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The intermarriage of one Jewish individual is rarely a sudden occurrence. Rather, an individual’s choice to intermarry is a function of the depth of their Jewish education and experiences, the density of the Jewish population in the relevant geographic area, and commitment to “in-dating”. An American Jew who chooses to intermarry typically shares many of the same goal and values as his/her non-Jewish fiancé(e) and is, therefore, open to building a family with him or her. Intermarriage is also a sign of the success of Jewish acculturation to the American environment and acceptance by Americans.

Scott A. Shay, Getting Our Groove Back: How to Energize American Jewry, 2nd ed. (Jerusalem & New York: Devora Publishing, 2008), 145-146


The denominations, and the seminaries where they train their rabbis, will have to recognize this and take a more holistic view of their role in Jewish life. Rabbis need to see themselves as teaching Judaism, not as upholding the tenets of a particular movement. …
What’s more, the denominations, themselves, are no longer the most relevant force in shaping our synagogues. Instead of the large denominational divisions, imagine an entrepreneurial approach to synagogue life, one that encourages the growth of vibrant communities….

Edgar M. Bronfman and Beth Zasloff, Hope, Not Fear: A Path to Jewish Renaissance (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2008), 169.

The “sacred core” of the Reform Movement is personal sovereignty. In defining Judaism as a set of options from which Reform Jews are free to draw selectively, its adherents are ruled by what Rabbi Heschel called the “tyranny of the ego.” The center of religion becomes not G-d, but man. As we gyrate around ourselves, we cry, Vox populi vox dei.

The relativizing of the absolute is absolute in the Reform movement. Many Reform Jews think that G-d endorses what they do so long as it is “nice.” The response to intermarriage is, “It is not of great importance who they marry as long as the kids are happy.” The zone of self-regard has expanded so far as to crowd out G-d.

Rabbi Mark S. Miller, “Reform Judaism and Audacious Superficiality“, Times of Israel (7 February 2014)

Rather than seeing Orthodoxy as a more or less fixed entity, with “modern” and “ultra” flavors, I suggest we look at it as a cluster of processes, enacted across a range of what I call “Modernizing Orthodoxies,” by which I mean a group of religious movements bearing a familial resemblance, based on some core features, through which each works and reworks in its engagements with modernity.

Yehudah Mirsky, “Modernizing Orthodoxies: The Case of Feminism”, in To Be a Jewish Woman: Proceedings of the Fourth International Conference: Woman and Her Judaism, June 2005, ed. Tovah Cohen (Jerusalem: Kolech – Religious Women’s Forum, 2007), 37.

The word tzedakah is untranslatable because it joins together two concepts that in other languages are opposites, namely charity and justice. Suppose, for example, that I give someone £100. Either he is entitled to it, or he is not. If he is, then my act is a form of justice. If he is not, it is an act of charity. In English (as with the Latin terms caritas and iustitia) a gesture of charity cannot be an act of justice, nor can an act of justice be described as charity. Tzedakah means both.

Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, To Heal a Fractured World: The Ethics of Responsibility (New York: Shocken Books, 2005), 32.

Studies of the ancient Mediterranean world have been powerfully enhanced by the current awareness of the complexity that the politics of identity both reveals and covers over. In particular, heterogeneity strives with universalism where the forces of empire and colonialism produce multiple and charged cultural contact zones. At the borderlines of oppression, not only resistance but also enormous creativity is encountered in the production of hybridized subjects. How do we read or map gender at such complexly determined and politically ambivalent sites? How, furthermore, do we read or map gender across religious affiliation, breaking through prior barriers of disciplinary practice that have separated scholars of Christianity, Judaism and pagan or “classical” antiquity, without thereby losing all traction on the particularity of religious cult or culture, shifty and overlapping as these mappings may prove to be?

Virginia Burrus, “Mapping as Metamorphosis: Initial Reflections on Gender and Ancient Religious Discourses”, in Mapping Gender in Ancient Religious Discourses, ed. Todd Penner & Caroline Vander Stichele (Leiden & Boston: Brill, 2007), 3-4.

Rabbi David Zvi Hoffman says the text spoke in the language – דברה תורה כלשון בני אדם – but specifically in the language that would be accessible to that first generation of western Semitic people called the Hebrews, who heard the Torah. It uses a very specific type of imagery and language. It’s not going to talk about evolution, and it’s not going to talk about E=MC2; it’s going to talk in the language that’s common to them.

Rabbi Nathaniel Helfgot, “What is פשוטו של מקרא?” YCT Yom Iyun (New York City: 13 January 2014).

A study called “Egalitarianism, Housework and Sexual Frequency in Marriage,” which appeared in The American Sociological Review last year, surprised many, precisely because it went against the logical assumption that as marriages improve by becoming more equal, the sex in these marriages will improve, too. Instead, it found that when men did certain kinds of chores around the house, couples had less sex. Specifically, if men did all of what the researchers characterized as feminine chores like folding laundry, cooking or vacuuming — the kinds of things many women say they want their husbands to do — then couples had sex 1.5 fewer times per month than those with husbands who did what were considered masculine chores, like taking out the trash or fixing the car. It wasn’t just the frequency that was affected, either — at least for the wives. The more traditional the division of labor, meaning the greater the husband’s share of masculine chores compared with feminine ones, the greater his wife’s reported sexual satisfaction.

Lori Gottlieb, “The Egalitarian-Marriage Conundrum”, The New York Times Magazine (9 February 2014), 28.

…gender played a strong role in the agonistic articulation of nascent religious identity and difference, whether Christian, Jewish or “pagan.” Is religious discourse then mapped in antiquity as a competition among cultural claimants of masculine perfection? Alternatively, is it mapped as an irruption of ambivalently subversive or counterhegemonic genders to which empire paradoxically gives rise? I would answer both of these in the affirmative. Again, we face an ambivalence that is mapped across our texts and theirs.

Virginia Burrus, “Mapping as Metamorphosis: Initial Reflections on Gender and Ancient Religious Discourses”, in Mapping Gender in Ancient Religious Discourses, ed. Todd Penner & Caroline Vander Stichele (Leiden & Boston: Brill, 2007), 9-10.

Traditional Jewish institutions must seek guidance from creative young leaders, and some have begun to do so. Young Jews are finding ways to be Jewish outside of traditional Jewish institutions, but that does not mean we have to battle for who controls Jewish life….
We need to cultivate this spirit of openness and exchange between new efforts and traditional Jewish institutions. Both are important for the renaissance. While there is exuberant energy outside the established Jewish community, there are tremendous financial, structural, and human resources in our large institutions. These resources can, and should, be used to educate and empower our youth. While change may happen more quickly in new efforts, existing organizations are capable of making a significant difference in Jewish life if they are willing to adapt to the conditions of the twenty-first century. They need to reach out to young people and invite their ideas and their leadership.

Edgar M. Bronfman and Beth Zasloff, Hope, Not Fear: A Path to Jewish Renaissance (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2008), 167-168.