The Bintel Brief

Bintel Brief: Yitz and Blu Greenberg Peer Across the Denominational Divide

By Yitz and Blu Greenberg

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Dear Rabbi and Rebbetzin,

I am a convert to Judaism and have been living a “Conservadox” life for about 15 years. My conversion was traditional, with all of the rites, including hatafot dam brit, immersion and questioning before a beit din [rabbinic court] after a period of about two years of study. However, the rabbi overseeing my conversion was not Orthodox. I want to participate in an Orthodox minyan but face the ethical quandary of maintaining my anonymity with regard to my conversion versus divulging the full details of my conversion to an Orthodox rabbi. I believe my conversion was valid under halacha [Jewish law] and that anyone questioning my status is acting outside the bounds of Jewish tradition. But I also respect the halachic process and would not want to compromise the halachic status of a minyan if the other participants viewed my conversion otherwise.

I have three questions: What are my responsibilities under Jewish law in this case? What are the rights of the Orthodox minyan in questioning my status? And what is more important, Jewish unity or adherence to a legal opinion that is not universally accepted?

MINYAN MAN

Yitz and Blu reply:

Your dilemma dramatizes one of the great tragedies of Jewish life — one that is often overlooked. A generation ago, your conversion would have been accepted by important Orthodox rabbis, just as a get (divorce certificate) issued by observant and respected Torah scholars such as Boaz Cohen of the Conservative movement’s Jewish Theological Seminary were honored because they met Orthodox standards. Today, however, actions by non-Orthodox rabbis, even when they comply with halacha, are almost universally rejected by Orthodoxy. In personal-status conflicts, it is as if we are of two different religions.

In the 1980s, I (Yitz) warned that denominational polarization was leading to a split in the Jewish people. The conventional wisdom is that the split did not happen. But in fact, in matters of personal status — such as recognition of converts to Judaism or in legitimation of marriage and divorce — the split has already occurred.

A year ago, I received a call from an Orthodox colleague asking about the Shabbat observance of a Conservative rabbi whom I knew personally. The call was about the pending marriage of an Orthodox layman to a Conservative woman who was fully observant. The woman had been married and then divorced within the Conservative movement. She secured a get that was issued by a learned and observant Conservative beit din. But my Orthodox colleague was reluctant (or afraid) to accept that get. He had heard (and was hoping that I would confirm) that the Conservative rabbi who performed her first wedding was not truly shomer Shabbat (Sabbath observant) — which would disqualify the first wedding as invalid. My colleague was disappointed to learn from me that the Conservative rabbi was, in fact, shomer Shabbat!

To strike a blow for Jewish unity, I urged him not to disqualify the original marriage but to accept the get as valid (her get technically had met all halachic requirements). In the end, he performed the marriage by disqualifying her original marriage on the grounds that a Conservative rabbi had performed it. In effect, he stipulated that all marriages performed by Conservative (or Reform) rabbis have no halachic standing and need no get to be terminated. It was easier and safer for him to disqualify liberal marriages generically and act as if she never married and never received a get than to accept a get properly done by a Conservative beit din. This process is taking place all over America.

This situation symbolizes another tragedy — the spiritual breakdown of Modern Orthodoxy. While it calls itself Centrist Orthodoxy, it has surrendered its own values and orientation toward klal yisrael — the unity of the Jewish people. Instead, it has accepted haredi authority and standards in these matters.

As we write, the Rabbinical Council of America is completing a deal where, in return for the Israeli chief rabbinate giving it exclusive authority to certify American conversions, RCA batei din around the country will take over the conversion process and no longer stand behind individual rabbis’ conversions, even those done by its own members. In return, the RCA batei din will follow Israeli chief rabbinate standards, which are much more restrictive, requiring total Orthodox — and sometimes even haredi — lifestyles to qualify for conversion. This is a time when thousands of potential converts are open to joining Judaism, but most are not willing to live wholly observant, let alone haredi, lifestyles. Hundreds of thousands are in a similar situation in Israel. This highly restrictive approach is a betrayal of the security of the Jewish people and the needs of klal yisrael. This new RCA arrangement constitutes further splitting of the Jewish people and pushes less observant Jews toward not converting their partner, which will increase assimilation.

