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September 17, 2014 / 22 Elul, 5774
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An Eis La’asos – The Time is Ripe

Rabbi Eric H. Yoffie, the former president of the Union of Reform Judaism, has argued that the reform movement should look to Orthodox Judaism for guidance. Harry Maryles argues that this provides an important kiruv opportunity.

An orthodox Jewish man argues with a reform Jewish woman wearing a prayer shawl at the Kotel.

An orthodox Jewish man argues with a reform Jewish woman wearing a prayer shawl at the Kotel.
Photo Credit: Nati Shohat/Flash90

But when it comes to Orthodox Rabbis addressing Reform Jews – even in their own Temples, I do not see a problem. Assuming they do not resent us for not allowing them into our Shuls to address us – and they are serious about learning how to practice Judaism from us – there is a lot of work to do. Getting Reform Jewry to become observant is an impossibly difficult task. There are tremendous obstacles. Not the least of which is the issue of how they define who is a Jew.

In my view these great difficulties do not free us from trying. If Rabbi Yoffie’s views are the predominant ones in Reform Jewry, if this is the direction they are going in we ought to be in the thick of things there.

If there ever was an Eis La’asos, this is it. We are in unprecedented times. Reform has never been more open to Kiruv than now. What greater Hora’as Shah can there be than to begin a joint effort of Kiruv with the help of the Reform rabbinate themselves – at least with those who think the way Rabbi Yoffie does.

Reform Jewry is riper than ever for this kind of Kiruv. They are inviting us in. Although I do agree that the devil is in the details – let us see put our collective minds together and see how we can honor our commitment to our principles as outlined by the great rabbinic leaders of the past and yet not miss this great opportunity.

Visit the Emes Ve-Emunah blog.

About the Author: Harry Maryles runs the blog "Emes Ve-Emunah" which focuses on current events and issues that effect the Jewish world in general and Orthodoxy in particular. It discuses Hashkafa and news events of the day - from a Centrist perspctive and a philosphy of Torah U'Mada. He can be reached at hmaryles@yahoo.com.


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One Response to “An Eis La’asos – The Time is Ripe”

  1. The opening staement is inaccurate, I do not suggest that we can or even should lift the ban on engagement with Reform on theological matters nshould be lifted. What I advocated is studying ways to reach out to them in this new climate without violating the ban. For example – accepting invitations to address them on observance. I do not in any way seek to have a theological dialogue with them.

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