Outside the camp
"Cherem," excommunication, is apparently still alive and well in the Jewish world.
In last week's Torah reading, Tazria-Metzora, a selection from Leviticus dealing with skin diseases and bodily fluids, we were told that certain people, innocent of any crime other than having a skin condition, were forced to live in isolation, "outside the camp."
A report from Writing Rights, which has been picked up by some of the local newspapers, states that Judge Richard Goldstone, (in)famous for the UN report on Israel's war in Gaza that bears his name, has been banned from attending his grandson's bar mitzvah.
Come on guys! Banning the poor guy from his grandson's bar mitzvah? What's the deal with that? You can disagree with the Goldstone Report — and I certainly think there are flaws in the report — but the man is a respected jurist, a man of principle, a strong supporter of Israel, a trustee of Hebrew University. He should not be treated this way. Inserting politics into this family celebration is completely inappropriate.
If the Israeli politician I think least of — and there's no need to name names, but he's one that I think is truly an embarrassment — were to be invited to a bar mitzvah at the shul I go to, I would not lobby to have him banned from entering the door. I think this politician is a disaster, is a barrier to peace, etc., etc., but I see a bar mitzvah as something personal and family, and he should be allowed to attend such an event regardless of how wrong headed his ideas are.
Personally, I'm astounded the family agreed to it. I would have moved the bar mitzvah to another venue so Granddad could attend.
I suppose Judge Goldstone could relate to the poor metzura we read about in shul today, who had to cover his lip, cry out "impure" and go live outside the camp, even though he was innocent of any crime.
I'll close with a quote from the Writing Rights report:
"Retired president of the Constitutional Court, Mr Justice Arthur Chaskalson said it was “disgraceful” to put pressure on a grandfather not to attend his grandson’s barmitzvah.
“If it is correct that this has the blessing of the leadership of the Jewish community in South Africa, it reflects on them rather than on Justice Goldstone. They should hang their heads in shame.”