Personally, we feel that this double-barreled exclusion of would-be converts and dismissal of observant Conservative Jews is wrong. The whole restrictive, anti-conversion approach constitutes an assault on gerim — converts and outsiders — that violates the instruction (given 36 times in the Torah) to be kind, loving and sensitive to gerim.

To us, your situation summons up the Talmud’s comments (Vayikra Rabbah, Parshah 32) on Ecclesiastes 4:1: “I observed the oppression that goes on under the sun — the tears of the oppressed with none to comfort them and the power of their oppressors.” The Talmud explains that “the tears of the oppressed” refers to illegitimate children, mamzerim. And “the power of their oppressors” refers to the members of the high court of Israel who come after them using the power of Torah to remove them from the people of Israel. In your case, revealing your process of halachic conversion would be used to remove you from the congregation. The Talmud, driven by the injustice of the halacha in punishing innocent mamzerim — it was their parents who sinned; they did nothing — ruled that kayvon shenitme’oo, nitme’oo. If illegitimate children successfully infiltrate the community, let them be. They (and others who may know their status) are not to reveal it. Since they were absorbed, they should not be uncovered and rejected.

Were your ability to marry at stake, or if the revelation would have a catastrophic impact on your personal status, we would be tempted to encourage you to hide your background and evade this status — following the Talmudic model for mamzerim.

However, in your case, what is at stake is your ability to join a particular Orthodox minyan. Every minyan or community has the right to define its own standards for membership and practice. It is highly likely that were you to reveal your background, your minyan cohorts would not accept you as a Jew. You might first try discreetly to get a reading as to the rabbi’s and the minyan’s attitudes on conversion and on halachic behaviors of liberal rabbis. Perhaps they are of the saving remnant who maintain the old klal yisrael standard.

Yet, given the probability to the contrary (i.e., that they would not consider your convert status valid) your presence as one of 10 attendees for the minyan would make them feel that their communal prayers were not valid. We think, therefore, that you should give up the privilege of davening with them rather than mislead them. However wrong they may be to exclude you, they legitimately constituted their community to live by their standards.

You have the choice of undergoing an Orthodox conversion or finding a minyan — perhaps a Conservative minyan or perhaps one of the up-and-coming traditional egalitarian communities that do not play denominational politics — that would likely accept your conversion and your status as a Jew. To force yourself upon them by withholding information from a group that does not accept your status is wrong. We say this although we believe that the disqualification process is a sin against Jewish values and against converts, an act we deeply deplore.

We believe that those who have the authority should rule that all denominations give full faith and credit to the halachic acts of others that meet their halachic standards. They should not allow the politics of delegitimization to disqualify the other. Alas, this is not what is happening. The sectarians and the splitters are in the saddle in this generation. You will have to find your place within that reality. We are all the poorer for it.

Blu Greenberg was the founding president of the Jewish Orthodox Feminist Alliance. She is the author of “On Women & Judaism” and “How To Run A Traditional Jewish Household,” among other books. Rabbi Irving “Yitz” Greenberg was the founding president of CLAL - The National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership and served as the chairman of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Council. He is the author of “The Jewish Way: Living the Holidays,” “Living in the Image of God: Jewish Teachings to Perfect the World” and “For the Sake of Heaven and Earth: The New Encounter between Judaism and Christianity.”


