Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Bedatz is out of touch with reality! Really?

Anonymous wrote:

I am told by a family friend who is in kiruv that kiruv on American college campuses is difficult these days because 75% of those who show up for programs are not Jewish k'halacha. I have heard the same from people involved with Birthright trips.The ideas expressed above (Herschel Tzig and "Bedatz needs to relax") that "things are different today", "different in the Diaspora", "Judaism has to change with the times" are not new. It all began with the French Revolution and the birth of Reform Judaism. Even with all of the innovations of the Reform which led to Reform synagogues having seemingly more in common with Protestant Churches than with traditional Judaism, the Reform Movement still issued several edicts against intermarriage (in 1909, 1947 and 1973) throughout its history, stating that sanctifying intermarriage is: ”contrary to the traditions of the Jewish religion”. The CCAR ... declared its opposition to participation by its members “in any ceremony which solemnizes a mixed marriage.” Both the Reform and Conservative movements issued strong statements in 1986 that the sole criteria for determination of Jewish lineage was matrilineal descent. It is an interesting sociological study in that statements issued by the Reform and Conservative movements twenty years ago, which are now being issued by Bedatz, are considered "Taliban" and "extremist" by much of the American Chareidi public. Even the Reform did not suggest "conversion" for the sake of sanctifying an intermarriage thirty years ago.

I know this firsthand!! I taught in a Reform Hebrew school 27 years ago (my Orthodox Rabbi "permitted" it for kiruv). A Jewish man had made an appointment with the Reform Rabbi to discuss the marriage of him and his girlfriend. The Rabbi asked questions and a few minutes later was SCREAMING at them. How DARE you bring a shiksa to a RABBI to do a wedding!!! I will NEVER perform an intermarriage!! What Hitler could not accomplish you are doing to yourself!!! The whole building shook and I honestly thought that the Rabbi was going to beat the young man (who did marry the girl with a Judge, they got divorced a year later and then he married a Jewish girl, it was a small town and I was curious so I kept up with him).There was no mention of "conversion" by this Reform Rabbi 27 years ago AND this young man could not find ANY Reform Rabbi in the area who would agree to marry them. Fast forward to 2001 and I am dropping a donation off in the office of the Orthodox shul where we belong. A man I know from the neighborhood who had very recently left his Jewish wife and young children is there asking the Rabbi to marry him and his VERY pregnant Hispanic girlfriend. She is wearing a cross which is tucked into her blouse but is still visible in the sunlight.

I can hear the Rabbi tell them that he will convene a Beis Din next week and marry them after her "conversion". The wedding happened just like that. I know his family in NY and Israel; they all sat shiva for him. I ran into both the couple and the Rabbi a few weeks later. The Rabbi wished them "mazal tov" and asked how their married life was going. Times sure have changed but our Torah has not. Perhaps it is time to take a step back and think about that.

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