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January 16, 1987 - Image 88

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1987-01-16

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

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Friday, January 16, 1987

Continued from preceding page

THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS

uniqueness in this country,"
she said.
"It is the dating process
which generally leads to mar-
riage," said Rabbi Groner.
"Jews who care about main-
taining their heritage, identity
and the future of the Jewish
people should care about mar-
rying other Jews." He pointed
out that the issue of interfaith
dating is confronted differently
by adolescents and younger
singles living at home than by
young Jewish adults living on
their own.
He said that with regard to
the younger Jews, parents
should establish standards in
opposition to interfaith dating,
and that hopefully the older
singles would have been instil-
led with a sufficient commit-
ment to and understanding of
their Jewishness to decide not
to date outside the faith.
"Parents and young people
need reinforcement," he said.
"The cry that is heard in many
quarters is that everyone else
is doing it. It is often difficult
for parents to establish limits.
But unless they do, interfaith
marriages will soar in this
country in the years ahead."
Rabbi Groner said that once
a person is engaged in inter-
faith dating s/he becomes vul-
nerable to a strong and endur-
ing relationship which, in most
cases, will overcome a reluc-
tance to marry outside the
faith.
"In earlier times, our ances-
tors faced the issue of physical
survival," he said. "In our time,
the subject is spiritual survi-
val. If our ancestors could
physically survive, I am cer-
tain we can survive spiritually.
The most eloquent statements
we make are our actions. It is
one thing to make statements,
and one thing to act out our
lifestyles according to our
Jewish beliefs."
Margy G. recently became
engaged to a non-Jew, one with
whom she originally had no in-
tentions of getting involved,
basically because of religious
differences. She said, however,
that her commitment to her
religion and Jewish identity
have been strengthened by this
relationship.
"I was very complacent," she
said. "Now I have found that
my Jewishness is strengthened
and I have more commitment
to it, because I've had to think
more about it and what it
means to me. As I grow I think
more of what religion means to
me than I used to.
"My children will be Jewish
because I am. That's not to say
they wouldn't have been
Jewish if I'd found a Jewish
partner, but at least I can con-
tribute to replacing myself.
Some people view interfaith
dating/marriage as almost as
bad as the Holocaust as far as
reducing future generations of
Jews. I'm sure that's very
frightening to many Jews. I
don't feel that way. I don't
think it's realistic that in
America this would happen
even though from my view-

point I think interfaith dating
is very much on the increase."
Margy added that there is
no question that the Jews are a
separate people in many ways
and have a separate identity,
whereas Catholics and Protes-
tants share similar beliefs and
the same holidays. She also
said the family situation is
very hard because parents and
other relatives of interfaith
couples don't understand
exactly how the couple feels on
the complex issues involved.
"If we are going to be suc-
cessful in avoiding interfaith
dating, and I'm not saying it
should be avoided, there
should be more things for sing-
les like the Jewish Community
Center and The Jewish News
singles section are providing.
While I was dating there
wasn't anything that I really
felt the community was provid-
ing for me."
Guilt over involvement in
interfaith relationships is a
key issue for couples attending
the intermarriage workshop
offered each year by the Bir-
mingham Temple, and di-
rected by social workers Judy
Schneider and Chuck Kramer.
"Unresolved guilt is a tremen-
dous dynamic," said Kramer.
"Many of the individuals feel
that they have really disap-
pointed their parents. One
thing we really help them with
is to let them know they really
have nothing to feel guilty ab-
out. These are similar feelings
shared by people marrying
above or below their social
class."
Kramer said that research
since he and Schneider began
conducting the workshops four
years ago indicate that inter-
faith marriages involving
Jews are now approaching one
in two. He said that the Bir-
mingham Temple is more open
to the idea of interfaith dating
because a great number of
temple members are products
of interfaith marriages. "We

understand it's a fact of life,"
he said. "The reason we offer
the intermarriage workshop is
that no one else in the area is
doing it. It is open to anyone in
an interfaith relationship, in-
cluding marrieds and parents.
The workshop is advertised in
The Jewish News and met-
ropolitan Detroit papers to at-
tract people from outside the
temple.
"We start by establishing
the issues participants identify
as problems — their feelings
and fears: How are we going to
raise the children? How are we
going to handle this with our
parents, and to a lesser extent,
with our friends? How are we
going to handle the two reli-
gions? We go through a step by
step process.
"An interfaith marriage,
like any other, has conflicts,"
he said. "The bottom line is the
depth of commitment and the
level on which the parties
communicate. (For informa-
tion on the next workshop, con-
tact Kramer or Schneider
through the Birmingham
Temple.)
Many singles felt the Jewish
community is doing too little to
help them meet other Jewish
singles, but praised the efforts
of the Jewish Community Cen-
ter's Community Network for
Jewish Singles, the People
Connector ad column in The
Jewish News and the singles
section.
"The dances at the Center
are good, but they are few and
far between," said A.C. "Then
there are other activities
which bring together a smaller
number of people. There's no
in-between. House parties are
the best activity because you
really get to meet people. But
you can't live your whole life
attending singles events. You
need a better blend of activi-
ties. You also can't be discour-
aged because you attend one
event, dislike it and not try it

Continued on Page 92

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