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The Rules of Engagement

The Jerusalem Post has published an excellent Jewlicious blog on the Noah Feldman debate. Jewlicious takes the angle that although Feldman was born into the Orthodoxy and had no choice regarding his religious practice — thus he is somewhat justified … Read More

By / August 2, 2007

The Jerusalem Post has published an excellent Jewlicious blog on the Noah Feldman debate. Jewlicious takes the angle that although Feldman was born into the Orthodoxy and had no choice regarding his religious practice — thus he is somewhat justified in being pissed that his Orthodox day school airbrushed his non-Jewish wife out of the reunion photo — the moral of the story is you get what you pay for:

Feldman’s complaint that the Orthodox establishment hasn’t welcomed his fiancée, petty matter of religion aside, is akin to someone choosing to attend a school with a core curriculum, then decrying the injustice of being forced to take certain classes.

For all of Feldman’s candor in the essay, he has nothing to say about where he fits into the community, if at all; whether he wanted his wife to convert; whether they are raising their children as Jews or not; or his feelings about all this. He only owes us such information if he wants our understanding and empathy, which clearly he does.

He does owe Modern Orthodoxy an apology for pinning it with his anger over rejection, knowing full well the rules of engagement. But we in turn owe him a sense of gratitude for a wake-up call, however unpleasant, about the need to struggle more deeply and honestly with the moral and religious tensions and contradictions in Modern Orthodoxy that can never be reconciled, and about learning how to deal more sensitively with those on the outside who may be calling out — in anger and loneliness — for a way back in.




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