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January 05, 1990 - Image 38

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1990-01-05

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

PURELY COMMENTARY

Mixed Marriages

Continued from Page 2

understanding manner
and left open windows of
opportunity for subse-
quent outreach and com-
munal activities. To be
sure, there are other
ideological and psycho-
logical considerations, and
it is upon these areas that
debate and further
research should be
focused.
These views compel most
serious consideration and
realization of the destructive
elements that emerge from
concessions to mixed mar-
riages. While acceptability is
at once emphasized as a ma-
jor awareness of what is
transpiring, the factual
results must not be swallow-
ed into indifference. They are
serious threats even to the
minimal gains to be attained
from the yielding to
cooperativeness that is
sought in the family affected
by intermarriage. A special
article in the Detroit News
"USA This Week," published
prior to both Chanukah and
Christmas, made a series of
suggestions under the
heading "2 Faiths, 1 Family."
Because it was proposed by a
rabbi, the introduction should
be read. It stated:
For the estimated 40 per-
cent of U.S. couples who
are interfaith, the holidays
can be a confusing time of
year. Especially this year,
when Chanukah and
Christmas overlap. Many
parents aren't sure how to
celebrate with the kids or
which rituals to use.
"Whether the couple is
Jewish and Christian, or a
believer and a non-believer,
or any mix of faiths, there
are similar problems;' says
Rabbi Steven Carr Reuben,
who has been counseling
interfaith couples for 15
years. He is the author of
But How Will You Raise the
Children? A Guide to Inter-
faith Marriages ($6.95,
Pocket Books).
"In my experience, the
successful interfaith rela-
tionships happen when
there's a team approach of
dealing with issues and
responding to problems:'
Reuben offers tips on
how to help your kids en-
joy the holidays:
If where to celebrate is a
difficult decision, allow the
children to celebrate
Christmas with Christian
relatives, Chanukah with
the Jewish side of the
family.
Everyone can express
how they feel during the
holiday season by con-
tributing their favorite
theme, be it Santa Claus or

38

FRIDAY, JANUARY 5, 1990

menorahs. Each family
memer can decorate cards
or make their own
ornaments.
Don't get caught in the
"right-wrong" trap.
Celebrate the universal
ideals of religious freedom
and peace on Earth.
Start your own family
lifestyle and holiday tradi-
tions, but only after shar-
ing with the kids each
parent's religious beliefs
and the traditions that
have been handed down.
Incorporate something
from both sides.
There is an overwhelming
yielding to this idea, yet it is
doubtful whether it is totally
operative. The majority in the
land and its Christian em-
phases grants the non-Jews
an advantage. Therefore the
challenge is more difficult to
tackle for Jews.
The Jewish responsibility
may therefore be to return to
the roots. That's where there
is the duty to magnify the
Jewish commitment that the
intermingling of people of dif-
fering faiths is as citizens
respecting each other the
American way and their
religious observances to be
dedicated and limited to their
homes and schools and
houses of worship. As citizens
all owe the need to exchange
honors as greetings on
festivals and to treat them as
obligatory to be respectful
and to recognize the dignities
of each other as loyal
friendships.
Of course this may be
treated as an unattainable
goal. Let it be contributable
to whatever approaches are
made to resolve such serious
complications.
Meanwhile, the compelling
admission that the approach
to the dilemma of intermar-
riage has become
acceptability.

Like it or not, intermar-
riages predominate and are
cutting into our numerical
ranks.
But we are really at the
commencement of the threats
to our identifications as a
religious faction in the
American community. If ex-
tended to extremes we may be
writing off the totality of an
independently operating
kehilla, especially if we give
totality to acceptability as is
now proposed in the above
quoted "2 Faiths:" interpreta-
tion. The submission to accep-
tability becomes a menacing
threat. A pre-Chanukah
Jewish Telegraphic Agency
news story is especially
revealing in the testing of
developments that are becom-
ing much more serious with

