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Voices

Beth Din intolerance smacks of paranoia

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Etti and Daniel Shmukler, Johannesburg

At a time in which the South African Jewish community is shrinking and world attitudes to Jews and Israel are reminiscent of the events we read about in history books, it’s distressing to see such a narrow-minded, divisive, and outdated approach from our leadership.

Their decision to impinge on their affiliated rabbis’ rights of speech and thought is another can of worms. Do they feel their rabbis are so weak and feeble minded that if they are exposed to something different, they will be “turned to the dark side”?

Their need to control and dictate to our rabbis who they may associate with smacks of paranoia and power-mongering.

Surely, at such times, they should be encouraging our rabbis to help members of our community find any way to strengthen their connection to our religion, our community, and our country (as all these aspects are covered at Limmud).

The fact that they are even going so far as considering authorising a psak for something like this when there are so many other things they could rule on (for example, a one-day Yom Tov as times are accurate these days and we don’t need to rely on the fires in Jerusalem!) is such a waste of effort and resources.

Their attitude shows that they may not be interested in the needs of the community at large, only those that fit their mould.

What a lost opportunity to embrace different viewpoints, and generate a feeling of unity!

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