Tuesday, April 05, 2016

The Slippery Slope to Oblivion

Conservative Rabbi, Seymour Rosenbloom
As if I needed more proof of the bankruptcy of the Conservative Movement, along comes a distinguished member of that movement suggesting that they rescind their prohibition against rabbis officiating at an intermarriage. This is Rabbi Seymour Rosenbloom’s answer to the high rate of intermarriage among members of his denomination.

It would be funny if it weren’t so sad. And yet despite my incredulity at this latest attempt at ‘salvaging’ his movement, Rabbi Ronsenbloom seems to be serious as a heart attack about it. Here is what he says in a JTA op-ed
Reality has overtaken us. Sixty percent of Jews who wed marry someone from another faith. The Conservative movement’s prohibition is ineffective as policy if our goal is to reduce intermarriage. It is counterproductive if we are trying to influence Jewish souls and bring them closer to the Jewish community. It needs to be modified if we are to serve our congregants faithfully. 
Is this the best they can come up with? Oh wait. I forgot. This goes along with their re-branding initiative.

I’m sorry this is so ridiculous that I just had to comment about it. Obviously the solution to intermarriages is not to officiate at them. That’s like saying that the best way to have gun control is to sell people guns.

But here is his rationale in response to that: 
Often they want a “Jewish wedding,” which is why they want the officiant to be a rabbi, preferably one with whom they have a relationship. That is why they are so hurt when we refuse. As they plan their interfaith ceremony, they learn more about the elements of a Jewish wedding. They typically choose to have a huppah, blessings over wine, seven marriage blessings, a ketubah and the breaking of the glass. 
Such nonsense! This is his Judaism?! A wedding ceremony? Breaking a glass at the end of the Chupah?  Does it even matter to him whether the products of that marriage will be Jewish? Does he care that the non Jewish member may still believe in Jesus, even if they are not active in their church anymore?  What is that home going to look like? Will they have a Menorah and Christmas tree in December? Will they have an Easter Egg Hunt at the Pesach Seder and say Mass after they eat the Afikomen? Will they be attending a Shul on Shabbos and a Church in Sunday?

I suppose he might answer that in many cases the children are raised Jewish. Really?  What if it is the wife who is the non Jewish spouse? Their children will grow up thinking they are Jewish when in fact they will not be. But with last names like Goldstein or Schwartz and living their lives as Jews this can cause chaos in the Jewish world. It will be almost impossible to know who is and isn’t a Jew without a genealogical pedigree recorded somewhere in a Jewish archive! Besides, why should we want non Jews to practice Judaism? If you want to practice Judaism, convert according to Halacha and become a Jew! You can be ethical and a wonderful human being without being Jewish.

But even if the non Jewish spouse is the man and the children are biologically Jewish, what possible message can they get about the different religion of each parent? The religions conflict. Their father believes in Jesus and their mother doesn’t? What’s their children’s take-away from that?

In what way is this going to help them? Will the 50% non Jews that will be born of this union going to in any way salvage their movement? Seriously? Is acting Jewish or practicing a few Jewish rituals a positive result if the children becomes so confused about the theology of their parents? They will surely not know what to believe -whether the children end up being Jewish or not.

Rabbi Rosenblum then says the following:
Some argue that if Conservative rabbis officiate at intermarriages, it will further lower Jewish standards and encourage intermarriage.
This is nonsense. It is delusional to think that a rabbi’s refusal to officiate will change any couple’s mind about whether to wed. Who would forgo a life with their beloved just because their beloved rabbi can’t be at their wedding ceremony?
Really? Some … argue??? I don’t think that it’s arguable. It not only lowers Jewish standards it eliminates them.

I do agree that a rabbi’s refusal to officiate will not change any couple’s mind about whether to wed. It won’t. But that’s not the reason we don’t officiate. We do not officiate  because it’s wrong! It’s called being principled.  And this is what they want to import to Israel???