Worth Reading: More Talk About Intermarriage

Just a quick post about two important discussions about intermarriage. In the current issue of the  Forward, Adam Bronfman debates Jack Wertheimer in Straight Talk About Assimilation: An Exchange. Adam is the managing director of the Samuel Bronfman Foundation, one of InterfaithFamily.com’s leading funders, and we continue to applaud his outspoken leadership on our issues.

Also, Jeremy Ben Ami, the executive director of J Street, had some interesting comments about intermarriage in an interview with Atlantic correspondent Jeffrey Goldberg. For comment, check out  J Street Chief Talks About Intermarriage on Tablet Magazine. As always, Andy Silow-Carroll, editor of the New Jersey Jewish News, has an insightful take on Ben Ami’s comments on his  blog.

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2 thoughts on “Worth Reading: More Talk About Intermarriage

  1. The exchange between Wertheimer and Bronfman is very good, open and honest – and it provides real food for thought to anyone interested in intermarriage by two people who, although they draw different conclusions, are both well informed and have something important to say.  The comments by Jeremy Ben-Ami – far less so.  It seems strange that someone whose mission is Israel advocacy would weigh in with such confidence on an issue he has not studied, and doesn’t really seem to know much about. It would be rather strange if the Director of AIPAC made such a statement, and it’s no less strange coming from Ben-Ami. I would feel this way regardless of which side of the issue he represented.  Intermarriage is an important enough issue that it deserves thoughtful public comment by people who have reflected on it and have something meaningful to say.

  2. Not surprisingly, I tend to agree with Mr. Bronfman, but since I was raised outside of Jewish culture and find it difficult to gain access or acceptance, I am coming from a different place than those who grow up in Jewish environments and then marry out. To me, complaints about assimilation are likely to sound very hypocritical. I just don’t buy it – I think it’s very lazy and self-centered to talk that way when people who want to be part of Jewish life are routinely excluded – such as children of intermarriage who may or may not be Jewish according to halacha.

    The central issue to me is not just preserving a culture, but the underlying values that make the culture worth preserving in the first place. Why be Jewish? Why preserve Judaism? What does Mr. Wertheimer hope to preserve, exactly? He doesn’t say – he talks as if everyone knows what the agenda is and why it matters. Yet even those raised as Jews stumble and stutter over this question, responding with comments like “Why save the tiger?” Who has truly made an effort to answer the question of why to be Jewish – or even what that means?

    When I posted the question here “What is spirituality?” no one answered. I suspect this is because no one knows. And maybe this is the crux of the problem. Jewish values should be the key to a more ethical, loving, responsible approach to other people and the planet, wouldn’t you say? How do you reconcile the particularities of culture with broader spiritual concerns? Is there a connection? If so, how would you describe it?

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