Imagine what kind of organization would adopt the following resolutions: to oppose state and local referenda and statutes restricting the civil rights of gays; to support the use of fetal tissue for the purpose of life-saving or life-enhancing(!) research; to advocate a single-payer system as the most likely means of fulfilling the principles articulated in past Organization resolutions on health care reform; to call upon our federal, state, and local governments to adopt legislation that will afford partners in committed lesbian and gay relationships the means of legally acknowledging such relationships; to support passage of legislation such as the omnibus Women’s Health Equity Act. Reading these and similar resolutions, you would probably suppose that the organization is the National Organization for Women, or, more likely, the Reform Democratic Club of the Upper West Side of Manhattan. You might not guess the Union of American Hebrew Congregations, that is, the national organization of Reform Judaism in the United States, but this is indeed the organization in question, and the above resolutions stem from its 1993 biennial meeting, as reported in the Spring 1994 issue of Reform Judaism.

The other resolutions—for religious pluralism in Israel, support for the Israel-PLO declaration of principles, appeal to commute Jonathan Pollard’s sentence to time served, support for synagogues, and the like—represent more or less mainstream positions that are particular to Jewish organizations. Reading them, you would not mistake your location.

But when the Jewish community gets together in its national organizations, the more one floats toward the mainstream, the less distinctively Jewish the agenda becomes. Take, for example, the National Jewish Community Relations Advisory Council (NJCRAC). It is made up of representatives of most of the Jewish Community Federations throughout the United States as well as of the American Jewish Committee, American Jewish Congress, B’nai B’rith/Anti-Defamation League, Hadassah, Jewish Labor Committee, Jewish War Veterans, National Council of Jewish Women, Union of American Hebrew Congregations, Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America, United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism, Women’s American ORT—pretty much everybody within the wall-to-wall organizational framework of American Jewry. So what do they talk about? Well—not religion.

Concerns for “community relations” cover these topics: equal opportunity and social justice; Israel and the Middle East; world Jewry and international human rights; Jewish security and the Bill of Rights; community relations concerns on the campus. Of these topics, concern for anti-Semitism, Jews in the former Soviet Union, the holocaust, and the like belong well within the framework of distinctively Jewish engagements. But what shall we make of such topics as poverty and the urban agenda; children at risk; immigration and refugee policy; public school education; health care issues; the status of women? If you have to be Jewish to care about Jews in the Soviet Union, you certainly do not have to be Jewish to meet to talk about public school education, to take one among many issues.

Why does the Jewish community adopt as a particularly, distinctively Jewish cause the support of public education to the exclusion of private education? Only the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America dissented, insisting that the Jewish community support “properly drawn educational choice programs that can constitutionally and equitably provide funds for non-public school students.”

What makes an organization of the Jewish community want to “urge the Administration and Congress to consider as a top priority developing policies and strategies that focus on blighted urban areas, including rebuilding urban infrastructure, [and to] educate the public about the scope and causes of poverty and the need for more vigorous public policies to deal with poverty”? Why does it take the Jewish community in particular to “urge expansion of job training, apprenticeship, and community service programs that equip teenagers with job skills that will enable them to find meaningful employment”? And on and on.

In other words, what we have here is not the organized Jewish community, addressing its particular and legitimate concerns, but the circumcised sector of the Democratic Party, reviewing the party’s current policy and endorsing it. Just as the communists in the bad old days organized Yevsektzia—the Jewish Bureau—which through Jewish agitators manipulated Jewish opinion for the party’s purposes, so the organized Jewish community serves as the Jewish Bureau of the left-liberal establishment. Its issues, its emphases, its concerns predominate—and the concerns of centrist America, our issues, our emphases, our concerns never register. And, it goes without saying, the bulk of the Reform, Reconstructionist, and Conservative rabbinate, and a fair number of Orthodox rabbis as well, do yeoman service as cheerleaders for left-wing zealotry.

This poses two problems. First, Judaism clearly plays no role in the organized Jewish community. Whether or not the separation of church and state as now defined by the courts is what the First Amendment requires, the organized Jewish community maintains the rigid and absolute separation of Jewry from Judaism. Examining the NJCRAC program, with its utterly secular concerns, leaves no doubt on that score.

Second, when a Judaic religious organization meets, as in the case of the Reform movement, whatever currently defines the style of the left becomes God’s will, making its religion stand for abortion and against the life of the fetus, in direct contradiction to the Torah. Marriage as God-ordained from Adam and Eve onward is expanded to include two Adams and no Eve; and dozens of resolutions will be adopted that speak not once of God and the Torah of Sinai but of the ethnic language of “continuity and survival.” “Judaism teaches” and “the far left of the Democratic Party advocates”—select your subject, the predicate will be the same.

American politics, however, do not divide up among ethnic groups, forming race-coalitions behind negotiated truths. On the contrary, you do not have to be a Jew to favor what Jews advocate. If you want to support public education as we now know it, join NEA. If you want to advocate more money for welfare, or raising taxes for increased support for unmarried teenage mothers, or any of the other buzzwords at the NJCRAC meeting, why not find the appropriate, general-membership group to fight for your cause? After all, we Jewish conservatives have founded no counterpart to advocate life against abortion, the family against God-knows-what, to support tax reform and a balanced budget or a voucher system in education. We just find our rightful place in the mainstream of the politics we espouse. And we do not find it necessary to demonstrate out of the writings of the Torah that Ronald Reagan embodied the virtues of Moses or that the Evil Empire represented Satan—though some of us would find little difficulty in adducing probative proof-texts for both propositions, among many favored by our politics.

What is the difference? The right advocates a single law for all Americans, equality before the law; the left discriminates. The right opens the mainstream to all comers; the left defines society in terms of ethnic or racial groups. The right favors integration and equal opportunity; the left, segregation and racially proportionate outcomes. So it is quite natural for the Jews to ghettoize themselves on the left—if that is the politics they wish to adopt. Still, this is odd, for the left has consistently taken positions hostile to what is good for the Jewish community—tolerating anti-Semitic black racism in the name of “free speech,” for instance—while the right has advocated what is good for this country and, therefore, also good for Jews. The left ghettoizes Jews, thus hijacking Judaism.