Late Bloomers

Julie Wiener at The Jewish Week has a nice column about non-Jewish women who convert many years after their intermarriage.

This phenomenon marks a change from the typical pattern 20 or more years ago, when women would often convert before marriage under pressure–either overt or subtle–from their partner’s families. Continue reading

The Singles Difference

Young unmarried Jews are just as interested in Judaism as their married peers, a surprising new study shows. What’s different, say co-authors Steven M. Cohen and Ari Y. Kelman, is that they avoid affiliating with synagogues, federations and JCCs in part because those institutions are so focused on the traditional family unit.

Uncoupled: How Our Singles Are Reshaping Jewish Engagement, conducted as part of the Jewish Identity Project of Reboot, with the support of Andrea and Charles Bronfman Philanthropies, looked at more than 1,700 non-Orthodox Jews between the ages of 25 and 39 from the 2007 National Survey of American Jews. The authors compared their behaviors and attitudes to the behaviors and attitudes of inmarried non-Orthodox couples. Say Cohen and Kelman:

As many as 67% of these non-Orthodox singles agree, “I am proud to be a Jew,” slightly surpassing the 66% of in-married Jews who agree. More broadly, single Jews express Jewish pride in many different ways, they are widely and deeply connected to Jewish friends, and they express keen interest in self-directed ways of expressing and exploring their Jewish identities.

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The Jew in the NBA Finals

The list of Jewish players who have ever played in the NBA is short (and the list of notable ones is even shorter). The best ever is Hall-of-Famer Dolph Schayes, who was named one of the 50 greatest players in NBA history in 1996.

The newest Jewish talent in the NBA–and first since Dolph’s son Danny last played in 1999–is Jordan Farmar, the backup point guard for the L.A. Lakers. Even more relevant for our audience, he’s from an interfaith family. His father was a non-Jewish African-American and his mother is Jewish (he was subsequently raised by his mother and his stepdad, an Israeli). Despite being a second-year player and making more than $1 million a year, he continues to live with his parents. (I’m sure his fellow players never give him guff about that.)

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Coming Out of the Closet… As Interdating

Holy CannoliIn yesterday’s Huffington Post, one of the original plantiffs in the California Supreme Court case that legalized same-sex marriage, Robin Tyler, wrote about the one thing more shocking than her pending marriage to a woman: her pending marriage to a non-Jew.

Tyler (original last name: Chernick) and her partner Diane Olson plan on being married by Rabbi Denise Eger of Kol Ami, an LGBT-friendly Reform synagogue in West Hollywood, Calif. However, the wedding itself will be held on the steps of the Beverly Hills Courthouse, where Tyler fully expects a mix of drag queens and protesters.

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Think We’ve Got It Bad?

In this Middle Eastern country, a woman of the majority religion married a man from another religion. Her family had no problems with it, but the couple lives in fear of being exposed to the religious authorities as an interfaith couple. Meanwhile, the majority of this state’s young people support a couple’s right to civil marriage.

Israel, right? Try its neighbor to the north, Syria.

While Israel (justly) gets flak for its antiquated, inconsistent and prejudicial approach to interfaith marriage, the Arab countries that surround it are no better–and in many cases worse. Take Syria.

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Shavuot

(In which someone finally answers the question, “What about…Naomi?”)

Shavuot begins Sunday evening. Though it’s not a minor holiday in Jewish terms, it doesn’t have as much of a presence in the United States as other, better-known Jewish holidays. To me, that’s a shame, as it celebrates aspects of Jewish belief that I think are under-recognized in the Jewish community. Shavuot was one of the three pilgrimage festivals to the temple in Jerusalem when it was standing, and it is the modern form of an ancient Near Eastern agricultural festival for the barley harvest, but most importantly, it’s the time when Jews celebrate the giving of the Torah at Mt. Sinai.grain

Now that I work at InterfaithFamily.com, I’m thinking more about what the Jewish holidays have to say to interfaith families. Like Purim, Shavuot features the reading of a book of the bible that centers on a woman who enters an interfaith marriage. At Purim, we read about Esther, a Jewish girl who married a non-Jewish king and saved the Jewish people. At Shavuot, we read The Book of Ruth, a Moabite, who married into an Israelite family and became part of the Israelite people.

Typically, we interpret the Book of Ruth as a story about the acceptance of converts, and really, the world’s Jewish community needs that message right now, but I think we could also read this as the story of a successful interfaith marriage.  Continue reading