In an unfortunate convergence, some of the leading Jewish journalists have almost simultaneously published more counter-productive negative messages about intermarriage.
The first piece is by Gary Rosenblatt of the New York Jewish Week. Here is the letter to the editor I just submitted:
I applaud Rabbi Rick Jacobsâ comments at the URJ Biennial and to Gary Rosenblatt (âA Call For âAudacious Hospitalityâ,â Jan. 15). Rabbi Jacobs is right that âfinger-waggingâ is a turnoff for intermarried Jews and their partners who might otherwise make Jewish choices. Mr. Rosenblatt professes not to think of intermarriage as a âdisease,â but that is the message that he and Messrs. Cohen, Bayme and Wertheimer convey. The communal intervention they seek to encourage in-marriage would be a roadblock to the âon-ramps to Jewish lifeâ that Rabbi Jacobs rightly wants to build for the majority of the next generation who will be the children of intermarriages.
The second is an editorial in the Forward. Hereâs my letter to them:
I applaud Rabbi Rick Jacobsâ comments to the editors (âIntermarriage Rorschach Test,â Jan. 16) that âJewish living, values, commitmentsâŚ can be upheld in interfaith familiesâ and not the âexclusive province of Jewish-Jewish couples.â By questioning âhowever Jewishâ those individuals who choose to live lives of Jewish depth and meaning âactually are,â the Forwardâs editors become part of the problem. Characterizing intermarriage as âdiminishmentâ and in-marriage as âessentialâ is a self-fulfilling prophecy that will lead to more interfaith families who might otherwise make Jewish choices not doing so.
The people in these positions of Jewish leadership ought to stop to think about the impact of what they say about intermarriage on young interfaith couples â the Jewish partner or the partner who isnât Jewish â who are exploring Jewish life, considering making Jewish choices, and quite naturally looking for welcome, acceptance, and embrace.
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