New Jersey Jewish News - Editorial - November 23, 2000
In a letter to President Bill Clinton written just weeks before his death,
Rabbi Alexander Schindler pleaded for an end to Jonathan Pollard's
"I prayerfully hope that you will come to share my conviction that Jonathan Pollard's continued incarceration, now spanning
15 years, has long since crossed the line where justice ends and vindictiveness begins," Schindler wrote.
The moral and political capital Schindler brought to this task, as to every
Jewish task he undertook, was based on the fusion of his impeccable Jewish and liberal credentials, underscored by the
letter's opening paragraph thanking the president for his continued commitment to securing a Middle East peace "despite the
political risks which it entails."
When Schindler died last week at the age of 73, American Jews lost a giant religious leader. His impact was enormous
even those who stridently oppose his principal reform, accepting children of mixed marriages as Jewish regardless of
which parent is Jewish praise his leadership and broad vision. As chair of the Conference of Presidents of Major
American Jewish Organizations in 1977, for example, we recall how he helped introduce the newly elected prime minister
of Israel, Menachem Begin to an American Jewry stunned by the shift of power from Israel's dominant Labor party to the
rightist Likud. There was never any question about Schindler's own preference for Labor over Likud (or, for that matter,
Democrats over Republicans). But his commitment was to klal yisrael, the total Jewish people, whom he argued would be
best served by the liberal values his Reform Judaism espoused.
Decades later, American Reform joined only by the Reconstructionist
movement, stand alone. Conservative Judaism, and Reform (Progressive) Judaism outside the United States, reject patrilineal descent. Orthodox leaders warn of dangerous splits in the Jewish people.
Time will tell whether Schindler's radical departure from the halachic norm sticks or fails. It appears to reflect more
closely the de facto way
American Jews are, even as it remains isolated as a de jure doctrine.
In the meanwhile, children in the Reform movement are being raised as Jews according to the new standard. They've made
Schindler's list, joining, rather than being lost to the Jewish people.
J4JP presents this editorial for educational purposes only and not as an endorsement of any of the viewpoints it reflects. Rabbi Alexander M. Schindler, of blessed memory, was a model advocate of truth and justice, a strong friend of the Pollard case, and a close personal friend of Esther and Jonathan Pollard. Justice4JP mourns his passing. He will be sorely missed.
See Also: UAHC President Emeritus Appeals to President Clinton, Again