We all know the world is upside down, with righteous actions being considered evil, and evil players being treated like heroes. It is demonstrable in every arena, and the actions of a few over this past week show this sad fact clearly in so many ways.
With Hamas attacking Israel with thousands of rockets (thanks to Joe Biden and Iran), this craziness has become even more extreme. While the Palestinians use children as human shields, Israel lets Palestinian civilians know about attacks on munition repositories hours in advance so they can evacuate. What other nation in the world’s history has ever been so protective of its enemies? The Israelis care more for Palestinian citizens than Hamas does, and while the Palestinians are expressive about not caring if their children die, Israel accepts injured Palestinians into hospitals and aids in their healing.
And yet it is the Israelis that the world attacks as evil. And anti-Semitic attacks on Jews are prevalent in cities like Los Angeles, where thugs dressed as Palestinians attacked and beat up Jewish diners in an upscale restaurant.
The upside-down quality of the world can be easily seen in the actions of a few individuals during this tumultuous past week.
Typically, we rely on clergy to be the moral compasses of communities. We trust them to be spiritual leaders committed to righteousness. But in the Jewish world, as an example, this week has shown the exact opposite.
Last week a group comprised of close to 100 rabbinic and cantorial students wrote a public letter castigating Israel and supporting the Palestinian terrorists who attack the Holy Land. With the exception of a few Jewish leaders (specifically Rabbis Brad Artson and Erez Sherman), these misguided future clergy were applauded in the Reform and Conservative Jewish world. Instead of being expelled from their seminaries, they were applauded for their “courage”.
While their foolishness and naïve commitment to their own self-destruction should prohibit them from ever being considered Jewish leaders, they have instead been praised. Even sadder, with the exception of Rabbi Artson, the heads of their seminaries have been noticeably silent. These deans and boards of directors have surrendered their positions as teachers, and the inmates are truly running the asylums as these misguided students push an agenda that is antithetical to Jewish teachings. The teachers are quiet, and the students loudly act with the ethics of Lord of the Flies.
Clergy are silent in the face of evil, while future clergy (God forbid) are loud proponents of hate. It is entirely upside down and backward.
Conversely, we often think of people in the media as having a lack of convictions and backbone. Yet we find an example of the exact opposite in Michael Savage’s response to the most recent attack on him by the Biden administration.
Dr. Savage is a fascinating individual. While most people think of him as a political commentator, he is a knowledgeable Jew and a true environmentalist with vast experience with indigenous tribal cultures. He has written multiple books on healing under his birth name of Dr. Michael Weiner, and whether you appreciate his politics or not, he is a man committed to ethical behavior and creating a better world.
In March of 2020, Dr. Savage was appointed by President Trump to be on the board of directors of the Presidio Trust, an organization that oversees the preservation of San Francisco’s national park areas. A highly coveted position among the San Francisco elite, Savage did not even seek this appointment, which was given to him because of his understanding and experience in conservation.
But on May 20, he received a letter from White House Office of Presidential Personnel Director Catherine Russell demanding that Dr. Savage immediately resign from the position or he would be fired by the end of the day. Rather than having a man truly committed to conservation and the preservation of monuments, someone who is considered a scholar in preservation (he has two Masters degrees, one in botany and one in anthropology, as well as a Ph.D. from UC Berkeley), the Biden administration is committed to purging all conservative voices from all organization. Savage’s qualifications are meaningless to them, only his politics matter.
But unlike the quiet deans of rabbinic seminaries who are supposed to stand for ethics but have caved, Dr. Savage is committed to fighting this injustice and is refusing to resign.
An author and talk show host has more ethics and courage than future clergy and their teachers. Terrorists in Palestine are lauded while the most ethical nation on the planet is condemned. It would be unfathomable only a few years ago, but it is the upside-down reality of the world today.
The greatest way to fight darkness is always by shining light. We need to expose the hypocrisy of the seminary leaders. We need to support the courage of men like Dr. Savage who choose to fight rather than lie down in the face of authoritarianism. And we need to shine a light on the evils of Hamas and especially domestic supporters while teaching about the righteous behavior that is embedded in Israel. But how?
If you are bothered by what the Biden administration is doing, then write your congressman and tell him to fight to keep Dr. Savage on the board of the Presidio Trust. If you are disturbed by future clergy being committed to the terrorists of Hamas, then reach out to the deans of their seminaries and demand that those students be expelled and never ordained as clergy, where they would have real powers of influence. (See below for contact information.) And in every place where you hear ignorant people speaking of the goodness of Palestine and the “atrocities of Israel,” take a stand and correct them.
Edmund Burke famously said, “The only thing necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.” We cannot let this evil propaganda of the anti-Semites be accepted and unanswered. Their lies and evil must be exposed, and a light must be shone in the darkest of places.
May we all do our individual parts to bring justice back into the world—to defend Israel and freedom, and to support the true heroes while we combat the evils that are so prevalent in a world that, for now, seems upside down.
To contact seminary leaders of the rabbinic students:
Mel Gottlieb, president of AJRCA: (213) 884-4133. [email protected]
Andrew Rehfeld, president HUC: (212) 674-5300
Schuly Schwartz, chancellor of JTS: [email protected]. (212) 678-8000
Jeffrey Herbst, President of AJU: (310) 476-9777.