Rabbis Urged To Quit Alliance

By Miriam Colton

Published December 19, 2003, issue of December 19, 2003.
  • Print
  • Share Share

Several rabbis are being urged to drop out of an anti-gay marriage coalition because it includes a Muslim organization with alleged ties to terrorist groups.

One rabbi, Marc Gellman, a Reform clergyman best known for co-hosting the interfaith television program “God Squad,” has already severed ties to the Alliance for Marriage, citing unwillingness to join forces with the Islamic Society of North America. The Muslim group has been accused by some observers, including investigative reporter Steven Emerson, of championing organizations with suspected terrorist links, hosting fundraisers for terrorists and publicly defending Hamas attacks.

Other rabbis have refused to bolt the coalition, noting that the Islamic group is not on the U.S. government’s terrorist watch list.

“I lent the [alliance] my name because this is an important societal and moral issue and I am not giving anyone credibility by being on a list with them,” said Rabbi Barry Freundel of Congregation Kesher Israel, an Orthodox synagogue in Washington. “If I checked what every group ever did, I could never be involved in any coalition.”

Freundel received support from a fellow Orthodox rabbi, Kenneth Auman, president of the Rabbinical Council of America. “The purpose of the alliance is to oppose single-sex marriage, which is something the RCA supports fully,” Auman said. “If the government takes this Muslim organization seriously, we’ll also take them seriously.”

Emerson criticized this reliance on the U.S. government, arguing in an interview that the question of whether a group fits the strict, legal definition of a terrorist group was too narrow. “ISNA is an extremist group, even though they claim to represent mainstream Islam, and associating with them gives extremism a strong foothold,” he said. By joining interfaith coalitions, he added, such groups attempt to cultivate a more mainstream image.

In a statement explaining his own decision to leave the alliance, Gellman cited Emerson’s work: “My moral conscience cannot allow me to be associated with an organization, ISNA, that terrorist experts like Steve Emerson, whom I respect greatly, consider a front for Hamas and other hateful terrorist groups.”

Gellman’s decision to resign followed a report by conservative commentator Evan Gahr that appeared on the Web site Jewishworldreview.com, focusing on the Islamic group’s membership in the alliance.

In an interview, Gahr criticized Freundel’s reasoning. “Would [Freundel] work with David Duke or some other rabid antisemites?” he said. “Would Freundel work with any of them against gay marriage?”

In addition to Freundel, two other Orthodox rabbis sit on the alliance’s advisory board. Daniel Lapin, head of the conservative group Toward Tradition, could not be reached for comment, while Yoel Schonfeld of the Queens Board of Rabbis told the Forward that, though he would review the issue with his own board, he did not forsee a decision to drop out.






Find us on Facebook!
  • According to Israeli professor Mordechai Kedar, “the only thing that can deter terrorists, like those who kidnapped the children and killed them, is the knowledge that their sister or their mother will be raped."
  • Why does ultra-Orthodox group Agudath Israel of America receive its largest donation from the majority owners of Walmart? Find out here: http://jd.fo/q4XfI
  • Woody Allen on the situation in #Gaza: It's “a terrible, tragic thing. Innocent lives are lost left and right, and it’s a horrible situation that eventually has to right itself.”
  • "Mark your calendars: It was on Sunday, July 20, that the momentum turned against Israel." J.J. Goldberg's latest analysis on Israel's ground operation in Gaza:
  • What do you think?
  • "To everyone who is reading this article and saying, “Yes, but… Hamas,” I would ask you to just stop with the “buts.” Take a single moment and allow yourself to feel this tremendous loss. Lay down your arms and grieve for the children of Gaza."
  • Professor Dan Markel, 41 years old, was found shot and killed in his Tallahassee home on Friday. Jay Michaelson can't explain the death, just grieve for it.
  • Employees complained that the food they received to end the daily fast during the holy month of Ramadan was not enough (no non-kosher food is allowed in the plant). The next day, they were dismissed.
  • Why are peace activists getting beat up in Tel Aviv? http://jd.fo/s4YsG
  • Backstreet's...not back.
  • Before there was 'Homeland,' there was 'Prisoners of War.' And before there was Claire Danes, there was Adi Ezroni. Share this with 'Homeland' fans!
  • BREAKING: Was an Israeli soldier just kidnapped in Gaza? Hamas' military wing says yes.
  • What's a "telegenically dead" Palestinian?
  • 13 Israeli soldiers die in Gaza — the deadliest day for the IDF in decades. So much for 'precision' strikes and easy exit strategies.
  • What do a Southern staple like okra and an Israeli favorite like tahini have in common? New Orleans chef Alon Shaya brings sabra tastes to the Big Easy.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.