A Baffling Caricature

To the editor:

Like many in the Harvard community, I was baffled by the caricature offered by Daniel Solomon in “The Hillel Problem”. As an adamantly secular Jew, I have only ever felt welcome at Harvard Hillel, a sentiment shared by everyone with whom I’ve spoken—secular, religious, or otherwise.

The portrayal of Hillel as a space dotted with black hats and flowing with long sidelocks is pure canard. If informal surveys of Shabbat dinners are any indicator, a visitor to Hillel is about one hundred times more likely to be Asian than Haredi.

Finally, Mr. Solomon’s call for the Protestantization of Jewish liturgy and ritual misapprehends what it means to be a modern Jew. In this ultra-reform scheme, we are defined by little more than eating bagels, making self-deprecating jokes, and rejecting the divinity of Jesus. Left with this husk of a culture, nonreligious Jews like me would have nothing left for which to stay.

Unlike our beautiful national language, our distinctive dietary habits, or our liturgical poetry, which have stood the test of three millennia, Reform Judaism’s Pittsburgh Platform can soundly be pronounced dead after less than a century of gestation. It is no small wonder why.

Joshua B. Lipson '14

Cambridge, Mass.