Will Intermarriage Lead to a Schism in the Jewish World?

Tahl Raz, the talented editor of Jewcy, a web magazine/group blog for young Jews, recently was interviewed by Shmuel Rosner, Ha’aretz‘s U.S. correspondent. One of Rosner’s favorite subjects is intermarriage–in the past, he’s interviewed our own Ed Case, Steven Cohen and Sylvia Barack Fishman–and so he asked Raz about the issue.

Rosner asks Raz for his perspective on six broad themes in the Jewish world today: Jewish peoplehood, Tikkun Olam, intermarriage, Jewish organizations, Jewish renaissance and Hebrew. Raz responds point by point. Here’s his perceptive take on intermarriage:

3. Intermarriage:

Significant in that it’s crucial that we figure out how to overcome this anachronistic tribal obsession with endogamy. If Judaism and Jewishness are of value in the modern world, they will survive. If not, they won’t. Intermarriage will ultimately have little to do with it. In any case, it’s a natural feature of modern life, just as endogamy was a natural feature of shtetl life. People who think otherwise are tilting at windmills.

Then, as is typical with Rosner’s Q&As, Rosner opened up the questioning to his readers, two of whom ask about his dismissal of the concern over intermarriage as an “anachronistic tribal obsession.” His response? He doesn’t find opposition to intermarriage “morally distasteful, just hopelessly ineffectual.” “In a free and open society,” he says, “where we’re pitted against the American assimilationist machine, intermarriage is inevitable.” He doesn’t quite know what the Jewish community’s response should be, but he is encouraged by the Jewish community’s response to troublesome issues in the past–schisms over assimilation led to Zionism, Reform Judaism and Conservative Judaism.

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