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March 11, 1988 - Image 27

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1988-03-11

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asymmetrical situation," said Hyman.
Rabbi Greenberg countered that no issue
should be non-negotiable. "Everyone
wants unity, but everyone wants the next
victory," he said.
Throughout the seven-hour conference,
there were questions, critiques, and rebut-
tals — and flashes of anger as personal feel-
ings crept into the debate.
In the end, whether or not the Jewish
people may split into two separate groups
in the future seemed less urgent than the
fact that we are, today, divided by hatred
and contempt.
Was anything accomplished by the con-
ference? Arlene Agus, a conference coor-
dinator, said that the presence of "a
broader spectrum of Jewish figures than
has ever before convened on this issue may
be evidence that we have turned the cor-
ner on the crisis." But a cynic would note
that while the participants may have felt

better after discussing the issues, the an-
tagonism among their more extreme col-
leagues will continue unabated.
Still, those who believe in Jewish denom-
inational dialogue do not expect quick
fixes or overnight miracles. They insist
that disagreement is healthy, as long as
there is respect and mutual recognition.
And they are willing to work for that goal,
one dialogue at a time.
When the conference adjourned, Rabbi
Greenberg, who is in mourning for his
mother, asked for a Ma'ariv (evening ser-
vice) minyan so that he could say Kaddish.
As most of the participants in the day-long
debate over Jewish survival and continui-
ty left for home, a small group remained
in the room, reciting the traditional
Hebrew, including the age-old prayer:
"With everlasting love, Thou hast loved the
house of Israel, Thy people . . . mayest
Thou never take away Thy love from us."

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Shadings Along The
Religious Spectrum


mong the more persistent, and
often infuriating, stereotypes that
Jews have of each other is that all
non-Orthodox Jews are by definition not
serious or knowledgeable Jews, and all Or-
thodox Jews are narrow-minded isola-
tionists. Lack of social contact encourages
such false views.
What's the difference between a
modern Orthodox Jew and a right-wing
Orthodox Jew? lb an outsider it may
seem that all Orthodox Jews share the
same views, but there are vast differences
between and among them.
Similarly, there are distinctions be-
tween traditional Conservative and more
liberal Conservative Jews, and similar
distinctions among Reform Jews.
At the risk of oversimplifying and label-
ing here, let us note that the key
theological distinction among Jews is
whether or not they believe in the Divini-
ty of the lbrah. Those who believe that
the Tbrah is God-written are, for the most
part, Orthodox. Those who believe that
the Torah was written by men, whether
Divinely inspired or not, fall into the
categories of Conservative, Reform or
Within the Orthodox movement, those
who advocate the practice and study of
lbrah while at the same time embracing
secular knowledge are known as centrist
or modern Orthodox. Yeshiva University
is the main educational institution
representing this viewpoint, calling for a
synthesis of traditional Jewish and
Western teachings. Its motto is "lbrah
U'Maadah," or lbrah and knowledge, and
it divides its day between yeshiva train-
ing in the morning followed by college

-.lasses in the afternoon. Graduates are
encouraged to pursue professional careers
while maintaining their observance. Most
modern Orthodox Jews advocate strong
support for the State of Israel.
Those Orthodox Jews who advocate
the most strict interpretations of
Halacha are often referred to as the right-
wing. They tend to reject secular culture
and view the university with attitudes
ranging from unease to contempt. They
are often aligned with the Agudath Israel
movement, which is neutral on support
for the State of Israel (because it is not
governed by Orthodox precepts.) The ma-
jor educational institution symbolizing
this viewpoint is the yeshiva, focusing on
the study of Talmud, and emulating the
world of pre-Holocaust Eastern Europe.
Written off less than two decades ago
as a dying breed, the right-wing element
of Orthodoxy has enjoyed a major resur-
gence through ba'al teshuvas, returnees
to the fold, and a national shift towards
The Conservative movement has
become divided in recent years, primari-
ly over the issue of women rabbis and can-
tors. The creation of the Union for Tradi-
tional Conservative Judaism, a break-
away from the United Synagogue move-
ment, gave official voice to those Conser-
vative Jews who advocate a traditional
viewpoint on matters of religious
While Reform Jews remain under one
organization, the Union of American
Hebrew Congregations, they are divided
internally over support for patrilineal des-
cent and rabbinical participation in inter-
marriage ceremonies.



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