New flicks with celebs in interfaith relationships and from interfaith backgrounds, plus their baby news!Go To Pop Culture
This post originally appeared onÂ www.edumundcase.comÂ and is reprinted with permission.
August 1, 2017 is the publication date for the new version of Jim Keenâ€™sÂ Inside Intermarriage: A Christian Partnerâ€™s Journey Raising a Jewish Family. I was honored to write the foreword to this one-of-a-kind book: the warm, personal, light-hearted but very serious story of a Protestant man raising Jewish children together with his Jewish wife.
When Jim Keen and his fiancĂ©e Bonnie were planning their wedding, her Jewish grandmother wasnâ€™t sure she would attend, because she disapproved of intermarriage. But she chose love, and danced with Jim at the wedding, saying â€śyouâ€™re my grandson now.â€ť That story brought tears to my eyes, and it and others in this book might to yours.
Interfaith couples like Jim and Bonnie who care about religious traditions face what I call â€śeternalâ€ť issues. Not in the sense that the issues canâ€™t be resolved, because they can be, as Jimâ€™s story vividly demonstrates. But all interfaith couples who want to have religion in their lives have to figure out how to relate to each other and their parents and families over religious traditions; they all have to resolve whether and how to celebrate holidays, to be spiritual together, to find community of like-minded people.
This book follows Jimâ€™s journey through all of those issues. From dating, falling in love, meeting the parents, deciding how children will be raised religiously, considering conversion, to getting married; from baby welcoming ceremonies, to celebrating holidays, finding community, and meeting his own needs in a Jewish family. Itâ€™s a deeply moving story, told with humor, and itâ€™s an important one.
Jim Keenâ€™s example of one interfaith coupleâ€™s journey to Jewish continuity is reassuring. Interfaith couples who are or might be interested in engaging in Jewish life and community can learn from Jimâ€™s story how doing so can add meaning and value to their lives.
Along his journey, Jim shares extremely helpful insights. For example: His and his wifeâ€™s feelings and attitudes changed over time, with him moving from feeling different, â€śstanding out,â€ť â€śnot belonging,â€ť to feeling â€śpart of.â€ť For another: Interfaith couples, no matter what path they follow, have to make a conscious effort to work out their religious traditions, which can lead to more thoughtful and deeper engagement. And another: Interfaith couples arenâ€™t alone, and itâ€™s very helpful to become friends and work through issues with other couples.
Interfaith couples follow many paths, and Jim Keen doesnâ€™t say his path is right for everyone. He continued to practice his own religion; some partners in his position donâ€™t practice any religion, or practice Judaism, or even convert. Jim and his wife chose one religion for their children; some couples decide to raise their children in two religions, and many couples havenâ€™t decided, or havenâ€™t yet. The clear advice Jim does give is that there are solutions to the issues that interfaith relationships raise, and that the key to resolving them is early and ongoing respectful communication. How Jim spells out the negotiation and communication he and his wife had over many issues will help couples facing the same issues, no matter what paths they may be thinking of taking.
Jim expresses deep gratitude for finding very warm and welcoming JCC preschool and synagogue communities, and especially a rabbi by whom he felt genuinely embraced. It is essential that more interfaith couples experience that kind of welcome. Most Jews have relatives in interfaith relationships now, and many Jewish professionals are working with people in interfaith relationships. This book promotes better understanding not only of the eternal issues interfaith couples face, but in particular the perspective of the partner from a different faith background.
Jim Keen doesnâ€™t promote interfaith marriage, but he does recognize its positive impacts, including an appreciation for tolerance and diversity. He writes that being in an interfaith relationship has broadened his perspective and enhanced not only his life, but also his parentsâ€™ and in-lawsâ€™ lives too. He still enjoys â€śbelonging to [his] Scottish-American, Protestant group, but itâ€™s a warm feeling being able to see the world through Jewish eyes, as well.â€ť He also rightly recognizes his and his familyâ€™s contribution to the Jewish community: â€śI am proud to say, there are some Keens who happen to be Jewish. I love it.â€ť I love it, and I think you will, too.
Today, with intermarriage so common, Jim Keenâ€™s perspective is more important and valuable than ever. Jim Keen and his family â€“ on both sides â€“ are heroes of Jewish life. They are role models for how a parent from a different faith background and a Jewish parent, together with all of the grandparents, can support the Jewish engagement of their children and grandchildren. They all deserve deep appreciation for this utmost gift, Jim especially for shedding light on the journey.
You can order the bookÂ here.
Do you need a little lift amidst the conflict in the Middle East? A growing movement of Tweeters are telling the world that â€śJewsandArabsRefuseToBeEnemies.â€ť Documented in the article, â€śUnder Muslim-Jewish Hashtag, Sharing a Message of People Over Politicsâ€ť by Maayan Jaffe, the campaign was started by two college students from Hunter College in New York.
Syrian Dania Darwish and Israeli Abraham Gutman began a trend when they posted photos of themselves with the hashtag written in Hebrew and Arabic. The campaign is bringing out scores of people who are friends, romantic partners or spouses across these two religious lines. Assumed to be the mix of traditions that cannot possibly be joined, many of these pairs are the children of intermarried Muslims and Jews or intermarried themselves.
The stories they are collecting challenge the notion that interdating and intermarriage threaten those established traditions. One Jewish partner in a Jewish-Muslim relationship, Matt Martin, commented that, â€śA product of the media mainly, it seems you always have to marginalize people, paint someone as the bad buy or good guy. But there are two sides and people from different backgrounds can get along, work together, be as successful and happy as other friends or couples that are from the same background.â€ť
This theme was reiterated by many contributors, viewing intermarriage as a way couples can grow by relating to someone with a different background. In the words of Dr. Sahar Eftekhar, an Iranian Muslim dating a Jewish American, â€śSometimes it is hard for others to put themselves in someone elseâ€™s shoes or to see the world through someone elseâ€™s eyes. I think this is a very dangerous thing. Underneath those stereotypes, which we have placed on each other, we are the same. We are all humanâ€¦I hope our generation will be more open-minded and spread this message.â€ť
Another post by Martha Patricia reads, “My mother is Jewish. My father is Palestinian. I am their face.”
Check out the tweets and enjoy the love, from pictures of people kissing to kids from different backgrounds hugging or sporting an Israeli flag on one cheek and a Palestinian flag on the other.Â My favorite of the day is from Gutman himself: Hate is a waste of time.