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Saturday, December 26, 2009

Why be a reform Jew when you can be a Democrat?

This is off topic, but David Bernstein has an interesting comment on the attacks on Senator Joe Lieberman (I-Conn) (pictured with his wife Hadassah) that claim that he isn't a good Jew because he opposes Obamacare.
This, in a nutshell, explains why Reform Judaism (with which I have some sympathy theologically) is dying a slow long-term death (estimates are something like 8 Reform Jewish great-grandparents will produce slightly over 1 Jewish great-grandchild–Reform has received a temporary boost because it, unlike its Conservative rival, which is undergoing its own identity crisis over the issue of homosexual rabbis, accepts children of Jewish fathers); its leaders can find a mandate in “Jewish texts” for nationalizing the American health care industry, which has nothing to do with Judasim, but not for Sabbath or kashruth observance, which have been central to Judaism for 3,000 years.

To be fair, some of Reform’s leaders recognize the problem and are trying hard to change the dynamic, at least on the side of tradition, if not on the side of trying to wean establishment Reform away from identification with political liberalism. But to the extent Reform Judaism offers its constituents the New Deal as its Torah and Barack Obama as its prophet, it’s hard to see why someone should bother being involved in Reform Judaism as opposed to, say, the Democratic Party.


At 9:49 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Carl, I did not realize you were quoting someone else when I came across the words: "with which I have some sympathy theologically".

That left me totally confused.

At 12:32 AM, Blogger Carl in Jerusalem said...

Shy Guy,

I was quoting someone else and I have no sympathy with Reform theologically. That part was indented and was a quote.

I posted it because I thought the point about why be a Reform Jew when you can be a Democrat was well-taken.

At 2:14 AM, Blogger NormanF said...

Why indeed? Reform Judaism began in the 18th Century as a way for Jews to join European civilization without appearing to be "too Jewish." The idea of a Goldilocks Judaism - just right, not too hot and not too cold flopped spectacularly with the Reform. Ironically enough, that failure means that a century from now most of the world's Jews will be Orthodox.


At 3:56 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

there are many reasons to claim that holy joe is not a good jew

the fact is, the only time joe makes an issue of his supposed frumkeit, is when he can get good press. (ie, when he made note of having to walk to the senate on shabbas)

i still find it quite humerous that carl insists on posting articles dealing with america's health care debate, when he and his family have benefitted from socialized health care.

so carl...you have yet to post when you and your family will cease using kupat cholim

oh, and joe doesnt cease being a good jew by not supporting the health care initiatives...however, he really shouldve consulted with his rav before he made statements saying he supported an expansion in medicare...then, when it was put into the senate bill, saying that he did not support it.(he ran for the senate on this very issue)

sounds to me like a case of gneivas das

At 5:32 AM, Blogger Carl in Jerusalem said...


For the record, I believe that Israel's socialized medicine system is overpriced. I did not favor it in 1995 when it was adopted (I was already living here today) and I would gladly get rid of it.

I maintain two different types of private insurance to circumvent its shortcomings - one within the Kupa and one outside of it. It costs me way too much money.

But at least Israel's insurance doesn't impose a penalty on Israelis who live abroad for not having Israeli health insurance. The US Senate bill imposes such a penalty on Americans who live abroad.

I'm also not in a position to judge how frum Joe Lieberman is or is not. But claiming he's not a good Jew because he doesn't support socialized medicine is beyond the pale. I happen to think it's a Kiddush Hashem every time the newspapers report that he walked to the Senate for a vote. But you - the knee-jerk Democrat - obviously would have preferred that the Jew-hating Democrat Ned Lamont (backed by Markos "Screw them" Moulitsas of Daily Kos) had won in Connecticut.

At 10:01 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bacci, one of the things which improved Israel's socialized health system years ago was the government's allowing citizens to make it much simpler to switch between both doctors and health funds if you aren't satisfied.

It's called competition. Highly capitalistic.

While a certain level of regulation is needed for certain things, the market usually works very well on its own.

Things would have been better long ago in the US had there not be so much federal limitation on choosing insurance from any company in the nation, rather than imposing state-bound limitations.

Anyway, you've been warned. Stuff like this still happens in Israel. Bureaucrats get to decide what meds are and aren't covered, urgent surgeries scheduled close to potentially terminal patient's demise. And the haves will continue to pay for private care when the system gets bloated and lethargic.


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