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

Coercion and Judaism don’t mix – especially not in Israel

Posted by on Nov 20, 2014 in Haaretz | 0 comments

Coercion and Judaism don’t mix – especially not in Israel

Memo to American Jewish liberals: Church-state separation on the American model cannot exist in the State of Israel. Click To Tweet Rabbi Avi Shafran was right on that point in his recent Haaretz article, even if he was wrong about practically everything else. Israel, as Rabbi Shafran pointed out, is a Jewish state. Israel is the one place in the world where Jews have actual power. Click To Tweet It is the one place in the world where Shabbat and the festivals provide the rhythm of the calendar, where the language of the Bible is the language...

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The GOP sweep is no victory for Netanyahu

Posted by on Nov 5, 2014 in Haaretz | 1 comment

The GOP sweep is no victory for Netanyahu

Now that the Senate, like the House of Representatives, will have a Republican majority, right-wing supporters of Israel, both in Israel and America, are rejoicing. Their thinking goes like this: Mr. Netanyahu has a natural affinity for Republicans and conservatives. After years of tension with the Obama administration, the prime minister can now expect his Republican friends in Congress to push back against Obama’s policies. With the president humiliated at the polls and Republicans in charge on the Hill, we will finally see right-wingers...

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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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Is Pulpit Endorsement of Candidates the next Hobby Lobby?

Posted by on Oct 20, 2014 in Time | 0 comments

Is Pulpit Endorsement of Candidates the next Hobby Lobby?

Electioneering from the pulpit is a very bad idea Click To Tweet but champions of this particular bad idea seem to feel that its time has come. Let’s hope, for the sake of religion in America, that they are wrong. On October 5, referred to by its organizers as “Pulpit Freedom Sunday,” more than 1,500 pastors preached sermons about political candidates and their views on matters before the electorate. The day was organized by Alliance Defending Freedom, a group that advocates the absolute right of clergy to endorse candidates or parties...

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Theology of Reinhold Niebuhr in Obama’s ISIS Speech

Posted by on Sep 15, 2014 in Time | 0 comments

Theology of Reinhold Niebuhr in Obama’s ISIS Speech

Religion is creating havoc in the world. Authoritarian governments are collapsing in the Middle East, and in the absence of credible alternatives, Sunni and Shi’ite religious groupings, fueled by ancient hatreds, are fighting each other to fill the void. President Obama gave a speech last week on what to do about it. It was a sane and sensible speech, and one that may have drawn some inspiration from a Protestant minister who was a profound political thinker and one of America’s great public intellectuals of the mid-20th century. In 2007,...

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Settlement Expansion is Madness

Posted by on Sep 8, 2014 in Jerusalem Post | 5 comments

Settlement Expansion is Madness

Israel’s recent decision to appropriate 1000 acres of land in Gush Etzion in the West Bank for settlement expansion has set off a storm of protest. The decision has reignited yet again the 45-year debate on whether such expansion is morally proper, Jewishly right, and politically wise. But after 45 years we know the answer: It is none of these things and does nothing to advance the security interests of the Jewish State. Following are some of the reasons why: 1. Not a single friend or ally in the West – or in the world – came forward to...

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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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Brandeis Gets it Right on Islam

Posted by on Apr 10, 2014 in Huffington Post | 4 comments

Brandeis Gets it Right on Islam

Brandeis University, a Jewish-sponsored university and my alma mater, has withdrawn its offer to give an honorary degree to Ayaan Hirsi Ali. As reported in The New York Times and elsewhere, Brandeis changed its mind eight days after announcing the honor to Ms. Hirsi Ali, who was born in Somalia and served in the Dutch Parliament. The president of Brandeis, Fred Lawrence, said in his announcement of the change that “we cannot overlook certain of her past statements that are inconsistent with Brandeis University’s core...

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