We want to bring articles from rabbis and lay leaders with passionate and sometimes controversial viewpoints. This article, from Rabbi Aryeh Meier, published recently in the Jewish Standard, fits the bill. It’s a cry from the heart about Israel, the Diaspora and the meaning of being a liberal Jew. In short, it couldn’t be more relevant to our core Masorti values. We offer this with grateful thanks to the Jewish Standard.
Here’s a taste of from the article:
” I am a Conservative (better “Masorti/traditional”) Jew. I am writing to explain to the broader Jewish community how one liberal Jew defines his Jewish beliefs and commitments with the hope that this will bring Jews like myself into a closer dialogue with Jews who have different beliefs and approaches to Jewish faith and community. I welcome responses from anyone who would contribute to a broader communal discussion on these issues.
I choose to define my Judaism in a positive way rather than what I am not (ie. not Reform, not Orthodox, not secular).
I think it important first to list those teachers who shaped my path in Jewish life. At the Jewish Theological Seminary I studied with Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, whose writings on Jewish faith, practice, and prayer, and whose commitment to social justice and interreligious dialogue, had a powerful impact on my life.
Other significant teachers and influences have been (and continue to be) Rav Avraham Yitzchak haKohen Kook, Martin Buber, Nechama Leibovitz, the poet Yehuda Amichai, Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi, and Rabbi Arthur Green. There certainly are others, but that list will suffice for now.
I begin with a verse from sefer Bereshit 18:19, where God says “Indeed I have known him [Avraham], in order that he may charge his sons and his household after him: they shall keep the way of YHWH, to do what is right and just (tzedekah u’mishpat), in order that YHWH may bring upon Avraham what he spoke concerning him.” According to this verse, the way of God, derekh haShem, is to bring equity and justice to a world greatly in need of both. This is perhaps the reason for choosing Avraham and his progeny and is the very essence of what Jews are supposed to do in the world.Continue reading here.
Rabbi Aryeh Meir is an active member of Congregation Beth Sholom in Teaneck, a member of the New Israel Fund, the Teaneck Environmental Commission, and the J Street Rabbinic Cabinet.