by R. Yitzchak Blau
A symposium from Summer 1998 entitled “The Sea Change in American Orthodox Judaism” asked participants five questions and our summary will highlight responses to two of them. The variety of responses proves quite interesting.
Participants were asked why charedi rabbanim could address RCA conventions in the 1950’s but this would not happen today. Rabbi Marc Angel blames the right wing whereas Rabbi Moshe Tendler faults leftward moves among the Modern Orthodox. Rabbi David Horowitz cautions against over romanticizing the past; tension between different Orthodox groups existed in the 1950s as well. Others (Dr. David Berger and Dr. David Shatz) view the current arguments as a sign of Orthodoxy’s growing strength and confidence. In the traumatic post war period, we were too focused on rebuilding and too small to quarrel.
Another question asked whether other denominations or secularists are a greater threat to Orthodoxy. R. Tendler focuses on the problems of Conservative and Reform Judaism whereas Rabbi Avi Weiss argues for secularism as a bigger problem. Rabbi Mayer Schiller neutralizes the question by equating the other denominations with secularism. Yet others reject the premise of the question. Mr. Victor Geller answers that combating other groups should not be high on the Orthodox agenda. Dr. Joel Wolowelsky argues that “The greatest challenge to Orthodoxy comes from neither the Reform nor the Conservative movements, nor the secular community; it comes from within Orthodoxy itself.”
Here is the link to the entire symposium: link