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Monday, July 23, 2007

Eruv Enmity

Reading this article in the Forward this week, about the new Eruv installed in Palo Alto, CA, was...well, eye-opening. The fact that any opposition exists to the idea of an Eruv isn't exactly shocking, considering the news coverage in recent years of a similar brouhaha over a proposed Eruv in Tenafly, NJ (supporters of the Eruv eventually won the right to erect one - in heated battles against the town of Tenafly). What shocks me here is some of the rhetoric that a battle over a request to install some invisible fishing wire has spawned. To wit:
“We look upon the eruv as a violation of our right to live in a spiritual environment of our own choice,” city resident Walton McMillan commented July 6 on the Palo Alto Weekly’s Web site, where debates have raged. “The eruv forces upon us the necessity to live in a community devoted to the worship of a god foreign to our understanding and devotion. We should not be required to live in a spiritual community which has habitually turned its back on the sacred and sublime for thousands of years.”
Um..how's that again? It can't possibly be that simply knowing the almost invisible Eruv is there will "force" its opponents to do much of anything. Or this choice comment:
Joe Webb from the nearby affluent enclave of Woodside vocally opposed the eruv last time, and he minces no words now. “We live in a modern, secular, democratic world, and these wackos are trying to catapult us back into a 2,000-years-ago kind of deal,” he said in an interview with the Forward, citing “the sneaky way that these folks do things.”

“The big thing at the time was declaring this area Jewish space — absurd! It’s not Christian space, it’s not communist space, it’s not Republican space, it’s not Nazi space. If they want to have religious space, go to synagogue,” he said, adding that he has “washed my hands of it…. If people want to allow Jews to run all over them, that’s their prerogative.”
Riiight. The "sneaky way these folks do things". "Jews running all over them".

Some of these comments are outright scary and clearly show how a dispute such as this can play right into the festering anti-Semitic or anti-Orthodox feelings some might already be harboring. But other comments show how misunderstood the concept of an Eruv really is. A "Jewish space"? I have never heard any halachic discussion of how an Eruv proclaims the area it surrounds "Jewish" - it's usually just a matter of "enclosing" a public space, often by suspending invisible wires from already existing utility poles, thus creating a technical designation that allows Observant Jews to carry items outside on Shabbat.

Perhaps, in cases like this, a bit more clarification is in order as to what purpose an Eruv actually serves. Then again, there is no amount of clarification (or tolerance-teaching, for that matter) that might help those who are complaining about "wacko" Jews and their "sneaky way of doing things", and how to not "allow Jews to run all over them".

104 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

While not totally on topic, do articles like the one in this past weeks NY Times magazine help jews either??

11:45 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

for those who didn't read the feldman article see here

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/07/22/magazine/22yeshiva-t.html?_r=1&oref=slogin

11:54 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

and here is an excellent response to Feldman that was sent to my inbox:

To the editors;
I was disturbed that you chose to print the diatribe of Noah Feldman. Virtually all of us are disenchanted with institutions, yet few of our disillusions are deemed meritorious to merit publication in the New York Times. Secondly, this article is designed to foment anti-Semitism through a false depiction of Jewish law.
I am a Jewish physician who trained in Boston, and came to Modern Orthodoxy in Boston through a Jewish community heavily influenced by the Maimonides School, the same institution where Noah Feldman acquired his dislike of Judaism. In his article, Mr Feldman quotes discussions of violating the Sabbath to save life. What Mr Feldman fails to mention is that Judaism places a great deal of emphasis on action over intention. With this in mind, I know of no Jewish physician who refuses to treat non-Jewish patients on the Sabbath. During the recent earthquakes in Turkey, and the bombing of our embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, Israeli rescuers worked on the Sabbath to save lives of non-Jews.The organs of Jewish medical student Ari Jessner, who was blown up by a suicide bomber, were implanted into Palestinian children who needed kidneys. Mr Feldman's misrepresentation of Jewish law is expressedly for the purpose of creating anti-Semitism.
Mr Feldman has made choices that openly repudiate his Orthodox upbringing and the values of the Maimonides School which he attended. The laws of this country grant him the freedom to do so. The Maimonides School has the right to repudiate individuals that repudiate their values. Mr Feldman has no right to compel a school to accept his values. Removal of pictures is a time honored method that institutions use to dissociate themselves from individuals whose actions they find objectionable. For instance, there are no portraits at the US Military Academy of the person who commanded West Point in 1780. His name was Benedict Arnold.
Sincerely yours,
Jack L Arbiser, MD,PhD

-- Jack L. Arbiser, MD, PhD
Associate Professor
Department of Dermatology, Emory University School of Medicine
Winship Cancer Institute
1639 Pierce Drive WMB 5309
Atlanta, GA 30322

12:00 PM  
Anonymous Observer said...