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Comments
Dave Mollen Tue. Dec 4, 2007

Jack, I appreciate your response. While you and I disagree about where on the spectrum is the best place to be, I am happy that we both see a spectrum and realize that every person is free to make and has to make a choice. The one thing that really concerns me in your comments is your explanation of intermarriage. I totally disagree. Intermarriage is not growing because the existence of Reform enables people to identify as Jews without making a serious commitment. I think intermarriage is much more serious than that. I believe that intermarriage is growing because a lot of people don't care at all about Judaism. There is no compelling reason in today's U.S. for people to remain Jewish at all! I think you need to see how free we really are and how attractive "secularism" is to younger people. As I said in an earlier post, Judaism is receiving a "walking ovation." Thus, all streams of Judaism are failing. Intermarriage is not a problem; it is a symptom of that failure. As you can see, I am perfectly willing to admit that Reform is not solving the problem. On the other hand, neither is Orthodoxy. And the data I referred to earlier demonstrates that Orthodoxy is not doing nearly as well in attracting and retaining people to Judaism as Orthodox pronouncements would have us believe. Now this leads me to offering you a clarification about the relationship between Orthodoxy and Reform. The mother of one of my sons-in-law was born Jewish and while she married a non-Jew, she never converted. Her son was not raised with any religious identification. Question: if you were a rabbi and were asked to marry him to my daughter, would you? My understanding of the Orthodox answer (confirmed to me by at least one very serious Orthodox friend) is yes; he is Halachically Jewish. I have asked at least three Reform rabbis if they would have performed the ceimony. All three said the same thing: they would only do it if he first received instruction in Judaism. Since he knows nothing of Judaism, they said, Halacha is superceded by common sense (and what you referred to as "reasoned flexibility"): would it really be a Jewish marriage if he knew nothing of his religion? My understanding is that their attitude is the standard position of Reform Judaism. This is an example in which the problem is that Orthodoxy is too lenient. Halacha is inadequate here and needs to be superceded (and one can reasonably expect this situation to continue to become more common). The picture that I hear from the Orthodox is just inaccurate: it is not that Orthodxy is stringent and that Reform isn't. It is that we believe that what is important about being Jewish is different. That has been my point from the beginning.

Shmuely Fri. Nov 30, 2007

Mr. Mollen: Your reference to the NJPS intrigued me, since I had been looking for a study that deals with precisely that issue, but when I read the report, there was no reference to the stats you quoted. It's not in their Powerpoint presentation either. The main site is here: http://www.ujc.org/page.html?ArticleID=33650 The report is here: http://www.ujc.org/getfile.asp?id=3905 It would indeed be interesting to know how effective Kiruv really is, in comparison to the numbers of FFB Jews giving up on Orthodoxy, but this report doesn't offer that. I imagine the stats you quoted were from a blog, since they are not mentioned in the NJPS study. In fact, the NJPS study has nothing on Orthodox demographics except for single stat saying that "Among those who belong to a synagogue, they divide as follows: 39% Reform, 33% Conservative, 21% Orthodox, 3% Reconstructionist, and 4% other types."

Dave Mollen Fri. Nov 30, 2007

Shmuely, please go to http://www.ujc.org/local_includes/downloads/4983.pdf . The data I quoted are on slide 9 of that PowerPoint set. These charts are accessible not in the main NJPS reports but in a section called Special Reports, which is at http://www.ujc.org/page.html?ArticleID=108513 . Also, I recall in yet another part of the NJPS reports a quote something like "the anecdotal reports of great success in attracting non-Orthodox Jews to Orthodoxy are not supported by the data." Sorry, but I'm not sure what page that was on. If you'd like to correspond directly with me on this, my e-mail is zaydey04@aol.com. Shabbat shalom! Dave Mollen

Karl Fri. Nov 30, 2007

Reform triumphalism? Please. Let's be honest enough to admit that any Jew who is wholly uncommitted identifies himself as Reform swelling our mumbers. Mr. Mollen identifies himself as devout and I'm willing to try not to laugh out loud but one can hardly claim that for even one tenth of the reform laity. Who said that? Dr. Eugene Borowitz at a forum at the JIR.

