Some interesting links:
Rabbi Dov Marmur, a major figure in the World Union of Progressive Judaism, has changed his tune on patrilineal descent. He used to oppose the notion of recognizing children of non-Jewish mothers and Jewish fathers as Jewish, but he’s changed his mind after meeting numberous people of Jewish descent who longed to be part of a Jewish community:
I have seen the splendid results in many congregations, not least in Europe, that have been soft on the law, but firm on integration. Many children of mixed marriages who otherwise might have been lost to Judaism are now active members of Jewish communities and are raising Jewish children, because rabbis and congregations put people before principles – liberal Judaism at its best.
Individuals thus integrated are understandably distressed when they are not accepted as Jews. I now believe that, despite halachic “irregularities,” it behooves us all to honour and celebrate their commitment, not to try to disenfranchise them.
Also exploring the issue of people with Jewish descent but from a different angle is an article from the Washington Post reprinted in the Providence Journal titled “Secretly Jewish: What happens when families find out.” It’s about people, like Senator George Allen, who discover Jewish heritage after living their lives as Christians. Their experiences, according to the article, can run the gamut from a vigorous embrace of Judaism to anger and shame.
Rabbi Shammai Engelmayer, the editor of Judaism: A Journal of Jewish Life and Thought, has written an interesting column in the New Jersey Jewish Standard on taking marriage out of the state’s hands. His idea, I believe, is to make marriage like a bar mitzvah or baptism: something that is solely the purview of religious institutions.
I support marriage and encourage people to marry, I just do not believe marriage is the province of the state, especially in a democracy that prides itself on maintaining a separation between itself and religion.
“Marriage” should be the sole province of the religious sector. The state should stop handing out marriage licenses and start distributing civil commitment certificates.
I think this idea has some serious problems, which I will get into in a later post.
Another article I will write about more in-depth in a later post is the cover story from the most recent issue of Moment magazine, titled “The Seven Laws of Noah and the Jews who Follow Them.” It’s about a curious group of people who are Christian and live essentially a Jewish life, but are not Messianics and do not promote the Christian faith (if anything they promote the Jewish faith). Surprisingly, a number of Orthodox rabbis have embraced them.
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