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April 13, 1984 - Image 75

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1984-04-13

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS

Orthodox break with tradition
in fight against intermarriage

BY N. DINA NERENBERG

Special to The Jewish News
Orthodox community
leaders have come up with
some very unorthodox tac-
tics for fighting intermar-
riage, which experts esti-
mate is running as high as
50 percent in some Ameri-
can Jewish communities.
While Reform leaders
were thought of as the only
Jewish advocates of out-
reach, a group of Orthodox
rabbis who have called for
reversing the traditional
Jewish family practice of
cutting off contact with
children who inter-marry.
They also call for reaching
out to the non-Jewish part-
ner as well as the Jewish
one before marriage takes
place in an effort to prevent
it. And, in cases where such
a marriage does take place
and the new- wife is Jewish,
they suggest reaching out to
children of the intermarried
couple (who are considered
Jewish under traditional
Jewish law) in an effort to
encourage their Jewish
education and observance of
initzvot.
These plans were laid out
at a unique conference
sponsored by. Chabad
Lubavitch recently on Long
Island in New York. The
program was said to be the
first on the topic ever spon-
sored by observant Jews for
the general community. It
attracted a crowd of about
150 Jewish communal
workers, concerned parents,
and many who admitted
they were both.
The communal workers
represented a wide range of
Jewish organizations, in-
cluding the local and
regional chapters of the
American Jewish Congress,
B'nai B'rith, Hadassah, Na-
tional Council of Jewish
Women, United Jewish Ap-
peal, as well as neighboring
Jewish day schools, cof-
feehouses and synagogues.
The conference partici-
pants heard an unexpected
message from Nassau
Country Lubavitch Director
Rabbi Anchelle Perl who
urged the crowd, "Don't ac-
cept intermarriage as a fait
accompli." In radical con-
trast to the traditional cus-
tom of breaking off com-
munication with an inter-
married child, to mourning
him or her as if deceased,
Rabbi Perl recommended
"making every effort, trying
every angle" to re-establish
a relationship with an in-
termarried son or daughter.
Rabbi Yehuda Kelemer,
leader of Young Israel of
West Hempstead stressed
the importance of parents
increasing their own reli-
gious observance in the
home as a means of main-
taining the new couple's
links both to the family and
Jewish life.

N. Dina Neren.berg is
associate editor of the "1984
American Jewish
Yearbook" and a member of
Chabad Lubavitch
community.

also
But speakers
cautioned that in keeping
the channels of discussion
open between parents and
the couple, there must be
respect for the religious be-
liefs of the non-Jewish
partner. "Jews do not seek
to missionize," warned
Rabbi Morris Gorelik,
Yeshiva University profes-
sor and president of the
Beth Din of America. "Our
mission does not repudiate
the righteous of other na-
tions."
Rabbi Gorelik termed
conversion of gentile

not mixing .milk and meat.
While imperative to the
spiritual well-being of the
individual Jews and the
Jewish nation as a whole,
these demands are totally
irrelevant and unnecessary
for a Gentile, the rabbi
noted.
Rabbi Perl reported suc-
cess in stopping intermar-
riage by convincing the
Gentile partner of just these
facts. "They say, if my part-
ner does this to his own
people (disregards his
Jewish social and religious
obligations), what is he
going to do to me?"
Not that Jewish students
and older singles can be
blamed for choosing Gentile
partners, West Hempstead
psychiatrist Dr. Irving Bar-
net told the group. "If you
think your children are
crazy they're not," he said.
While a very small percent-
age of these relationships
may be the result of unre-
solved "neurotic situations"
or "an attempt to assert
themselves in the power
struggle between parents
spouses under in-law pres- and children," most are the
sure "immoral and unethi- natural consequence of
cal." But he added one must weakening ties to the
always be "humane and Jewish community, he said.
compassionate" in dealing Since "nothing meaningful
with the situation, and was even communicated" to
ready to accept the sincere the majority of Jewish
youth about their heritage,
proselyte.
Rabbi Menachem Mendel Barnet reasoned, how can
Schneerson, leader of the they be expected to "deal
Lubavitcher Chasidim, with the question of 'what
has developed a slightly responsibility do I have to
different outreach program the group?'
"They're honest kids who
to non-Jews, according to
don't
want to hurt their par-
Rabbi Perl — one that in-
cludes outreach to non-Jews ents, their people, or their
before intermarriage takes God, but hold to their prom-
ises (made to gentile lov-
place.
ers)," Chasidic rabbi and
"We tell non-Jews about radio personality J.J. Hecht
the seven Noahide laws said of those who interdate
that God gave them, that and intermarry. Rabbi
they have their own mis- Hecht said this generation
sion, purpose in life." Rabbi is not able to withstand the
Perl said. These seven ethi- "pressures and tempta-
cal precepts, given to the tions" of American society
world before the Jews re- and the campus lifestyle.
ceived the Torah at Mount
Rabbi Hecht said tradi-
Sinai according to the Bible, tional Jewish values such as
include prohibitions modesty and group loyalty
against murder, adultery lingered for awhile after the
and promiscuity, stealing, majority of American Jewry
dishonesty and cruelty to had given up religious ob-
animals. It also includes the servance because those
positive commandment to generations experienced
establish courts of law and the love and dignity of par-
to pursue justice.
ents and grandparents who
These Noahide laws are had grown up in the warmth
being publicized in a of the European shtetl. "Our
Chasidic ad campaign to in- parents were like kings and
form Gentiles of their moral queens in the l?ome, but
responsibilities, including what do our children know
world-wide broadcasts over about the beauty of
radio and television and Judaism? They're living in
through myriads of the shadows of shadows."
Lubavitcher books, maga-
While intermarriage
zines and newsletters. It threatens group survival
would appear the campaign (the 1984 American Jewish
has a two-fold purpose. Yearbook indicates Jews
While it creates a spiritual have already reached zero
climate on earth conducive population growth), there is
to godliness, said Rabbi another reason to worry
Perl, it also educates Gen- about the problem, accord-
tiles and Jews to the dif- ing to Rabbi Perl.
ferences of their roles on
He said the situation
earth and the consequent brings many improperly
problems involved in in- converted proselytes into
termarriage.
the community and people
While righteous Gentiles who assume they are
are bound by the seven Jewish because their
Noahide laws, Jews are re- spouses are.
quired to obey 613, includ- Copyright Jewish Student
ing commandments such as Press Service, 1984.

Instead of
breaking off
communication
with an
intermarried
child, now every
effort is made to
re-establish
communication.

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