Monday, July 23, 2007

Don't Turn Your Back On Your Community And Then Badmouth It In The New York Times

Look, you're not stupid. After thirteen years in yeshiva, you knew very well that by marrying outside of the Jewish faith that you were committing the ultimate slap-in-the-faith to the community in which you were raised. It was and remains your choice. This is a free country and it's your life to live. But be a man and take responsibility for your choices. Don't for a minute act surprised and pretend that you don't understand the profound insult that your decision represents to the community that raised you and on which you turned your back.

The community in general does not want to completely cut off ties with you. But certainly a smart man like you knows that it can no longer hold you high as an example of one of theirs who succeeded. You didn't. Sadly, to everyone's great dismay, like many others before you, you failed.

Modern Orthodoxy is all about nuance; it's about combining Orthodoxy with modernity. But the key is that God always comes first. You don't go to school on Yom Kippur, even if it means failing a final exam. You don't eat non-kosher, even if it means that your department head gets offended and thinks that you are not qualified for a tenured position. And you don't marry outside of the religion. No one is perfect, and there are plenty of people who violate Jewish rules but are still accepted in our community. However, intermarriage is more than a mere violation of a technical law. It is more than failing to wear tzitzis or wearing a jacket that has not been checked for sha'atnez. Marriage is a life choice, one of the most important decisions you ever make. You alone made your choice and it was to exclude Judaism in a very public way and to hit the community in a place where it is already severely hurting. And you know this.

The door is still open. I am sure that there are plenty of people from your past who are more than willing to maintain relationships with you on a personal level. We want you to come to synagogue and participate fully in Judaism. But don't expect to be treated like a superstar by the community on which you turned your back.

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