Dave Mollen Fri. Nov 30, 2007

Karl, of course you are right that many "Reform" Jews are in fact uncommitted. Still, we are better off with them in Reform than we are with the very large number of totally uncommitted and uninterested Jews who don't bother to affiliate with any denomination. BTW, my rabbi estimated that about 1/3 of Reform Jews are serious about their religion. That's a poor number of course but it's a lot better than "one-tenth." And, if you check the numbers I gave in a previous post, you will see that the estimated 1/3 of Reform Jews who are serious mean that there are more serious, committed Reform Jews than there are Orthodox! Judaism in America is doing very poorly. As I said, the totally uncommitted represent a very large number. To use the words of a Catskills comic I heard once, Judaism is getting a "walking ovation." And I hope you will agree that with all of our problems, Reform has an infintely better chance of retaining Jews than Orthodoxy does.

Jack Tue. Dec 4, 2007

David, I do know a bit about Reform Judaism. I do in fact acknowledge that there are some "frum" reform Jews who make a serious effort at making Judaism part of their life. However, most people use the denomination as a means of hanging on to Jewish identification without any real commitment on their part. This is why there has been an explosion of the slippery slope of intermarriage. Let me assure you I don't discount any person who wants to make a serious effort at involvement and commitment to Judaism regardless of denomination. I just think that there is probably greater potential in a conservadox lifesyle than in the lifesyle promoted by the Reform movement. In other words, I think that there needs to be a middle ground somewhere just to the left of orthodoxy where ritual and reasoned flexibility join together. I'd like to see it happen, but I don't know if it will. Jim, thanks for telling your story. I am fully supportive of your decisions. I wish there were more like you in the non-orthodix community.

David Mollen Fri. Nov 30, 2007

Good. We have a dialog started. Now I'd like to respond to some of the comments made in response to me. To Dave: you make my point exactly. First, while I don't eat cheeseburgers, deefining Judaism as requiring observance of traditional kashrut was decried by Rabbi Wise way back in the 19th century as "kitchen Judaism." It is a trivialization of the sublime religion that Judaism really is. Sorry, the Orthodox don't get to define what the rules are. Here's one reason: while Kiryas Joel may be growing like crazy, using that statistic is an example of the Orthodox tendency to look at what makes their side look good, not what the reality is. The 2000 NJPS (the most authoritative census of American Jews) showed that while for example 57,000 Jews over the age of 18 had moved to Orthodoxy from other denominations, 347,000 Jews born Orthodox no longer considered themselves as such. To put this into perspective, there were only 297,000 Orthodox Jews in the whole country at the time! Orthodoxy has "zoomed" to where it is now a whole 10% of American Jews. Sorry, not only are you not winning this war, you are contributing mightily to the decline of American Judaism (see my comment on "kitchen Judasim" above). To Josh Waxman: thanks for the usual Orthodox view: you "love" us non-Orthodox, but that's only when you get to decide what praciticing Jduaism means. As Rabbi Borowitz (if yu don't know who he is, you should be ashamed of yourself) said to a chasid who told the Rabbi that he loved his Jewish heart, "You have to love my Jewish head, too." We disagee about what is required not only to be Jewish but to practice Judaism. As I said above, you don't get to decide the rules.

Ruth Thu. Nov 29, 2007

This is a topic that is so crucial to today's American Jewry, and it even touches upon broader ideas such as: what makes a Jew a Jew? Isn't a Jew by birth ideally required to uphold the same life standards as a convert? As intermarriage rates climb, there is the difficult, constant struggle to maintain a balance between opening our doors more warmly to would-be converts, OR raising the standards for them so that they live and raise their children in more wholly Jewish lives. I myself have struggled with this dichotomy, as my brother-in-law is a convert who went through both a Conversative and Orthodox conversion, and felt a sense of rancor at doing so (my father insisted upon it), but ultimately became educated enough in Jewish tradition and text to raise his children in a Jewish home. Rabbi Marc Angel's wonderful Op-Ed piece in the Forward deals with this same question as well: http://www.forward.com/articles/11985/

