Intermarried Does Not Equal Anti-Zionist
06/21/2011 - 18:21
Anonymous

Now that consensus seems to be emerging that intermarriage does not equal assimilation/demographic disaster, is the latest conventional wisdom that it causes one to turn against Israel?

I’m afraid that’s the conclusion some might draw from Allison Benedikt’s “Life After Zionist Summer Camp” essay on The Awl, which I wrote about last week. In it, she indicates that her husband John Cook, who, as a house guest in Israel, berated Benedikt’s sister and husband for their “morally bankrupt” decision to move there, opened Benedikt’s eyes to the myriad evils of Israel. I hope that after castigating the family, he at least sent a thank-you note upon his return or, better yet, a gift basket from Zingerman’s, the Ann Arbor, Mich., deli Benedikt mentions in her essay. Full disclosure: Like Benedikt, I, too, am a former Zingerman’s employee.)

Jeffrey Goldberg, the widely read Atlantic blogger, has gotten into something of a Twitter-for-tat with Benedikt and Cook who, as if trying to make himself seem even less appealing than his wife’s essay already rendered him, referred to Goldberg with an unpleasant nickname for Richard and then “ordered” his wife to re-tweet.

In an e-mail to Goldberg, Benedikt brings up the intermarriage thing again, defending Cook’s behavior in part by explaining that he “was not accepted by my parents or my sister for being a non-Jew long before they ever heard his opinions on the Israeli-Palestinian situation … He handled a lot of that with grace, not to mention being a wonderful and active partner now in raising our boys as Jews — mostly if not entirely because of how important he knows it is to me.”

I'm sorry to hear that Benedikt's family was so unsupportive of their relationship purely on the basis of his not being Jewish. I just feel the need to remind folks that, while Israel tends to trigger different reactions/emotions for gentiles than for Jews (as I explored in this column a few years ago), and while Israel is hardly an idyllic utopia, let’s remember that not all non-Jewish spouses (or Jews who are intermarried) are virulently anti-Israel.

 

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You can always find exceptions. I'm not saying that most intermarried Gentiles are anti-semitic, anti-Zionist or whatever but you are looking for ways to justify your own actions. I can give an opposite example: some years ago, my nephew married a Jewish girl, the product of a Jewish mother and non-Jewish father. Both of them happened to be rabid antisemites and had a very strong hold on their daughter, an only child. They hated my nephew because he was Jewish and, believe me, he is not a person who should be considered hateable. Within 2 years of the marriage, my nephew's wife could not longer take her parents' pressure, so the couple split. There, you have an opposite example. Make no mistake about it, intermarriage is the biggest threat to Judaism, more than antisemitism, Iran, etc. etc. combined. I find it quite objectionable that The Jewish Week even allows such a column to appear in their usually excellent publication.

How about an article by federation entitled "Study: Most Children of Intermarriage Enter College with No Jewish Connection"

http://www.jewishfederations.org/page.aspx?id=82403

http://www.hillel.org/NR/rdonlyres/E8DD6271-16C3-46A2-8607-75206EFD9327/0/AJF_web.pdf

Here is a great quote from the federation article: "Of students with two Jewish parents, 93 percent identified themselves as Jews, though that figure dropped to 91 percent if their parents divorced. But only 38 percent of the teens identified as Jews if just their mother was Jewish, and only 15 percent if their father was Jewish."

No doubt that there are exceptions and also that the commitment to Judaism by most Jews who choose Jewish spouses is minimal at best and we can debate correlation causation till we are blue in the face; however, Julie, it is time to be honest with yourself and your readers-- when a Jew chooses to marry a non-Jew, the likelihood that children of that marriage will be raised as Jews is very slim.

Intermarriage may not be directly anti- zionist, but it is 100% anti - Torah!

See also the famous freshman survey. Here is a link: http://www.hillel.org/NR/rdonlyres/E8DD6271-16C3-46A2-8607-75206EFD9327/0/AJF_web.pdf

Also report by Jewish Federation entitled:
Study: Most Children of Intermarriage Enter College with No Jewish Connection

Here is the link: http://www.jewishfederations.org/page.aspx?id=82403

and a great quote: "Of students with two Jewish parents, 93 percent identified themselves as Jews, though that figure dropped to 91 percent if their parents divorced. But only 38 percent of the teens identified as Jews if just their mother was Jewish, and only 15 percent if their father was Jewish."

Let's face it and be honest -- if parents marry out, most likely their children will have no connection whatsoever to Judaism. Obviously there are exceptions and obviously most Jews who marry non-Jews are not that interested in Judaism to begin with. But Julie, be honest, intermarriage / mix marriage, what have you, the children of those families (as healthy and warm and caring as they may be) will probably not be Jews.

I don't really understand why this is surprising.

See the NJPS:

"The NJPS 1990 found that mixed married households contained 770,000 children less than 18 years of age. According to the NJPS 1990, only 28% of these children were being raised as Jews; 41% were being raised in another religion; and 31% were being raised with no religion at all. Moreover, while 28% of children of intermarriage are being raised as Jews, only between 10% to 15% of this entire group ultimately marries Jews themselves. Thus, it is clear that nearly all the children of intermarriage are lost to the Jewish people."

Todd -

Would you care to cite the study from which you get your figures? Otherwise, we have no way to judge for ourselves whether what you claim is accurate.

A close friend of mine married a Gentile man. As her marriage was going bad her husband took his rage out on her Jewishness. It culminated in his taking a hammer to their mezzuzah on the front door. That was the breaking point and it was over. Enough said.

"Now that consensus seems to be emerging that intermarriage does not equal assimilation/demographic disaster, is the latest conventional wisdom that it causes one to turn against Israel?"

Really? From all the published studies, it seems that that in the overwhelming majority of marriages between a male Jew and a non-Jew, the children are not raised as Jews. In the opposite cases, marriage between a Jewish woman and non-Jew approx. 45% of children are raised as Jews. That would boil down to around 22% or so of offspring of a Jew and a gentile being raised as Jews. Sounds pretty dire to me.

Of course intermarried doesn't equal anti-Zionist or anti-Semitic. Most of the intermarried couples I know are fiercely Zionist and love their Jewish heritage not only culturally but also nationally.

It is also possible that while Benedikt's parents initial problem with her future spouse may have been that he wasn't Jewish but became a concern that he was controlling and emotionally abusive as he seems to be from Benedikt's article. I would prefer that my children marry people who share their values, as I would imagine most parents do. It seems exceptionally clear that Benedikt's husband not only does not share her values, but he openly denigrates things that she did value to the point where she now disdains them with him.

If his wife describes his behavior in ways which seem boorish at best and openly emotionally abusive, how much worse is his behavior to people who do not have that sort of relationship with him?

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