In Chicago, a new synagogue seeks Judaism minus Zionism

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Rabbi Brant Rosen, center left, speaks during a Moral Monday's demonstration in Chicago, Ill. in August 2105. Photo by Tom Gaulke

Rabbi Brant Rosen, center left, speaks during a Moral Monday's demonstration in Chicago, Ill. in August 2105. Photo by Tom Gaulke

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(RNS) “We are really a community for Jews who don’t reduce their Judaism to narrow political nationalism," said Rabbi Brant Rosen, the leader of the new Tzedek Chicago.

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  • Rionni

    I love you that way too Fran. It’s very physical.

  • Fran

    I have brotherly love for people of all races, cultures and nations, just as Yeshua (Jesus) and Yahweh (Jehovah), his Father, does.

  • Garson Abuita

    Rosen’s suggestion that supporters of Israel adhere to “narrow political nationalism” is offensive and tone-deaf. It’s like you’re either with Rosen, or you’re with the killers of Ali Dawabsheh. It’s a false choice. I also am concerned with the many human-rights abuses and other problems in Israel today and I consider myself an ardent Zionist. If he’s concerned about the “many dark places of history,” he should consider what has happened historically to the Jews in the absence of a national home.

  • Rivki

    Will they rewrite the Torah to delete every reference to the promised land? A community based on self-righteousness rather than faith and tradition has no chance of long-term survival. jmtc

  • In the article the following is written “who previously co-founded the Jewish Voice for Peace Rabbinical Council. Jewish Voice for Peace is an American Jewish organization opposed to Israeli military presence in the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem.” What a ridiculous lie about this anti-Zionist, anti-Israel and often anti-Semitic group. Regardless if there are Jews involved it’s support of the BDS movement only confirms their real intent. The Rabbi has every right to profess his dislike for the Jewish state just like some of the Charedi ultra orthodox sects. But to insinuate that “Jewish voice for Peace” is a concerned parve organization truly expresses “yellow” journalism at its best.

  • Hillel Wallick

    Garson, right on! Rabbi Rosen refers to Israel as an “exclusively Jewish nation-state.” It is a Jewish nation-state (the only one), but it is not exclusively Jewish — 20% of the population is non-Jewish.

  • Roger Nicholson

    Thank you Rabbi Rosen and your congregants at Tzedek. I have found it very difficult to have conversations with Jews that are very affirming of their faith tradition without an undercurrent of fear and defensiveness. May your tribe increase; and may we all continue to struggle with making a very difficult peace.

  • David

    This is JVP. A hate group. Why write about them as being legitimate?

  • Jack

    Of course, even apart from their rejection of Israel, their style of religion pretty much rejects the Torah as well — leaving little left other than social justice concerns, which are not the exclusive preserve of any one religion.

  • Jack

    I wonder how one can simultaneously accept and reject a faith tradition. I suppose the answer is to reject the real thing and substitute it with something else while retaining the original name and a few of its trappings.

  • Perry Weiner

    There’s nobody more self-righteous than a Zionist!

  • Perry Weiner

    Wrong. JVP is a Love Group. It simply doesn’t limit its love to other Jews!

  • Jack

    How “self-righteous” for a Zionist to assert that the Jews have a right to return to their homeland and establish sovereignty there.

    How “self-righteous” for an Italian to assert that Italy is his or her homeland.

    How “self-righteous” for a Norwegian to assert that Norway is his or her homeland.

    Perry Weiner, grow up.

  • Jack

    Perry, you remind me of what someone once said about the French philosophe, Rousseau:

    “He loved humanity and hated people.”

    You can’t have a true love of humanity if you hate particular groupings of people — families and nations.

  • Empress Trudy

    It’s really more of a branding issue. They shouldn’t really be so enamored of calling themselves Judaism. I can recommend several Protestant churches that would embrace whatever it is Rabbi Rosen is talking about. Perhaps they can call themselves that instead.

  • charles hoffman

    A core element of Jewish faith is the belief that the Land of Israel is God-given. To deny the right to live there, the obligation to live there, and the connection of all Jews to the Land of Israel is to deny a fundamental element of Judaism and to make such a group as marginal and irrelevant to Jewish life as are the Indonesian Karaite LGBTs

  • Ian

    Bravo to Rabbi Rosen for adding a fresh perspective on things and bringing a respectful, well-informed voice to the dialogue. I’m also glad to see those who disagree, like Rabbi Weinberg, commenting on the situation, instead of just refusing to say anything. It’s nice to have some dialogue, instead of just dismissing this viewpoint and ignoring it.

  • Susan

    The Jews of Germany and Austria were the most assimilated Jews in the world. We know what happened to them. Zionism is necessary to preserve the Jewish people. I can live in America because Israel exists.

    It is just not correct that Zionists limit their Judaism to narrow political nationalism. One can be a Zionist and a spiritual Jew committed to social justice all at the same time.

  • I feel very saddened by once again with a discussion about the many feelings and attitude toward Israel Human Rights and who is a good Jew and bad Jew being thrown around once again. I am a very proud member of Tzedek and a very proud Jew. When I first became involved in this new Congregation it was because there was no where else that seemed to take up the question of Human Rights for all in the way I wanted the experience to myself and my family until I was given this opportunity to become part of a growing movement of expressing my firm beief in being a Jew along with my lifelong struggle for Human Rights. What I see happening here is the same reason I could not find a fit for myself before. I am not sure what Non Zionism means exactly but what I do know is that the Government of Israel has become a Government of Destruction. Human Rights should be the calling card for all Jews. With that said I proudly stand with others and become part of anew Congregation Tzedek.

  • Jack

    Wendy, please explain why Israel must be sacrificed on the altar of
    “human rights.” You don’t believe that any other nation doesn’t belong on the map. Why do you believe that about Israel?

  • Susan

    It is perfectly possible to be for human rights and support Israel’s existence. Israel is a democracy. It is far from perfect, but it can be changed. Wendy, you would be doing much more to help human rights if you supported Israeli groups that are trying to change things.

  • Dear Susan,

    Thank you for your sanity. It is encouraging to read your balanced statement. Far too many of the opinions here betray ignorance fueled by bias.

  • Jack

    Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, formerly the Chief Rabbi of Britain, once said that anti-Semitism throughout history often mimics the moral language of the time. Today, the moral language is that of human rights — thus today, Israel as the homeland of the Jewish people is attacked as a supremely egregious human rights violator. Even though the charge is bogus, it is made anyway, because it relies on a wellspring of Jew-hatred that never seems to subside fully.

    What is especially pathetic is when individual Jews start internalizing the lies told by those who so obviously hate them.

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