The April 6 story, “Patrilineal Jews Still Find Resistance” was a reminder that the patrilineal principle has not lived up to its promise. The major movements do not accept patrilineal Jews who, because of that, find themselves in an identity limbo. The principle has undermined efforts to encourage conversion to Judaism by making it unnecessary. Patrilineality hasn’t even encouraged raising the children of an intermarried couple exclusively as Jewish.
There is a solution for those families in which the gentile partner does not wish to embrace Judaism formally. Since patrilineal Jews are being raised as Jews and think of themselves as Jews, why don’t intermarried families with a gentile mother simply convert their children at birth or in infancy? Such an effort is relatively easy and would solve future problems. Current patrilineal Jews, fairly or not, can ease their own lives by converting as adults. Surely the Jewish community can come up with ways to make such a conversion a warm and welcoming experience.
Lawrence J. Epstein
Stony Brook, N.Y.