The Jewish Chronicle
Progressive groups disown Kaddish
COMMUNAL UPROAR over the Kaddish for Palestinians recited outside Parliament last month has continued, with a number of organisations publicly distancing themselves from the event.
In a statement released on Tuesday, Reform Judaism said that, “on Wednesday May 16, young adults from across affiliations in the Jewish community demonstrated outside Parliament regarding the situation on the Israel Gaza border. We know that many of our members were disturbed by this.
“As leaders of Reform Judaism, we deliberately chose not to attend,” the statement continued. “We are certainly not shy of saying what we think in public and had we wanted to have been there to amplify our messages, we would have been.
“No one attended this event in any capacity whatsoever as representing Reform Judaism nor [the youth movement of Reform Judaism] RSY-Netzer.”
The statement was released in the name of Rabbi Laura Janner-Klausner, Senior Rabbi to Reform Judaism, Rabbi Josh Levy, Chair of the Assembly of Reform Rabbis and Cantors and Geoffrey Marx, the chair of Reform Judaism.
However, the demonstration outside Parliament where the Kaddish was recited was promoted on social media by a number of organisations, including RSY Netzer. Reform Judaism’s statement referred to this, saying that “when… RSY-Netzer discovered that most of those killed in Gaza were claimed as Hamas operatives, they acknowledged that had they known, they would not have shared this on Facebook.”
Earlier on the day of the Kaddish, a Hamas spokesperson had stated that
50 of the 62 Palestinians killed in the previous two days during clashes on the
Gaza border had been members of the organisation.
Nonetheless, more than 50 activists turned up that evening outside Parliament to say Kaddish for the dead Palestinians, including members of the anti-Zionist Jewdas group, as well as movement workers for LJY Netzer, the youth movement of Liberal Judaism.
Rabbi Leah Jordan, the Progressive Chaplain for Students for Liberal Judaism, led the Kaddish, and later said she had been “proud” to do so.
In a statement released by Liberal Judaism, the organisation said it wanted “to make absolutely clear, despite social media claims to the contrary, that this was not a Liberal Judaism supported event.
“There was no organisational sponsored involvement and no one considered themselves to be there representing Liberal Judaism or our affiliated youth movement, LJY-Netzer.
“Liberal Judaism has always supported the right of individual members of Liberal Judaism to voice their own personal opinions, even when they differ from others. We have within our membership a spectrum of views, which are always particularly visible in regards Israel and Palestine. Our ability to hear different voices and respect the other continues to be one of our strengths.”
The statement was put out in the name of Rabbi Charley Baginsky, director of Strategy and Partnerships for Liberal Judaism.
She added that while she “personally would not have participated in this event and know that many of our members are disturbed by the actions of this group, I equally refuse to be drawn into the violent abuse that has been levelled at those who did participate.”
A spokesperson for Liberal Judaism also confirmed that Rabbi Leah Jordan would be leaving her role as a Liberal Judaism chaplain, but stressed that the timing was “pure coincidence — she was accepted onto a study programme in Jerusalem months ago and is leaving her role this month to live and study there.”
The statement from Liberal Judaism was echoed by Yachad, the leftwing Israel advocacy group, which released a statement saying that the Kaddish outside Westminster was “not a Yachad event. No staff participated and there was no organisational involvement. A staff member shared the event on his Facebook page without making it sufficiently clear that it was not our event.”
An attempt was made to organise a Kaddish outside St John’s Wood Liberal Synagogue in memory of an IDF soldier killed in action, but not enough people attended to make a minyan.
We are not shy of saying what we think in public’