Judaism at its essence is a religion open to debate and interpretation. A page of Talmud is surrounded by different commentaries, but even commentary is not limited to what is written on the page. The reader of Talmud can pursue his own interpretation.
The American Jewish community has no chief rabbi. Jews have no pope. I sat once in synagogue as the rabbi delivered a stirring “drosh” (sermon), when suddenly he was interrupted by one of the congregants, who unabashedly said the rabbi misinterpreted the meaning of the biblical text. The rabbi, accepting this interruption, then went into great detail about the root meaning of the terms to which he was referring. The congregant observed that the rabbi was correct only if the terms originated in Hebrew, but what the rabbi missed was that the terms were Aramaic in origin and consequently their meaning was different, a meaning the congregant went on to explain as the rabbi patiently listened.
Could this exchange take place at either B’nai Torah or Temple Israel? Could such diversity of perspective be tolerated? I think not, for these people are not true liberals. Nor can they be considered Jews by any longstanding philosophical tradition.
They are not people of the book, but people who are the philosophical heirs to the leftist New Jewish Agenda. These are people who seem to confuse Tikkun Olam, saving the world, with every harebrained leftist social policy that is evaluated by philosophical intention rather than empirical outcome. These are people who are all too quick to follow the New Jewish Agenda in its embrace of the Palestinian narrative.
It is not surprising the B’nai Torah’s rabbi, David Steinhardt, is a supporter of CAIR’s fight against anti-Sharia laws, in keeping with the Obama administration’s position on the issue. And while B’nai Torah claims to be pro-Israel, Congressman Allen West (R, FL), a strong supporter of Israel, would no more be able to speak to B’nai Torah than Alan Bergstein could get through the door to ask Susan Rice a demanding question.
Jacob L. Talmon, who wrote seminal works on totalitarianism, noted that there is a collective mindset (which originates with Jean Jacques Rousseau) that sees democracy as only meaningful if the individual’s interest is aligned with the collective interest. Talmon coined the term “totalitarian democracy” to define this concept. Totalitarian democracy as an idea is the progenitor of Stalinism and the excesses of the French Revolution. It is an idea that is embodied in the statism of the Obama administration. Totalitarian democracy is seen in the New Jewish Agenda, which perceives collectivism as the solution to social problems. There is no room in this philosophy for an individual who stands at variance with the collective. Just as there is no room in these synagogues for those who do not agree that the collective will of the majority should define and limit the political interests of the individual.
That is the lesson of what happened in Florida. That is increasingly the lesson of this administration.