Ah, where to begin? As to the eruv -- this issue always seems to bring both anti-semitism, and more often, anti-religious bias from unaffiliated or irreligious Jews to the forefront. Although, as member of a qwuircky sect that has "habitually turned its back on the sacred and sublime for thousands of years,” what is my observation worth anyway?

As to the Feldman article, I don't get people's problem with it. I don't know any MO Jew that hasn't struggled with the intilectual-theological issues presented by trying to exist in both worlds (orthodox and secular). Other than his gratuitous tfillin comment, I thought the article was very respectful of Modorn Orthodoxy. As to Maimonides removing Feldman and his wilfe from the picture, I don't think Feldman or anyone else has claimed the school didn't have the right to do so, the question is should they have done so. Were they removed from the picture because Feldman's wife is Asian and not Jewish (although the article didn't expressly say she hadn't converted, that is certainly implied), or simply because she is not Jewish. If she were Italian or Irish and "looked like everyone else" in the picture, would they still have been removed? Does Maimonides remove pictures of alumni who have been convicted of a crime or committed adultry? On the other hand I get Maimonides' position too (and so does Feldman). Marriage, kashruth and shabbat/yom tov are the cina qua non (sp?) of MO observance. MOs "pick and choose" on many issues and a wide range of practices are accpeted. Those three however, seem to be non-negotiable. I get that too. Whether Maimonides (the school, not the Rambam) was right or not, I don't understand why people take offense at Feldman's thoughtful and soul-searching piece.

12:16 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Trust me, to most people, an eruv does not stir up anti-semitic feelings. Instead, to those "in the know"(including secular jews) it only further reaffirms that you are out and out fanatics.

Stockings for ten year old girls in camp. Stylish wigs for head coverings. No greeting each other or leather shoes this week (Tisha B'AV). The horrors of mixing meat and cheese. The slurpee controversy. The list is endless.

12:26 PM  
Blogger Jacob Da Jew said...

Oh please, Anon 12:26pm.

An eruv is some flimsy line that you wouldn't even notice if you haven't known about it.

Don't mix stockings (mostly Chassidish custom) with a general Orthodox custom, MO or not.

12:29 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

" Anonymous said...

Trust me, to most people, an eruv does not stir up anti-semitic feelings. Instead, to those "in the know"(including secular jews) it only further reaffirms that you are out and out fanatics.

Stockings for ten year old girls in camp. Stylish wigs for head coverings. No greeting each other or leather shoes this week (Tisha B'AV). The horrors of mixing meat and cheese. The slurpee controversy. The list is endless. "

Anon 12:26 - your tolerance for other people's customs astounds me. You must be a nice person to be around.

12:37 PM  
Anonymous Observer said...

Anon 12:26. Anti-semitism (and self-loathing perhaps) is not reflected by those who think the use of an eruv is for fanatics, religious crazies, or whatever pejorative you choose to use. The issue of bias arises when those people are so bothered by orthodox Jews that they go to great lengths to keeps some invisible (are barely visible) string from being hung in their neighborhoods by a private group of religious practicioners. What bias-free reason is their for such opposition to a religious practice that in no way effects them except, perhaps, for making the community more appealing to Orthodox Jews. AHHHHHH. Got it?

12:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm a former Tenafly resident and thus felt compelled to comment/clarify.
The opposition was not to the eruv itself, but rather to the installation by the electrical company, a public company. From the article linked, it seems like the opposition is a more fundamental one to the presence of an eruv.
Personally, I think having an eruv causes absolutely no harm to nonobservant/nonjewish people and having it makes the community a more welcoming, open place for a wider variety of people. And that's a good thing.

1:02 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"The Yiddish Policemen's Union" did a good job of explaining what an eruv is, but The kind of people who would make these comments would never read it.

1:03 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Noah Feldman piece wasn't a "diatribe" nor was it likely to promote anti-Semitism. I think the point of it was to say that MO thinks that it is part of the world but the world comes to it on its own terms. I liked the part where he read the Puritans and saw how much they were in debt to Tanach: one of the positive things about MO is that it can see that Jews are in harmony with American life. I think it will be used by less observant Jews to say that the Orthodox are hypocrites, and nobody else will care about it.

1:06 PM  
Anonymous Boomer said...

The Palo Alto story indicates that on the West Coast old time Christian anti-Semitism is alive and sick. We had grown so accustomed in the East to anti-Semitism of the Jewish kind that we forgot about the Christian variety. Even the friends of Israel types, it should be noted, had to be booted off Israeli television according to today's news because they were proselitizing (what a surprise!). Feldman was one of the attorneys for the Eruv enemies in Tenafly. Their failure and his to stop that Eruv led to the revival of the Palo Alto Eruv.