David Mollen Thu. Nov 29, 2007

Rabbi and Rebbetzin Greenberg have a well-deserved reputation for trying to achieve a moderate middle in the denominational wars and should be appreciated for their efforts. However, as a devout Reform Jew, I have to say that their description of the current situation demonstrates the impossibility of achieving a moderate middle. Their comments ignore the fact that in Reform, we do not observe Halachah. If the Orthodox hierarchy, then, doesn't want to consider us Jews, that is their right. Of course, that means that we have no reason for common cause with them. I think that's where we are: As far as I'm concerned the very word "Judaism" no longer refers to a religion, let alone a people. I think it refers to a group of related but distinct religions, in the same way that the word Chrisitanity does. Let us face the reality: the largest Jewish denomination in the United States is Reform (the best estimate that I know of is that Reform is about 3 1/2 times the size of Orthodoxy) and we do not observe Halachah, for what we sincerely believe are good reasons. Let's all come together and draw an honest conclusion: if the Orthodox believe that Halachich observance is a requirement for being Jewish, then in their eyes we are not Jewish. Then we can agree to disagree and to deal with each other honestly. Doesn't Judaism require us to follow an honest, moral path? Or do we disagree about that, too?

P.L. Cohen Thu. Nov 29, 2007

Thirty years ago, both my parents died within three months of one another. I said kaddish for 14 months and became Modern Orthodox and observant. I live in the Midwood section of Brooklyn. Since that time, the area has gone so right wing that the vast minority of observant Jews are Modern Orthodox. The feeling in the area is "my mechitza is higher than your mechitza." It is very depressing for me. I agree with your views on the splitting of Orthodox Jews. We are not haredim. We are simply orthodox. Why do we have to follow the right wing ways? My former Young Israel went to the right as well. We are all Jews; we should love each other. The liberal wing of Judaism is greatly at fault also. They want everything their way by doing virtually nothing to observe their faith; then they complain about the Orthodox rules.

Dave Thu. Nov 29, 2007

1/ A devout reform Jew? I guess the meat in your cheeseburger is kosher. 2/ The reform branch is indeed the largest branch of Judaism, but not the fastest growing. Of all US municipalities (+5000 pop.) Kiryas Yoel has the lowest median age (15), and is doubling approx every 5 years. What Reform congregation or community can say that?

Zahav Thu. Nov 29, 2007

Kiryas Joel may be doubling its population every 5 years, but it also has the following characteristics (from the US Census 2000): -45% of adults 25 and over are high school graduates, compared to 80% nationally -34% of those 16 and over are in the labor force, compared to 64% nationally -62% of individuals live below the poverty line, compared to 12% nationally What Reform congregation or community would want to claim that?

josh waxman Thu. Nov 29, 2007

David Mollen: "if the Orthodox believe that Halachich observance is a requirement for being Jewish, then in their eyes we are not Jewish." To clarify what may or may not be a misconception here, the issue is Conservative and Reform *converts*. The Orthodox believe that acceptance of mitzvot and halacha is a requirement for a valid conversion. Thus, for *becoming* Jewish, not *being* Jewish. However, people born Reform or Conservative, or who became Reform or Conservative, are considered Jewish by the Orthodox, as are their children. The issue is one of converts, and the children of female converts (given the Orthodox requirement for matrilineal descent.)

