Rabbi Joseph Soloveitchik

A rabbi (who belongs on your sources list) unpacks info on Orthodoxy and Zionism

A rabbi (who belongs on your sources list) unpacks info on Orthodoxy and Zionism

One of the oddest incidents during The Religion Guy’s decades on the beat was an annual Nation of Islam rally in Chicago led by Minister Louis Farrakhan (who was notably entangled with President Barack Obama’s former United Church of Christ pastor).

The oddity was that Farrakhan, America’s most prominent anti-Semite, invited Jewish rabbis to speak.

Not routine rabbis, of course, but spokesmen for Neturei Karta of Monsey, NY, a fierce faction of Orthodox Jews that condemns Zionism as “heresy” and accuses Israel of committing “aggression against all peoples.”

Orthodox Judaism’s traditional opposition to Zionism was a theme in Chaim Potok’s beloved 1967 novel “The Chosen” (a must-read for religion writers of all kinds). Potok depicted a friendship after World War Two between two Orthodox boys, the son of an ardent Zionist educator, and the heir to a Hasidic dynasty opposed to establishment of modern Israel.    

Reporters on foreign affairs, politics, and religion should be aware of Rabbi Shalom Carmy of Yeshiva University, whose latest column for the interfaith journal First Things discusses Orthodoxy and Zionism.  If not there already, carmy@yu.edu  belongs on your prime source list, since Orthodoxy is trickier to cover than Judaism’s other branches.   

Carmy makes a key point: “Secular journalists typically ascribe pockets of rigorously Orthodox antagonism to Zionism to the belief that Jews will only govern themselves in the land of Israel when the Messiah comes.”

That’s true for some Hasidic groups, he says. But historically, the rest of Orthodoxy had a different objection.

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Orthodox rabbis bless Christianity? Sounds like 'groundbreaking' news. Except for ...

Orthodox rabbis bless Christianity? Sounds like 'groundbreaking' news. Except for ...

I live in Annapolis, a sailing town on the western shore of the Chesapeake Bay. It's the capital of Maryland, briefly served as the first capital of the United States (bet you didn't know that), and is home to the U.S. Naval Academy.

Because I'm sort of a sports chameleon (except for the New York Yankees, my first sports crush) I tend to follow the local teams wherever I happen to land. Hence, I know more about Navy's teams than I ever imagined I would.

However, here's all you need to know about Navy sports.

The football team can go winless and get crushed in each of its first 11 games of the season. But as long as it beats Army, always it's last regular season opponent -- no matter what the score, no matter how poorly played a game -- the season is declared a success.

Seems like disingenuous spin to me, but that's just how it is around these parts. Every blown field goal, every dropped pass, interception, fumble, you name it -- all is forgiven. Just beat Army; 2-0 is sufficient.

I view the recent announcement by some two dozen Orthodox Jewish rabbis about Christianity being part of God's plan for humanity's salvation in a similar vein.

Journalists who are interested in this story need to know that there is considerably more smoke here than fire -- more self-affirming wish-fulfillment than anything else.

The proclamation received precious little mainstream news coverage. I'm not sure why.

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