Jerome A. Chanes |
Special To The Jewish Week |
The findings of the recent study of American Jews by the Pew Research Center have generated a lot of ink, not the least in responses from Jewish religious movements. We have heard the Orthodox expressions of the Church Triumphant. We have witnessed the scurrying for cover on the part of some other groups. In the Conservative world, a number of the movement’s leaders have offered either aggressive programming to counter the movement’s decline, or vigorous cheerleading.
Ted Sasson |
Special to The Jewish Week |
A few years ago, I moderated a series of focus group conversations about Israel. The participants were mostly middle-aged Jews affiliated with Reform and Conservative congregations. As discussion touched on Israel’s policies on settlements, peace negotiations and civil rights, participants argued back and forth, with many expressing tempered criticism of Israeli positions. But when the conversation turned to the Chief Rabbinate’s authority over matters of personal status, including marriage, divorce and burial, debate gave way to expressions of bewilderment and outrage.
In my childhood bedroom, in Glasgow, there was a poster on the wall bearing an image of the Kremlin and the words “Let My People Go.” Like many other Jews growing up in the 1980s, I felt the profound impact of the Soviet Jewry movement. So I was a bit surprised by my own ambivalence when I recently decided to go on a UJA-Federation rabbinic mission to the former Soviet Union (FSU) to see what Jewish life is like there today.
Gerald L. Zelizer |
Special To The Jewish Week |
Cathy Salamon and Ted Geardino are members of my Conservative synagogue. Cathy is Jewish and attended yeshiva through eighth grade. Ted is Catholic and attended catechism through eighth grade. Before marrying, they agreed to raise their children as Jews. Cathy regularly attends Shabbat services with her three children, and studies in our adult classes. She and her children accompanied me on a synagogue trip to Israel. Her children are enrolled in our religious school, Hebrew High School and youth groups. At the bar mitzvah of each of his children, Ted ascended to the bima to lead the congregation responsively in the English recitation of Psalms, joined Cathy to place the tallit on each child’s shoulders, and rose with the family when it recited the Shehechiyanu prayer.
An Opinion column by Steven Bayme and Dov Zakheim (“Not a Proud Moment for the RCA in Dealing with the Chief Rabbinate”, Feb. 7) takes frequent and explicit issue with my Jan. 21 column (“Does the US Now have a Chief Rabbinate?” Jan. 24), and left me with mixed feelings. While it is quite flattering when two distinguished and long-serving American Jewish leaders take note of one’s writing, my views on the Rabbanut [Israeli Chief Rabbinate] and its relationship with the Rabbinical Council of America (RCA) were misrepresented. While I am a member of the RCA and have rabbinical ordination from the Rabbanut, I speak for neither and have been publicly and openly critical of both, and especially the Rabbanut, since 2006 at the latest.
“I go to the mall and look for young girls. I stop one and tell her she is very pretty. If she looks me in the eye and says ‘thank you!’ I move on. If she lowers her eyes, shuffles her feet and demurs, I know I’ve found my prey.”