Finding Spiritual Oneness in Interfaith Relationships

Observations on the Clinton-Mezvinsky Wedding

The recent wedding of Chelsea Clinton and Marc Mezvinsky is a perfect opportunity to make observations and consider the implications of Jewish intermarriage in America today.

Analysis has begun as varying perspectives are reported.  Some observed that Mezvinsky, a banker and son of two Jewish politicians, married out.  Others see significance in that the daughter of a former U.S. president and the current Secretary of State has married in.

Steven Cohen, Hebrew Union College sociologist, remarked that the marriage is indicative of the "full acceptance of Jews by the larger society."1.  

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Talk about cultural differences!

 

Culture change doesn’t come easily.  It is slow and almost imperceptible.  But it can be seen, especially by people who have been observing for a long time.

Manhattan, New York, has long been a fount of American Jewish culture.  I use the word “culture” to mean all the stuff we learn, especially while growing up, about how to be and do and think about what we define as “us.”  

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What can we do?

It was art imitating life, when the January 10 episode of The Simpsons featured a Jewish-Gentile couple wedding. The storyline focused on the marriage of Krusty the Klown (aka Herschel Krustofski) and his Gentile princess bride.

Some in the American Jewish community didn’t see the humor. Perhaps it was because it just happened to air around the same time that the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia released findings from the "2009 Jewish Population Study of Greater Philadelphia." The demographic realities of that study did not give community leaders cause to smile.

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Passover: Welcome to the Household

The Hebrew month of Nisan begins March 16 and concludes on April 14.  In the middle of the month, at the first site of the full moon on March 30, begins the first night of Passover, or Pesach.

From generation to generation, this night is set apart to memorialize God's deliverance of our ancestors from slavery in Egypt (Exodus 12:14).  Everyone who comes to the table is welcome to take part in the meal and the joyous celebration. 

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Jewish Survival

Many prominent Jewish voices have cast intermarriage as one of the great threats to Jewish survival in America. One editorial cited it as one reason why "particularly young Jews – have been falling by the wayside…"1 A study on the Jewish population of greater Philadelphia, just released in January, suggests more attention is needed to the impact of intermarriage on "a steep decline in Jewish children in the area."2

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Hope for Jewish Gentile Couples in 2010

During the first week of this month, we celebrated the joy of a lifecycle event.  It was the naming ceremony for a little baby girl named Aviva.  We introduced her to a community of loving Jews and Gentiles who celebrated the promise of her new life.  We welcomed her into the household of Israel.

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Responses to Jewish Intermarriage

I want to review some typical responses to Jewish intermarriage that prevail today in the hope that it will provide some understanding about Jewish-Gentile couple relations.  Hopefully, some readers will have an added perspective on their own intermarriage, inter-dating or cohabiting relations.

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Is Intermarriage Good or Bad for the Jews?

A recent PARADE magazine national poll on spirituality reported that 82 percent of Americans would consider marrying someone of a different faith. At the same time, 78 percent said they would never think of converting to another religion.1

While Americans are evidently quite relaxed about the issue of inter-faith marriage, world Jewry is not. In the Jewish context, the question is usually framed, "Is intermarriage good or bad for the Jews?"

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Train up a child in the way he should go, Even when he is old he will not depart from it. (Proverbs 22:6)

When a Child Has Two Cultures

Train up a child in the way he should go, Even when he is old he will not depart from it. (Proverbs 22:6)  All culture is learned. It is the accumulation of intentional lessons and incidental influences in the life of every child. That process is all the more complicated when there are two distinct ethnicities in a home.

In 2004, I published findings from a research survey of challenges that were reported by Jewish-Gentile couples.  One of the more significant sources of intermarriage tension came out of the enculturation of children.

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What's the Matter with Intermarriage?

What’s the Matter with Intermarriage?

What's the Matter with Intermarriage?

Actually, don't be misled by this title. This isn't an article against intermarriage. It is just that there are so many issues related to Jewish-Gentile couples in the news these days.

I just got back from Israel and have been catching up on my reading. I keep a Google search on issues related to Jewish-Gentile couples. July was an interesting month.

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