CORRESPONDENCErnLetter FromrnInner Israelrnby Jacob NeusnerrnGhettoizing Jews,rnHijacking JudaismrnImagine what kind of organizationrnwould adopt the following resolutions: tornoppose state and local referenda andrnstatutes restricting the civil rights of gays;rnto support the use of fetal tissue for thernpurpose of life-saving or life-enhancing(!)rnresearch; to advocate a single-payerrnsystem as the most likely means ofrnfulfilling the principles articulated inrnpast Organization resolutions on healthrncare reform; to call upon our federal,rnstate, and local governments to adoptrnlegislation that will afford partners inrncommitted lesbian and gay relationshipsrnthe means of legally acknowledging suchrnrelationships; to support passage of legislationrnsuch as the omnibus Women’srnHealth Equity Act. Reading these andrnsimilar resolutions, you would probablyrnsuppose that the organization is the NationalrnOrganization for Women, or,rnmore likely, the Reform DemocraticrnClub of the Upper West Side of Manhattan.rnYou might not guess the Unionrnof American Hebrew Congregations,rnthat is, the national organization of ReformrnJudaism in the United States, butrnthis is indeed the organization in question,rnand the above resolutions stemrnfrom its 1993 biennial meeting, as reportedrnin the Spring 1994 issue of ReformrnJudaism.rnThe other resolutions—for religiousrnpluralism in Israel, support for thernIsrael-PLO declaration of principles,rnappeal to commute Jonathan Pollard’srnsentence to time served, support for synagogues,rnand the like—represent more orrnless mainstream positions that are particularrnto Jewish organizations. Readingrnthem, you would not mistake your location.rnBut when the Jewish community getsrntogether in its national organizations.rnthe more one floats toward the mainstream,rnthe less distinctively Jewish thernagenda becomes. Take, for example, thernNational Jewish Community RelationsrnAdvisory Council (NJCRAC). It is madernup of representatives of most of thernJewish Community Federations throughoutrnthe United States as well as of thernAmerican Jewish Committee, AmericanrnJewish Congress, B’nai B’rith/Anti-rnDefamation League, Hadassah, JewishrnLabor Committee, Jewish War Veterans,rnNational Council of Jewish Women,rnUnion of American Hebrew Congregations,rnUnion of Orthodox JewishrnCongregations of America, UnitedrnSynagogue of Conservative Judaism,rnWomen’s American ORT—pretty muchrneverybody within the wall-to-wallrnorganizational framework of AmericanrnJewry. So what do they talk about?rnWell—not religion.rnConcerns for “community relations”rncover these topics: equal opportunityrnand social justice; Israel and the MiddlernEast; worid Jewry and international humanrnrights; Jewish security and the Billrnof Rights; community relations concernsrnon the campus. Of these topics, concernrnfor anti-Semitism, Jews in the formerrnSoviet Union, the holocaust, and the likernbelong well within the framework of distinctivelyrnJewish engagements. But whatrnshall we make of such topics as povertyrnand the urban agenda; children at risk;rnimmigration and refugee policy; publicrnschool education; health care issues; thernstatus of women? If you have to be Jewishrnto care about Jews in the SovietrnUnion, you certainly do not have to bernJewish to meet to talk about publicrnschool education, to take one amongrnmany issues.rnWhy does the Jewish communityrnadopt as a particularly, distinctively Jewishrncause the support of public educationrnto the exclusion of private education?rnOnly the Union of Orthodox JewishrnCongregations of America dissented, insistingrnthat the Jewish community supportrn”properly drawn educational choicernprograms that can constitutionally andrnequitably provide funds for non-publicrnschool students.”rnWhat makes an organization of thernJewish community want to “urge the Administrationrnand Congress to considerrnas a top priority developing policies andrnstrategies that focus on blighted urbanrnareas, including rebuilding urban infrastructure,rn[and to] educate the publicrnabout the scope and causes of povertyrnand the need for more vigorous publicrnpolicies to deal with poverty”? Whyrndoes it take the Jewish community inrnparticular to “urge expansion of job training,rnapprenticeship, and communityrnservice programs that equip teenagersrnwith job skills that will enable them tornfind meaningful employment”? And onrnand on.rnIn other words, what we have here isrnnot the organized Jewish community,rnaddressing its particular and legitimaternconcerns, but the circumcised sector ofrnthe Democratic Party, reviewing the party’srncurrent policy and endorsing it. Justrnas the communists in the bad old daysrnorganized Yevsektzia—the Jewish Bureaurn—which through Jewish agitatorsrnmanipulated Jewish opinion for the party’srnpurposes, so the organized Jewishrncommunity serves as the Jewish Bureaurnof the left-liberal establishment. Its issues,rnits emphases, its concerns predominatern—and the concerns of centristrnAmerica, our issues, our emphases, ourrnconcerns never register. And, it goesrnwithout saying, the bulk of the Reform,rnReconstructionist, and Conservative rabbinate,rnand a fair number of Orthodoxrnrabbis as well, do yeoman service asrncheerleaders for left-wing zealotry.rnThis poses two problems. First, Judaismrnclearly plays no role in the organizedrnJewish community. Whether orrnnot the separation of church and state asrnnow defined by the courts is what thernFirst Amendment requires, the organizedrnJewish community maintains thernrigid and absolute separation of Jewryrnfrom Judaism. Examining the NJCRACrnprogram, with its utterly secular concerns,rnleaves no doubt on that score.rnSecond, when a Judaic religious organizationrnmeets, as in the case of the Reformrnmovement, whatever currently definesrnthe style of the left becomes God’srnwill, making its religion stand for abortionrnand against the life of the fetus, inrndirect contradiction to the Torah. Marriagernas God-ordained from Adam andrnEve onward is expanded to include twornAdams and no Eve; and dozens of reso-rn36/CHRONICLESrnrnrn