Rabbi Milton Balkany, a leading Orthodox rabbi, Jewish community leader, educator and political activist who has been in the center of many issues within the Jewish community, is appalled at the divisive statements on Orthodoxy by a colleague, Rabbi David Lincoln leader of the Park Avenue Synagogue. Balkany, who proudly states that he and Rabbi Lincoln once shared a dais at President Ronald Reagan’s inauguration, now is frightened at what he hears.
Appearing on a round table discussion broadcast on The Jewish Channel, the Conservative movement’s Rabbi Lincoln, commented on Orthodox Judaism, and painting with a very broad brush:
“I think there’s a general feeling that in the Orthodox community, in many Orthodox communities, and especially the more Haredi — more extreme Orthodox communities…, they’re not really concerned about whether you’re stealing, or whatever, or going into court and perjuring themselves….
He then muses that he’d be hard-pressed to trust a Hasid in court or in a business deal over a Jewish member of a Reform Temple.
Rabbi Balkany said, “By saying that as he did, he is as bad as he claims all of Orthodoxy is. By wantonly stating that Hasidim, or ‘extreme orthodox’ Jews all commit crime or allow it to happen, or to suggest that we hold common law to be unimportant as a rule, a way of life, is nearing the kind of hatred gentile nations have committed against Jews in some of the worst human atrocities throughout the centuries.”
Balkany further stated, “When I saw Rabbi Lincoln say that, I could do little but gasp at the simplistically narrow view of a man who leads such an influential congregation, and how he may be influencing Jews against other Jews… I am not certain a simple apology would suffice, for the sentiment runs deeper than any empty apology can contain.”
As someone who had been immersed in public controversy and allegations of illegal and even criminal behavior, who had been ostracized in the media and in public, and then who was quietly exonerated with little to no fanfare, Rabbi Balkany knows the power of hateful words. He said, “I believe it is my duty to condemn such words that bitterly label an entire people out of convenience in the hope of grabbing a headline.”
(YWN Desk – NYC)