Since the fall of the political independence of the Jews, they started living among nations that
resulted in embracing of new ways in which they could undertake in social and religious
activities. One was intermarriage, which was originally prohibited as per the Jewish religious and
social laws. Currently, the Conservative Movement is facing a challenge on the side to take
regarding whether they should embrace change or maintain the status quo. The paper is a
reasoned opinion as it regards as to whether to adopt or maintain the status quo.
Discussion of the categories/scenarios eliminating the ban on intermarriage best fits
The scenario or category on eliminating the ban on intermarriage that best fits are the one that
provides that a change or modification of a tradition that involves a rabbinic law (including a
Talmudic law) or a law that is seen as somewhat biblical and somewhat rabbinic.
Professor Cohen gives a very clear and important background regarding where the ban on
intermarriage with all outsiders. He indicates clearly that initially; Jews were living in a self-
sustaining system where they were separate and distinct. However, when political independence
was gone, they scattered among nations. A sociologist would explain that it was just a matter of
time before they started interacting with other nations economically, politically, and socially.
Socially, the effect was to be that they would eventually find themselves intermarrying.
The problem that was posed by the social effects of living amongst other nations is that it went
against an ideology that their survival depended upon their religious and social separation from
the outside world. In Deuteronomy 7:3-4, it is alleged that all the gentiles who were like
Canaanites of old were subsumed under the same prohibition as the Canaanites themselves.
Owing to this fact that, initially, intermarriages was prohibited with the sole aim of protecting
themselves from outside that they considered engaging in religious and social practices that were
against their religious and social beliefs.
It is true that Jews wish to preserve and protect their religious and social traditions. Therefore, in
achieving this, they must learn to engage in those traditional practices, so that the young
generation can be able to know their past and practice it, as opposed to a young generation
growing in a world that they cannot relate to what their forefathers believed and practiced. To
that extent, there has to be some level of maintaining the old and the original practices which
helped in the preservation of their believes and practices.
However, it must also be noted that the fact that they currently live among other nations after the
fall of their political independence means some of the rigid believes that prevents them from
interacting with their neighbours although maybe, in theory, cannot be sustained in practices.
Therefore, they should able to modify their laws and traditions to fit the new circumstances
under which they exist. For example, I find the law that allowed for a child born by a Jewish
mother and a non-Jew father to be a Jewish child a good modification to fit the circumstances
under which the group lives among other nations.
Explanation of how the Conservative movement can justify this change according to a
cultural analysis of the law.
There are many reasons why the Conservative Movement can justify the change based on a
cultural analysis of Jewish law and traditions. First, it should be noted that change is one this that
when it comes, it is inevitable and anyone who tries to resist it gets to sweep away by the ‘wind
of change.’ However, when change comes, it should be able to modify the existing traditions and
laws so that every generation within the society feels a sense of belonging. For example, the
Jewish people who maintained and practiced their traditions extensively never felt a sense of
belonging with those who practiced the new changes.
The matrilineal principle is one of how the movement can justify why change is necessary and
important. This principle as have been described to establish that according to rabbinic law, the
child of a Gentile mother and a Jewish father is a Gentile; conversely, a child of a Jewish mother
and a Gentile father is Jewish (Kwall, 2015) . Although this goes against the patrilineal system
that has existed for many years.
However, for the purpose of incorporation, the changes that had existed as Jewish was starting to
intermarry, the only reasonable thing to be done is to ensure that even in such circumstances, the
traditions and beliefs of the Jewish as not subsumed. From a practical perspective, mothers spend
the most time with children during their tender years. A Jewish mother, therefore, is in a better
position to teach and raise her children according to the Jewish traditions and believes mother
than a Gentile mother, who grew up knowing only the existence of her Gentile traditions. It
means that Jewish mother, even with the intermarriage, should still preserve their tradition, thus
preventing Jewish being subsumed. Additionally, Professor Cohen asserts that the designation of
Jewish status through the mother’s line was helpful as it was easy to identify in a society where
the Jews had scattered as compared to the fathers.
Although the matrilineal principle was abolished in 983 by the Reform Movement when they
adopted the Patrilineal Resolution, the principle remains one of the best ways in which
modification can be made to the current existing traditions and at the same time preserve and
protect the traditions and beliefs of the Jewish people.
Explanation of how the Conservative movement can justify keeping the status quo
according to a cultural analysis of the law.
An understanding of the philosophy of laws, one will know that natural law is one that is created
by a Supreme, and it is backed with sanctions for those who go against it. It is argued in the text
“The Myth of the Cultural Jew” that those who adhered to the traditional framework, Reform’s
position concerning the patrilineal principle is untenable and a perversion (Kwall, 2015) . It is
true also as noted that this perspective does not take into consideration the social realities.
However, it should be noted that the essence of having laws is so that people should be able to
adhere to them as it avoids the confusion and conflicts that arise from people embrace ideas that
originally was not part of them. One of the reasons why laws such as religious laws and
traditions are concern is to ensure the preservation of such from people who might want to
subvert them owing to their ‘enlightenment’ of the different aspects in which people can engage.
Initially, as have been identified in the text, in the initially covenant f God with the Jewish
people, God told the Jewish people that they are his no matter what. A critical analysis of the
statement suggests that God was telling the Jews that under no circumstances, were they allowed
to depart from the rules that He had given them regarding their traditions and religious activities
Additionally, the essence of having sanctions is so that those who go against them should be able
to face the punishment that comes with such ‘betrayal.’ Jews are indeed scattered amongst
nations. However, even in such existence, they exist in small groups that can enable continue the
Jewish lineages by continuing to practice their traditions, in particular, those that relate to social
and religious activities. For political, they will have to conform to the laws of such nations to
exist in harmony with laws that are created by such governments. This way, they will find it easy
to maintain the traditional ways of Jewish living.
How do you think you will vote on this issue?
If it reaches a point where voting is to do on the issue because members of the Conservative
Movement I will vote to ensure the clergy performing intermarriages are not banned. Prima facie
opening of the Bible shows two different times, as given by the existence of the Old and New
testament. During the life and ministry of Jesus, He insisted when confronted by teachers of the
law on why He was not obeying the rules that were set in the Old Testament, He argued that He
came to change some of the laws that exist that was being abused, instead of focusing on the
main thing of serving the Lord. A good example was when Jesus was accused of working on a
Sabbath day. He argued that Sabbath was made for man and not man for Sabbath. This shows
that change is something that always comes and when it arrives at someone door, it is important
that such is factored.
Additionally, the way change is proposed in this context does not mean the total abandonment of
the old ways but supplementing the new ways of life with the old ways to reach a just way of
undertaking different Jewish traditional and religious activities. Therefore, there is still
preservation of some of the traditional cultures; the only thing is that they are modified to fit the
Kwall, R. R. (2015). The Myth of the Cultural Jew: Culture and Law in Jewish Tradition. New
York: Oxford University Press.