As for Feldman, I have some observations:

1.He had to know the piece was being published just before Tisha B'Av. Vlamalshinim...

2.Where are his parents in the diatribe? Ours is a family based religion. When he made the Rubicon-crossing decision to date and then marry a Shiksa (and clearly not a Ger or Maimonides would not have treated her as any different than any other Jewess), not only did he have enough training to understand he was going from Saul to Paul but he must have confronted the pain to his mama and papa and apparently did not think twice about it.

3.Purim is Feldman's favorite holiday, as it was mine at the age of four. Hemingway coined the expression "a case of arrested development" to describe the Shiksa-chasing Robert Cohn in "The Sun Also Rises." Feldman is a case of an "id"ishe Yid in full developmental arrest.

4. Why would he want to have his children's births recorded by an Orthodox institution? They are not Jews.

5. Had he privately left his thoughts with an analyst, he might have spared his brethren much pain.

6. Feldman was George Bush's man in Iraq whose responsibility it was to make that cesspool a Constitutional democracy. Now we can understand.

1:11 PM  
Blogger Steg (dos iz nit der šteg) said...

Boomer:

using the sh— word makes you sound no more of a mensch than Feldman.


on the topic of this post, on the other hand...

don't forget the horrible fights *among* religious jewish communities between people who want to make an eruv and people who hold that eruvin don't work in their neighborhood.

1:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Stop Ostracizing Those Who Marry Out

by Rabbi Shmuley Boteach

This column would not have been written had its subject not first described himself and his predicament in this week's in New York Times magazine.

Noah Feldman was a brilliant, orthodox Jewish Rhodes scholar who arrived in Oxford in my forth year at the University as Rabbi in 1992. He and I quickly hit it off. For one thing, there was scarcely a subject - Jewish or secular - upon which Noah did not have some profound knowledge. We studied Talmud together several times a week and I made Noah a kind of secondary Rabbi at our L'Chaim Society, such was the range of his Jewish erudition and his phenomenal capacity for teaching. His resume easily made him one of the most accomplished young students in the entire Western world. He was valedictorian of Harvard, a Rhodes and Truman scholar, and completed his Oxford doctorate in about eighteen months, which may or may not be a University record. It was a source of great pride for me that Noah was observant and wore a Yarmulke. A student that gifted was a natural leader to others and was looked up to by so many of the other students. We all marveled every Shabbat at Noah's incredible ability to lein (read with its proper notes) any section of the Torah for our student Synagogue.

After graduating from Oxford, Noah went to Yale where his observance began to wane. I heard from some of his class mates that he was now dating a non-Jewish girl. Hearing that he was quite serious about her, when his girlfriend came in turn to Oxford as a Marshall scholar, I made a point of reaching out to her and inviting her to our Shabbat dinner. My thinking was that Noah was far too precious to me and to the Jewish people to lose. If he was dating a woman whom he wished to marry, then it was our duty to try and expose her to the friendliness of the Jewish community with a view toward her exploring whether a serious commitment to our tradition was something that would suit her.

Sadly, however, others took a far different view. A mutual friend of ours who was a Rabbi in Noah's life essentially told him that if he married outside the faith he would have to sever his relationship with him. Apparently, many of Noah's orthodox friends made the same decision. The net result was that one of the brightest young Jews in the entire world was made to feel that the Jewish community was only his family if he made choices with which we agreed.

I took a different view. Of course I wanted Noah to marry Jewish, and I took pride in the fact that I had helped to sustain his observance in his two years at Oxford. But the choice of whom he would marry was not mine to make. Before he got married I wrote him a note that said, in essence, that we are friends and that my affection for him would never change. I told him that he was a prince of the Jewish nation, that his obligations to his people were eternal and unchanging, that whether or not his wife, or indeed his children were Jewish would never change his own personal status as a Jew and that, as a scholar of world standing, I knew he would do great things with his life and that he would should always put the needs of the Jewish people first.
Till today we remain good friends. I admire and respect Noah and my wish is that perhaps, some day, his brilliant wife might see, of her own volition, the beauties of our tradition and how family life is enhanced by husband and wife being of the same faith and practicing the same religious rituals.

True to my prediction, Noah when on, in his thirties, to become one of the youngest ever tenured law professors, first at NYU and then at Harvard, and was chosen by the American government to serve as the constitutional consultant for the Iraqi provisional government in drawing up their constitution. Today he ranks, arguably, as the youngest academic superstar in the United States.
How tragic, therefore, that his article in the New York Times magazine is a lengthy detailing of the alienation he has experienced from his former orthodox Jewish day school and friends, who even cut him out of a class reunion photograph in which he participated.

