Posts Tagged: Intermarriage Results 9
Emily Shire has an essay up at the Daily Beast whose headline reads, “How Does A Single Jew Find a Nice Goy To Date?” A catchy headline for sure, but one whose answer is, in effect, ‘By leaving the house.’ Or not even, in the age of apps. Unlike early 19th century France, when Napoleon very much wanted Jews to marry out, but there was little reason to think non-Jews were prepared to invite Jews into their families, in 21st century America, it’s easier, all things equal, for a (secular) Jew to marry out than in.
The idea that one must marry a Jew to be an effective Jewish leader, as argued in Jane Eisner’s recent editorial “Why We Shouldn’t Accept Rabbis Who Marry Non-Jews,” is outdated and counter productive to 21st century Judaism. Not only do intermarried Jewish leaders who already work in the Jewish community debunk stereotypes about Jews who fall in love with a “stranger,” they are exemplars for how to, in Eisner’s words, “offer bold ideas to make Judaism more accessible and welcoming, to strengthen commitment among those born Jews and encourage others to join.” Celebrating rabbis who intermarry is the way to walk the talk.
In a Huffington Post piece from late October, author Yona Zeldis McDonough positions her latest, highly readable novel, “Two of a Kind,” as a reflection of the growing intermarriage rate between Jews and non-Jews as reported in the by now notorious Pew study.
Certainly, we can take Zeldis McDonough’s story about Christina Connelly, a Christian interior decorator, and Andy Stern, a Jewish obstetrician, as a tale of intermarriage in general. However, for me, its value lies in its particular focus on intermarriage the second time round under the huppah — or at the altar. Handwringing about Jews marrying out of the faith is usually in reaction to young people and first marriages.
I gave my 10-year-old son, Zev, the Pew survey on American Jews. The entire thing. One Sunday afternoon at our kitchen table.
It all started the night before, when an undergraduate student at Hillel at Ohio University, where I am a rabbi, told my son during our Sabbath dinner that he recently found out he is Jewish. My son (pictured below) asked this student for clarification. He wanted to know more about this just-discovered identity; it was as if the student had found Judaism underneath the bed in his dorm room, or at the bookstore while buying books for class. The student replied: “My mom informed me that her parents were Jewish. So it turns out that I’m Jewish!”