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Rabbi Says It's Time to Stop Shunning Jews Who Oppose Zionism

Allan C. Brownfeld, Editor
Special Interest Report
April 2022

Rabbi Amy Bardack of Pittsburgh, a prominent voice associated with J Street, the  
liberal Zionist lobbying group, says that is time for the Jewish establishment to  
stop shunning Jews who are opposed to Zionism.  
She writes at eJewishPhilanthropy that the “donor base” of traditional Jewish  
organizations is “shrinking” and more and more young Jews believe that Israel’s  
treatment of Palestinians represents a violation of Jewish ethical values. She  
notes that, “Our institutions have to wrestle with the reality that increasing  
numbers of passionate Jews do not support the state of Israel. Is it in our best  
long-term interest to be welcoming to everyone but them? I propose that we spend  
less time labeling anti-Zionist Jews as anti-Semites and more time figuring how  
to be truly inclusive.”  
Bardack is a long-time Jewish educator and is in the “rabbinical cabinet” of J  
Street. She pointed out that, “Many of our communal organizations welcome with  
open arms a full spectrum of people with various racial or gender identities,  
sexual orientations, religious practices or beliefs. Many of these organizations  
purport but one acceptable form of ostracism and that is toward those who express  
anti-Zionist viewpoints.”  
Moved by the case of Jesse Sander, who was fired by a Westchester, New York  
Reform temple after it was discovered that she had written an article critical of  
Israel after its assault on Gaza, Bardack argues that Sander represents the  
future: “The number of Jews who think like Sander is not insignificant. A June  
2021 poll by the Jewish Electoral Institute found that 34% of American Jews  
agreed that ‘Israel’s treatment of Palestinians is similar to racism in the U.S.’  
25% agreed that ‘Israel is committing genocide against the Palestinians.’ The  
percentages are even higher when you isolate adults under age 40.”  
In Bardack’s view, “The above data should give us pause…Synagogue membership is  
dwindling. Is it wise to shun Jews like Sander at a time when Jewish affiliation  
and literacy are at an all-time low? According to Jewish tradition, the community  
can still learn from them.” **.

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