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July 20, 1990 - Image 25

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1990-07-20

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

Jew-Gentile Marriages
Gain Wider Acceptance

BEN GALLOB

Special to The Jewish News

p

op culture, from
prime-time television
to "how to" books, has
helped legitimize intermar-
riage in America.
It also reflects the rapidly
widening acceptance of mar-
riage between Jew and gen-
tile in American society
generally and among
American Jews in par-
ticular, according to Steven
Bayme, director of the Jew-
ish Communal Affairs
Department of the American
Jewish Committee.
Bayme spelled out his
evaluation in a paper,
"Changing Perceptions of
Intermarriage," one of eight
on the subject published in
the Spring 1990 issue of the
Journal of Jewish Commu-
nal Service.
According to Bayme's
data, between 11,000 and
12,000 "Jews- by-choice"

The viewing public
includes Jews who
react with
trepidation to the
implications for
Jewish continuity.

enter the Jewish community
each year.
The Reform movement
converts about 8,000; the
Conservative movement
about 3,000 to 4,000; and the
Orthodox several hundred.
Currently, 87 percent of
Americans approve of inter-
faith marriages in contrast
to 20 years ago, when "only
60 percent of Americans ap-
proved such marriages,"
Bayme reported.
According to a mid-1960s
Boston survey, 25 percent of
the Jewish community
would "strongly oppose their
children's intermarriage
and 44 percent indicated
they would discourage it."
By 1985, only 9 percent of
Boston's Jews remained
strongly opposed to inter-
marriage, while two-thirds
indicated acceptance or
neutrality, Bayme reported.
Nevertheless, the
"danger" that intermar-
riage "may mean dissolution
of Jewish communal ties
haunts those concerned with
future Jewish survival," he
wrote.
Meanwhile, "a virtual cot-
tage industry of guidebooks
for intermarried couples has
arisen, each complete with

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helpful hints for making
interfaith marriages work
and with stories of successful
couples building happy and
healthy homes," Bayme
writes.
Among the books he cited
were The Intermarriage
Handbook, by Judy Petsok
and Jim Remsen, journalists
specializing in such mar-
riage developments. Bayme
said that both have led pro-
grams on intermarriage and
that the book, published in
1988, is in part an outgrowth
of their journalistic experi-
ences.

Another book is Raising
Your Jewish/Christian
Child, published in 1987 by
Lee Gruzen, a New York
journalist and television
producer; and But How Will
You Raise the Children by
Steven Reuben, a West
Coast Reform rabbi,
published in 1987.
Mixed Blessings, by Paul
and Rachel Cowan, was
published in 1987. Rachel
was converted and has since
received ordination as a
Reform rabbi. Intermarriage,
by Susan Weidman
Schneider, editor of the in-
dependent Jewish feminist
magazine Lilith,was
published in 1989.
Television also, with its
enormous though imprecise-
ly measured impact on
viewers, has greatly chang-
ed the way it portrays
intermarriage.
Bayme recalled that in the
early 1970s, "Bridget Loves
Bernie" was assailed for its
portrayal of a successful
mixed marriage.
But now, in contrast, TV
networks present "several
attractive role models of a
successful intermarriage."
In "L.A. Law," for example,
Stuart Markowitz and Ann
Kelsey are two upwardly
mobile, intelligent and lib-
eral-minded exemplars of
intermarriage.
In the critically-acclaimed
series "thirtysomething,"
the Steadman couple — gen-
tile wife, Jewish husband —
has reached no decision on
how to raise their child, a
theme that symbolizes the
struggles and even the
failures of the "yuppie" ge-
neration, Bayme observed.
Two years ago, the Stead-
man family first confronted
the December dilemma —
Chanukah or Christmas,
menorah or tree, or both?
"In the end, the spirit of
reconciliation enables the
couple to resolve their prob-

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Elect Circuit Judge
Michael David Schwartz
to Court of Appeals

Endorsed By:

David Hermelin
Graham A. Orley
Joseph H. Orley
Marvin Berlin
Steven Kaplan

Mark Schlussel
Mickey Shapiro
Irving Nussbaum
Burt Rosen
Jerome L. Schostak

Hon. Jessica Cooper
Hon. Hilda Gage
Hon. Alice Gilbert
lion. Barry Howard
Hon. Edward Sosnick

Primary Election - Tuesday, August 7, 1990

Court of Appeals - District II: Arenac, Bay, Genesee, Gladwin, Huron, Ingham,
Lapeer, Macomb, Midland, Oakland, Ogemaw, St. Clair, Sanilac, Shiawassee & Tuscola

Paid for by the Committee to Elect Circuit Judge Michael D. Schwartz to Court of Appeals, Robert J. Kaufli n, Treasurer, 16911 Eastland. Roseville. MI 48066

THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS 25

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