Joel Hoffman
Rabbi, Teacher, Columnist

Intermarriage & the Western Wall Compromise

This past Wednesday leaders from the Reform and Conservative movements and the Jewish Federation system had an “emergency meeting” with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu about the Western Wall compromise.  Undoubtedly, the Federation leadership was in attendance to excerpt a financial pressure on Netanyahu.

Is the Western Wall compromise really the most pressing issue among the non-Orthodox leadership in the United States?  And one they would financially strong arm the State of Israel over?

These leaders want space the Western Wall for egalitarian prayer services yet only 13% of non-Orthodox Jewish women in the United States light Shabbat candles, and in the Reform movement the attendance rate at weekly Shabbat services is just four percent!

2,300+ years ago Ezra came to Jerusalem from Persia and discovered that there were 112 Jewish males who had intermarried, which was about 0.4% of the population, so he called an emergency meeting of the entire nation to address the issue.  One of the things Ezra did at that meeting was to teach the Torah.

One hundred and twelve intermarriages, that’s just one weekend in the United States today!  The intermarriage rate among non-Orthodox Jews in the United States is 71.5%, so where have been the “emergency meetings” to address this issue?

Instead of focussing on Jewish education which Ezra did to strengthen Jewish identity to prevent further intermarriages, the non-Orthodox leadership in recent years has been focussing more and more on Muslim-Jewish dialog, Syrian refugees, Black-Jewish relations, the array of LGBTQ issues, and getting a place for egalitarian prayer services at the Western Wall.  Focussing on any of these areas, however, will not make any positive difference in spiritually reviving their members and in reducing their intermarriage rate. The leadership is totally misdirected.

The leadership of the Reform and Conservative movements need to first clean up their own house before trying to dictate Judaism in Israel!

About the Author
Rabbi Joel E. Hoffman has been an educator for 22 years which has included teaching, administration, developing innovative programs and curriculum, research, writing articles, facilitating workshops, and speaking nationwide. Links to most of his 35+ published writings can be found on his Linked-In page at
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