Heritage Florida Jewish News - Central Florida's Independent Jewish Voice

HUC-JIR leadership's criticism of Israel is pure chutzpadik


Dear Editor:

This defense of the indefensible is very disappointing. In response I have decided to return the Sherut L’Am award presented to me by the HUS.

I have been a member of the Jewish Communal Service since 1972; a product of two Schools of Jewish Communal Service (HUC-JIR and Hornstein/Brandeis) led by Jerry Bubis z’l and Bernie Reisman z’l.

One of the proudest days of my professional career was when the Hebrew Union College—Jewish Institute of Religion awarded me the Sherut L’Am Award, nominated by Jerry Bubis z’l and presented by Rabbi David Ellenson, on May, 15, 2006.

Therefore, it is with a mixture of anger, disappointment and sadness that I have decided to return this Sherut L’am award to the HUC-JIR.

My anger at the Reform movement has been growing for a few years.

Their leadership’s ongoing and public criticism of Israel is pure chutzpadik. They want to influence Israeli decisions on issues of security yet are not willing to make aliyah, pay Israeli taxes, or serve in the IDF.

Their membership and leadership’s support for JStreet has done nothing but strengthen those who wish to destroy Israel.

And, now, the HUC-JIR (LA campus) invites an anti-Israel author to speak at its graduation.

The JTA story makes one want to scream. The headline: Michael Chabon attacks Jewish inmarriage and Israel’s occupation in speech to new rabbis. What were those who chose Chabon thinking?

One of the graduates, Morin Zaray, penned a heartbreaking piece, “How My Graduation Was Ambushed.”

HUC Interim President and Chancellor Emeritus Rabbi David Ellenson, and Joshua Holo, Dean of the Jack H. Skirball Campus of HUC-JIR in Los Angeles, co-authored a defensive piece that was very disappointing (to say the least): “Why we invite political debate over Israel at a Jewish university” (Editor’s Note—see page 5A, June I issue of the Heritage).

We can differ on this concept (to me, it is pure chutzpadik for American Jews to debate issues of Israeli security). However, this was, for sure, not the time nor the place to have such a debate, this was a graduation ceremony speech. Again, what were the leaders of HUC thinking?

Considering the challenges Israel is currently facing, having Chabon as a graduation speaker is just beyond the pale. It is the breaking point—I just cannot, in good conscience, hold on to an award presented by an institution and a movement that has moved so far away from being under the tent of the pro-Israel community.

Paul Jeser

Los Angeles


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