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soc.culture.jewish FAQ: Who We Are (2/12)
Section - Question 2.15: But Orthodox Judaism isn't Judaism? Why don't they see that?

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                                  Answer:
   
   On the other hand, SCJ also provides a temptation for Reform Jews to
   bash Orthodoxy's traditional approach as outmoded and antique. Resist
   the temptation!
   
   Rabbi Walter Jacob said: "It is not our task as liberal Jews to
   complain about the Orthodox attitude or to be bullied by it, but
   rather to choose our legitimate path according to the inner logic and
   development of liberal Judaism". By arguing how Orthodoxy is wrong,
   you do no service to Reform. The best argument for Reform Judaism is
   to present a positive image of Reform as serious, but embracing of
   other forms of Judaism. It goes against Reform philosophy to claim
   that Orthodoxy is not a valid expression of Judaism.
   
   Just like Orthodox Jews, Reform Jews have a sense of community with
   all Jews. Yet, Reform Jews are often pained by some aspects of
   Orthodoxy.
   
   As tempting as Orthodox-bashing is, it should be avoided for several
   reasons.
   
   First, distressingly large number of O-bashing posts are simply "I
   hate Orthodoxy" or "I hate Orthodoxy's attitudes" statements without
   any further information or justification or rationale. They add little
   to any discussion.
   
   Second, far too many O-bashing posts are based on misinformation. For
   example, many discussions revolve around the O treatment of women.
   However, to the O, there is nothing wrong: there are different roles,
   and different roles have different obligations. The same is true for
   many other O practices. Try to view the practice against the
   traditional point of view; it is incorrect to judge it against the R
   point of view. You may choose to disagree with the practice, but that
   is your choice.
   
   Third, many of the arguments with Orthodoxy are calling for them to
   accept things that just cannot be accepted. Many Reform practices go
   against traditional beliefs; to accept them would require Orthodoxy to
   discard those beliefs. That's the wrong thing to ask. Focus on where
   Jews are similar, not where Jews are different.
   
   Fourth, these rather crude forms of O-bashing do not simply reflect
   poorly on the poster; far more significantly (from an Reform
   perspective), they reflect poorly on Reform. Remember that there are
   many more lurkers than there are posters. One of the great tragedies
   of SCJ is that too many people will read some of the crude O-bashing
   messages and conclude that "If this is what Reform is all about, I
   want nothing of it."
   
   Finally (closely related to the fourth issue), O-bashing is a
   spectacularly poor way to present Reform to non-Reform readers.
   O-bashing gives the impression that the central feature of Reform is
   the rejection of Orthodoxy. In doing so, O-bashing blinds readers from
   seeing the beauty, the joy, the compassion, the love of Judaism and
   the sanctity that Reform Jews find in Reform.
   
   SCJ provides great temptations for O-bashing. But such O-bashing
   inevitably degenerates to a major desecration of G-d's name, because
   it inevitably offends readers, and turns them off of Reform.
   
   SCJ also offers great opportunities for kiddush haShem, for the
   sanctification of G-d's name. Many SCJ readers have never before
   interacted with Reform Jews, and have heard only negative stereotypes
   (just as many R Jews have heard only stereotypes about non-R Jews).
   
   By providing thoughtful, caring, compassionate, considerate, answers,
   it is possible to show the positive side of Reform. By making reasoned
   and reasonable comments, others can be convinced that the Reform
   positions are reasoned and reasonable.
   
   Reform Jews should not gloss over OCR differences. However, the focus
   should be on where the practices are congruent, and differences must
   be presented with a rationale, must be justified, and must be polite.
   Reform has different practices because Reform interprets the
   underlying halacha differently, not because practices or beliefs are
   outmoded or silly.

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