For more than two centuries now, since the emancipation, Jews have been debating how to deal with those who marry outside the community. The conventional response has been to treat them as traitors to the Jewish cause. We are all familiar with the old practice of sitting shiva on a child who marries out, as if he or she were dead, made famous in Fiddler on the Roof. The extreme practice of ostracization was justified by the belief that only by completely cutting off those who married out would we be making a sufficiently strong statement as to the extent of their betrayal, thereby dissuading those who might follow suit.

There is one problem with this practice. Aside from the ethical and humanitarian considerations, it does not work. We have been practicing this alienation for decades and yet intermarriage has grown to approximately fifty percent of the Jewish population! Worse, the practice is a lie insofar as it propagates the false notion that our Jewishness is measured only in terms of our being a link in a higher chain of existence, and that our Jewish identities have meaning only through our children. This absurd notion would deny they idea of Jewish individualism and how we are Jews in our own right.

I am well aware of the fact that intermarriage is a direct threat to the very continuity of the Jewish people. But that does not change the fact that those who have chosen to marry out are still Jewish, should still be encouraged to go to Synagogue, should still be encouraged to put on tefillin and keep Shabbat, should still have mezuzos on their doors, and should still be encouraged to devote their lives and resources to the welfare of the Jewish people and the security of the State of Israel.

And as far as their non-Jewish spouses are concerned, do we really believed that by showing the most unfriendly behavior we are living up to our Biblically-mandated role of serving as a light unto the nations? Is there any possibility that a non-Jew who is married to a Jew would look favorably at the possibility of becoming halakhically Jewish if they witness orthodox Jews treating their husband or wife as pariahs?

I am proud today to call Noah my friend. I do my best to reiterate to him the message that, amid marrying out, we are proud of his achievements and need his participation in Jewish organizational life, especially given the immense clout he carries in academic circles. And it is my fervent hope that, given the love and respect that we show him, he will choose to show his wife and two children the glories of the tradition he knows so well with a view toward impressing upon them a desire to have them join in our eternal faith.

Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, who served as Rabbi at Oxford for 11 years, is a national TV host and the author, most recently, of 'Shalom in the Home' (Meredith). www.shmuley.com

1:31 PM  
Anonymous Fox said...

As a guest at someone's home many years ago, I had the experience of watching a the grandson of one of America's greatest gedolim explain patiently to his children, from toddler to age 10, that one was not allowed to carry on Shabbos. Seems that they lived in a community with a completely uncontroversial eruv, and not carrying on Shabbos was simply not fully understood by most kids.

I made up my mind then and there that even if an eruv were available, we would not use it. Admittedly, the years when my children were not always easy, but I am very happy with my decision.

With my bona-fides in place as a non-eruv-user, it appears to me that the anti-eruv activism by non-frum Jews is the dying gasp of various failed Jewish experiments. They see the statistics, they witness the aging of their congregations and organizations, and they "see the handwriting on the wall" (to use a Christian metaphor). Making a fuss about an eruv is one of the few ways they can assert themselves in a world in which they feel increasingly irrelevant. And if a few non-Jewish motivated by anti-Semitism or just plain anti-religious sentiments join up ... well, politics makes strange bedfellows.

1:36 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i am going to use Feldmans article to focus on my families commitment to yiddishkite.. we live in a very mixed MO community and around our Shabbos table are ALWAYS people who went off the derech or never were frum.My children have learnt the beauty of our religion not just from their rebbaim and parents but from seeing a fellow jew light candles and make kiddush for the first time... we need to show our children the beauty of Judaism. Sometimes it can only be appreciated by looking in the eyes of those who dont know... Have an easy fast..

1:40 PM  
Anonymous Boomer said...

Rabbi Boteach has not explained the hostile act of marrying out. The more frum Feldman was, the smarter he was...the less explicable it is for him to have abandoned normative Yiddishkeit and still to want acceptance. You can't have that particular kichel and eat it too. AND HE KNEW THAT.

Can Rabbi B shed light on the parents question?

Female Gentile= Shiksa. Why make a big deal out of a word? Is Goya better or is even Gentile a problem for Steg?

1:45 PM  
Blogger Larry Lennhoff said...

Actually, as I understand tractate Eruvin, the space enclosed by an eruv must be under Jewish control. Many community eruvs include signing a lease agreement for the town. From the Boston Ervu FAQ:


After all legal contracts with all the utilities, agencies, organization and all are completed, the "reshut" (permission) to lease the land located within the Eruv for a pretty long time (we used 99 years) must be secured.

