In attending my Orthodox synagogue a few weeks ago, I was very upset. On the last day of Passover we read the Song of Songs. I turned to it in the Stone Edition Chumash and found a rabbinic interpretation rather than a literal interpretation from the Hebrew. For instance, the first line attributes the Song of Songs to King Solomon. The English translation intentionally fails to mention Solomon and instead reads: “The song that exceeds all songs dedicated to God, him to whom peace belongs.”
One of the factors allowing Jewish survival throughout the ages has been our literacy and ability to reason. American Jews who are not in Israel want to belong, and religion is important. Those who share a determined charedi philosophy are ingraining in our children a contempt for reason.
Why did God give us intellect if it is to be stifled? Much of this extremism has been excused because people feel it to be an alternative to complete assimilation. It should not be so. This alternative has the prospect of creating a Jewish community that refuses to properly translate our beautiful literature because they see it as religiously incorrect.