Interfaith Orthodox Judaism

Acknowledging Intermarriage in the Modern Orthodox World

In this past weekend’s issue of the New York Times Magazine, the brilliant Harvard law professor Noah Feldman (pictured) describes how he has been ostracized from the Modern Orthodox high school he attended because he married a non-Jewish woman. Several years ago, Noah attended a 10-year reunion for his graduating class of the Maimonides School, a progressive Orthodox dual-curriculum Jewish day school in Brookline, Mass. When his face and that of his non-Jewish Asian-American girlfriend (now wife and mother of his children) were mysteriously removed from the group photo at the reunion, he understood.

Noah FeldmanIn response to Noah’s lengthy article in the Times Magazine, Rabbi Shmuley Boteach (“Shalom in the Home”) weighed in on the issue of ostracizing intermarried Jews in the Jerusalem Post. Rabbi Boteach knew Noah very well when Noah studied at Oxford before heading to Yale where he became less Jewishly observant.

A Google search for “Noah Feldman, Harvard” turned up the couple’s New York Times wedding announcement as the first result. Noah is a very impressive guy. He’s a Rhodes Scholar and Harvard Fellow who clerked for U.S. Supreme Court Justice David Souter. He served as a consultant to Paul Bremer and the transitional government in Iraq and is the author of three books. He is now a tenured professor at Harvard’s Spinoza School of Law. This is a resume that any alma mater would brag about, but the Maimonides School is embarrassed that this alum has married out of the fold. This raises many difficult questions for Orthodox institutions. Noah’s article, as well as Rabbi Boteach’s op-ed in the Jerusalem Post, will undoubtedly fuel much discussion in the modern Orthodox world on this challenging subject.

Noah Feldman’s article can be accessed here.

Rabbi Shmuley Boteach’s article can be accessed here.

(c) Rabbi Jason Miller | | Twitter: @RabbiJason |