Boosting Reform

YOU noted recently that “Jonathan Romain, of Maidenhead Synagogue, holds outspoken views on intermarriage, which he has never discouraged, seeing it as a way to boost numbers within the community”. Twenty years ago, I analysed the figures in his paper The Formation and Development of the Rabbinical Court of the Reform Synagogues of Great Britain, 1935-1965, published in the Transactions of the Jewish Historical Society of England (1993).

In particular, he states that the Reform movement was making approximately 109 adult conversions each year (1993), of which only nine per cent are unconnected with a potential marriage — i.e. about 100 conversions involve someone specifically converted for this purpose, with an overall ratio of about five females for every male.

According to figures published by the Community Research Unit of the Board of Deputies, the total number of Reform marriages has declined from about 190 per year in the late 70s to 160 per year in the early 90s.

This implied that at least 80 per cent of marriages recorded under Reform auspices could not have taken place in an Orthodox synagogue.

I must admit that his paper came as a considerable surprise to me since I had always assumed that most members of the Reform movement were in reality unquestionably Jewish, but these figures forced me to conclude otherwise. Clearly, “his outspoken views on intermarriage” must be the major reason for any growth in the Reform movement and, in turn, causing an unbridgeable schism in Anglo-Jewry.

Martin Stern,
7 Hanover Gardens,

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