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Sunday, 19 July 2015

All Heart and No Heart: The Debate About Jewish Identity Gets Nasty

Rabbi.Dr.JonathanThe UK Assembly of Reform Rabbis has decided that people born of  a Jewish father and non-Jewish mother will no longer have to undergo a full conversion  in order to describe themselves as Jewish.

This is in direct contradistinction to Orthodox Judaism that insists Jewish status may be conferred solely by matrilineal descent.

The Reform movement’s startling ruling, breaking a tradition that may be traced back about two millennia to Ezra the priestly  Scribe, will affect a huge number of people in  the Anglo-Jewish community and anyone who has ties with it.

Such an individual is Canadian-British journalist, Katharine Rooney, who wrote in an article for the Jewish Chronicle: “news of the new streamlined conversion process matters to me because it reaches to the heart of identity. It was a long struggle for me to be recognised as a Jew, when it already felt like my birthright”.

 

[Above: A podcast of the J.C’s analysis of the Progressive Movement’s decision].

But not everyone sympathises with people like Ms Rooney and her sister, who both underwent their Reform conversion in 2006.

Such an individual is strictly Orthodox Jewish historian, Dr Yaakov Wise who appeared most derisive when he debated the new ruling on BBC Radio 4’s Sunday programme with Reform Rabbi Dr Jonathan Romain. Indeed, Rabbi Romain described Dr Wise’s remarks as ‘unpleasant’. Dr.Yaakov.Wise

I will quote no more here but leave readers to listen to the audio clips I have provided and so form their own opinion.   The BBC interview led by presenter William Crawley starts at about 38.06 minutes into the broadcast.

Here is the original iPlayer Radio hyperlink: http://bbc.in/1Lho7DL 

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I often remark that I simply cannot imagine not being Jewish. It is, as Katharine Rooney also says, at the root of her being; the heart of her identity.

There are several current policies of the international Progressive Jewish movement that  I  challenge as being quite offensively wrong.  I feel they do me an injustice as a member. This latest one however, is not only 1001% right, it is about 30 years late and should have been introduced when Professor Sir Alec Jeffreys solved the first paternity case by DNA fingerprinting.

© Natalie Wood (19 July 2015)

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