June 20, 2024
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The Risk of Altering Normative Jewish Practices to Sociological Norms

In reply to “Staying True to Normative Orthodox Judaism,” (February 14, 2019) by Levi Langer: Today, the future of normative Orthodox practices is being covertly changed without the foreknowledge and sometimes without even the consent of a synagogue’s membership. This includes, but is not limited to changes to interior seating arrangements for the congregants, prayer practices, attempts to enhance or expand the role of women in the halachic prayer services or process, etc. Often this occurs when synagogue executives attempt to maintain a place of worship where the Jewish community has left and there are declining participants. To attract more participants and maintain the building’s presence they find younger, more liberal-minded persons with rabbinical credentials that advocate what is often termed “Modern” or “Open” Orthodox practices. By utilizing the word ‘Orthodox’ in their representations many have been deceived into believing that these views are representative of Orthodox Judaism. In fact, they are not and designed to alter Jewish practices to modern sociological norms.

If every congregation throughout the generations made their own decisions on changes to our religious practices, there would be no Judaism today.

Howard Weinberg
Former Chairman of the Board of Directors
B’nai Israel Congregation of Greater Baltimore
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