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April 13, 1990 - Image 68

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1990-04-13

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

REID

Intermarriage

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Continued from Page 66

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68

FRIDAY, APRIL 13, 1990

religions in Hebrew school
won't solve the problem of dif-
ferentiation. Love for and
commitment to Judaism
must serve as a base for ex-
ploring other religions.
Parents and grandparents
who are concerned about
their children marrying other
Jews must be able to express
and transmit a level of
knowledge, passion, and en-
thusiasm about Judaism.
Dropping children off at Sun-
day school, making cursory
attempts to observe some
holidays, and generally ignor-
ing Judaism as an integral
part of life sends a message to
children that the religion is
unimportant no matter how
much one cajoles about the
importance of marrying a
Jew.
In the absence of a dynamic
involvement in Judaism's
spiritual richness, parental
threats, admonitions, and
guilt ring hollow to someone
deciding whom to marry.
The richness of Jewish
culture, history and ethics
must be imparted to each
Jew. This requires different
kinds of Jewish education,
stressing connectedness to
Judaism. Formally, Jewish
values and ethics need more
emphasis. Pleasurable, emo-
tionally touching experiences
with Jewish seasonal and life-
cycle events are also impor-
tant. Informal camping ex-
periences and trips to Israel
with vivid Jewish content are
vital.
Every family should visit
Israel. Parents should take
their children, and grand-
parents should take their
grandchildren. Young adults
are particularly impres-
sionable. If synagogues, JCCs,
and Federations have to sub-
sidize the trip or pay for it,
even for people who can afford
to, so be it. It is the best in-
vestment we could make.
We must also provide the
contexts for Jews to be Jews
and meet other Jews. Much
greater emphasis must be
placed on Jewish programs
for singles, matchmaking ser-
vices, and dating services.
The excuses that we tried pro-
grams that didn't work or
that people are not interested
are simply unacceptable
arguments. New and in-
novative expanded program-
ming can be successful. Good
models exist throughout the
United States. A community
that does not expend the
necessary resources to pro-
vide the context for Jews to
meet other Jews is abdicating
its communal responsibility
in dealing with inter-
marriage.
On an individual basis,
parents,
grandparents,

friends and family should not
be embarrassed about having
dinners and parties where
people meet one another, fix-
ing people up and emphasiz-
ing the traditional networks
by which Jews can meet other
Jews. Each of these can be
successful. Surveys show that
many Jews still meet their
spouses through family and
friends. We cannot assume
that people will not come to
dinner or a party. We do not
have to announce that it is an
event where we want you to
meet so and so. We can be
more clever than that.
In spite of all these efforts
some Jews will meet and
marry non-Jews. The attempt
to bring someone into
Judaism does not have to end
before the marriage
ceremony. Providing a rich,
vibrant Judaism may attract
a non-Jewish spouse. An in-
spired convert can provide
enormous vitality and
richness to our Jewish
community.
The burden still rests on the
parents, grandparents,
friends, and communal in-
stitutions. They must provide
a warm, welcoming environ-
ment. Non-Jewish spouses
will often be attracted to a
Judaism that makes them
feel alive and is filled with
meaning and spiritual sup-
port. We cannot expect a non-
Jewish spouse to embrace
Judaism because they ought
to or because we are unhap-
py about their marrying our
son or daughter.
Furthermore, ambivalent
Jews are not about to put
pressure on their spouses to
embrace a religion that the
Jewish partner is uncertain
about. Therefore, providing a
context that is enticing and
engrossing is our obligation
as individuals and organiza-
tions. That requires us to
know more, to practice more,
and impart more about
Judaism as a way of life.
We cannot coerce and we
cannot throw up our hands.
We have to deal with inter-
marriage by example. We
have to show that Judaism is
worth preserving by living it,
enjoying it, and sharing it. We
have to set standards and say:
"This is what Judaism is
about. Come join me." In this
way we can provide the con-
text where intermarriage
would occur less often.
When intermarriage does
occur we can increse the
likelihood of creating Jewish
households and creating
Jewish families. A vital
Judaism can thrive in the
openness of American society
if we light Shabbat candles,
not yahrtzeit candles in the
face of intermarriage.



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