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Rabbi Eric Yoffie is a writer, lecturer, and President Emeritus of the Union for Reform Judaism

Loving Israel Unconditionally But Not Uncritically

Posted by on Feb 19, 2015 in Haaretz | 0 comments

Loving Israel Unconditionally But Not Uncritically

This is Zionism’s moment. It would be nice if the neo-cons could get it right. In the February issue of Commentary magazine, the flagship publication for Jewish neo-conservatives, the lead article is a lengthy editorial entitled “The Existential Necessity of Zionism after Paris.” It begins as a rousing and inspirational embrace of Zionism. But alas, the piece quickly becomes simply another attempt to bash Zionists of a more liberal persuasion and to misrepresent Zionism in the process. All of this is too bad because this should be a time for...

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When Presidents Talk Religion

Posted by on Feb 12, 2015 in Jerusalem Post, Time | 2 comments

When Presidents Talk Religion

Fierce certainty is the enemy of religious belief. President Obama understands that. The religious right does not. In a remarkable address to a national prayer breakfast on February 5, Mr. Obama gave one of the better speeches of his presidency. The heart of his message was that “the starting point of faith is some doubt.” The major religious problem of our time, he suggested, comes from so-called believers who are so full of themselves and so confident they are right that that they cast aside all humility. They think that God speaks only to...

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Netanyhu is Wrong: Republicans Will be No Tougher on Iran Than Obama

Posted by on Feb 5, 2015 in Haaretz | 1 comment

Netanyhu is Wrong: Republicans Will be No Tougher on Iran Than Obama

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is certain that the Republican Congress will support his efforts to prevent a nuclear Iran in away that U.S. President Barack Obama and the Democrats will not. But Mr. Netanyahu has it wrong. Once again, he has been taken in by the bluster, tough talk on Iran, and Obama-bashing of the Republican Party and the likes of Sheldon Adelson. Once again, he has greatly exaggerated the differing views of the two major parties on matters related to the Islamic Republic. And the State of Israel will pay the price. The...

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Freedom of Expression Is Not Unlimited

Posted by on Jan 11, 2015 in Huffington Post | 2 comments

Freedom of Expression Is Not Unlimited

Freedom of expression does not mean that anyone has the right to be heard at any time and in any forum, no matter what. There are times when lines can and must be drawn for reasons both moral and legal, but there are other times when it is inappropriate and wrong to draw such lines. Recent events in France, so terrible and tragic, have given us reason to think through yet again when freedom of expression should be limited in our country and when it should not. David Brooks, writing on January 8 in the New York Times, points to the hypocrisy...

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Islam Should be Taught in Our Schools

Posted by on Dec 23, 2014 in Time | 3 comments

Islam Should be Taught in Our Schools

We Americans need to teach about Islam in our public schools. This is essential because there exists in our country among all Americans—whether Jews, Christians, people of other faiths, or non-believers—a huge and profound ignorance about Islam. It is not that stories about Islam are missing from our media; there is no shortage of voices prepared to tell us that fanaticism and intolerance are fundamental to Islamic religion, and that violence and even suicide bombing have deep Koranic roots. There is no lack of so-called experts who are eager...

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Six Shared Values and the American Jewish Future

Posted by on Dec 9, 2014 in Jerusalem Post | 0 comments

Six Shared Values and the American Jewish Future

American Jews are a fractious lot.  Our religious differences are real and important.  Our community, after all, is known for its passionate pluralism, which in many ways is a blessing and a source of strength. I recently read an interesting take on these differences in a blog post by David Strulowitz published on the Wexner Foundation site.  Mr. Strulowitz provides a fascinating and out-of-the-ordinary point of view.  Still, it occurred to me that it is a mistake to focus overly much on our differences.   For all the divisions between right...

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Muzzled by a Minority: Many Rabbis Don’t Talk about Israel

Posted by on Sep 5, 2014 in By Eric | 2 comments

Muzzled by a Minority: Many Rabbis Don’t Talk about Israel

(Published in Reform Judaism Magazine, Fall 2014) → In 2012, I met with a dozen Reform and Conservative rabbis. Two of the rabbis, who served different synagogues, mentioned having each recently made the mistake of giving sermons that were somewhat critical of Israel’s policy toward the Palestinians. Congregants with hawkish views responded with such outrage, contempt, and ferocity, the rabbis vowed that, going forward, they would simply remain silent on the subject in public, rather than subject themselves to arbitrary litmus tests of...

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The Three Mistakes Atheists Make

Posted by on Aug 13, 2014 in Huffington Post | 1 comment

The Three Mistakes Atheists Make

The God Wars mostly bore me. In my younger days I enjoyed, at least for a while, the intellectual back-and-forth of the God debates. For me, these exchanges had a game-like quality, and it was fun to play the game. How can a student of religion ignore the rational argumentation of Nietzsche or the psychological insights of Freud? And from time to time, I still find myself intrigued by the God-debunking that serious atheists offer. When Richard Dawkins claims that biology and evolution demonstrate that God does not exist, I must take notice,...

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“Too many Arabs”

Posted by on Jul 31, 2014 in By Eric | 0 comments

“Too many Arabs”

An article in a central Massachusetts newspaper quotes me as saying that there are “too many Arabs” in Israel.  The only problem is that I never said this. I have said, many times, that demographic factors are one of the reasons why Israel should withdraw from the West Bank and why there must be a two-state solution to bring about an Israeli-Palestinian peace. Calling for a two-state solution does not mean there are “too many Arabs” in Israel. Click to tweet It means that there are two groups, Israelis and Palestinians, both of...

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