Unhelpful comments

RABBI Jonathan Romain, of Maidenhead Synagogue, is very much the go-to spokesman when the media are seeking comments about Judaism, but he does not represent the mainstream community. Those outside British Jewry would not necessarily be aware of that and his comments are controversial to say the least, as far as Orthodox Jews are concerned.

Neither would everyone within the Reform community necessarily agree with his outspoken views on intermarriage, which he has never discouraged, seeing it as a way to boost numbers within the community. The fact that female converts would be unable to marry outside a Reform synagogue and any children born to women who are not of the faith, or who have converted, would not be considered halachically Jewish can and does, at times, cause considerable problems and distress for future generations.

Thus Rabbi Romain’s comment to a Leeds audience this week that marrying out is no longer like “sticking two fingers up against Judaism”, is unhelpful in our quest to reverse the tide of assimilation. It is a fact of life that falling in love with unsuitable partners has happened since time immemorial. There are mixed marriages that work perfectly well; there are others that don’t. There are those who convert to Judaism successfully through Orthodox batei din and there are many whose marriages fail and who do not continue to live as Jews. The same applies to Reform converts, too. But marrying in allows for a more solid Jewish foundation. Rabbi Romain, who also said he was against faith schools per se, told his audience: “I cannot legislate for whom people fall in love with. But whereas in the past if you fell in love with a non-Jewish person it was seen as two-fingers up against Judaism and rejecting Moses, now we know it is not the case.” His comments are unhelpful as the community continues to shrink.

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