One nation, one Torah

One nation, one Torah

I am an Orthodox Jew who works in a Reform temple. I believe all Jews comprise one big family. To me, pluralism means different types of people successfully cooperating to create a varied and rich whole. For example, Orthodox Jews are skilled at following Torah laws between man and God, like kashrut or Shabbat. Reform and Conservative Jews are excellent at promoting tikun olam, a betterment of the world through acts of kindness, compassion, and charity. Together, we represent one Jewish nation that is committed to Torah ideals and the improvement of the world at large.

That being said, I must remind your readers that the Torah defines a Jew. Whether we choose to focus on the laws between man and God or the laws between human beings, we are guided by the dictates of the Torah which have characterized Judaism since its inception. Jewish dedication to the perpetuation of Torah ideals and laws is what makes us the “people of the book” and what has enabled us to survive for so long when more powerful civilizations have failed. I advocate allowing people to pray and serve God as they wish, but there are certain laws in Judaism that affect our inherent Jewishness, and therefore cannot be tampered with. These include the laws governing conversion and marriage. Only the Orthodox conversion process ensures that those who convert to Judaism really understand and accept the incredible responsibility and commitment to all laws of the Torah. Marriage, too, inevitably affects our Jewishness. If a Jewish man and his non-Jewish wife have children, their children will not be Jewish according to Torah law. There is no compromise about what makes a Jew a Jew according to Torah law.

The reason the Israeli government is loath to ease the Orthodox control over such life-changing events as marriage and conversion is that doing so would literally compromise the Jewish character of the State of Israel and endanger our continuation as a Jewish nation. I understand that the situation is upsetting to Reform and Conservative Jews who view the Torah differently, but when it comes to the State of Israel and its continued Jewishness, all of us must defer to a higher power — that of God, whose Torah was given to us to define our lives and characterize us as a nation.

Jessica Savitt

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