The Insurmountable Divisiveness of Patrilineality

By Avi Weiss

CLAL: the National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership, March 4, 1994

The author, a modern Orthodox rabbi, responds to the tenth anniversary of the Reform Movement's decision (in 1983) to accept patrilineal descent, when accompanied by the commitment to raise the child Jewish, as an acceptable basis for Jewish identity. While acknowledging that some Orthodox figures have contributed to the atmosphere of division present in the Jewish world, he argues that the Reform movement decision on patrilineal descent is far more divisive than anything which has preceded it. No matter how great the disagreements between denominations, he notes, the children of Jews of different denominations could always marry one another. Now that unifying factor has been undermined. The author further notes that even the Reform movements in Israel, Canada and Australia have rejected the American Reform movement's decision. Furthermore, he writes, the new standard uproots the idea of Jews as being chosen by God, and replaces it with a reverse model in which people choose God. If the Reform movement continues to promote this policy instead of addressing the problem of intermarriage, it must fear for its future, the author concludes.

Topic: Theology, Halakha, Continuity, Jewish Law, Policy, Change, Jewish Identity, Liberal Judaism, Jewish Continuity, Religious Denominations, Reform Judaism, Intermarriage, Jewish Identification, Identity

Name of Publication: Sh'ma: A Journal of Jewish Ideas

Editor: Cardin, Nina Beth

Volume/Issue: Vol.24/no.469

Page Number(s): 6-7

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Genre: Article

Coverage: United States

Language: English

Copyright Holder: Publisher

Copyright Information: Download for personal use, freely distribute link

Bibliographic Information:
Weiss, Avi. The Insurmountable Divisiveness of Patrilineality. Sh'ma: A Journal of Jewish Ideas. CLAL: the National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership. 4 March 1994: 6-7.


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