What’s the difference between an Orthodox, Conservative, Reform, and Reconstructionist chuppah? At an Orthodox wedding, the mother of the bride is pregnant. At a Conservative wedding, the bride is pregnant. At a Reform wedding, the rabbi is pregnant. And, at a Reconstructionist wedding, the bride and groom are transitioning, pronouns Them and It.
Many not-so-Orthodox Jews dislike that the Orthodoxy in Israel acts as if there is no other Judaism than the traditional halachic version. And, since there are few liberal Jews in Israel, this often becomes US Reform Jews criticizing Israeli Orthodox Jews for ‘monopolizing’ Judaism in Israel.
But look what happens when the Reform starts talking for all Jews. In Germany even, of all places, cradle of modern untraditional Judaism.
There are so many converts to the Jewish community, and they are taking over the leadership, so we are told. But, it is not so. It is only a problem in non-Orthodox communities. Jewish Law has a couple of safeguards against such problems:
- Not everyone can convert when and as soon as they want. You must learn a lot, and your mindset must fit the Jewish People. That means that, as long as people have a giant ego, they can’t convert.
- A convert is rejected if s/he runs away from being a Gentile (Nazi) past. There is nothing inherently dishonorable about being a non-Jew. Conversion must be a positive choice, not an escape of roots.
- Generally, a convert cannot become the rabbi of a congregation. This is to prevent congregants from bringing up his roots should they get angry with his rulings. Shaming a convert is a gigantic sin.
- The Rabbis are more lenient toward Gentiles with some Jewish lineage (father, ancestors forcibly converted). But, Gentiles without that have no ‘right’ to convert. Only when they’re ready.
- A prayer leader must be able to represent the congregation by being extremely pious. Having a wonderful voice is really not the essence.
These Reform congregations have created a mess through their anyone-is-welcome and we-need-more-Jews policies. Don’t say that Jews or Judaism are now in trouble. Reform Judaism is. And that’s not the first time. Several decades ago, it discovered that these ‘primitive, outdated’ rituals are actually meaningful and helpful and began reintroducing them.
I don’t know if they’re good sports. But, Orthodox Judaism is time-tested. Before trying to reinvent the wheel, coming up with a triangle, think really hard, and try to discard nothing. Judaism is not a let’s-feel-good religion.