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What You Said About Intermarriage

Our readers on the new Reform proposals

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A post from yesterday on the Reform Movement’s decision to move from discouraging intermarriage to encouraging the intermarried to cultivate Jewish homes—as commenter Carl Rosen put it on Facebook, the movement is “accepting the intermarried more than intermarriage”—drew a whole bunch of responses, both on Facebook and, especially, on The Scroll itself.

Those who applauded the Central Conference of American Rabbis task force, which among other things suggested establishing special blessings for interfaith weddings, clearly outnumbered those who condemned it. “Ketzirah” wrote: “As a Jewish woman in an interfaith marriage, I think it’s about damn time. I’ve become more religious since I met my husband and it’s because of his encouragement that I’ve deepened my own faith and practice.” “Laura Baum” agreed: “As a rabbi ordained by the Reform movement, I am thrilled that the movement is now focusing on blessing interfaith relationships. … It is time to stop thinking of intermarriage as only a challenge—it is also a reality and an opportunity.” And Jeremiah says,

It’s about time. How many Jews have been “lost” because they were discouraged from marrying the person they loved, not to mention their children? Every non-Jew is a potential Jew, and non-Jewish spouses who don’t convert are often more involved in synagogue and Jewish life than their Jewish partners. They should have been welcomed long ago.

Of course, there are also plenty who see it differently. Said “Unphased”: “Religion was never designed to be sensitive and welcoming to all without restrictions. … if so it would be nothing more than a chess club where a scarf talis is the team uniform.” And “savtaro” argued: “This is all just too pathetic! What remnants of Judaism will remain? No kippot. No kashrut. No kinship! The Reform will consistently prostitute themselves to stay in business. It’s time for them to admit that they are bankrupt and close the shop.”

There was also some fruitful discussion about how the dynamic is altered depending on which spouse is the non-Jew: the husband, in which case any children are still halakhically Jewish; or the wife, in which case they are not.

And maybe the most quietly profound comment came from “D”:

One can feel the assimilationist rejoice at the expense of tradition rabbinic Judaism. This issue is not that we have come to this point in the discussion, the issue is do we recognize what has been lost. Perhaps an understanding of the directive “maintain Jewish homes” is required.

This is likely a very good thing for our future, but I am sad for our loss.

Meanwhile, I want to thank and applaud everyone for keeping things civil. And I want to encourage further commenting, wherever you see fit—including on Facebook! (If you’re not currently a fan of ours on Facebook, please join up!)

Reform Movement Changes Intermarriage Strategy

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The Reform Movement cannot rewrite Halacha to suit themselves and remain a valid form of Judaism. By accepting either parent as the defining Jewish parent as far as the children’s Jewishness is concerned, it has already caused immense damage. So have the non-halachic conversions. Children grow up believing that the sham Judaism they and their parents “practice” is really Judaism, and that they are really Jews when they are not.

It’s not a matter of numbers; it’s a matter of being faithful to Torah me’Sinai. Quantity does not matter; quality does. Let’s call a spade a spade: the non-Jewish partner is a woman, she can be a gera toshevet; the children must convert according to halacha. If it is the father, then the children need not convert, but either he does, or he remains a ger toshav, unless he converts and becomes a ger tzedek.

A.L. Bell says:

To Antigonos: OK, if a Jewish man marries a non-Jewish woman who doesn’t convert, that creates what I guess are intractable Halachic problems from an Orthodox or more conservative Conservative point of view.

If a woman who tromped from Jewish dating event to Jewish dating event for years without luck finds a nice, non-Jewish guy and has a lovely, Halachically Jewish child, and the non-Jewish guy goes to synagogue when the wife does and supports efforts to bring up the child as a Jewish child, and the home does not have a Christmas tree or even a Chanukah bush, what’s the point of a Reform or a Conservative synagogue giving that guy grief?

How do you know that the guy wasn’t brought to the Jewish wife specifically because G-d wanted him to be part of the Jewish people?

As for “accepting all of the mitzvot”: It’s fine to ask someone who is converting to accept that G-d asked the Jewish people to observe all of the mitzvot and that we should try to observe them. But, aside possibly from some Samaritans that you would probably regard as heretics, rather than as Jews, no living Jewish person observes all of the commandments. None of us has ever brought a meal offering to the Temple.

So, I think it’s unrealistic to expect someone who’s converting to observe all of the mitzvot, or to say that s/he has to, for example, observe all of the mitzvot that someone in Williamsburg observes.

matt. says:


This puts the Jewish guy, who doesn’t have the out you described in tough spot though no? If over half of his potential mates are employing the logic you outline, he’s going to really struggle to have a truly (halachically) Jewish family. In the game of Jewish musical chairs it’s the man who is left standing when the marriage music stops. I think this bears consideration.

As for being responsible for “all the mitzvot”- all Jews are responsible for all applicable mitzvot but that doesn’t mean they can do them all. No, we can’t bring sacrifices. But if the situation arises, you’re responsible. Similarly, if you never see a mother bird to chase away before taking the eggs you can’t perform the mitzvah. But you’re still responsible if it comes up. It’s a slippery and false bit of logic that goes from we can’t offer sacrifices to trimming down those mitzvot we can do.

I’ve said that least 995422 times. The problem this like that is they are just too compilcated for the average bird, if you know what I mean

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What You Said About Intermarriage

Our readers on the new Reform proposals

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