In case you missed the exchange between J Street executive director Jeremy Ben-Ami and Union for Reform Judaism president Eric Yoffie — moderated by Forward editor Jane Eisner — at the recently wrapped J Street conference, you can watch it in its entirety here:
Other videos of conference sessions can be viewed here.
It is not every day that Rabbi Eric Yoffie gets booed by a lefty crowd. But that is one of the risks when standing up as a keynote speaker at the J Street conference.
Yoffie, president of the Union for Reform Judaism and a leading dovish vote in American Jewry, was one of the earliest critics of J Street. He came out, in an article published in the Forward against J Street’s opposition to the Israeli military operation in Gaza last December.
The boos had nothing to do with Yoffie’s disagreement with J Street over the Gaza war. They came after he condemned South African jurist Richard Goldstone for his report accusing Israel of war crimes during the Gaza war. “Richard Goldstone should be ashamed of himself,” Yoffie said. The audience didn’t like the harsh tone, although J Street as a group also expressed reservations about the Gaza report.
Rabbi Eric Yoffie, president of the Union for Reform Judaism, had an ambitious agenda for his synagogue movement’s biennial meeting. In his speech to the gathering, he urged a renewed commitment to Shabbat observance among Reform Jews, called for a deepening of dialogue with North American Muslims, pushed universal health care and issued an impassioned call for shoring up ties between his movement and Israel.
Yoffie’s speech is here.
Also of note is the speech to the Reform biennial by Ingrid Mattson, president of the Islamic Society of North America. Yoffie had drawn national headlines — along with cheers, jeers and some things in-between from his fellow Jews — when he addressed ISNA in August.
The passing of Rev. Jerry Falwell is sure to fuel the already burning debate in the Jewish community over whether to embrace pro-Israel conservative Christians.
For decades, the Moral Majority founder was unyielding in his support for Israel, and recently invited one of the country’s leading Jewish liberals, Reform movement leader Rabbi Eric Yoffie, to speak to students at Falwell’s Liberty University. Despite such efforts, in many Jewish circles, Falwell could not undo the anxiety over his right-wing politics and displays of what struck many as religious intolerance (here, here, here and here).