A New York Times article on the new president of the New York Board of Rabbis had us shaking our heads here in the InterfaithFamily.com office. It’s kind of funny that the Orthodox and Conservative rabbis can handle female or gay rabbis on the 700-rabbi board, but heaven forbid they should include anyone who would officiate at an intermarriage! (Which is in one way incredibly cool and exciting–women were first ordained as rabbis by the major movements in my lifetime, and wow, did you ever think you would be reading that about gay rabbis–but still.) How does intermarriage, something that apparently over 30% of Jews are doing, get to be the one thing that’s so far beyond the Pale?
Check this out:
In Suffolk County, which has 90,000 Jews, 8 out of 10 are not affiliated with a Jewish institution, partly because of the cost of synagogue membership and the rise in intermarriage, Rabbi Gellman said.
The fallout is especially notable among single, post-college adults, who are “very, very disconnected and unconnected from Jewish life,” Rabbi Klein said. “The only thing they know about the Jewish community is JDate,” the online Jewish dating service.
Oy. So intermarriage is why people are unaffiliated, which is why we shouldn’t include rabbis who perform interfaith ceremonies on the board of rabbis, and young people are all so disconnected. Why, the only Jewish thing those terribly disconnected young people care about is–trying to find Jews to marry! Well, it doesn’t sound to me like young people are so disconnected from the Jewish community’s priorities, at all. We’re all incredible romantics, aren’t we? We assume that in-marriage is going to make young people Jewish.
The problem with marriage, whether you marry a Jew or a non-Jew, is that in real life, that’s not the end of the story. Just marrying a Jew isn’t enough to make you affiliate, and on the flip side, just marrying a non-Jew isn’t the single thing that would make you decide not to affiliate. “Happily ever after” is only in fairy tales. In real life, we have to keep getting up in the morning and going to minyan–and encouraging other people to do so, even if they have married someone who isn’t Jewish.
It’s time to stop writing off people who still count.
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