Readers Write: My 'Generation to Generation' Generated Respons-a

Readers sent in some illuminating responses to my pre-Passover Good Fences column about a recent family Bar Mitzvah ceremony where the rabbi included the child’s non-Jewish father in the service in what struck me as an unusually and admirably welcoming fashion.

This first reply came from a rabbi in Southern California, who makes an important point that I didn’t cover as I might have. I didn’t get permission to use his name, so I’ll leave it out, with apologies.

The High Holy Days sermon he mentions is worth checking out, by the way. Janet Marder is a former national president of the Central Conference of American Rabbis, the Reform rabbinical association, and is the senior rabbi of Congregation Beth Am in Los Altos Hills, near San Francisco (not the same as Congregation Beth Am in Los Angeles, which is Conservative).

Here’s what I wrote back to him:

This story "Readers Write: My 'Generation to Generation' Generated Respons-a" was written by J.J. Goldberg.

This next one came from the opposite direction, ritually speaking. Perry Dane, a law professor at Rutgers University, questions whether I didn’t misstate the halachic important of what I had seen that day.

The minute I read it I realized he was correct and he had caught me in a boo-boo, so I replied:

Professor Dane replied:

One more response — this one from Ed Case, the CEO of, which offers Jewish resources to mixed-faith families and lobbies Jewish communities to open their doors. He didn’t write a note but simply sent me a link to his blog post on the column. His take was enthusiastic and flattering but also credited me with an opinion I don’t quite share:

Here’s what I wrote back:

For the record, I did get a reply from Rabbi Schuck about the thinking behind his innovation. It came in just a few minutes before the Passover holiday began Monday evening and I didn’t see it until Wednesday evening, by which time the column was already in print. So I’ll let him have the last word:

The views and opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect those of the Forward.


J.J. Goldberg

J.J. Goldberg

Jonathan Jeremy “J.J.” Goldberg is editor-at-large of the Forward, where he served as editor in chief for seven years (2000-2007).

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