America

American Jews are apoplectic. While they watch in astonishment, Israel’s leaders are doing everything they can to disrupt and degrade Israel’s relations with her most important ally, the United States of America. Jewish leaders are not only dismayed but genuinely puzzled.  Why in heaven’s name, they wonder, would Israeli officials do things that are guaranteed to undermine the goodwill so essential to Israel’s security and well-being? American Jews know that America is Israel’s indispensable ally.  Absent American support, Israel’s military...

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Muzzled by a Minority: Many Rabbis Don’t Talk about Israel

Posted by on Sep 5, 2014 in By Eric | 2 comments

Muzzled by a Minority: Many Rabbis Don’t Talk about Israel

(Published in Reform Judaism Magazine, Fall 2014) → In 2012, I met with a dozen Reform and Conservative rabbis. Two of the rabbis, who served different synagogues, mentioned having each recently made the mistake of giving sermons that were somewhat critical of Israel’s policy toward the Palestinians. Congregants with hawkish views responded with such outrage, contempt, and ferocity, the rabbis vowed that, going forward, they would simply remain silent on the subject in public, rather than subject themselves to arbitrary litmus tests of...

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The Three Mistakes Atheists Make

Posted by on Aug 13, 2014 in Huffington Post | 1 comment

The Three Mistakes Atheists Make

The God Wars mostly bore me. In my younger days I enjoyed, at least for a while, the intellectual back-and-forth of the God debates. For me, these exchanges had a game-like quality, and it was fun to play the game. How can a student of religion ignore the rational argumentation of Nietzsche or the psychological insights of Freud? And from time to time, I still find myself intrigued by the God-debunking that serious atheists offer. When Richard Dawkins claims that biology and evolution demonstrate that God does not exist, I must take notice,...

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“Too many Arabs”

Posted by on Jul 31, 2014 in By Eric | 0 comments

“Too many Arabs”

An article in a central Massachusetts newspaper quotes me as saying that there are “too many Arabs” in Israel.  The only problem is that I never said this. I have said, many times, that demographic factors are one of the reasons why Israel should withdraw from the West Bank and why there must be a two-state solution to bring about an Israeli-Palestinian peace. Calling for a two-state solution does not mean there are “too many Arabs” in Israel. Click To Tweet It means that there are two groups, Israelis and...

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