May 22, 2024
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The Irony of Using the Bar Kamtza Story to Besmirch Others

A lesson of the Kamtza-Bar Kamtza story is that we need to be careful about the way we treat others. The topic of judicial reform in Israel is a controversial but important issue that has divided the country. There are good people on both sides. Most Israeli citizens seem to be quite knowledgeable about the issues, and each side has legitimate concerns. Of course, mistakes have been made on both sides, often by the extremists in each camp. Most of the country recognizes that some type of broad-based compromise based on mutual respect and understanding is the best solution to this challenge and we hope that our politicians will be able to figure this out. Which is why I was disappointed to read Rabbi Paul David Bloom’s letter to the editor (A Modern-Day Bar Kamza, August 3, 2023). Bloom perverts and then weaponizes the gemara to attack the other side, calling them the “modern day Bar Kamzas!” This unfortunate rhetoric is unacceptable and must be called out. Instead of attacking others under the purported cover of Judaic texts, we would do well to introspect about how we unfairly and inaccurately demonize those on the other side. This seems to be the challenge of the day.

Rabbi Daniel Alter

Bergenfield

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