the Union of American HebrewrnCongregations, and the synagoguernis reserved for the Torah. Are yournnow saying that the Children’s DefensernFund and its pohcies are ourrnTorah?rnIn reply, the rabbi invited the congregantrnto his office for Torah lessons, whichrnwould explain why Mrs. Edelman indeedrnwas the right choice for Reformrnicon of the year.rnAt issue once more is the politicizationrnof Judaism by the left. Having lostrncontrol of the institutions of politics, discreditedrnin the polls, the left turns to religion,rnhoping to win by manipulatingrnmorality what it cannot gain by persuasion.rnAnd the other-than-Orthodox Judaismsrn—Reform, Reconstructionist, andrnConservative—present prime targets. Arnfew anecdotes tell the tale.rnWhen I met a fine Reform rabbi inrnBoca Raton, the first thing he asked mernwas, “Are you really a Republican, asrnpeople say?” I said, “I don’t know if Irnmake it, but I’ve been voting mostly forrnRepublicans for 30 years, so I supposernthat should count, and I still blame myselfrnfor picking Lyndon Johnson inrn1964!” He: “But why? I never met anyonernof that persuasion before.”rnA 14-year-old boy complained to hisrnfather about Sunday school: “All they everrntalk about in ethics class is homosexuality.”rnThe assistant rabbi in that templernis avowedly homosexual. Seeing himrnleave a small robing room, the same boyrnremarked to his teacher in all innocence,rn”Oh, I see Rabbi X, coming out of therncloset.” For that he was reprimanded.rnWhat is wrong hardly demands exposition.rnThe real question is, why has a religiousrnmovement of reform adopted arnnew orthodoxy? When “reform” was arnverb, the norm was the Torah as receivedrnfrom Sinai, the medium of reform wasrnscholarship, mostly historical, and itrnsought to identify what was, and is, authenticrnto Sinai and what was a later accretion.rnSo Reform Judaism (and itsrncompanions, Reconstructionist andrnConservative Judaisms) joined issue withrnOrthodoxy on matters of Torah revelation.rnThen a fixed star guided the processrnof reform, yielding a Reform Judaismrnof integrity and stability.rnBut over time, the process replacedrnthe result, and the sensation of thernmonth overtook theological and legalrndiscourse. Like the politics of Washingtonrn— with their infernal power to “enlighten”rnconservatives beyond all recognition,rnso that, in “maturing,” the representativesrnof the right find reason andrnmake left turns—so the politics of theologyrntake their course. Reform leads notrnto purification, recovery of the essentialsrnof the faith —as the Catholic Reformationrnwould have had it—but to the fissiparousrndissolution of everything intornnothing. And, moorings cut, the faithrncan only drift wherever the currents ofrnthe moment carry it. There is no rudderrnleft.rnBut what weakens Reform Judaismrncarries the possibility of renewal as well,rnthe return of that Judaism and its companionsrnto a dialogue with the Torahrnviewed as the norm and the source of discipline.rnSince Reform goes with thernflow, the movement of the general culturerntoward a renewed engagement withrnthe revealed will of Cod—Christianityrntoward Scriptiire, for example—may carryrnthat Judaism in an unanticipated direction.rnWhen the general culture turnsrnconservative, as it has. Reform in duerncourse is going to respond. So from therncurrent flavor of the month—say, homosexualrnrights—Reform will pass on to thernnext flavor, which, for all we know, mayrnbe the affirmation of life even for the unborn.rnBut don’t hold your breath.rnStill, reform feeds on change. It is itsrnonly constant. After all, for the first centuryrnand a half of Reform Judaism, Zionismrnwas anathema, the Jews beingrnviewed solely as a religious communityrnin the model of German ProtestantrnChristianity. But in the past 50 years, Reformrnhas made itself a bastion of Zionism,rnand found in the state of Israel arnprincipal component of its formulationrnof Judaic identity.rnWho knows —maybe the day willrncome when, in the aptly named CentralrnSynagogue of New York City, the successorrnto Marion Wright Edelman will bernthe heroic William F. Buckley, Jr. Butrndon’t hold your breath.rnJacob Neusner is Distinguished ResearchrnProfessor ofRehgious Studies at the Universityrnof South Florida and a professor ofrnreUgion at Bard College.rnThe Bend in the River, The Arm of the ChfFrnby Charles Edward EatonrnI almost diagnosed myself emotional wreck—rnThoughts that were not so, feelings that were not true—rnUntil I saw a swan that wore a black stocking on his neck.rnI thought I knew everything there was to know of swans—rnIf I had been the visual, plastic artist I am notrnI could have done them up for you in wood or paint or bronze.rnTaking them out of context, the river or the lake.rnPure white, of course, all black, some orange-beaked,rnI would give them to you in a chosen medium without mistake.rnI could fashion any swan I liked, and mark it: Sold.rnThe rivers, gardens, yes, the cliffs belonged to me:rnI had the edges of imagination well-pafrolled.rnAll in a fantasy, of course, until the day that things went stiff.rnToo loose as well, too gone asfray, and lacking in decision—rnGardens in turmoil, white water on the river, a figure jumping fromrna cliff.rnAnd then I saw something I had not seen before,rnA black-necked swan. It took the turbulence in hand, brought thernjumper to a halt—rnEverything you think you know or fear has another door.rnOCTOBER 1998/35rnrnrn