INTERCEPTED LETTER #2
DATE: Purim, 5765
TO: Members of SHICR (Society for Halakhic Innovation and Renewal)
In our last memorandum, we shared with you the groundbeaking decisions of our innovative SHICR halakhic experts. You may recall that, based on previously overlooked Biblical concerns about guarding one’s health, we were able to free many 21st century individuals from the intolerable burdens of the 15th century Shulchan Arukh. Thus, we made it halakhically possible for a woman to attend mikveh in her own bathtub should the weather be inclement; for a man to go to his business on Shabbat if absenting himself might result in economic difficulties; for Yom Kippur fasting to be limited to skipping morning coffee to prevent the possible discomforts of a full day fast. The response to these courageous decisions has encouraged us to continue our trail-blazing work.
I am today proud to announce to you that SHICR has made another exciting halakhic breakthrough, an historic decision that promises to change the course of Jewish life in America. This breakthrough is nothing less than an unprecedented assault on the soaring intermarriage rate.
So far, the various establishment attempts to address this issue – adult education, better schools,trips to Israel, Holocaust awareness – have all failed to stem the tide.
This is because we have gone about it in an unimaginative way. If the statistics are alarming, there is only one way to change these statistics: attack them frontally.
To be specific: At present, the prevailing traditional halkhic stance is thata non-Jew cannot marry a Jew unless the non-Jew converts to Judaism to the exclusion of all other faith systems.
This stance in effect makes it impossible for a serious, believing Christian to convert to Judaism, because the traditional decisors insist that one cannot become a Jew while simultaneously maintaining a belief in Christianity and in the divinity of Jesus.
In an age of tolerance and understanding, such a strict and insensitive interpretation of the halakha is unconscionable.
- Instead of opening doors, it closes them.
- Instead of being inclusive, it makes Judaism exclusive.
- And, inevitably, it has a chilling effect on conversion, and prevents many well-meaning Christians from becoming Jews. It follows logically that this attitude only increases the rates of intermarriage.
However, if creative halakhic principles were to be employed, this barrier could be easily overcome. SHICR’s reasoning is that the prophets envisioned the Messianic time when all peoples will unite under the One Gd. We therefore propose – in anticipation of the age of the Messiah – that Judaism take the courageous step of accepting anyone who wants to be a Jew – regardless of his his or her private and personal religious orientation. After all, religion is a private matter, and no one has a right to invade that privacy.
Thus, if a Christian desires to become a Jew and still maintain a belief in the divinity of Jesus – and he/she wishes to continue to attend church and to celebrate Christmas, Easter, and Lent – that person would nevertheless be accepted as a full Jew. This would be an adumbration of the coming Messianic age.
The effects of this breakthrough action would be felt immediately. Imagine the effect on intermarriage statistics if decisors were to recognize as Jews all those who wish to marry Jews, regardless of their private beliefs. The skyrocketing intermarriage rate would immediately plummet, and intermarriage as we know it would disappear — all because, unlike our hidebound halakhic predecessors — we had the vision and courage to confront the statistic directly.
We wish our many supporters a merry Purim, on which our dedication to the cause we hold dear will transform the House of Israel into a loyal SHICR community.
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