Reply to “A Call for Moral Clarity”, 1/8/21

By: B. Rempell  |  January 14, 2021

By B. Rempell

I object to Rabbi Ezra Schwartz’s stance in the strongest possible way. In fact, I am outraged by his sharp moral critique of Orthodox Jews for “aligning themselves with the most vulgar parts of America” (his words) during the Capitol rally on January 6. Respectfully, does the rabbi not know his history — both ancient and modern? There are numerous examples throughout our history of Jews aligning themselves with unsavory or downright evil elements, either by intention or necessity. One clear example was Jewish partisans who fought in coordination with the Soviet Red Army against the Nazis in WWII — while knowing full well of the Soviets’ dedication to snuffing out Yiddishkeit (Judaism) and oppressing Jews in its territories.

As Jews, we must take our moral and ethical stances (including those which have a political element) based on our own beliefs ALONE — without wavering depending upon who is standing with us. To illustrate an extreme example, surely the rabbi would not be in favor of Jews constantly changing their positions whenever neo-Nazis announce that they share the same views — doing so would enable a dangerous form of manipulation.

To be clear, I am not defending the violent assault on the Capitol, which was unequivocally wrong. I am, however, defending and supporting the Jews who attended the peaceful portion of that rally in support of election integrity — a cause which many Americans of diverse persuasions view as moral and just.

It is sad and extremely disturbing that the rabbi did not consider the above before writing his piece of drivel in the last issue of YU Observer. As a result of his shameful words, my family will be withdrawing its ardent support of Yeshiva University after many generations. We will not support an institution which has a senior leader who lectures our community with such a misguided and nonsensical critique.

-B. Rempell

Brooklyn, NY