Sydney Rabbi on Q & A

March 9, 2010 by Henry Benjamin
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Rabbi Jacqueline Ninio of Sydney’s Emanuel Synagogue was a surprise panellist on ABC-TV’s highly popular Q & A.

Tony Burke, Patrick McGorry, Rabbi Jacqeline Ninio Tony Jones, Richard Dawkins, Steve Fielding and Julie Bishop pic courtesy ABC-TV

The charismatic Rabbi Ninio heard at 4 p.m. yesterday that she was to be a member of a panel including the Deputy Leader of the Opposition Julie Bishop,

Rabbi Jacqueline Ninio as she appeared on Q&A Photo courtesy ABC-TV

Australian of the Year, Professor Patrick McGorry, Senator Steve Fielding, leader of the Family First Party, Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry Tony Burke and the renowned  evolutionary bioligist Richard Dawkins, author of the book “The God Delusion”.

Sister Veronica Brady cancelled due to health issues.

Dawkins is in Australia to promote his new book “The Greatest Show on Earth” in which he produces his evidence for evolution.

This Q&A session was entitled “God, Science and Sanity.”

The session started by dealing with the subject of being able to believe in evolution and God, with Dawkins emphasising the point that the planet was 6.4 billion years old. Rabbi Ninio said that she believed in the Big Bang and that Gad was somehow involved in it. She said that “human beings struggle to understand”

Dawkins touched on the subject of religious education claiming that children were brought up in environments in which they were indoctrinated into the religious beliefs of their parents. Moderator Tony Jones asked Rabbi Ninio her views. She said there was an obligation to teach children and believed in a “healthy spirit of questioning”. She said that when chikdren reached adulthood there was no obligation for them to follow their parents’ beliefs.

Rabbi Ninio told the panel that within her scope of Judaism, there is no indoctrination. She answered further questions on immigration and afterlife.

Rabbi Jeffrey Kamins, spiritual head of the Emanuel Synagogue, told J-Wire: “I was thrilled to see our rabbi on Q&A. She spoke clearly and intelligently with honesty and sincerity about difficult topics. Rabbi Ninio expressed clearly how Judaism related to the points under discussion.”

Watch the entire program here


11 Responses to “Sydney Rabbi on Q & A”
  1. Massadaddy says:

    What an ‘excellent’ spokesperson for the Jewish religion. It’s all marketing now. The Jews are setting out to change Wailing Wall to the Western Wall and the plant Creeping Jew into Wandering Jew and so forth. Dawkins shoots all religions down in flames every time. Great entertainment.

  2. Stuart says:

    Religion and science can co-exist. The theory of evolution does not deny the fact that there may be an author directing evolution in fact. Evolution deals with the physical universe and the changing species does not deny and greater power. There is something more to life than the flesh. And that is the fantastic thing to further learn and discover on a personal basis. We won’t know till we die will we?

  3. SimonR says:

    Well I’m a Jewish by birth atheist who has to add his 2 cents.

    It would probably surprise my orthodox family that I want to agree with Emes, above. I think it’s tragic that Q&A asked Ninio to speak – though probably not for reasons Emes would agree with.

    The presence of a progressive Rabbi has totally obfuscated the real issues. It’s a huge cop-out by Q&A and lets orthodox Judaism off the Dawkins hook.

    Had a leading orthodox rabbi attended, Dawkins could have asked a series of intelligent questions to expose the incorrect assumptions and teachings that Jewish children are brainwashed with every day in Jewish schools and homes.

    Instead of this useful contribution to society, Q&A chose Ninio who was able to side-step the real issues saying they don’t apply to “her” Judaism.

    That’s a bit like me sidestepping a critique of evolution saying “no, there’s no missing link in ‘my’ evolution”. What a cop-out!

    Take one example from this web article: Dawkins’ argues that religious education is a form of child abuse. Dawkins has strange bed-fellows; the point was forcibly argued by controversial guru Osho in the 1960s-70s.

    This is a real and legitimate issue faced by literally millions of Jews and hundreds of millions of Christians and Muslims (etc) around the world. And what does Ninio say about it? Nothing of relevance to the orthodox majority, that’s for sure.

    No reformed orthodox Jew would recognise Ninio’s “healthy spirit of questioning” and “no obligation” for children to follow their parents’ beliefs. Not to mention Ninio’s open mindedness about a 6 billion year old universe. There was none of that in my family or Jewish school.

