Questions for Rabbis Kirshner and Engelmayer

Questions for Rabbis Kirshner and Engelmayer

I wish to respond to some points made by Rabbis Kirshner and Engelmayer. Both points need clarification.

First, for Rabbi Kirshner. Which group of intermarried do you want to do outreach to (Letters, “Point counterpoint on intermarriage, July 19). Only between 1/4 and 1/3 of all intermarrieds have their primary identification. A larger group wants to have both religions present or no religion present. To make outreach to the second group risks watering down Jewish identity. Might it also be better to use all the resources you can to build a strong core of Jewish identity as opposed to bringing in people you will see several times a year.

Secondly, as far as Rabbi Engelmayer is considered, does he or does he not believe in pluralism (“Ban the mob from the Wall, not the women,” July 19)? The action of a woman putting a tallis on in a traditional or Orthodox synagogue is rude and obnoxious, not some kind of heroic act.

When you come into a place of worship, you should show respect for the beliefs for the place where you are at. It is hard to imagine woman doing a similar action at a Christian church. Similarly, currently, the Kotel is an Orthodox synagogue.

I do not disagree that the non-Orthodox and feminist groups should have better access. However, the action of the Women at the Wall is also obnoxious, rude and insulting to all Orthodox Jews in that it attempts to impose feminist values on the entire Jewish people without any kind of dialogue at all. One can also condemn the self-appointed charedi defenders of the wall and condemn the actions at the Wall. Change can only occur via dialogue and compromise, not unilateral action. In short, support for feminist values cannot override the need for good manners and pluralism