Rabbi Elliott Cosgrove is not wrong to seek new approaches to the problem of intermarriage, but like many, he fails to acknowledge the dilution of standards that has led to the high rate of interfaith marriage within Conservative Judaism in the first place (“Time to Rethink Conversion Policy,” Editorial, March 1).
Intermarriage is a symptom, not a disease. According to its website, Park Avenue Synagogue offers a Hebrew school that, like many, is one day a week and focuses primarily on preparing its students to read Hebrew and follow a synagogue service that is likely irrelevant, confusing and boring to them. If it is like most Hebrew schools, it fails even in this task because one cannot learn to read a language (let alone appreciate it) by practicing it once a week. Rather than further dilute the standards by sanctioning intermarriages, Rabbi Cosgrove should focus on building Jews from a young age who are more knowledgeable and engaged and can both practice and defend the modern traditionalism that Conservative Judaism has long embodied at its best. This involves rethinking synagogue education, rethinking the service, and worrying a little less about offending the congregants.
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