When the Union for Reform Judaism (URJ) founded their political arm, the Religious Action Center (RAC) in 1961 they stated that they did so in order to place emphasis on social action in earnest. According to its website, the RAC’s stated policy goals are: removing high ammunition guns from the streets, opposing the D.C. school voucher program, protecting a woman’s right to choose, and protecting the year-old healthcare reform bill.
None of these strike the reader as particularly Jewish issues.
One Jewish issue currently in the news, however, is the problem of anti-Semitic statements made by celebrities. RIGHT TO EXIST has covered several of these statements, including those that found their way onto NPR. The RAC, an organization that identifies itself as the “social justice arm of the URJ” has maintained radio silence in respect to NPR, however it has found time to issue tweets and press releases about supporting members of Congress who deny school vouchers to underprivileged D.C. public school students.
It’s difficult to ignore the ties between NPR and The RAC. Ellen Weiss, a former NPR executive producer and vice president (who was responsible for the firing of Juan Williams) is married to the director of the RAC, David Saperstein. While it is within the stated mission of the RAC to “mobilize the Reform Jewish community on legislative and social concerns” it has decided that its Leftist responsibilities trump Jewish ones.
Several weeks ago, Glenn Beck found himself in hot water for stating: “When you talk about rabbis, understand that most — most people who are not Jewish don’t understand that there are the Orthodox rabbis, and then there are the reformed rabbis. Reformed rabbis are generally political in nature. It’s almost like Islam, radicalized Islam in a way, to where it is just — radicalized Islam is less about religion than it is about politics. When you look at the Reform Judaism, it is more about politics.” (Emphasis added.)
After an outcry against his statements by many socially liberal groups, including the RAC, Beck was forced to apologize for his remarks. His sentiment, however, was that the Reform movement is more concerned with its mantle of “social justice” than with actually practicing the Jewish tradition. Given what we know about the political arm of the Reform movement, it’s hard to deny he was onto something.
To the RAC, anti-Semitism from the left is neither a Jewish issue nor a “social justice” issue. It’s an inconvenient distraction to be ignored.