Love and Tolerance Do Not Constitute Grounds for Conservative Judaism to Abandon Its Position on Intermarriage

In a recent essay, Amichai Lau-Lavie, a rabbi ordained by the Jewish Theological Seminary, has proposed a way for his fellow rabbis in the Conservative movement to condone, and even perform, intermarriages under certain circumstances. Julie Schonfeld is unconvinced:

[Lau-Lavie] notes that his paper is not a t’shuvah or rabbinic responsum per se. . . . It is [nonetheless] framed in rabbinic terminology and style. But the literary device of saying “this is not a t’shuvah” should not conceal the fact that it cannot be [one], because such an enterprise cannot succeed. The reason a Conservative rabbi cannot officiate at the wedding between a Jew and a non-Jew is not because he or she doesn’t love and care about [the couple] enough. Rather it is because a commitment to the halakhic framework makes this impossible. . . .

Judaism, as a continuous 3,000-year-old tradition, promotes the highly countercultural idea . . .  that [there is] special opportunity for spiritual and moral growth in the maintenance and appreciation of boundaries—whether regarding time, food, consumption, moral conduct, and even relationships. . . . Those boundaries include the reservation of Jewish rituals that are the explicit performance of Jewish commitments to Jews.

Rabbi Lau-Lavie opens his paper speaking of the pain he felt when saying no to couples whose weddings he could not officiate. Indeed, the anguish felt by couples in love, their extended families, and the rabbi who cannot perform an interfaith wedding is very real. But there is a group of people, a rather large group, whose feelings were conspicuously absent from this paper. Those are the people who, seeking an open but traditional Jewish community, count on the Conservative rabbinate to maintain the halakhic framework and the network of Conservative communities, synagogues, camps, and schools which they call home.

Read more at Forward

More about: Conservative Judaism, Intermarriage, Judaism, Religion & Holidays


An American Withdrawal from Iraq Would Hand Another Victory to Iran

Since October 7, the powerful network of Iran-backed militias in Iraq have carried out 120 attacks on U.S. forces stationed in the country. In the previous year, there were dozens of such attacks. The recent escalation has led some in the U.S. to press for the withdrawal of these forces, whose stated purpose in the country is to stamp out the remnants of Islamic State and to prevent the group’s resurgence. William Roberts explains why doing so would be a mistake:

American withdrawal from Iraq would cement Iran’s influence and jeopardize our substantial investment into the stabilization of Iraq and the wider region, threatening U.S. national security. Critics of the U.S. military presence argue that [it] risks a regional escalation in the ongoing conflict between Israel and Iran. However, in the long term, the U.S. military has provided critical assistance to Iraq’s security forces while preventing the escalation of other regional conflicts, such as clashes between Turkey and Kurdish groups in northern Iraq and Syria.

Ultimately, the only path forward to preserve a democratic, pluralistic, and sovereign Iraq is through engagement with the international community, especially the United States. Resisting Iran’s takeover will require the U.S. to draw international attention to the democratic backsliding in the country and to be present and engage continuously with Iraqi civil society in military and non-military matters. Surrendering Iraq to Iran’s agents would not only squander our substantial investment in Iraq’s stability; it would greatly increase Iran’s capability to threaten American interests in the Levant through its influence in Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon.

Read more at Providence

More about: Iran, Iraq, U.S. Foreign policy