We created a certificate-sized document attesting to the fact that for the transfer of 1 silver dollar between the Greater Boston Eruv Corporation and each of the entities with whom we needed to create the lease, that the area within the Eruv would belong to the GBEC for only the purpose of carrying on Shabbat and Yom Tov that falls on Shabbat and Yom Kippur.

This document and the silver dollar attached to its face (all within a nice frame) was handed to the representative of the relevant organization (e.g., governor, mayor) and a "kinyan" was made. That is, the certificate was placed in the hand of the individual and they raised it up from our hand signifying that they were taking ownership of the certificate and were agreeing to the terms written within the certificate.

2:06 PM  
Blogger Soccer Dad said...

The comment's not so strange. (Illogical, yes, but not unusual.) I remember something very similar said during the controversy over the Belle Harbor eruv.

3:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't understand why people take offense at Feldman's thoughtful and soul-searching piece.

I think the issue goes deeper than that.

(a) The place it was written - While Feldman is a regurlar in the NY Times, this place of publication says alot.

(b) His critisism is absured. Dr's being mechallal shabbat, only for Jews?? Come on.

Those who quoted Shmully Botaech. Come on, is he a true moral compass??

3:24 PM  
Anonymous Observer said...

Anon 3:24 -- since you were responding to my queery, I respond to yours. A) If your problem is not with the content of the piece but rather where it was published, then your dispute seems to be rather minor. In any event,where better to publish -- Maimonides alumini magazine, Tradition, YI's Viewpoint, Journal of Halacha and Contemporary Society? If the piece was published anyplace you think acceptable do you really think the article would have provoked much thought or discussion?

b) I was with a Dr. yesterday (YU grad) who told me (in the course of discussing the Feldman article)that the only basis he learned that it was acceptable to be mechalel shabbat for non-Jews was for the second reason cited by Feldman; he thought the more general humanist basis was not halchically accepted. He and Feldman might be wrong (I don't know the sources well enough to say), but I don't think their opinions on the matter absurd.

3:52 PM  
Anonymous Al Gore said...

and they "see the handwriting on the wall" (to use a Christian metaphor).

That is not Christian expression or metaphor. It's from the Book of Daniel.

4:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

OBSERVER - I am sure that Feldman didn't shop this article to the OU, National Council or other MO org that has a newsletter. The libs at the Times were more then happy to oblige his anti jewish rant.

Regarding Dr's, nither nor Feldman is qualified to make that decision.

4:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

but I don't think their opinions on the matter absurd.


Whats was absurd was for Feldman to bring up an unsettled issue as proof that he is bing persecuted. For a well learned lawyer he missed the boat on that one.

4:52 PM  
Anonymous Fox said...

Thanks for the link, Al -- you are totally correct! I'm laughing, though, because I used the expression a few months ago, and I was pulled aside by an older woman who suggested I not use the metaphor because of its Christian association. I *thought* it had an origin in Tanach but I'm not learned enough to put my finger on it. Like an idiot, I didn't look it up -- I just figure *I* was wrong.

5:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"The libs at the Times" comment distracts from the fact that Feldman went to Iraq at Bush's request to write a constitution to create Arab Democracy there. Sounds like Neo-con stuff to me.

5:19 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

But he still considers him slef a Goreite, and in fact he only satyed with Bremer for a short time, before becoming a "private" consultant

5:51 PM  
Anonymous lineman said...

The ownership required is only symbolic in nature. So much so that there is no need for a contract.

7:33 PM  
Blogger margalit said...

I lived in the PA area the first time the eruv was shut down by the antisemites in the Bay Area. I would guess you're unfamiliar with just how bad that area is, how impossible it is to live there as a Jew, and how the secular Jews were the worst fighters against the eruv. It was a disgusting, negative, emotional brouhaha filled with lies and inuendos about the Jews trying to take over. It was mortifying. So bad, in fact, that many Jewish families left. We were among those that couldn't wait to get out of there.

There is a reason the bay area has the highest intermarriage rate in the country (80+%). There is a reason that the shuls are so unsupportive of their congregants. There is a reason that the Jewish camps admit more non-Jews than Jews. There is a reason that the Jewish day school in Shallow Alto refused to allow Kippot on boys, making my son and one other kid stand out like laughingstock.

The reason is that the bay area was founded by the Reform movement, and it went liberal from there. The Reform is more like Unitarians, the Conservative are more like Reform, and the Modern O shul is more like east coast Conservative.

The lack of a Kosher store, the lack of decent Jewish support networks, schools, and even other Jews makes it an impossible place to live. Me, I just hope the big earthquake comes and knocks the entire Bay Area into the sea. But that's just me!

11:01 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I live in a community where the decision whether or not to build and eruv wasn't even a question for consideration. It was a recognized communal need. The eruv doesn't make extensive use of utility poles, as it sits on its own stanchions in all but perhaps two or three segments.

