Yet there are important exceptions to this tradition of moderation, and in certain parts of the ultra-Orthodox world, Darwinism has always been denounced as subversive and dangerous. Take the case of Rabbi Natan Slifkin. A boyish-looking ultra-Orthodox Israeli scholar and science writer, Mr. Slifkin, who publishes his books in English, is popularly known as the "Zoo Rabbi" because of his consuming fascination with the animal kingdom and his Steve Irwin-esque pedagogical style. In recent years he has emerged as a central figure in the ultra-Orthodox struggle to define the proper place of science within Judaism.
Rabbi Slifkin's work has been publicly denounced by 23 prominent ultra-Orthodox rabbis who attacked his beliefs as "nonsense" and ordered that Rabbi Slifkin himself "burn all his writings." The basis for the rabbinical protest differs from that of most Christian fundamentalists who oppose Darwin. Whereas Christian creationism is based on a literal reading of the Bible, most Orthodox Jews who reject evolution tend to do so because they find it incompatible not only with the Torah, but with other Jewish texts and centuries of rabbinic commentary.