The South African Zionist Federation (SAZF) and the Beth Hamedrash Hagadol in Sandton allegedly reached an agreement with the Goldstone family to bar the judge from the synagogue service in Johannesburg next month. SAZF chairman Avrom Krenge is quoted as saying “[w]e understand there’s a bar mitzvah boy involved – we’re very sensitive to the issues; at this stage there?s nothing further to say.” He added the group was “coming across most forcefully because we represent Israel.”
The head of South Africa’s Beth Din – or Jewish religious court – told a blog that they were simply trying to prevent potential “unpleasantness.” Rosh Beth Din Rabbi Moshe Kurtstag said “I know that there was a very strong feeling in the shul, a lot of anger. I heard also that the SAZF wanted to organize a protest outside the shul – [there were] all kinds of plans. But I think reason prevailed.” Really? It would seen intolerance and extremism prevailed. Goldstone, who is Jewish, decide to follow what he believed was the principled path — regardless of its directions. He is being punished for finding crimes committed by Israel — despite the admissions of that country recently of acts that would constitute violations of international law.
It is an astonishing message to send to his boy on his bar mitzvah that any moral lessons in the Bible are trumped by the need to remain blindly loyal. It also teaches that a man who acts on principle (regardless of whether you happen to agree with his conclusion or not) should be punished for following those principles and barred from a religious service.
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