Of course, I live on a yishuv in Eretz Yisrael...

4:45 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

but why are you so surprised. mo don't always make for the best neighbors. we are a community that is really just interested in the real estate. we keep to ourselves, shop in our own stores, send our children to our own schools and really don't participate in the surrounding community. in areas outside of ny we are a minority. look at what happened in the 5 towns. we voted against the school budget for years and did little to make our neighbors like us. look at the monsey area - you don't see many non frum wanting to move in there.

8:25 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Reading postings like this make me question: don't people realize they belong in Israel, where eruvs are not an issue??? Speaking about seeing the writing on the wall.... when the going gets tough, get out and make your move to where you belong!!!! There are no eruv issues, kosher issues, yom tov issues in the promised land!
And some will read this and think it's a really stupid comment....

8:41 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

" Anonymous said...

but why are you so surprised. mo don't always make for the best neighbors. we are a community that is really just interested in the real estate. we keep to ourselves, shop in our own stores, send our children to our own schools and really don't participate in the surrounding community. in areas outside of ny we are a minority. look at what happened in the 5 towns. we voted against the school budget for years and did little to make our neighbors like us. look at the monsey area - you don't see many non frum wanting to move in there. "

Uh, are you referring to MO, as in Modern Orthodox? Because you are betraying your lack of belonging to the 5T community when you try to throw out phrases that just don't make sense. Nice try.

8:50 AM  
Blogger Sunhouse said...

I wasn't going to say it, but Anon 4:45 opened the floodgates.

We have a very nice Mehadrin Eruv here in Bet Shemesh without any controversy. We also have eight public Mikva'ot and dozens of private ones, there is a Mikve within easy walking distance of anyone who needs one. Information available in English here:

http://www.shemesh.co.il/eruv/indexe.htm

All built, financed and operated with taxpayer dollars, LOL, would infuriate any red-blooded American Church-State Separatist.

As for the Noach Feldman discussion, maybe I missed it, but he never tells us about the current status of his relationship with his maker.

It appears that for him, Yiddishkeit is a purely external intellectual pursuit.

If he had internalized his Yiddishkeit at some point, it is unlikely that he would have married out.

To me, he just comes off looking like a rather elitist, snobbish intellectual.

Not that he'll get far with that attitude in Olam Haba.

10:15 AM  
Anonymous Observer said...

Anon 4:50. "anti jewish rant?" I guess we read different pieces. The Piece that ran in sunday's N.Y. Times Magazine by Feldman was about his love and respect for judaism and Modern Orthodoxy and his feeling of hurt that he has been somewhat ostracized because of a personal decision concerning who to marry. His piece was pro-Jewish and reflective concerning the somewhat dichotomous nature of MO Judaism. Moreover, he also set forth the MO position regarding intermarriage and somewhat defended the principle. He never advocated intermarriage or disagreed with the notion that it was wrong for the community as a whole, rather he is hurt by his ostracism. As to the Dr. issue -- he didn't give a psak, in fact, he positied that the MO position on the issue is clear, it is simply the rationale for the decision that was discussed in detail.
Anon 4:52: as I read the piece, Feldman didn't raise the Dr. issue to show he was being "persecuted." (unless your theory is that the purpose of the pice as a whole was to show he was being "persecuted," in which case we simply read it diferently). He certainly raised the photo cropping issue to show his ostracism.

10:19 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree with Observer. When I read the piece in the Times I thought that I must have been reading the wrong thing, this couldn't possibly be what everyone was ranting about here. This guy hurt, and I can understand why. Amazing that anybody would deem this anti-Semitic -- I saw it as just the opposite. He still wants to feel connected to a community that will no longer accept him.

10:45 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

He wants to feel connected to the community? Then why did he intermarry? Sounds like a cheating spouse who still considers his or her marriage "important".

11:32 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Although I am certainly not a cheerleader for intermarriage, I object to your assumption that somebody who intermarries no longer considers Judaism important. I have a friend who married a non-Jew and he most certainly still cared about Judaism. In fact, his wife learned enough to know that she wanted to be a Jew as well, and she converted. Aside from that issue, why shouldn't someone feel connected to a school that he attended and think that he will rightfully be included in alumni materials? We don't divorce a school even if we no longer are as deeply involved that the level of our fellow alumni. You don't divorce your entire life and history when you make atypical choices, even ones that others find disturbing.

11:53 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This guy hurt, and I can understand why. Amazing that anybody would deem this anti-Semitic

Again, as stated by others its all in how u read it. To me he made his own bed. Despite his upbringing, love of learning and desire to fit in, he turned his back on a basic concept of MO. There are other branches of judasim which honor his lifestyle, just not the one that he wants to be assocaited with. Does that mean that Miamonidies is turning its back on him, or did he turn his back on them??

