Open letter to the Orthodox Chief Rabbi Warren Goldstein

Dear Chief Rabbi,

2016-03-30 18.40.36We have over the years met and spoken on several occasions, I have also had the opportunity of hearing you speak at various community events. It is clear to me that you are a deep thinker, an inspirational orator and an incredibly committed human being. I have on most occasions certainly found myself nodding in agreement with what you’ve been saying. I read carefully your ‚open communication‘ on this year’s Yom HaShoa, and after deep thought felt strongly to write this. I do so (knowing that we have a very serious disagreement on this point) and I do so with respect to you and your office.

It is evident from your communication, that this matter (Kol Isha) concerns you greatly. In this (while we find ourselves on opposite ends) we share a commonality of great concern. We (SACRED) and I give you every assurance, are not using the day to „score political points,“ we are though specifically drawing attention to this day, precisely because it aligns with such precision, and such importance – to the „principal and grave dangers of discrimination“ – in any of its forms.

As you so correctly pointed out „Hitler did not care if a Jew was a man or woman, reform or orthodox.“ In his mind – a Jew was a Jew – and that alone licensed him to discriminate. If one allows, condones or encourages „discrimination“ in any form, (even if subtle at first,) it most often leads straight down a slippery slope.

I often wonder why we as Jews were, and to this day are continually discriminated against, with the sheer force that we are?  Sometimes in a quiet moment I am reminded of an ancient Jewish sect that separated themselves from those of their time. They lived on the eastern side of the Dead Sea, and lived ostensibly by seven laws. The first of which is very well known; „like attracts like“ or behave to someone the way in which you’d expect them to behave towards you.

As their laws continue they become more subtle, but nonetheless powerful. I shall only draw to your attention the next, or second of their laws which says; „you will attract to you, that which you judge“ – That is to say, if you are an honest person, but hold a deep-seated judgment (discrimination) against dishonest people – you will attract dishonest people to you – it appears on the surface as a contradiction to the first law, but some deeper thought will show that it is actually not.

If we as a nation Judge (discriminate) against one another (to the extent that we do, Ashkenazi/ Sfaradi/Reform/Orthodox/man/woman etc.) then as a nation, we will attract this to ourselves – which we do. Above all, this (discrimination) is man-made, that is to say (while you are respected as my senior in years/ experience and stature etc.) Still, as one Rabbi to another, you are well aware that NOwhere in our Torah does G-d (or any other sage) say that a woman cannot sing in front of a man – NOwhere – what comes after is „interpretation“ and rest assured such „interpretation“ was done by man or more-so a group of men.

You say that „Kola Isha“ is to protect me, and there may have been an element of truth to that many years ago, but today it is to portray us as „potential victims“ which victim I am not. Today instead of moving forward, we have taken a giant step backwards, even your predecessor Rabbi Harris had no issue listening to a woman sing, and so too his predecessors?

Lastly, two of the speeches really moved most anyone seated there; Veronica Philipps and as well the German Ambassador Walter Lindner (I shudder to imagine being in his shoes,) having to stand up there straight after Veronica’s tremendously moving speech, but he did, he came and he spoke to us – he was there. I look at the Germany of today (whom the ambassador represents) and marvel at such a phenomenal success story.

I remember too even though I was a young daughter of the Soviet Union, hearing President Ronald Reagan saying to my President (Gorbachev) „Mr. President, the wall must come down, it must come down.“ Germany then healed from within, East and West became one Germany – became such an incredible success story. Chief Rabbi Goldstein, the discrimination must come to an end – it must end!

With greatest respect

Warm Regards 

Rabbi Julia Margolis , Chairman, SACRED

Link to an interview given by Rabbi Margolis on this issue: http://jozi91072.podomatic.com/entry/2016-05-10T05_06_10-07_00

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