As a way to start the conversation in advance of my official Installation and Rabbi David Ellenson’s visit, the eTidings will feature some of Rabbi Ellenson’s insights and commentaries about the changing dynamics of American Jewish life, and provide a forum for discussion. I invite you to take a few minutes to read Rabbi Ellenson’s teachings and participate in the conversation by sharing your thoughts.
Rabbi David Ellenson, “The Integrity of Reform within Kelal Yisra-el (the Jewish Community)”
*The following is an excerpt from an essay about the Reform Movement’s 1983 Resolution on Patrilineality, which said that Reform Judaism accepts children of one Jewish parent, either a mother or a father, as Jewish.
Jacob Toury, the Tel Aviv University historian, has pointed out that intermarriage and the abandonment of Jewish identity almost always went hand in hand during the previous century in Germany. How best to serve our God and the people Israel in an age when intermarriage no longer necessarily signifies a desire to leave the community must be and, appropriately, has been the subject of creative and often painful debate and decision in our ranks. [Reform Judaism’s] resolution on patrilineality has been one of the fruits of this struggle. …
Our tradition is not monolithic, and no one faction within world Jewry possesses a monopoly over the texts of our tradition. They are our inheritance, and our right to interpret them in accordance with the dictates of our conscience cannot be denied us. …
In serving this people Israel out of love and with compassion, we do honor to ourselves and make our most enduring contribution to Kelal Yisra-el (the Jewish community). Let the worst accusation hurled against us as a movement be this – that we are attempting to serve this people with too much love, to much compassion. … “When is God exalted?” It is then that God is exalted.
How can Reform Judaism in 2017 demonstrate its commitment to serve the Jewish people “out of love and with compassion”?