12:55 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

We don't divorce a school even if we no longer are as deeply involved that the level of our fellow alumni. You don't divorce your entire life and history when you make atypical choices, even ones that others find disturbing.

Except consider the last sentence of Dr Jack L Arbiser, MD,PhD' s letter:

"For instance, there are no portraits at the US Military Academy of the person who commanded West Point in 1780. His name was Benedict Arnold. "


I would say that Arnold may not have divorced his school, but his school divorced him.

12:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hmmm...Benedict Arnold plotted to surrender to the British, putting our entire nation (at the time) in danger, including numerous soldiers. Feldman married a non-Jew. How delusional must we be to find the situations similar? What's next, comparing Feldman to Hitler because, by intermarrying, it's as if he is killing off millions of Jews?

Also, correct me if I'm wrong, but didn't Feldman also say that her appearance (which was Asian) was what tipped them off? Did they talk to him and even find out whether she was Jewish, or did her obvious facial features make her unacceptable to the alumni? How did they know that she wasn't in the process of conversion, or maybe even come from a Jewish family? Yes, we know that she isn't Jewish, but did they? Even if they did know, they had no right to determine that his crime was so severe that his presence at the gathering was evidence to be eradicated.

So extreme, so 1984ish.

1:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nowadays there are many Korean gerim. No one would have thought twice had that been the case.

Yes, intermarriage is an attempt to give Hitler a posthumous victory and Feldman was raised to know that. It was an absolute red line he knowingly crossed.

I do not understand sympathy for him and his desire to havre things both ways.

1:33 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So now we practice excommunication if somebody intermarries? We have more and more in common with right-wing Christianity as time goes by.

If you want to say that intermarriage gives Hitler a victory, let me expand on that. When a Jewish person or a particular Jewish group get so judgmental, exclusionary and dogmatic that their brethren (or almost brethren) get totally repelled and run from Judaism and the Jewish people, then it is a posthumous victory for Hitler and everyone else who has tried to squelch or destroy us.

1:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Feldman intermarried to make a statement. He could have easily found a Jewish girl, but deliberately chose not to. Now he's shocked shocked shocked that he's considered a persona non grata?

1:55 PM  
Anonymous Observer said...

"Feldman intermarried to make a statement. He could have easily found a Jewish girl, but deliberately chose not to."

You have got to be kidding, right? You know what Feldman was thinking and why he married his wife. You know it wasn't because that is who he fell in love with but because he wanted to make a "statement." Wow, your clairvoyance is astounding. I would say more, but it is tisha b'av so I will stop here, besides, I guess you know what I am thinking anyway.

2:01 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This whole exchange on the "horrors" of inter-marriage flirts dangerously close to the ideals of white seperatism.

Disgusting!

2:33 PM  
Anonymous Boomer said...

I can't tell if it is one idiot or several that can't tell the difference between racism and intermarriage. Many gerim have entered the Jewish people at different times including the current era. If a person comes to Judaism who is Asian, Black or anything else that person will be accepted, in Lakewood as well as Brookline. When a yeshiva trained adult has been to graduate school at Oxford with a kippah, he knows better than to date and thereby chance "falling in love" with a woman who has not previously chosen to become Jewish.

If he wishes to do teshuva and his wife is interested in converting, they will both be accepted.

2:45 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Look, God's representative has stated the rules! Thanks, Boomer.

2:50 PM  
Anonymous Observer said...

Wow, I am writing a lot today (I guess it helps me ignore the hunger pangs). Anon 2:33 - you are way off base: the MO position (as well as all other strands of orthodoxy and Conservative judaism) views on intermarriage are in no way close to ideals of white seperatism. White seperatism by definition, is racist. Jewish views on intermarriage have nothing to do with race. Under Jewish law, a convert is considered to be a full member of the Jewish People. Thus race, background and national origin have nothing to do with the question if intermarriage. It is simply a question of the self-preservation of the Jewish People. Since under Jewish law, a Jew can marry a person of any background, white, balck, yellow anything and everything else, so long as they are Jewish, how is it close to white seperatism? Moreover, intermarriage has alway seemed to me to be a somewhat narcisistic act. For thousands of years our ancestors married only Jews to ensure the continuity of our people and now, because someone is smitten (not merely to make a "statement" anon 1:55), he or she will take it upon him or herself to break that chain that has lasted for thousands of years? I know people have the right to do whatever they want, doesn't mean that their choices doen't have implications. As Tevye said in Fiddler with respect to this issue: on the other hand .. there is no other hand." That is why for traditional Jews, intermarriage is taboo, no ifs, ands, or buts.