Jack Sun. Dec 2, 2007

David, if you think Jewish salvation in America is in the hands of the Reform movement, you've been asleep over the last 50 years or so. Ask any non observant Jew if he or she is religious and you will indeed get a response like "No, I'm Reformed" In other words most Jews connect non-observance with being a reformed Jew. The Reform theory is that if we minimize Jewish observance and obligation more Jews will stick around as Jews since it doesn't require much commitment on their part. To bad reality doesn't support the premise. Forget about dietary laws, forget about daily prayers and observances and make a Jew out of anyone whose father was Jewish. That will solve the problem. Well all of these "enlightened approaches have done nothing but multiply defections from Judaism. Care to specualte on the number of intermarrieds spawned by the last couple of generations of Reform Jews? Well, whatever statistics you care to believe most would agree that we've seen intermarriage rise from 10% or so 50 years ago to 50% today. That would suggest that the Reform idealogy has not succeeded. While I'm modern orthodox myself, I have a fair number of bones to pick with the right wing of Judaism. But the idea that the Reform movement will solve this problem of defections is not realistic.

Dave Mollen Mon. Dec 3, 2007

Jack, thank you for demonstrating one of the key problems we have: the ignorance that so many Orthodox have about Reform Judaism. How people who say they love Jews can be so ignorant about Judaism is beyond me. First, while of course you are right that many nonobservant Jews call themselves "Reform", that is not at all what Reform is. You need to learn what Reform teaches. That means you need to know something about our rabbis and theologians, not just listen to the vague statements of those who are uninterested, even though those statements justify your prejudice. Now, second, you seem to equate Judiasm with ritual practice. Reform doesn't. As I said in an earlier post, equating Judaism with ritual trivializes what Judaism is, as far as we're concerned. Sorry, I just can't believe that God really cares whether I turn on a light on Shabbat; I think God cares a lot more that I continually work to improve myself and my religion. Oh, by the way, Orthodoxy has a regressive view of history, i.e. that the most perfect moment in history was Sinai and everything after that is downhill. Reform has a progressive vew, that is that the world improves through our effort. As I also said earlier, they are not the same religions, although of course they are related. Now, the one place I agree with you is that Reform has not solved the problems facing Judaism in America. I said that Judaism in America is doing poorly and of course that is in the face of Reform domination of religiously affiliated Jews. We need new and better solutions but for the life of me I cannot imagine Orthodoxy providing that. I know that the Orthodox love to cite their progress in attracting Jews to their side. If you are in that camp, please look at the statisitics that I quoted earlier. Orthodoxy is getting nowhere in solving our problems as American Jews, just as one would expect.

Jim Mon. Dec 3, 2007

I was going to stay out of this dialogue, and probably should, but want to share my perspective nonetheless. As a Conservative convert, I've had to think about this issue for a while. My conversion (before you ask, no, it was not "for marriage") met the halachic standards (study, hatafa dam brit, bet din, mikvah), and my later marriage was performed by a rabbi with Orthodox smicha. Since divorced (civil), I am trying to get the local Orthodox bet din to process a get, and based on my initial conversations will probably be successful. My neighborhood in a city on the West Coast includes one each of self-identified Orthodox (Lubavitch), Modern Orthodox, Conservative and Reform synagogues. All that is said as background. I made the choice to go with a Conservative conversion because that was the shul and community I was in. Of course, I knew that my conversion would not be accepted by any in our Orthodox community for anything that mattered. I have received and accepted the rare Shabbat invite from some Orthodox (Lubavitch) families in the neighborhood and coached their kids on our Shabbas-observant little league teams, though, and everyone is nice to each other. Of course, I feel that I couldn't invite anyone Orthodox to my place for a meal and would not let myself get counted as the 10th for a minyan. But I have davenned anonymously in a well-attended Orthodox minyan without guilt. Do I feel and am I made to feel comfortable as a Jew in all parts of the Jewish community? No. But I made my informed choice and made my peace with the consequences of that choice a long time ago. Personally, I believe in the Conservative take on Judaism, and am happy in my community (i.e. the Conservative shul and neighborhood non-Orthodox day school). And that’s how I see the Jewish people as a whole: we all have our comfortable homes (i.e. denominations) in the community and will work together as needed, but with not much acceptance, much less respect, beyond that. As an aside, I’ll say that I think the non-Orthodox movements (esp. Reform) have contributed a great deal to the Jewish community by keeping generations of families identifying as Jewish, as opposed to drifting off one at a time into the anonymous world of American assimilation. 'Nuff said. Sorry for the length… ~ Jim

