An Incongruous Opinion
Moshe Phillips’ divisive rant about Israel and rabbi bashing (“The Real Danger of That Atheist Harvard Chaplain,” Sept. 9) seemed incongruous on the Exponent’s opinion pages.
Phillips poo-poohed a rabbi’s credentials even though he hides his own in public profiles.
Phillips attacked Harvard hiring a secular humanist chaplain, even though that happened in 2005. All recent demographic studies report Jews as the least religious group in America, thus Harvard chose someone relatable to its students. Rabbi Epstein’s promotion to chief chaplain illustrates his success.
I’m happy these young, bright Jews who don’t identify with religion found an alternative role model for staying in our community. Not my brand of Judaism either, but if it works, great.
Then Phillips attacked Epstein’s Zionism due to a tweet labeling as “supremacists” some Jewish Israelis who provocatively marched, chanting “We’re here — so suffer!” and “Death to Arabs!”
The centrist Israeli foreign minister also commented that day, saying “The fact that there are extremists for whom the Israeli flag represents hate and racism is abominable and intolerable. It is incomprehensible how one can hold an Israeli flag in one’s hand and shout ‘death to Arabs’ at the same time … this is not Judaism and not Israeli and it certainly is not what our flag symbolizes. These people shame the people of Israel.”
If Phillips’ Zionist test requires siding with those “nationalists,” then the foreign minister’s out. Epstein’s tweet demonstrated calling out bigotry, Jewish or not.
Finally, Phillips bemoaned Epstein’s association with J Street, a left-wing organization espousing a two-state solution. Phillips omitted his leadership at Herut, a right-wing group.
Such vitriol is decimating American Zionism. Publishing it before Yom Kippur is especially discordant. As the other op-eds noted, especially now, we need to be kinder and remember we are one people who need each other.
F. Penina Hoffnung | Philadelphia
The fact that Epstein is a member of the J Street Rabbinic Cabinet tells me all that I need to know about him.