Rabbi’s re­marks reignite kad­dish row

The Jewish Chronicle - - NEWS - BY DANIEL SUGARMAN

AN OR­THO­DOX RABBI has been crit­i­cised for “dan­ger­ous and di­vi­sive” be­hav­iour af­ter he was said to have called those who took part in a kad­dish for Pales­tini­ans killed on the Gaza bor­der ka­pos.

Rabbi Yitzchak Scho­chet, of Mill Hill United Syn­a­gogue, de­scribed the me­mo­rial prayer recital last month as “kapo’ism” and branded the at­ten­dees “crack­pots” in his ‘Ask the Rabbi’ news­pa­per col­umn.

“Kapo” refers to Jews who col­lab­o­rated with the Nazis dur­ing the Holo­caust.

Rabbi Scho­chet de­scribed those who took part as be­ing “far from the front lines of Is­rael, obliv­i­ous to the re­al­ity on the ground, who have noth­ing to fear but their own shad­ows but who have no prob­lem sell­ing their broth­ers and sis­ters down the river”.

He was re­spond­ing to a reader’s ques­tion which sug­gested Yachad, a left-wing Is­rael ad­vo­cacy group, had been be­hind the event, held on May 16, af­ter 62 Pales­tini­ans, in­clud­ing at least 50 Ha­mas ter­ror­ists, died in clashes on the Gaza bor­der.

Rabbi Scho­chet said that while he did not be­lieve Yachad had or­gan­ised the kad­dish, he be­lieved the group was “happy to take credit for it”.

A Yachad spokesper­son said the claim in the col­umn, which ap­peared in the Jewish Weekly freesheet, was “com­pletely un­true”. They added: “Yachad was not in­volved in the kad­dish event he crit­i­cises. It is also to­tally un­ac­cept­able for Rabbi Scho­chet to com­pare mem­bers of our com­mu­nity to Ka­pos who col­lab­o­rated with the Nazis.

“Shut­ting down de­bates and la­bel­ing mem­bers of our com­mu­nity who you dis­agree with as traitors is dan­ger­ous and di­vi­sive.”

Olivia Marks-Wold­man, Holo­caust Me­mo­rial Day Trust chief ex­ec­u­tive, con­demned Rabbi Scho­chet’s use of the word.

“The role of ‘ka­pos’ in con­cen­tra­tion and ex­ter­mi­na­tion camps re­mains an his­tor­i­cal and moral chal­lenge for us all to re­flect on,” she said.

“Us­ing this ter­mi­nol­ogy against Jewish peo­ple to­day bor­ders on an­ti­semitic. If non-Jews de­scribed a Jew as a ‘kapo’ it is highly likely it would be in­ter­preted as an­ti­semitic. Us­ing the term ‘kapo’ to­day risks triv­i­al­is­ing the Holo­caust and min­imis­ing the ex­pe­ri­ences of those caught in unimag­in­able sit­u­a­tions be­yond their con­trol.”

Rabbi Scho­chet also crit­i­cised “so­called lead­ers step­ping up and con­demn­ing those of us who speak out against this loath­some­ness”.

Rep­re­sen­ta­tives of Re­form and Lib­eral Ju­daism have dis­tanced their de­nom­i­na­tions from the event.

There has also been crit­i­cism of the abuse the kad­dish at­ten­dees re­ceived.

Move­ment work­ers of LJY-Net­zer, the youth move­ment of Lib­eral Ju­daism, at­tended the kad­dish, while RSY-Net­zer, the youth move­ment of Re­form Ju­daism, pub­li­cised it.

Rabbi Scho­chet con­cluded his piece with “a word of warn­ing to many par­ents, par­tic­u­larly from within the main­stream United Syn­a­gogue move­ment. If you’re send­ing your kids on Is­rael tour with some non-United Syn­a­gogue de­nom­i­na­tions, be aware that this may be what they will be ex­posed to out there, es­pe­cially as ap­par­ently some of their tour lead­ers were part of these in­fa­mous ‘kad­dish crack­pots’.

“If the no­tion of recit­ing kad­dish for ter­ror­ists re­pulses you, as it should, you ought to re­think your kid’s ex­po­sure.”

Nina Mor­ris-Evans, of RSY-Net­zer, wrote af­ter at­tend­ing the event: “Who these peo­ple [in Gaza] were — or what group they were af­fil­i­ated to — is an in­signif­i­cant is­sue com­pared to the re­al­ity of their mur­der. We were not con­don­ing ter­ror­ism, Ha­mas or vi­o­lence of any form. Rather, we were fac­ing up to the ugly re­al­ity of what the oc­cu­pa­tion of the West Bank and Gaza by the State of Is­rael re­sults in time and time again.”

Ms Mor­ris-Evans is sched­uled to lead one of RSY’s Is­rael tours this sum­mer.

UJIA, which runs the tour groups, said in a state­ment that “fol­low­ing in­tense di­a­logue” Re­form Ju­daism and RSY-Net­zer had de­cided she would be al­lowed to con­tinue in her role “on the con­di­tion that she will be men­tored”.

PHOTO: IS­RAEL AD­VO­CACY MOVE­MENT

Rabbi Leah Jor­dan leads the prayers

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