How The Orthodox Deal With The Non-Orthodox

Orthodox rabbi Marc B. Shapiro blogs:

In general, there have been some real changes in how Orthodoxy deals with the non-Orthodox, and Adam Ferziger has recently published a valuable article on the topic. In reading the article, I was surprised to learn how even haredi Orthodoxy has begun to expand the boundaries in dealing with non-Orthodox movements and institutions. It appears that the Reinman-Hirsch book was only one aspect of this change. Here is some of what Ferziger reports:

ASK [Atlanta Scholars Kollel], however, has demonstrated a willingness to meet its constituency on its own terms by running a biweekly introductory prayer service in one of Atlanta’s largest Reform houses of worship, Temple Sinai of Sandy Springs. To be sure, the meetings take place in a social hall rather than in the synagogue sanctuary, but this is a clear departure from the guidelines set down by Feinstein. Similarly, members of the Phoenix Community Kollel have taught classes at the community sponsored Hebrew High that is housed at the Reform Temple Chai. . . . [T]he head of Pittsburgh’s Kollel Jewish Learning Center, Rabbi Aaron Kagan, meets on a regular basis with his local rabbinic colleagues from Reform and Conservative synagogues to study Torah together. . . . Based in Palo Alto, California, the Jewish Study Network—one of the most dynamic and rapidly expanding of these kiruv kollels—does not limit its interdenominational contacts to private study. Its fellows work together with Conservative and Reform representatives to create new Jewish learning initiatives throughout the Bay Area and to offer their own programming in non-Orthodox synagogues. Rabbi Joey Felsen, head of the Jewish Study Network and a veteran of five years of full-time Torah study at Jerusalem’s venerable Mir yeshivah, made clear that he was not opposed to presenting Torah lectures in a non-Orthodox synagogue sanctuary, although he preferred to teach in the social hall. Indeed, according to Rabbi Yerachmiel Fried, leader of the highly successful Dallas Area Torah Association (DATA) Kollel and a well-respected halakhist, insofar as Jewish religious institutions were concerned the only boundary that remained hermetically sealed was his unwillingness to teach in a gay synagogue. . . .

About Luke Ford

I've written five books (see My work has been followed by the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and 60 Minutes. I teach Alexander Technique in Beverly Hills (
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