Interfaith Israel

Rabbi Jack Moline and Rev. John Hagee

I hope the fact that I haven’t posted anything to my blog in over two weeks means that I’ve just been busy and not that I’ve run out of things to say.

After spending last week in Boston at the Rabbinical Assembly Convention, I have a lot of blogging to do. The convention was simply amazing with one great session after another. I was very impressed with the Rabbinical Assembly, and I left with newfound hope and excitement about Conservative Judaism in general.

I will post some reflections about the convention in the next day or two. In the meantime, I was struck by a couple of articles about my colleague Jack Moline of Agudas Achim in Alexandria, Virginia. Rabbi Jack is one of the more politically liberal Conservative rabbis, but has nevertheless agreed to sit on the dais at Reverend John Hagee’s “Night to Honor Israel” in the Washington area this month. After hearing John Hagee (right) speak at AIPAC in March, I am not surprised about the support he is getting from even the most liberal rabbis who cannot support his conservative Christian Right agenda, but will stand together with him for the sake of Israel. With Zev Chafetz’s book A Match Made in Heaven receiving critical acclaim, there will no doubt be much more attention paid to the reaction of mainstream Judaism toward Evangelical Christian support of Israel.

I especially liked Jack’s quote in the Baltimore Jewish Times:

“I don’t like his politics or his theology, but we live in a time when friends of Israel are few and far between. We have to recognize that we are receiving support from the evangelical community that we are not receiving from our traditional friends. I’ll be happy to talk about the theological context after we achieve a safe and secure Israel.”

This is the article from YNet News by Yaakov Lappin:
Fresh controversy has erupted around Christian Zionist leader Pastor John Hagee, after Conservative leader Rabbi Jack Moline’s name appeared on the list of invited guests at an event hosted by Hagee’s Christians United for Israel (CFI) group, the Jewish Week said.
“Rabbi Jack Moline is a Jewish centrist in almost every respect. He is leader in the Conservative movement, a crusader against intermarriage and a fierce opponent of the religious right’s growing influence on American life,” the Jewish Week said.
“Rabbi Moline says his views about the domestic dangers posed by the religious right have not changed, but conditions have,” the report added.
The Jewish Week quoted Rabbi Moline as saying: “We’re no longer in a position of being too selective in choosing our friends,” and citing “the threat posed by Iran and Israel’s growing isolation.”
“Rabbi Moline’s participation marks the growing if uneasy acceptance of Rev. Hagee’s brand of pro-Israel activism across the Jewish community.
Mainstream Jewish leaders are rushing to embrace him, despite continuing concerns about his apocalyptic views about Israel’s future, his open advocacy of war with Iran and his harsh domestic views, and critics are being pressured into silence,” the Jewish Week added.

(c) Rabbi Jason Miller | | Twitter: @RabbiJason |
Interfaith Israel

John Hagee’s complete AIPAC speech

Last week I posted a reflection after I heard Pastor John Hagee speak at the AIPAC Policy Conference and I included a link to a video of his speech. Apparently that was a shortened version of his speech. His entire speech is available for viewing here.

(c) Rabbi Jason Miller | | Twitter: @RabbiJason |
Interfaith Jewish

Christmas DOESN’T have to be for everyone!

“Sex and the City” executive producer Cindy Chupak’s article in yesterday’s NY Times was problematic on more levels than there are days of Hanukkah (I would have used “days of Christmas,” but I have no idea how many days of Christmas there really are. It would appear there is only one, but then there is that song that includes the lyrics “On the 12th day of Christmas my true love gave to me” that has always confused me.)

Chupak is a newly married Jewish woman who, together with her Jewish husband, decides to jump right into the Christmas spirit and purchases a Christmas tree for their new home. Of course, Chupak blames the Pottery Barn holiday catalog for the fact that they picked out a Home Depot Christmas tree a year-and-a-half after they presumably stood under a chuppah proclaiming to make a Jewish home together.

As a rabbi, I have come to empathize with interfaith families who have to face the daunting challenge of the “December Dilemma” each winter, and I am of the opinion that each interfaith family has to make difficult decisions for themselves as to how they will handle celebrating (or not celebrating) Christmas. Even families in which both partners are Jewish but one converted to Judaism struggle this time of year because of the one non-Jewish side of the family (grandparents, siblings, etc.). At my shul I have instituted an “Interfaith Family Forum” to help interfaith families navigate these thorny issues. However, this article is troubling because it is about two Jewish partners in a marriage caving in to the annual Christmas envy that some Jewish people feel.

Chupak writes, “So here we are: two newlywed Jews celebrating our No No Noel (or Ho Ho Hanukkah) not because we secretly want to convert to Christianity, but because the rampant commercialization of Christmas works!”

The rampant commercialization of Christmas should work… for Christians! Not for Jews. My advice to the Chupak family: About a week or two before September 26 next year, you both should go to Home Depot and shop for some materials to build a sukkah (you can even decorate it with flashing lights if you wish). Then mill through the Pottery Barn catalog and pick out some cute chotchkes to decorate your sukkah.

You and your choo-choo-train-around-the-Christmas-Tree-loving-husband will be able to spend eight wonderful evenings together having holiday meals in your sukkah. You might even make your Christmas-celebrating neighbors jealous of your adorable hut holiday! Oh, and when you have kids, you can teach them about how much fun the Jewish holidays like Sukkot, Purim, Tu Bishvat, and Hanukkah (see for creative ways to celebrate these) can be without having to adopt any of the rituals of Christian holidays… even the secular rituals in an à la carte way!

Jewlicious also blogged about Cindy Chupak rationalizing her Christmas observance.

(c) Rabbi Jason Miller | | Twitter: @RabbiJason |