    The producers of Q&A failed the Australian viewing public by choosing as a Jewish representative one who actually agrees with most of Dawkin’s key points (other than the existence of the imaginary friend she calls God). We, the Australian public, are worse off for this because all of Dawkin’s points are relevant and necessary to expose Orthodox Judaism, even though hardly any of them are relevant to its extreme progressive cousin. (That’s why it’s called progressive after all.)

    I mean no ill to Ninio herself. She may have done a good job of representing her own little sect but as Emes said, she in no way represents Judaism as a whole. The tragedy is that she made Judaism as a whole look good.

    I urge all religious people to at least look at Dawkin’s work. You should at least know what the case for evolution is before you argue against it. To this day the Lubavich members of my family insist that evolution is flawed because of “missing links” or that evolution can’t account for the existence of eyes, or that science cannot explain the flight of bees, or any one of a hundred lies that are taught in Jewish, Christian and Muslim schools around the world. The truth is that the only way to believe in any orthodox religion is to close your mind and deny the simplicity of science. That’s Dawkin’s real argument in The God Delusion – that science (geology, physics and biology) provide a simple (“parsimonious”) answer to all our big questions without needing to invent mythical beings to twist the laws of nature at their whim.

    Read the science and then make up your own informed view. I have had enough of this culture of ignorance that is the orthodox education system.

    Simon R

  4. stylofone says:

    I’m a non-Jewish atheist who stumbled across this site after a google search about Richard Dawkins. I’m frankly amazed to see this debate. But Sos, Alex, and King Billy, respect to you!

  5. Sos says:

    Emes, suppose for a minute that all religions represented in the debate are having similar stoushes about the worthiness of their representatives. Perhaps others are being labelled un-Christian? I doubt anyone is suggesting Dawkins is un-Atheist. I imagine Dawkins would chuckle at seeing the divisiveness that intelligent debate can cause amongst those who struggle with self examination.

  6. Emes says:

    Alex, to say that it is “unJewish” to attack a reform rabbi (again – I attack her because of her profession, not because of her personal qualities) is ludicrous. The Torah does teach empathy and kindness, but it also demands adherence to mitzvos, which these “rabbis” do not demonstrate.

    If we are not going to be sensible about who speaks on our behalf, we may as well have the local president of the Jewish secular humanists or even a Catholic priest! Only authentic Jews and recognised leaders and exemplars of Judaism and the community should speak on our behalf.

    What is so difficult about this to understand?!

    PS Yes, all types of Jews serve in the Israeli army, but so do some Arab Israeli Christians and Druse. Should we ask them to be spokespeople on Judaism?!

  7. Alex says:

    Dear Emes, your comments about Rabbi Ninio are shameful. They are hurtful, vicious and full of resentment. They are also very un-Jewish and lack any empathy or kindness, all qualties the Torah teaches. Do you have any point of difference with what she said rather than who she is? Did she say anything that was counter to our teachings?
    Look in the mirror before you point fingers and destroy a fellow human being who is full of kindness and giving to our community. Debate and discussion is healthy but dont bring your hatred into the picture. Progressive, orthodox, reform., conservative ..all serve in the Israeli army and sadly many die for our protection. You insult those that protect you and your way of life.
    Being Jewish is way of being and how you are towards others. Open your heart.

  8. Emes says:

    Whether or not “Rabbi” Ninio handled the “big and difficult” assignment well is not the point. Authentic rabbis who have a sound knowledge and commitment to Jewish belief and practice should be the religious spokespeople for our religion and community. The Reform “rabbis” are a minority and do not speak and cannot speak on behalf of our religion and its adherents.

  9. King Billy says:

    Emes’ means ‘real’. Therefore emes should get real…rabbi ninio handled a big and difficult assignment with skill and aplomb.she ought to be greeted with a mazeltov aand kol…..

  10. Emes says:

    It’s a crying shame that a woman “rabbi” who is not even Jewish is called upon to comment on behalf of Jews and Judaism. One cannot expect Q&A or the public at large to know the difference between an authentic rabbi who believes in authentic Torah Judaism (over 3300 years old) and those “rabbis” (johny-come-latelies) who have taken it upon themselves to rewrite Jewish belief and teaching.

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