Rabbi Charles Simon provides a breath of fresh air by calling for more openness of discussion about the Jewish community’s stance toward patrilineal Jews, even though (as he has elsewhere made clear) he personally favors the rectification of their status through halachic ritual procedures where feasible (“Rabbis should
say yes to patrilineal Jews,” Dec. 3).
Those interested in exploring alternative approaches to this matter should be aware of two recent books on the topic. One, Who Is a Jew (edited by Leonard Greenspoon, Purdue, 2014), is an anthology of thoughtful articles from different perspectives (including my own). Another, Transforming Identity: The Ritual Transition from Gentile to Jew (Sagi and Zohar, Continuum, 2007), broadens the conventional sense of the spectrum of traditional Jewish positions on this topic and opens us to new ways of viewing this cluster of issues.
Clearly, the future of the Jewish community would benefit from continued exploration of alternative solutions.
Rabbi Leonard Levin