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September 01, 1989 - Image 7

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1989-09-01

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

I CONTENTS

OP-ED]

Can Intermarriages Be
Saved By Outreach?

LYDIA KUKOFF

Special to The Jewish News

C

an we save inter-
marriages by com-
municating?
Divorce results from a
breakdown in communica-
tion, as partners become
unable to satisfy their own
needs and the needs of their
spouse. The gap grows and
can't be bridged.
Certainly that happens in
endogamous marriages, but
in marriages where partners
represent two different
histories, two different tradi-
tions and differing but often
unexpressed expectations liv-
ing in relationships, there is
even a greater likelihood that
a difficulty in communica-
tions is there from the outset,
and the gap can only widen.
According to the North
American Jewish Data Bank,

What happens
when intermarried
couples
participate in
Outreach
programming
designed to help
them strengthen
their marriage?

Jews who marry non-Jews are
twice as likely to get divorc-
ed as those who marry Jews.
In that study ("Why Jews
Intermarry," Aug. 18), the
researchers had thought that
in time the intermarried
couples would simply work
out their differences, but, in
fact, the statistics seem to
prove that that was not what
happened.
The study raises many
questions, but perhaps one of
the most intriguing relates to
the role of intervention. In 10
years of sponsoring programs
for intermarried and inter-
marrying couples through the
Outreach program of the
Reform movement, we have
found that if those couples are
to have a successful marriage,
they must deal with their dif-
ferences and work toward
resolution. The issues are
very complex and will not
simply go away. If anything,
time and the arrival of
children often serve to exacer-

Lydia Kukoff is the director of
the UAHC-CCAR
Commission on Reform
Jewish Outreach. Her office is
in Los Angeles.

bate the differences and the
difficulty.
While no discussion group
alone can provide the
"answer," such a group can
and does begin a process of ex-
amination and positive com-
munication for both partners,
and can lessen their sense of
isolation. Without such sup-
port, even the most articulate
and intelligent couple often
can reach a point beyond
which they cannot talk for
fear of rocking the emotional
boat.
For the Jewish community,
intermarriage is the ultimate
"button pusher" because it
goes to the heart of Jewish
survival. Without any in-
tervention on the part of the
community, Jewish survival
will be threatened.
We live in an open society;
intermarriage will not disap-
pear. But by offering ap-
propriate premarital counsel-
ing to couples contemplating
intermarriage, by offering
discussion groups where
these couples can meet in a
comfortable setting with a
trained facilitator to clarify
their needs and their goals as
a family, and by educating
ourselves as a community to
the complexity of the issues
raised by intermarriages, I
believe that we can go a long
way to lessen the divorce rate.
Clearly, there must be a
willingness on the couple's
part to engage in a process,
and there must be a will-
ingness on the community's
part to examine an issue that
makes us very uncomfortable.
The danger is that we will
stop at the statistics and
develop a "we told you so"
mentality. The study is only
a beginning, a means to get
us to ask ourselves even more
difficult questions.
What happens when inter-
married couples participate
in Outreach programming
designed to help them
strengthen their marriage?
What happens if they do not
feel rejected by the communi-
ty? How do we reach out to
the intermarried while en-
couraging in-marriage? How
do we deal constructively
with the reality of a changing
Jewish community and create
from what is often a bewilder-
ing, contradictory, scary
welter of anecdotes, trends
and statistics a blueprint for
the creative and vibrant sur-
vival of the Jewish people in-
to the 21st century and
beyond? ❑

AJPA Op-Ed Service.

CLOSE-UP

Chipping Away
At The Old Guard

24

ZE'EV CHAFETS
Who's who in Israel's
next generation of leaders.

54

SPORTS

Looking To 1990

24

RICHARD PEARL
Maccabians are bolstered
by performance in Pittsburgh.

63

Back To School/
Family

CARLA JEAN SCHWARTZ, Editor
From Detroit's new Reform day school
to the college campus.

54

87

ENTERTAINMENT

Hats Off

STEVEN M. HARTZ
Doug Gorenstein reaches new heights
on his climb toward stardom.

SINGLE LIFE

The Fax Of Romance

110

ELIZABETH APPLEBAUM
How one man uses modern technology
to make old-fashioned love.

DEPARTMENTS

87

28
32
42
48
52

Inside Washington
Media Monitor
Synagogues
Education
Business

99
116
121
125
146

Travel
Engagements
Births
Classified
Obituaries

CANDLELIGHTING

110

7:50 p.m.
September 1, 1989
Sabbath ends Sept. 2 8:56 p.m.

THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS

7

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