The Zionist Conspiracy
Tuesday, July 20, 2004
Orthodoxy and Pluralism
Luke Ford's interview of JJ Goldberg is Ford's most comprehensive one yet on the subject of Jewish journalism. Goldberg's candor was refreshing.
In the near future, I will likely post in detail about Jewish journalism, Jewish blogging, the Goldberg interview, and the memoranda to and from The Jewish Week that Ford posted on Protocols.
One small point in the interview was Goldberg's criticism of Reform Jewish leaders who insist on Orthodox recognition and acceptance of Reform's legitimacy. Goldberg - who is Conservative - said:
I think Orthodox Jew would do well to understand what it does to other people when you don't want to socialize with them. I think they assume that because they're doing what God told them to do, everybody else needs to understand it. A lot of Reform Jews think they believe in pluralism, that everybody is entitled to their own form of Judaism. Now, Orthodox Judaism teaches that halachah is Judaism. Reform Judaism doesn't believe that the Torah commands anything. It recommends. By definition, an Orthodox Jew cannot believe that Reform Judaism is an authentic interpretation of the Torah. If you are really a pluralist, you have to believe in the right of Orthodoxy not to accept Reform Judaism.
The Reform are always pressing in communal situations and organizations for resolutions [calling on Israel to accept the legitimacy of Reform Judaism]. There have been a couple of national Jewish councils that have fallen apart, the Orthodox resigned, because the Reform managed to get a majority to adopt a resolution calling on the Israeli government to accept the legitimacy of Reform Judaism. If they had sat down and thought it through, they would see that the Orthodox can't live with that. If you don't want the council to exist, fine. But if you want there to be a council where everybody sits around the table, don't shoot a hole in the floor of the boat.
[Any typos above are Luke's, not mine.]
A few years ago, a friend of mine enrolled at Hebrew Union College, the rabbinical school of the Reform movement. She e-mailed me mentioning that HUC was holding a workshop about Jewish pluralism, and invited me to come and offer an Orthodox perspective.
I declined, explaining that while I believed in pluralism within the secular democratic society of the United States, I could not accept the notion that a movement that rejects the commandments of the Torah could have legitimacy within Judaism. I tried to explain that as a pluralist, she should respect my rejection of Reform Judaism.
I don't think she did.