the voluminous increase of
mixed marriages. Under the
revealing headline, "Greeting
Card Industry Responding to
Growing Rate of Intermar-
riage," the JTA article con-
tains the important facts:
For
Christians,
December is the season to
be jolly; for Jews, it is the
time to celebrae the festival
of lights. And for card
manufacturers, regardless
of faith, it is the season to
sell greeting cards.
This year, a new variety
of holiday cards has ap-
peared on the market, and
they are causing a stir
among both Jewish and in-
terdenominational groups.
One such card depicts an
ostensibly Christian angel
lighting a Chanukah
menorah. Another shows
' Santa gleefully spinning a
dreidel. A third is a
graphic design of a
Christmas tree transform-
ing itself into a Star of
David.
Aimed specifically at the
growing numer of inter-
faith households in
America today, these cards
appear to validate the in-
creasing trend of marriage
between Christians and
Jews.
"We are depicting some
universal symbols that
make people in interfaith
marriages feel good about
the holidays," said Philip
Okrend of Mixed-Blessing
card manufacturers, a line
of interfaith holiday cards
designed by his wife, Elise.
"Interfaith couples are a
reality. We are simply fin-
ding an adaptable solution
to what can be an
awkward situation," he
said.
But officials at the
American Jewish Commit-
tee and the National Con-
ference of Christians and
Jews fail to see any bless-
ing in the firm's line of
cards.
"Greeting cards that
mingle Santas and
menorahs, angels, trees,
stockings and Stars of
David are objectional," the
two groups said in a joint
statement.
"To combine the religious
and cultural symbols of
Chanukah and Christmas
in greeting-card art is to
diminish the sacred symols
of each faith and is an af-
front to Judaism, to Chris-
tianity and to serious inter-
faith relations .. .

Says Egon Mayer:
"The fact that these cards
exist points to an incredi-
ble need: to create a fami-
ly life in interfaith homes

in which both heritages
are acknowledged and re-
spected. It's a real problem
for these families. The com-
panies are touching on a
sensitive nerve:'
According to Mayer's
research, the rate of inter-
marriage has grown
substantially in recent
yearS. In the 1950s, only
about seven Jews out of
100 married outside the
faith. By the 1980s, that
trend had increased to
about 35 out of 100, a five-
fold increase.
Last year, there were bet-
ween 400,000 and 600,000
Jewish-Christian mar-
riages in the United States.
"In a majority of inter-
faith homes, Christmas is
celebrated in some fashion,
often with a freer said
Mayer. "Jews feel a sense of
urgency that their culture
not be completely swallow-
ed up."
But Mayer feels strongly
that attacking the jux-
taposition of religious sym-
bols in printed matter is
not a solution to the
problem.
"The printing of inter-
religious cards places a
tremendous challenge
before the organized
Jewish community. The
Jewish community must
make our symbols
understandable to the
community at large."
Mayer specifically sug-
gested a massive public
education campaign and
organized pressure for
public and private televi-
sion programming of
Chanukah specials.
There has always been
resentment, in dignified
ranks of all faiths, of the
capitalizing on religious
themes and observances,
especially at this time of
faithfulness. But the greeting
card appeal gets responses
because so many fail to
recognize the disgusting
resort to cheap humor.



Hatreds Again

Continued from Page 2

Jewish historian and
musicologist, and Dr. Irene
Runge, professor of ethnology
at Humbolt University and a
spokeswoman for the East
Berlin Jewish organization,
the Times article exposes
these prejudicial experiences:
Dr. Runge and Dr. Kant
said they had recently
been subjected to anti-
Semitic remarks by
strangers here, and both
said they were deeply
disturbed by reports in the

East German press of neo-
Nazi incidents in various
parts of this country.
In Erfurt, the police are
investigating the writing of
anti-Semitic slogans on
various buildings last
month.
There was another inci-
dent last Thursday in a
newly built apartment
complex in Bernburg, near
the border with West Ger-
many. The state press
agency said seven young
men abducted three
11-year-old boys, beat them
and then smeared a
swastika on the forehead
of one of them with hot
wax from a candle while
shouting Nazi slogans.
Late last week, the chair-
man of West Germany's far-
right Republican Party

Must democracy
and anti-Semitism
go hand in hand in
Eastern Europe?

demanded that his party
be allowed to install itself
in East Germany.
About 20 young East Ger-
man men marched down
the well-traveled Friedrich-
strasse carrying a banner
with a slogan denouncing
the Republicans: "No to
Nazi Swine."
The issue of Jews and
anti-Semitism in East Ger-
many is more complex
than in other Warsaw Pact
countries. In East Ger-
many, as in Poland,
Hungary and Rumania,
many leaders chosen by
Stalin to install a Soviet-
style system after World
War II were known to be of
Jewish origin.

In some cases, notably in
Poland and Czechoslo-
vakia, anti-Semitic purges
were later set in motion,
blaming the Jews for
failures. In those countries,
code words like "interna-
tionalists, Trotskyites and
rootless cosmopolites"
were widely understood as
critical terms referring to
Jews.
But in East Germany all
such tendencies were
made more complex by the
legacy of the Nazi period.

Such are the admonishing
relevations toward a
knowledge about the expan-
ding hate-mongering.
It might have been hoped
that in intellectual, academic
and literary circles there
would be organized forces to
combat the venom.



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