2:52 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

God is in the details, according to Halachic Judaism. If you ignore the details you ultimately have nothing left but Woody Allen.

2:55 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Live and let live.

2:56 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just wanted to respond to Margalit's rant about Jews and antisemitism in the Bay Area. Berkeley, CA, supposedly the epicenter of anti-semitism in the Bay Area has an eruv. There were almost no complaints when it was set up.

Yes there is antisemitism behind the Palo Alto eruv problems, but there's also a strong strain of idiotic not-in-my-backyard behavior and a push against any type of change. It's hard to tell how much of the problems have come from which group.

3:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

some of you folks are so judgemental about folks whose beliefs differ from yours that it's almost no wonder that people don't want to live with you. you don't seem to want to live with each other either! to bring up the subject of nazis when disecting someone else's life and marriage - now that's just plain sick.

3:30 PM  
Anonymous Rick said...

I also take issue with Margalit's statements. In the Bay Area, there are four orthodox minyanim on shabbat that I know of, quite a few Jewish schools, kosher resteraunts and supermarkets...No it's not New York, but it's a nice community, much more open and welcoming than from what I gather OM's community is like.

Yes we have problems with our neighbors. I had to go to a city council meeting to defend a school's petition for upgrades in the the buildings, and one of the neighbors against the plan said, "it's not the Jews we are against, no no, it's their Jewish cars!" I mean, how do you fight ignorance and hatred like that?

3:34 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Go here for a good discussion of the Feldman article. Gil is right on.

5:35 PM  
Blogger Larry Lennhoff said...

So now we practice excommunication if somebody intermarries?

If Feldman had been excommunicated, he wouldn't have been allowed to come to the reunion. Instead the school steered a middle path, allowing contact (and thus providing a way for him to come to teshuvah) while refusing to publicize him (by appearing in newsletters etc.).

6:34 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

""Hmmm...Benedict Arnold plotted to surrender to the British, putting our entire nation (at the time) in danger, including numerous soldiers. Feldman married a non-Jew. How delusional must we be to find the situations similar? What's next, comparing Feldman to Hitler because, by intermarrying, it's as if he is killing off millions of Jews?""

I also think the comparison had quite a bit of hyperbole in it, but Feldman did "kill off" a bunch of Jews - every one of his descendants will now not be Jewish because he chose to marry a non-Jewish woman!

7:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's not off base to equate the whole anti inter-marriage sentiment with white seperatism because the theories and practices of your beliefs are essentially the same.

Marry your OWN. Live next to your OWN. Send kids to school with your OWN. etc. etc.

Why is it more palatable if religion is interjected into the equation?

Give me a break and wake up.

8:13 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Enough. You are too stupid to understand that there is a mechanism to become one of us, whereas the separatists you refer to will not allow for conversion.

9:55 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anon 9:55

"one of us"

And you're too brain washed to understand there really is no difference.

You're practices are essentially the same thing.

"Us and them" in just about ALL aspects of life.

And for the record, I'm talking specifically about Orthodox Judaism.

5:28 AM  
Blogger Steg (dos iz nit der šteg) said...

Female Gentile= Shiksa. Why make a big deal out of a word? Is Goya better or is even Gentile a problem for Steg?

"sh—sa" is derogatory.

of course, the other words can also be derogatory, depending on how you use them. for instance, "goy" is frequently derogatory, "shv—tza" always so.

8:15 AM  
Anonymous Boomer said...

Steg-

I agree about the Shv word but absolutely do not see anything derogatory about any term merely indicating non-Judaism.

If a Polish person calls me Yid--or zhid-- it is derogatory. But if I speak of Yidin it is not derogatory.

I think the failure to distinguish between Jews and non-Jews in terms of Religious status is the cause of the inter-dating that leads to intermarriage.

One thing alluded to by Feldman that is correct is that too easy a breaking of bread leads to situations devoutly to be avoided.

10:19 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

hey joe webb the answer is simple just keep cutting the eruv down to keep these sneaky wacko filthy people out

10:57 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The need to use a utility's or township's services to maintain the eruv is simple. INSURANCE.
No phone company or elctric company will allow a non employee to climb one of its poles, because of it's fear of lawsuits. Therefore, they do the work and get paid for it. In the 5T, the "Eiruv Techumin" to allow one to walk across the AB bridge is maintained by the bridge authority just for that reason.

11:29 AM  
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T

3:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Steg - you're off base here. Either the words are derogatory or they are not. Can they be "used in a derogatory manner? Yes. Lots of words - while not derogatory in and of themselves - can be used in a derogatory fashion.
You can use "black" in a derogatory manner too right?
Doesn't mean the word itself is - it is not.

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Observer - hope yesterdays fasting and reflection has given you a Good Nechama?

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