Huffington Post has a provocative piece this week by Jessica Langer-Sousa, a self-described “observant” Jewish woman who wanted to go to the mikveh before her wedding to a “devout” Catholic. (The quotation marks aren’t intended to be snide, but just to note that since “observant” and “devout” are both somewhat subject-to-interpretation adjectives that she doesn’t define, I am not sure what they mean in this context.)
After being rebuffed by the mikveh lady at one Los Angeles spot, Langer-Sousa consulted with “Rabbi Lori,” the rabbi officiating at her nuptials, and opted instead to dunk in the Pacific. The ceremony turned out to be even more meaningful and spiritual than she’d anticipated.
You might think my knee-jerk “In The Mix” reaction would be to indignantly side with Langer-Sousa as she rails against the (presumably Orthodox) mikveh lady, who told her she wouldn’t be permitted in the ritual bath because her marriage would not be recognized in the eyes of God. But, while the mikveh at the beach sounds great, I actually found the piece troubling.
If you think Jewish-gentile intermarriage presents a conundrum to the modern Jewish community, then imagine how it perplexed the Nazis, whose whole ideology depended on strictly hierarchical racial/ethnic classifications.
After all, when your entire MO is to exterminate an entire group people, while simultaneously expanding your so-called Master Race, the existence of Aryan-Jewish couples and their “Mischling” offspring is inconvenient to say the least.
Evan Burr Bukey’s “Jews and Intermarriage in Nazi Austria,” of which I’ve just read a review (and can’t wait to get my hands on the book itself), addresses this fascinating topic, looking at the Nazis’ often contradictory, even absurd, policies vis a vis intermarried couples, and at the experiences of the families themselves.
It’s not just that my friend Hila Ratzabi moved there and not just that my former JTA boss Lisa Hostein has taken over its Jewish newspaper.
Now, a Conservative synagogue in suburban Philly is changing its policies to allow gentile spouses to become full synagogue members.
Temple Beth Hillel-Beth El’s new policy was written up a few weeks ago in A Jewish Newspaper That Shall Remain Nameless, in an article that accomplished the remarkable feat of writing at great length about various policies affecting intermarried families and quoting a number of sources, not one of them an intermarried person.
My last post about 9/11 had nothing to do with intermarriage, but this one has everything to do with it.
Shoshana Hebshi, an Ohio blogger/writer/journalist who is both Arab and Jewish (Saudi atheist dad, American Jewish mom) is definitely getting her 15 minutes of fame.
Detained in the Detroit Metro airport on the 10-year-anniversary of 9/11 — the victim of what Atlantic blogger Jeffrey Goldberg describes as “in-air paranoia” — she has detailed the experience in a blog post that is getting picked up in media outlets around the country, no doubt because she is such an articulate (and attractive) example of racial profiling.
Warning: What follows has nothing to do with intermarriage, and it's a few days late for the mountain of 10-year anniversary reflections. Nonetheless, I felt compelled to write and share it anyway:
Had we not been tired and had the admissions lines not been so long that afternoon, my husband and I would have been in the Anne Frank House on 9/11, when the planes hit.
I’ve often wondered what it would have been like to be standing in that famous and ultimately failed hiding place, surrounded by evidence of human evil (and heroism), while hearing the horrifying news.
As promised, my interview with intermarried, up-and-coming Knesset member Einat Wilf is now online, so please check it out.
In case you just want to read the in-the-mix-related highlights, I excerpt them below. Interestingly, she insists that her marriage is not interfaith, because she and her German husband share the same faith: atheism. Although I'm not atheist myself, as a very liberal agnostic, I wish American politicians could get away with this kind of unapologetic, completely un-closeted atheism.
This may come as a shock to you, but I am not the only intermarried mom who blogs about raising Jewish kids (among other in-the-mix-y topics).
InterfaithFamily.com recently launched a fabulous new parenting blog, featuring a variety of nontraditional women (no men yet, but perhaps this is in the works) writing about raising Jewish kids. They include an Evangelical Christian woman who is married to a Jewish man and pregnant with her first child; a pregnant single Jewish woman; a woman who converted to Judaism three years ago after her oldest daughter’s bat mitzvah; and a gentile mom who has been married to a Jewish man for 15 years and is preparing for her oldest son’s bar mitzvah.
I’ve been covering Jewish education for almost 15 years and have interviewed countless people telling me about the myriad challenges (not to mention the financial investment required) of maintaining and passing on our illustrious Jewish traditions.
For interfaith families alone, there is an entire cottage industry of websites like this and this brimming with suggestions, resources, how-to’s and so on for learning about and transmitting our aforementioned traditions.