Celebrity news from Hollywood including an interview with Maggie Gyllenhaal, and an update on Adam Levine and Behati Prinsloo.Go To Pop Culture
Rabbi Simchah Green, a veteran Modern Orthodox rabbi and graduate of Yeshiva University sees intermarriage as an opportunity for the Jewish people. He recently wrote for InterfaithFamily: â€śNow is not the time for us to bury our heads in the sand. Now is not the time for us to bemoan the situation. Now is not the time to sound off against this phenomenon.â€ť
â€śAnd without question I shall not consider that an intermarriage represents the END OF THE LINE, BUT RATHER THE BEGINNING OF A JOURNEY.â€ť (See his full essay here.) Rabbi Green is right! Intermarriage is not the end of the Jewish people. Intermarriage is not a time for us to hem and haw or say â€śwoe is meâ€ť about the future. We must look at intermarriage as an opportunity. An opportunity to embrace those around us who are interested in learning more about Judaism and participating in Jewish life with those they care about.
Carol, my sisterâ€™s mother-in-law, demonstrates this fully and completely. She recently asked me, â€śWhere can we go to learn more about Judaism?â€ť She explained that she (who was not raised Jewishly) wanted to be fully involved in helping to raise my newborn niece with a Jewish identity. Carol is amazing! Even before her granddaughter was born, she reached out to learn more, to become more educated about Judaism, the holidays and the values.
I was excited to help educate Carol. I first led her to the free booklets from InterfaithFamily, formatted for online reading and printing: interfaithfamily.com/booklets. I also suggested that she may be interested in signing up for an upcoming Raising a Child with Judaism in Your Interfaith Family class. And, as I would offer to everyone in the community, staff at InterfaithFamily/Bay Area are always available to answer your questions.
I hope that all grandparents, parents and partners are welcomed by those around them. Let us all help each other explore Jewish life in a way that feels comfortable and may that exploration be supported by those we love as well as the leaders of the Jewish community.
Mom: Did you hear that Adam Levine just got engaged to a shiksa?*
Son: Heâ€™s Jewish ** and sheâ€™s notâ€¦thatâ€™s a sin. Itâ€™s a disgrace to
Mom: Thatâ€™s right. Iâ€™m so proud of you for knowing that. And since sheâ€™s not Jewish, his kids will be goyim.*Â
Son: Â Really? Thatâ€™s so awful.
Compare that conversation with the following, which I read just a few hours later on Jewishjournal.com:
Mazel Tov to Adam Levine and his brand-new fiancĂ©, Victoriaâ€™s Secret Angel Behati Prinslooâ€¦.We wish them well!
Now, I have never met Adam Levine or Behati Prinsloo, and I donâ€™t know much about either of them. But I do know that all too often when interfaith couples get engaged I hear conversations like the one I quoted above between the mother and her sonâ€”conversations disparaging the couple and their relationship.
I think that if we in the Jewish community continue to speak like thatâ€”to insult people who marry out of the faith by using derogatory terms and referring to their marriage as a sinâ€”then itâ€™s unlikely that they will want to become part of the Jewish community and to raise children that they may have as Jews. Like the Jewish Journal, I would rather wish these couples well. Rather than treating interfaith marriage as a threat, isnâ€™t it better to treat it as an opportunity for the Jewish people to grow, evolve and thrive?
Would I like to see Adam Levine and every other Jewish man out there marry a Jewish woman? Sure I would. But thatâ€™s not always the way things work. And the fact is that Adam Levine didnâ€™t ask me who he should marryâ€”nor have any of the Jewish men at whose interfaith wedding ceremonies I have officiated. Instead, theyâ€™ve come to me already in love, asking me to officiate at their wedding ceremoniesâ€”asking me, in essence, to accept their choices and to be welcoming toward the women with whom they have fallen in love and chosen to spend the rest of their lives. Iâ€™m honored to be approached by these couples, and I embrace the opportunity not just to bless their unions but also to teach them about Judaism and to serve as a welcoming representative of the Jewish religion and the Jewish people.
So hereâ€™s what I have to say to Adam and Behati, and to all newly engaged interfaith couples:Â Mazel Tov on your engagement! I hope that the two of you will be blessed with a long and happy marriage. Adam (and all of the partners in interfaith couples who grew up Jewish): I hope that you will explore your Jewish heritage and incorporate Judaism into your home and into your life in a way that is meaningful for you. Behati (and all of the partners in interfaith couples who did not grow up Jewish): I hope that you will learn about the Jewish heritage of your fiancĂ©, and that you will feel embraced by the Jewish people.
I hope that the two of you will have honest conversations about the role religion plays in your lives, even if it isnâ€™t always easy. And if you have children, I hope that you will seriously explore the option of raising them as Jews. For now, know that we here at InterfaithFamily, and many people in the Jewish community, are happy for you and we would love to welcome both of you into our midst.
*The terms shiksa (woman who is not Jewish) and goyim (people who are not Jewish) are sometimes, as in the case of this conversation, used by Jews in a pejorative manner.
** After I came home and Googled Adam Levine, I learned that his father and maternal grandfather were Jewish and he considers himself Jewish, but his mother is not Jewish. This means that according to traditional Jewish law, which requires that the mother be Jewish in order for the child to be Jewish, Adam isnâ€™t Jewish. So while I, as a Reform Jew, accept the idea of patrilineal descent and I recognize him as Jewish, ironically, the woman having the conversation with her son would not even consider Adam to be Jewish if she were aware of his lineage.