Michael Sat. Dec 29, 2007

Going back to the original question posed to Blu and Yitz, before this utterly predictable and rather tiresome debate got started: Why would Minyan Man even *consider* joining a Minyan that most likely would not accept him if they knew how he converted? This is Groucho Marx on steroids! It's not just that he *doesn't* want to join any club that *would* accept him as a member. In fact the *only* club Minyan Man wants to join is one that will *not* accept him as a member! I mean, what does that say about a person? This neurotic-to-the-point-of-masochistic impulse is so inherently *Jewish* in nature that I'd say Minyan Man has proven himself to be a Jew beyond all doubt, at least psychologically, no matter how he converted.... He's welcome in my minyan any day.... (Lest anyone take offense, this is intended as gentle humor, not as a "flame" on Minyan Man.)

Yehuda Sun. Dec 30, 2007

The real reason for intermarriage in America (and in the Diaspora in general) is the collapse of the historic Jewish identity. The Jews are no longer a society in their own right, nor do they see themselves as a distinct peoplehood. All this talk of "the Jewish people" is simply using traditional terminology for a totally different social reality. A people has its own language and culture. A people has its own society. The American Jews see themselves as part of the American people and part of the American society. Their language and culture are American. Yiddish language and culture were abandoned as "foreign", and Hebrew studies are a total failure (a majority of Diaspora Jews wouldn't even recognize their own name in Hebrew script)! Only in Israel have the Jews maintained the historical reality of a distinct society - speaking its own language, creating its own culture, and participating in the drama of its own (Jewish) history. Religious and irreligious Israelis live in a Jewish society - and intermarriage is quite a marginal phenomenon here. However, in America, an ironic situation has come into existence: success and failure are one and the same event. The total integration into the American mainstream ("success") has destoyed the sense of Jewish distinctiveness ("failure").

Norm Fri. Dec 28, 2007

The postings in this blog prove my point-that the reform and conservative movements should dissociate themselves from the Orthodox-modern or haredi-the latter in my opinion aren't Jews-They are parasites sucking off the American welfare system, the Federation system and of course the Israeli government which many of them don't recognize. The growing level of violence and repressive tactics in the more right wing orthodox cults show that they really aren't much diffent than the Islamofacists. Now that we are in the 21st centruy we know that the Torah is a bronze age fable although it contains much good literature-but instead of glorifying so called gadols who believe and teach the world is 6,000. years old we should treat them with the same as we do witch doctors in Africa-with the respect of primative culture. Starting in 2008 I will discount my federation contributions for any amounts that it is paying in tribute to seperate sex schools or Beth Dins. In short if being orthodox really were the only correct way of being Jewish I'd renounce my Jewishness-but it isn't the Orthdox practice an imaginary self taught system of laws that have nothing whatsoever to do with Torah.

Sharon Mon. Dec 31, 2007

This article, with the anecdote about the Orthodox rabbi who accepted a divorced woman as a bride because her marriage was performed by a Conservative rabbi and was therefore, in his eyes, invalid, was so troubling to me. Not only were my husband and I married by a non-Orthodox rabbi, my parents were married by a non-Orthodox rabbi. Therefore, I am not the considered the product of a legitimate Jewish marriage and neither are my children. Certain groups of Jews will reject my children as possible mates. The irony here is that my husband's parents, secular Israelis, were married by the Israeli rabbinate. His maternal grandparents, however, may not have had a halachic ceremony at all. They were married in a DP camp in Germany and probably went to the civic register. But the Israeli rabbinate in the 70's accepted my mother-in-law as a Jewish bride. My children, raised in a kosher home, attending shul on shabbat and being sent to a Jewish day school, will not receive this welcome.




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