Sherwin Pomerantz

A New Definition of Chutzpah

Former Sephardi Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar’s statement this week about Reform Jews that: “It’s like Holocaust deniers, it’s the same thing. They shout about Holocaust deniers in Iran, [but] they deny more than Holocaust deniers” has given us a new definition for chutzpah.

While he takes regular swipes at non-Orthodox Jews and of late at modern Orthodox Jews as well, he says nothing about the stench emanating from his own community.

This week four rabbis were arrested in Israel on suspicion that they had fraudulently obtained certification qualifying them to become city rabbis, including having other people take examinations in their place, according to police.  All four had allegedly submitted forged copies of the certificates they required to qualify for the senior public positions, according to the charges.  But not a word about them from the former Chief Rabbi.

In 2003 former Shas Chairman Arye Deri was convicted of illegally channeling funds from the Ministry of Interior which he headed and served jail time as a result. Now he and his wife are being interrogated once again on suspicion of illegal activity.  Once again, not a word from the former Chief Rabbi.

Former Sephardi Chief Rabbi Eliyahu Bakshi Doron was convicted of fraud and breach of trust in May of this year for his part in a bonus-scam that swindled hundreds of millions of shekels from the government in civil servants’ wages.  But not a word from the Chief Rabbi.

Earlier this year former Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi Yonah Metzger was convicted of fraud, theft, conspiracy, breach of trust, money laundering, tax offenses and accepting bribes involving some NIS 10 million and is now serving jail time.  Once again, no word from the Chief Rabbi.

Yet Rabbi Amar has the unmitigated gall to publicly express his opinion that Reform Jews are worse than Holocaust deniers.

When I was growing up the classic definition of chutzpah was when a son murders his parents and pleads for mercy before the court because he is an orphan.  Rabbi Amar has now given us an updated definition that can be used in the future.

Frankly. it is quite amazing that a former chief rabbi chooses to use this language at any time but even more so during the month of Elul.

Someone should remind him of the words from the Iggeret HaRamBan:  “All stand as equals before the Lord.  In His fury He casts down the lofty, and in His goodwill He elevates the lowly.  Therefore, humble yourself, and the Lord will lift you.”


About the Author
Sherwin Pomerantz is a native New Yorker, who lived and worked in Chicago for 20 years before coming to Israel in 1984. An industrial engineer with advanced degrees in mechanical engineering and business, he is President of Atid EDI Ltd., a 32 year old Jerusalem-based economic development consulting firm which, among other things, represents the regional trade and investment interests of a number of US states, regional entities and Invest Hong Kong. A past national president of the Association of Americans & Canadians in Israel, he is also Former Chairperson of the Board of the Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies and a Board Member of the Israel-America Chamber of Commerce. His articles have appeared in various publications in Israel and the US.