Monday, October 29, 2007
Two and a Half Cheers for Rabbi Kanefsky
Last Friday my daughter and son-in-law alerted me to an opinion piece written by their former rabbi in Los Angeles, Yosef Kanefsky. Rabbi Kanefsky is a young and dynamic orthodox rabbi, with a strong sense of social justice, and the ability to think outside the orthodox Jewish box. Rabbi Kanefsky called for the importance of putting Jerusalem on the table in any peace negotiation, and just as tellingly, pointed out the moral failings of the settlement enterprise after 1967. Big deal, you say? Well, for an orthodox rabbi in this country, it is a very big deal. I don't have time to sum up the letter, but you can read about it here. I had dinner over Rabbi Kanefsky's about two years ago. He is not only a nice guy, but an inspiriing spiritual leader. His shul, Bnei David, is at the vanguard of social issues, including women's issues, for that part of LA. Apparently, he is way ahead of many of his congregants on Israel/Palestine, and certainly the orthodox community, which is divided into ultra-orthodoxy, Yeshiva University orthodoxy, and baal-tshuvah orthodoxy, a la Aish ha-Torah and Chabad -- each group more rabidly and mindlessly religious Zionist than the other. Why not three cheers? Because Rabbi Kanefsky speaks of the need to compromise for the sake of peace, and not of the need to do the right thing, which is to end a brutal and illegal Occupation and Annexation. Because he takes the standard liberal Zionist line of going back to 1967, but avoids the gut issues of going back to 1897, or to 1947. Why not two cheers? Because at least he adds this line: "Also included is the need to recognize that we have some kind of obligation toward the people who have been harmed by our decisions." That is a slight realization, but a definite one, of the moral dimension of the Occupation and Annexation. It will not win him friends among the Mafia Moralists. The road to repentance is made up of many steps. Rabbi Kanefsky has taken several big ones. Yasher koah, Rabbi Kanefsky Today the story was picked up by the LA Times here.