Monday, the rabbi worshipped at Arafat's tombworship at the tomb of the father of terrorism. I'd like to introduce you to Rabbi Neil Blumofe of Congregation Agudas Achim (it's Conservative - contrary to what some of my Orthodox friends might conclude from the name) in Austin, Texas.
Below is a letter written by Richard Brook, a congregant of Rabbi Blumofe, who vehemently objects to Blumofe's idol worship.
And in case you're wondering what these tours do, here's an itinerary:
Yes, the visit to Arafat's tomb is on Day 11. But it's only the start of the problems with this tour. This is how people are being educated to Judaism?
As it happens, I was in Austin two years ago on business, as some of you might recall. Congregation Agudas Achim is located in a huge gated complex that was donated by Michael Dell, the chairman of Dell Computers, who donated $1.8 million to American Friends of the IDF in 2014. The complex includes a day school, a community center, and Orthodox, Conservative and Reform synagogues (although when I was there in November 2014, the Orthodox synagogue was meeting in a classroom in the school). One has to wonder whether Mr. Dell is aware of what is going on at his campus, and whether visiting Yasser Arafat's tomb violates the terms of the land grant to Congregation Agudas Achim (I have no way of getting a copy of that grant - just raising the issue).
For the record, Mr. Brook has been in touch with me directly, and gave me permission to publish his letter (Hat Tips: Richard Allen and Sloan Rachmuth).
More to follow as this story progresses.