The question for me was how to respond. His was the politically correct position and challenging this position directly in the largest newspaper in Canada would be foolish and only have negative results. Yet, while in the end my response was not published by the paper, I felt that it was important for me to respond, at least to try and challenge what he said, specifically the subtle negative implications he presented about Orthodoxy. Here was my response:
While Rabbi Marmur is fully entitled to express his thoughts on how women have energized his religion, I do not think it appropriate for him to misrepresent my religion in the process. He critiques those who “depict Judaism as an obsolete relic” and then he revels the same accusation at Orthodox Judaism. Any representation of Orthodox Judaism as fundamentalist negates its commitment to thought and its consummate rejection (via the diversity of opinion found within its studies) of the expression of life in black-and-white terms. Rabbi Marmur’s misrepresentation may be innocent however due to a general perception that the distinctions in the branches of Judaism are more matters of form than issues of essential objectives and understandings. While he may incorporate practices from Orthodoxy in his world of Reform Judaism, he misses seeing how Orthodoxy’s principles really differ from those of Reform Judaism. If he truly understood the distinctions, he would recognize that the changes in the understanding of gender that have occurred over the past 150 years, while having their impact upon Reform Judaism in the obvious manner they have, have also had their impact on Orthodoxy but in a vastly different way reflecting the underlying distinctly substantial and complex values of Orthodoxy.As I maintained in my article "Adjective and Non-adjective Jews" (available on the Nishma website at http://www.nishma.org/articles/introspection/introspection5761-2-adjective_jew.htm, I truly do believe that the best way of responding to these types of directives against Orthodoxy is by just presenting the theological truth -- the religion of Reform Judaism and the religion of Orthodox Judaism are two different religions. What is the problem with stating this? Describing Reform Judaism as its own religion does not in any way give it a standing as true. Let Rabbi Marmur talk about how women have energized Reform Judaism -- well maybe this religion needed some energization. I make it clear this way, though, that what he says has nothing to do with my faith.
Rabbi Ben Hecht