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Thought for the Day: Reform Jewish Religion Does Not Walk Even Their Own Talk

I was late coming home this morning from minyan.  Then I was late getting to the train.  Then I wasn't able to learn very effectively on the train.  It's all my wife's fault.  This morning, while preparing a hot breakfast for me to start my day, she remembered that she hadn't forwarded the email she had written to Rabbi Nancy (the spiritual co-leader of my in-laws' soon-to-be-ex congregation) last night after comforting her overwrought and justifiably upset mother.  Before I left shul this morning, I checked my phone for messages... saw that I had an email, opened it (ok, ok... I'm really do check my email much more often than I need to) and saw the email that my wife had sent to Rabbi Nancy.  I not only couldn't believe what I was reading, I called a friend over to read some particularly juicy sections to him.

When we first started to keep kosher and semi keep Shabbos, there were nothing really ideological about it; it was mostly doing more of the traditional stuff.  Made us feel more connected to our roots, good for the kids to have tradition, yada yada.  Then we moved toward orthodox.  It quickly became apparent to me that this change meant not only accepting a new world outlook, it meant actually rejecting as false and evil the non-orthodox Jewish religions.  That was a very bitter pill to my dear wife who had grown up so connected, and not one she was willing to swallow so easily; if at all.

One of the big things that turned me away from the Reform Jewish Religion is that they don't know who they are.  After all, its origin is a reaction to what they saw as the over-emphasis of orthodoxy on ritual at (in their eyes) the expense of the "real" (again, in their eyes) mission of the Jewish people, tikun olam/perfection of the world.  In point of fact, their vision of orthodoxy is completely distorted and entirely false.  In the orthodox community you will find help for the sick and hospitalized; real financial support for all segments of the community, from free loans to warehouses of free food, furniture, clothing, and even toys; support and help for weddings and showers.  All organized, all run by volunteers.  All while keeping kosher, shabbos, and davening three times a day.  The ritual doesn't hamper our bein adam l'chaveiro, it invigorates it.

And the Reform Jewish Religion?  With all their talk of tikun olam?  I'll let my wife's letter (included in its entirety and unedited below) speak for herself.

All of my wife's emails, by the way, end with: "Do not be wise in words - be wise in deeds. -Mishlei"  My wife; I think I'll keep her... as long as she'll have me.

Dear Nancy,

I usually do not get involved with my parents business, but given that they are leaving Sacramento, on the 20th of Feb. I feel an obligation as their only and eldest daughter to write this letter.

I am so disappointed that a congregation whose motto is “Where everyone is Family” can so easily turn their back on a woman, namely my mother Bea Buder, who for 40 years has given her life to this institution.

I know my mother has reached out to you and your husband on several occasions for emotional support and has been barely given the time of day. How many times have either one of you bothered to visit my father in the nursing home or in the hospital on the numerous occasions he unfortunately had to be admitted?  Do you realize how much just a short visit to my father would have done for my mother’s spirits?

When you heard about my brothers death, you should have rushed to her side…..she was all alone, my father was in a nursing home and she was also dealing with her mourning granddaughter.

Unfortunately, I live across the country and I am unable to be with my parents physically, but I would have thought that her Rabbis would have been there for her. She has been going through so much lately and has anyone asked her if they can be of any help to her?  Have you picked up the phone just to check in on her?

I understand that you are doing a little something for her on Friday night at your Oneg Shabbos, really that’s it after 40 years?

For the past few months, I have heard her age and a defeat in her voice that I have never heard.  I am appalled that her congregation has not stepped up to help her…what kind of Chesed is that?

When she tendered her resignation to the Temple and she wrote how unhappy she has been, and copied you on it, did you reply? No!!!

I am sorry, but a 78 year old woman deserves more than this…after all she is leaving and then your obligation will be finished.

I hope you take this a bit to heart, because I feel my mother deserves better treatment than she has been given, and after all she is only going to be in Sacramento for another 9 days!

By the way you should also be aware that today would have been her son’s 50th birthday, so it is an extremely painful day for her.


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