Intermarriage in Egypt, Moms, Etc.

Consider this a belated cleaning of online hametz:

  • Julie Wiener recently wrote about the growth of local Mothers’ Circle chapters for the Wall Street Journal. The Mothers Circle, a program for non-Jewish women raising Jewish children, now has chapters in 26 communities.
  • Wiener also wrote a great pre-Passover piece for AP on Passover food and how strange it is to non-Jewish guests. Among other highlights, Wiener quotes me. It makes a nice companion piece to today’s featured articles, Strangers at a Strange Meal.
  • A few weeks ago, Rabbi Lev Baesh, the director of our Resource Center for Jewish Clergy, spoke with Rabbi Jim Egolf, rabbi of Beth David Reform Congregation in Gladwyne, Penn. In Rabbi Egolf’s podcast, Rabbi Baesh introduces InterfaithFamily.com and talks about how his approach to Jewish engagement differs a little from the organization.
  • In The Jerusalem Post, David Forman argues a sensible point in an insensible way: create a birthright israel trip for interfaith couples. But like almost all Israeli writers about intermarriage (with the notable exception of Shmuel Rosner), Forman paints intermarriage as a “disaster.”
  • In the Texas Jewish Post feature Ask the Rabbi, a reader asks Rabbi Yerachmiel D. Fried, the founder and dean of the Dallas Kollel:

I noticed that you were a signatory on a letter from a number of rabbis, in today’s (4/10/08) TJP, proclaiming their objection to any legitimization of intermarriage. The letter ends with blessings of continuing the unbroken chain which began with the first Passover, leaving Egypt until today. But surely, as slaves to the Egyptians, there must have been much intermarriage and relations with their Egyptian taskmasters, leading to much Judeo-Egyptian blood mingled in those leaving Egypt. This doesn’t seem to be an appropriate blessing to delegitimize intermarriage, or to usher in the Passover holiday.

You have to read Rabbi Fried’s response to believe it.

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3 thoughts on “Intermarriage in Egypt, Moms, Etc.

  1. after reading some of the comments posted in regards to Forman’s article (as well as the one Shmuley Boteach wrote about a possible Birthright trip for non-Jews), i felt like i was going to throw up. do these people honestly think they’re going to save the Jewish people with vitriolic comments towards others? if so, they must be out of their minds.

    the idea that Forman and Boteach are proposing contains endless possibilities for promoting Judaism and Israel to both Jews and non-Jews. Israel trips are known for having considerable influence on young people. even if they don’t wind up marrying other Jews, they still have lasting memories of a unique experience to share with the ones they love. isn’t this what we want, to draw people in rather than chase them away? of course it is! yet there are still those who are caught in this massive fog that in-marriage is the ONLY way to ensure Jewish survival and that converts are not good enough. i disagree with that statement. but i also do not agree that intermarriage contributes to the survival of Jews (although it does often re-ignite long dormant sparks in the Jewish partner to re-acquaint themselves with Jewish life). both of these viewpoints are flawed. so what is the solution? i don’t know. but i do know that hostility isn’t involved in it.

    like the astrological sign Gemini, Judaism is known for its stubborn nature. this trait can be a positive and a negative (i am a Gemini, so i know how it is). on the positive end, we have survived all these years because of our stubborn behavior and resistance of our enemies. on the negative end, we are failing to move into the future because of the contempt that Jews have for each other. plain and simple, no two Jews are ever alike.
    we need to respect that, even if we don’t agree with it. we can’t completely stop intermarriage. therefore, we must do our best to retain everyone whether they are in-married or intermarried, converting or simply raising Jewish children.

  2. by not looking up to people who have intermarried – unless there is a conversion of Judaism or a healthy respect for Judaism with the kids really being raised in the Jewish faith.

  3. Thanks for picking up the Fried piece. It is indeed mind boggling. Here is how it started: The TJP’s cover story two weeks before this was about my journey from Orthodox rabbi to secular Jew, and how I help interfaith couples in Texas and the surrounding states, and officiate at their weddings. (It also had a big picture of Rabbi Lev Ba’esh!) Then, apparently, there was quite a storm in the Conservative and Orthodox communities here, followed by a good number of letters to the editor, the biggest one being a letter signed by 50 Orthodox rabbis in the area condemning the TJP and me for legitimizing interfaith marriage. (I didn’t think 50 Orthodox rabbis could agree on any one thing, but apparently I was wrong…)

    I digress, but Fried’s piece is typical of his other very one sided columns. For instance, when asked about abortion, he gave only the very conservative approach that exists in Orthodox Jewish law, as if it was the only one. That is par for the course in today’s Ultra Orthodox Judaism, where a “my way or the highway” attitude coupled with ignoring mainstream legitimate opinions in Jewish law is the norm.

    The Ask the Rabbi column was the icing on the cake. As I said before in comments here, the Ultra Orthodox must resort in many instances to circular reasoning, and other mental gymnastics to maintain their pronounced cognitive dissonance. This was another good example of this.

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