Shalom TV, which bills itself as a “mainstream Jewish television network”, sent us an email entitled “Intermarriage Threatens Jewish Future.”
The enclosed press release described a roundtable discussion between some of the Jewish communal experts who are most alarmed by interfaith marriage.
In the Jewish community, we generally celebrate diversity of opinion on questions. You know the expression, “Two Jews, three opinions”? You know how the Talmud always cites the minority opinion in discussions of halachah?
Not on Shalom TV, so much.
Of course I agree that it’s a problem for Jewish people to lose connection to their cultural and religious heritage. Our mission here is to encourage Jewish choices and a welcoming Jewish community. That’s for interfaith families, of course–and I think, for everyone.
In case you missed that, a quote from the press release:
“For 4,000 years, Jews knew that mixed marriage was not the right thing to do. They still may have done it, because we often don’t do the right thing. But we knew it was the wrong thing to do. Now, we are witnessing a cultural change, where people are saying, ‘It’s okay. It’s a perfectly acceptable thing to do.’ It’s that cultural change that I spend an awful lot of nights worrying about.”
According to Dr. Bayme, this normative change comes from a well-intentioned desire in the Jewish community “to reach out and bring in people on the periphery” of Jewish life, given the impact of intermarriage rates that have hovered near 50% for decades.
I’m just staggered. Is this really the best approach to involving Jewish people in their community? Not to encourage interfaith families to participate in Jewish life, but instead to join Dr. Bayme in being “agonized and worried”? That always brings them in to my schul. “Join us in agonizing worry about the future. Catered kiddush to follow.”
It’s depressing that this is still someone’s idea of mainstream Jewish discourse.
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