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JTA Misses the Point on Feldman

What does the Jewish Telegraph Agency think of Noah Feldman’s contentious “Orthodox Paradox” in the Times magazine from a couple Sundays ago? Unimpressed: Feldman turned these anecdotes about his alma mater into a launching point for a much wider and … Read More

By / July 31, 2007

What does the Jewish Telegraph Agency think of Noah Feldman’s contentious “Orthodox Paradox” in the Times magazine from a couple Sundays ago? Unimpressed:

Feldman turned these anecdotes about his alma mater into a launching point for a much wider and longer rumination on Modern Orthodoxy’s perceived failure to live up to its noble goal of infusing religious devotion with a commitment to pursuing secular knowledge. Feldman and his critics have obscured the larger point: The most important policy decisions regarding intermarriage — the ones having an impact on the vast majority of interfaith couples and their families — are taking place on the other side of the denominational divide, within the Conservative, Reform and Reconstructionist movements. In the end what all these groups face is not a paradox posed by the clash between tradition and change but a strategic dilemma over whether the community’s survival is best ensured by enforcing taboos or reaching out. Someone as smart as Feldman should know the difference.

Harsh. Last week, Jewcy’s senior editor Joey Kurtzman interviewed Feldman. Joey’s last question was, “Many blog posts have already been written about your article. Are there any that you found particularly insightful? Any that led you to rethink something you'd written in the article?” Feldman's response:

I spent the weekend playing with my kids and haven't read blogs.

Smart choice, Mr. Feldman. Feldman wrote a level-headed and honest portrayal of how he has been gently yet painfully ostracized from his school-boy Orthodox community because of his intermarriage. That’s his story. Why didn’t he address the Conservative, Reform and Reconstructionist movements approach to intermarriage? Because they’re not his story. You’d think the JTA would understand that.

 

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