Tuesday, December 6, 2011

National Advocacy Director to be on Panel Discussing Anti-Zionist Rabbi

The National Press Club is hosting a panel this Thursday discussing the new book Rabbi Outcast: Elmer Berger and American Jewish Anti-Zionism which profiles one of the most well-known rabbis of the 20th century. 

The panel, sponsored by the Freda Utley Foundation, will be held on December 8 at 1:00 pm in the Murrow Room of the National Press Club (13th floor, 529 14th St. NW, Washington, DC 20045). A light lunch will precede the panel at 12:15 pm. Reservations are requested. 

The panel will include two of 
Rabbi Berger's former colleagues: Andrew Killgore, former diplomat and ambassador to Qatar and publisher of The Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, and Allan Brownfeld, editor of Issues, published by the American Council on Judaism. 

Also on the panel is Josh Ruebner, writer for the
Huffington Post and former Middle East analyst for the Congressional Research Service, and the book's author Jack Ross, a columnist and writer from Brooklyn, New York. 

Rabbi Outcast: Elmer Berger and American Jewish Anti-Zionism
discusses the influence that Berger had in his lifetime, particularly from World War II through the 1967 Six Day War and its aftermath. 

The 233-page book, with 582 footnotes and an extensive bibliography, is a comprehensive account of American Jewish history. Ross places liberal Jewish anti-Zionism (as opposed to that of Orthodox or revolutionary socialist Jews) in a historical perspective. That brand of anti-Zionism was embodied by Rabbi Berger and his predecessors in the Reform rabbinate.

heldon Richman, a political writer and editor of the Freemanwrote recently that he knew Berger "and admired him greatly for his courageous work on behalf of what he called 'emancipation and integration' and against Jewish nationalism, or Zionism. He was truly the last great Classical Reform Jewish rabbi- Classical Reform Judaism having been founded in opposition to nationalism, to the ideas of diaspora and return to Zion. Berger was a founder and long time director of the American Council for Judaism, and later of the American Jewish Alternatives to Zionism."

urray Polner, author of Rabbi: The American Experience, calls Rabbi Outcast "a seminal book, nothing less than the rediscovery of American Jewry's dissenting tradition. Ostensibly about the fascinating and controversial Rabbi Elmer Berger, it is really much more - a nuanced and readable portrait of people and ideas undeservedly erased from American Jewish history." 

"In Jack Ross' new book, we see a fascinating history of Jewish resistance to Zionism- and warnings of its consequences for Jews and for America," commented Jon Utley of the Freda Utley Foundation. Freda Utley, the British historian and author, wrote extensively about Elmer Berger in her book
Will the Middle East Go West? 

"Rabbi Outcast is a tremendous resource for young American Jews looking for facts to back up their existing doubts," Utley said. 

For more information contact Fran Griffin at griffin@griffnews.com or call 703-255-2211 or 202-643-1048.