Jews in All Hues, a new-ish “peer-led program that provides a safe space for people from interfaith families to explore their identities as mixed heritage Jews,” is holding a conference in San Francisco on Sunday, May 30.
I attended their conference last year in Philadelphia and came away with mixed feelings, a no doubt appropriate emotion for an event focusing on the state of being mixed!
Undoubtedly the two most vexing theological questions are the issues of bad things happening to good people and free will versus destiny.
While most of us are all too aware of the randomness and injustice in the world, we nonetheless are quick to credit ourselves for our good fortune and blame ourselves (and others) for bad fortune.
Fundamentalists are especially good at this little exercise. 9/11? God’s punishment for permissiveness and homosexuality. The Holocaust? A punishment for assimilation and Reform Judaism. Israel’s victory in the Six-Day War? Divine intervention.
Twenty-eight-year-old poet Hila Ratzabi has the kind of credentials Jewish leaders like to tout as the surefire antidote to intermarriage: 12 years of Jewish day school followed by four years in the Jewish Theological Seminary/Barnard College undergraduate double-degree program.
The daughter of an Israeli father and American Jewish mom, Ratzabi always assumed she would marry a Jewish man. But in the year and a half since she met her Mexican-American (Baptist-raised) atheist boyfriend José, a grad student in chemistry, Ratzabi, who has an MFA in writing from Sarah Lawrence College, has been questioning her long-held assumptions about intermarriage and eagerly reading stories of how other people have negotiated interfaith relationships.
The essay by Debbie Burton doesn’t say how long ago the incident occurred, but the gag rule for gentiles remains in place at her Chicago congregation, which she describes as an independent lay-led minyan that relies on “Conservative legal opinions.” (To learn more about independent minyanim, which vary tremendously in their overall outlooks as well as their approaches toward interfaith families, read my colleague Rivka Oppenheim's excellent recent article or go to the Mechon Hadar Web site.)
When Joe and I got engaged 13 years ago in Ann Arbor, Mich., I was sure we’d have trouble finding a rabbi to perform our wedding.
As it turned out, the rabbi at the local Reform temple was willing and available. When we arrived for our first meeting, I came expecting a lengthy interrogation about exactly how we planned to raise our children. I was prepared to commit to taking an Intro to Judaism class together and ready to solemnly pledge we would hand over our future children to The Jewish People, never ever have a Christmas tree in the house and so on.
With the Kentucky Derby in the news this weekend (not that I, a sports-phobe, will be watching), I can’t help reflecting more on my recent visit to Louisville and Congregation Keneseth Israel.
I was really struck by how different things can look from the “inside” versus the “outside” of a congregation. "Sara," a Catholic woman who attends services regularly with her Jewish husband and children, was one of the volunteers who helped plan my visit. When we first spoke over the phone, she marveled, “This is the first time they’ve ever invited me to get involved on a project!”
My monthly full-length column is out in this week's paper (and today's Web site). In it, I explore issues that come up in interfaith divorces, even when they are not the media-frenzied ugliness of Chicago's Reyes battle. After this, I promise not to write about divorce or the Reyes duo again for awhile!
Two recent pieces have me wondering if I’ll be out of a job soon.
Not because of the sorry state of American journalism, but because these articles, both based on conversations with Jewish women in their 20s, indicate that intermarriage has become a complete non-issue for the next generation.
Thanks to the Jewish Outreach Institute and L.A. Jewish Journal for informing me about Einat Wilf, an intermarried member of Israel’s parliament. Part of the somewhat beleaguered left-wing Labor party, Wilf joined the Knesset in January.
I’m assuming that Wilf, whose husband is German, is not the first Jewish MK married to a gentile. Nonetheless, she seems to be the first to speak out publicly about it, telling the Jewish Journal, “Long before I married, I thought the Jewish world was making a big mistake in counting intermarriage between Jews and non-Jews as minus one, not plus one.”
My friend Laurel Snyder, editor of “Half/Life: Jew-ish Tales from Interfaith Homes” and author of numerous children’s books, has a thoughtful piece out this week on Killing The Buddha about intermarriage, divorce and the Reyes case.
Laurel who, like me, has divorced parents and is herself intermarried, explores a lot of the same issues I’ve been thinking about (some elaborated on a column to be published in next week’s Jewish Week), vis a vis how interfaith issues play out when marriages implode. In emphasizing how she advises interfaith couples to discuss their differences before they become problems, she writes