Blog

Weblog




Becoming a Richer Community through Acceptance

Rabbi Yitz Greenberg is clearly one of the greats of this generation. In Hebrew parlance, he would be classified as one of the gedolei ha-dor (religious leaders of the generation). An Orthodox rabbi who embraces pluralism, he has demonstrated his commitment and love for the Jewish community—the entire Jewish community—in nearly every project that he has undertaken in his illustrious rabbinic career. That is why it was no surprise—though particularly heartening nonetheless—to read his words (along with his wife Blu) in a recent article as part of the Forward newspaper’s renewed Bintel Brief column.

In response to a question posed by a reader about the conversion acceptance standards of one rabbi or one movement over the other, the Greenbergs write:

“We believe that those who have the authority should rule that all denominations give full faith and credit to the halachic acts of others that meet their halachic standards. They should not allow the politics of delegitimization to disqualify the other. Alas, this is not what is happening. The sectarians and the splitters are in the saddle in this generation. You will have to find your place within that reality. We are all the poorer for it.”

We are in full agreement. We have to make sure that we don’t continue to splinter the Jewish people by questioning the authority of one rabbi or movement. Instead, let’s work together to build a Big Tent Judaism where all are welcomed and embraced.



4 Comments

  1. Great post Rabbi! I think the Greenberg’s are important partners (at least in spirit if not practice) in what you call “Big Tent Judaism”. However my question to you is (and I don’t mean this in a smarmy kind of way), what relevance does what they are saying, have to the Reform world and more importantly, to Jews By Choice, who have converted via the Reform movement?

    Especially when they state:

    “We believe that those who have the authority should rule that all denominations give full faith and credit to the halachic acts of others that meet their halachic standards”

    My read of the above is that they are saying if a non-orthodox movement meets the halachic standards of an orthodx comunity than the conversion should be recognized. I’m assuming that by “halachic standards” they are referring to the ritual aspects of the conversion as well as the halachick qualification’s of the bet din and sponsoring rabbi. And if so then how could any Reform Rabbi who rejects halacha as binding (and as a result may not keep kosher or shomer shabbos) or a bet dint that includes women be seen as valid?

    I’m not suggesting that agree with any of this because I don’t! It’s just that I am wondering, how is what they are saying of any real value, especially from a Reform Rabbi’s or a Reform converts (of which I myself am one) POV.

    I guess my take is that at best,all they are suggesting here, is that Observant Conservative/dox conversions that can withstand serious halachick scrutinizing should or can be seen as legitimate.

    Am I missing their point? If not I read this simply, as an invitation for the Conservative movement to move more towards to the right, in terms applying halachick standards and observance.

    Sincerely
    Avi aka TikkunGer

    Comment by Avi aka TikkunGer — December 19, 2007 @ 4:49 pm

  2. I understand your concerns. The Greenbergs feel bound by halacha. What they are saying is important, because there are many in the Orthodox community who refuse to accept the conversions of other rabbis, irrespective of whether or not they are done according to the standards of halacha. It isnt that Reform rabbis reject halacha. They simply reject its binding authority. The latest standards of conversion of the Central Conference of American Rabbis (the organizing body of Reform rabbis) is clearly consistent with halacha. But the nature of the movement and even the relationship of the CCAR to its members is that even their standards are not binding on their membership, that is, the Reform rabbis who make up the organization.

    Comment by Kerry Olitzky — December 19, 2007 @ 4:56 pm

  3. Hi Rabbi

    Thanks for the prompt reply to my question/comment and let me say that I agree with you 100% regarding the following.

    What they are saying is important, because there are many in the Orthodox community who refuse to accept the conversions of other rabbis, irrespective of whether or not they are done according to the standards of halacha.

    Also just to clarify, I did make it a point in my comment to indicate that it was not halacha per say that Reform Rabbis reject. But that rather it was it’s status as binding which they have rejected.

    Anyhow thanks again for the reply and for highlighting, where you feel the value in what they are saying, is to be found.

    Let me end by, reiterating that I indeed agree with you on that point.

    Comment by Avi aka TikkunGer — December 19, 2007 @ 5:14 pm

  4. I think that it is important in this fractuous Jewish world to spend more time in the areas we agree rather than in the areas in which we disagree. Of the latter, I am sure that we can always find many. In the case of the Greenbergs, and Rabbi Yitz Greenberg in particular, if all Orthodox rabbis were as open and community-minded as he is, the Jewish world would indeed be in better shape. By the way, it works in reverse too, and I would say the same thing to Reform rabbis, as well.

    Comment by Kerry Olitzky — December 19, 2007 @ 5:18 pm

Leave a comment

(required)

(required)




Click Here!