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March 02, 1990 - Image 60

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1990-03-02

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

FAMILY LIFE

PHYLIS KLASKY KARAS

Special to The Jewish News

W

e stand at my
father's grave, my
mother, my hus-
band and I, and we recite
separately the individual,
prayers to honor my father's
memory. I am especially
moved this year, the second
year that I have stood at my
father's grave, by the mean-
ing of the words I recite. As I
promise, at his graveside, to
perpetuate the ideals impor-
tant to him, my thoughts
wander to my own two sons.
Yes, I have done what was
expected of me as a Jewish
daughter of a man to whom
Judaism was vitally impor-
tant, to whom the State of
Israel was the most precious
gift and most serious obliga-
tion ever offered to a Jew. I
have married a Jewish man,
kept a kosher home, sup-
ported Israel and raised my
two sons in a traditional
Jewish home.
I have kept the endless
link strong and firm. Yet, it
is this that worries me so
strongly. Will my two sons
continue as two strong links,
joining one generation to
another? Or will they
splinter and destroy this
link that their grandfather
so cherished?
Or to put it more simply,
will they marry Jewish
women and honor their
parents as I have honored
mine?
The answer to these ques-
tions haunts me these days.
All around me, I have seen
too many children of my
friends and my cousins
marry Christians. I have
seen the children of parents
who did exactly as I did, who

Phyllis Klasky Karas is a
free-lance-writer from
Marblehead, Mass. This
article originally appeared in
the Jewish Advocate in Boston.

60.

FRIDAY„MARCH 2,1990

Artwork from Newsday by Gary Viskupic. Copyright c 1989, Newsday. Distributed by Los Angeles Times Syndicate.

A Mother
Worries

Will her children intermarry
and splinter the family?

educated their children in
Hebrew schools, supported
Israel, maintained kosher
kitchens, espoused Jewish
values, and watched
helplessly as their children
fell in love with non-Jews.
In my typically compulsive
manner, I have analyzed
each individual case of in-
termarriage and tried to find
a common link, some small
message that could help me
avoid the same situation,
that could help me guide my
two sons past such a painful
happening.

It has taken me a while to
reach my conclusion;
however, the answer to my
question is finally clear.
There is no common thread;
nor is there a magic formula
waiting to be followed. Sheer
luck or the lack of it, a mere
roll of the dice seems to be
the answer here, and it is an
answer I find especially hard
to swallow.
I have spoken to parents
who have told me that in-
termarriage is simply unac-

ceptable in their families,
that they will neither con-
done nor attend such a wed-
ding among their children.
I have even listened to one
cousin, whose two daughters
are both beneath the ages of
10, state firmly and in no-
nonsense language that he
personally will not attend
the weddings of any
relatives whose children in-
termarry. "This simply
gives tacit approval to such a
marriage," he told me.
"Therefore, I have to make a
stand. Don't invite me to any
of those weddings. I don't
want to be there."
Unlike my cousin, I have
attended too many of these
weddings lately. Always,
along with the bride and the
groom, there rests an ache in
my heart that doesn't lessen,
even with the presence of a
beautiful bride, a handsome
groom, delicious food and a
spirited band. I have studied
the looks on the faces of the
families of the bride and the
groom, and there, always, I
see the strains of fear and

worry intermingled with the
glow of pride and joy.
When I return from these
weddings — held at country
clubs and lovely restaurants,
some with rabbis and min-
isters officiating, others
merely with justices of the
peace — I find myself over-
whelmed with the need to
speak to my sons. At ages 21
and 17, neither one of them
is thinking marriage, yet
each one of them has had
some sort of involvement
with a non-Jewish girl.
"Do you honestly think
you could someday marry a
girl who isn't Jewish?" I
question, and mostly they
just stare at me as if I had
asked them how many
children they expected to
raise. "Well, it will break
my heart if you do," I answer
their shrugs.
Sometimes I launch into a
monologue about the impor-
tance of Judaism to their
father and me; and,
sometimes, I just leave the
room hoping that the look of
misery on my face when I

even mention the word
"intermarriage" will
frighten them away from
such an act.
But I am not as naive as I
sometimes seem. No, I
understand the ways of
today's world. I see the
secular worlds in which my
sons move and I accept the
lion's share of the blame for
this lifestyle. It was with
great joy that I noted that
each of the colleges which
my sons attend contains at
least 15 percent Jewish
students. Still, I have met
their closest friends and the
Tonys and Chrises share
equal billing with the Jasons
and Adams.
When one son says he has
a date with a Kristen, my
heart sinks. When the other
one says he met someone
named Rachel, I walk
around singing for a week.
When my niece married a
lovely Jewish boy and decid-
ed to honor his commitment
to a kosher kitchen, I felt a
rush of pride and joy that
has lasted for over two years
now. This beautiful couple is
my hope, my strength in a
religious scene that all too
often disappoints and
frightens me.
Perhaps my cousin is cor-
rect. Perhaps I should not at-
tend any weddings that are
not between members of the
same religion. Yet, I know
how impossible it would be
for me to follow such an ar-
rangement.
So, instead, I will use all
my strength to grasp the
link that has bound one ge-
neration of Jews to another.
And until the day comes
when someone will offer me
a magic formula guaranteed
to produce children who will
marry only Jews, I will bully
and cajole and beg and pray
whenever I find the oppor-
tunity. That is part of my job
as a Jewish mother, and like
all the others before me, I
will perform to the best of
my ability.



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