Who cares about a list?

I want to contribute my two shekels of thought about the rabbinic blacklist.

Many colleagues are offended that their names are on the list of rabbis that are blacklisted in Israel while others are upset that they were omitted. All seem to be shocked and upset that such a list exists in the first place. The press has picked up the story and are taking it as Round 2 of the “Liberals vs. the Rabbinic Establishment in Israel” — the rumble of the 2017 summer. Frankly, it is a boring fight and we know how it will end.

The list is nothing more than names on paper and it is much longer than the leaked list suggests. The fact that not a single female rabbi was on the list tells us what we loathe to hear, but know already.

Thus, I suggest the following, as the antidote to this meaningless list of names: ignore it. At the risk of sounding like my mother after I complained about my brothers’ incessant teasing, we are giving this list more credibility than it deserves.

What can this list effect? Are we scared that the Rabbanut, while run like a cartel, will actually harm the people on this list physically? Are we worried that we will be arrested? Is anyone trembling that they will be denied entry to the country when they next arrive at the airport? I most certainly am not.

What would be powerful, in my humble opinion, is if every rabbi on this list (those who are still living) jumped on a plane to Israel, along with Jews they converted and other proud members of their congregations, and in unison, these Jews had an aliyah to the Torah at the Kotel, (either side of the Wall). We will call the television and print press from all the major networks. We will show the Rabbanut by demonstration that we think their list is meaningless and silly and has zero efficacy in changing how we feel about our Zionism and connection to Israel. We will let all know how we practice our religion at our shared holy places. This trip can be funded by philanthropists abroad — or even more potent — let it be paid for by the Israeli government. Is this not the original Birthright?!

I am growing quite fatigued of the victim narrative of the liberal streams of Judaism within Israel. Be victors, not victims. Prove your love with your feet, not your tears.

I know for sure, were my name on this list, that is EXACTLY what I would be doing. My name isn’t, but I can assure you it is not stopping my weddings, b’nai mitzvah celebrations, and conversions that are done in Israel or sent here. This is a time to be active and to fight our perceived illegitimacy with proof that we count. And I do it almost twice a year with Jews from my community. You should too!

This is our modern-day Woolworth’s lunch counter. Sit down and ask to be served. Prove you deserve it. The change will flow in time. It is clear weeping and whining has gotten us nowhere.

About the Author
David-Seth Kirshner is the senior rabbi of Temple Emanu-El, a Conservative synagogue in Closter, New Jersey. He is the past President of the NY Board of Rabbis, President of the NJ Board of Rabbis and a Senior Rabbinic Fellow at the Hartman Institute. Rabbi Kirshner was appointed to the New Jersey/Israel commission and is a National Council member of AIPAC.
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