'Being against intermarriage is like being against gravity,' says Reform leader, but jury is out on trend's long-term impact.
Editor And Publisher
There was a time when American Jewish families sat shiva when a child married out of the faith. Even two or three decades ago the prevailing attitude was one of disappointment, embarrassment and regret, coupled with a parental commitment to make the best of it and hope the grandchildren would be raised as Jews.
After reading the articles on the Pew study about the state of American Jewry and how slowly secular Jews are disappearing, I also read about the passing of Rabbi Ovadia Josef (“What Pews Does — And Doesn’t — Tell Us, Oct. 11, “A ‘Gaon’ In Every Sense,” Oct. 11).
The results are in on American Jewish identity, and they tell us what we should have sensed by now: that particularly among the young, an increasing number are moving away from formal expressions of Judaism, marrying out, and not raising children as Jews.
In response to Gary Rosenblatt’s column, “Not Too Late To Push In-Marriage?” (Sept. 13), [and Rabbi Jack Wertheimer’s call for aggressively advocating for in-marriage]: Does anyone seriously believe that a serious, committed Jew loses his or her commitment to Judaism because he or she intermarries?
What is happening is the opposite of what people like Wertheimer are saying: people don’t intermarry and then lose their commitment to Judaism. They lose their commitment and then have no reason not to intermarry.
Federation’s first ‘Engaging Interfaith Families Forum’ reinforces the truism that women drive a family’s Jewish life.
In my household, I’m the Jewish Life Coordinator: I decide which Jewish holidays we’re going to celebrate as a family, whether to keep our daughters in the temple religious school or try an alternative program — and I handle all the logistics, like getting the girls to Hebrew school, filling out the registration forms, paying the bills and supervising Hebrew-reading practice.
Two findings on intermarriage highlight the “New York Jewish Community Study of 2011.” First, there is a huge amount of intermarriage, and it is continuing; between 2006 and 2011, half of the non-Orthodox couples formed were intermarried couples. Second, measured by the study’s index of Jewish engagement, the intermarried score low, but those that do engage act comparably to the in-married. The critical question is, what attracts interfaith families to engage Jewishly?