Memories of the Hurva
I read with great interest the articles (fall 2010) regarding the Hurva Synagogue in Jerusalem. To me, they had special meaning.

On the 28th of Nisan 1919, my grandfather, Rabbi Nathan Bamberger of Wurzburg, Germany, passed away. A special memorial service was held a few weeks later, on the 12th of Iyar, at the Hurva, led by Rabbis Yosef Chaim Sonnenfeld, Yisrael Poroth and Ben Zion Yadler.

My grandfather was referred to as the “gabbai of Eretz Yisrael.” This honorary title was bestowed upon him because he had collected a huge amount of money for the poor people of Jerusalem. Both Ashkenazim and Sephardim were recipients of these collections.

In 1968, my wife and I spent Shabbat in the Old City and davened in a Sephardic synagogue. After Keriyat HaTorah, the congregation went to the Hurva for Musaf and the rest of the service. As a grandson of Rabbi Bamberger, I was given the honor to deliver a devar Torah. The Hurva was still completely destroyed, yet the place had a kedushah that the Jordanians could not eradicate. Amidst the rubble, the dust and the stones, the congregation recited Musaf and Kedushah with great kavanah. It was a most moving experience that I shall never forget.

Riverdale, New York

Happier Marriages?
Although I found your article “Do Frum Couples Have Happier Marriages?” by Dr. Eliezer Schnall and Dr. David Pelcovitz (summer 2010) to be an interesting read, I am concerned that the article implied that the survey was representative of the Orthodox community.

In order for a survey to be representative, the data must be collected as a random sample of the larger population. This survey was representative only of the 3,760 respondents. The results apply only to those people. To illustrate my point, the survey results show that 72 percent of men and 74 percent of women rated their marriages “Very Good” or better. Suppose that people who are not satisfied with their marriages tended not to answer the survey. This would skew the results in favor of those who found their marriages favorable.

In medical research, we would draw no conclusions from such a survey and certainly would not want to base any treatment on a non-random sample.

I strongly encourage the use of scientific survey methods to explore marriage and other social issues in the Orthodox community.

Baltimore, Maryland

Drs. Schnall and Pelcovitz Respond:
We are thankful to Ms. Friedmanfor highlighting an issue we ourselves repeatedly emphasized, namely, that there are certain limitations to a study such as this one. Indeed, the Jewish Action article to which she refers is actually a summary of lectures we presented at the Orthodox Union. We therefore asked, and the editors of Jewish Action obliged, that the following note be included with the article: “Dr. Schnall discussed methodological issues and limitations associated with this and other study designs.” Nevertheless, a few related points are worthy of mention:

Firstly, and as noted in the article, our research “included analyses that adjusted for such potential confounders as gender, income, and education.” Secondly, our results are consistent with numerous similar studies, including those that compared the marital satisfaction of religious and other populations. Finally, as in other medical and social science research where case studies and pilot studies are often followed by further assessment, our study was an important and useful initial look at an area that had never been evaluated before.

It should also be noted that the unique characteristics of the Orthodox Jewish community render certain forms of survey research impractical, and funding limitations add additional constraints. Should the resources become available, we would welcome the opportunity for further research to continue our study of the critical area of marital satisfaction and stressors in the Orthodox Jewish community.

A Plea for a Broader Education
The extraordinary individuals featured in your issue entitled “Jews Without Borders” (fall 2010), who both are seriously observant and heroically serve people who are not part of the Jewish world, certainly engage in the mitzvah of kiddush Hashem in an impressive manner. It is striking to note that Dr. Lazerson, Dr. Hodes and Ms. Kohl are explicitly identified as ba’alei teshuvah. While it is not clear what sort of high school Mr. Renna attended, an NCSY trip to Russia is cited as the catalyst for his career in the US State Department. Chief Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks’ formal education prior to his attendance at Jews’ College was highly secular: St. Mary’s Primary School and- Christ’s College Finchley, Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge; New College, Oxford; and King’s College London. This exposure perhaps served to fuel his involvement with greater British society. Recognizing this pattern, and acknowledging that it is virtuous to engage in these types of pursuits, will those who receive intensive and exclusive Jewish educations from a young age and are never exposed in any significant way to broader society and civilization be expected to appreciate, let alone emulate, the examples of Drs. Lazerson and Hodes, Ms. Kohl, Mr. Renna and Rabbi Sacks?

Rabbi, Kemp Mill Synagogue
Silver Spring, Maryland

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This article was featured in the Spring 2011 issue of Jewish Action.
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