A number of good links came our way over the Thanksgiving holiday:
Paul Golin of the Jewish Outreach Institute wrote a fantastic editorial for JTA titled “Intermarriage battle long over.” In it, he argues that the release of the Boston Jewish Community Survey was a “tipping point” in the Jewish world’s debate over intermarriage. “Jewish leaders must recognize what their constituency already understands: We do not live in an ideal Jewish world,” he says. “Not all Jews observe all of the mitzvot. But we don’t kick people out of the Jewish community if they skip a few.”
The Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles continues its cutting-edge entertainment coverage with an interview with Jeff Lipsky, the Jewish director of Flannel Pajamas, a new independent movie about the dissolution of a relationship between a Jewish man and a Catholic woman. To understand how ahead of the curve the Jewish Journal is, their story came out before Entertainment Weekly’s review of the movie–and EW reviews everything before it comes out.
Following Ze’ev Bielski’s misguided commentary on American Jewry a few weeks ago, a much wiser man, Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz, has said something similar about British Jewry:
“The Jewish community in England, as in other parts of Europe, is demographically unviable … It is a dying community, without even counting assimilation. They say that in order to remain stable, a community needs to average 2.2 children. I don’t think this is the case in Anglo-Jewry. Whatever the figure, when you add the devastating devaluation of assimilation and intermarriage, it is becoming smaller all the time.”
But, as this article from London’s Daily Telegraph persuasively argues, the established Jewish community is part of the problem. Led by the Orthodox, the Jewish community in England has done little to welcome or engage intermarried families:
The problem has not been helped by the unwillingness of Orthodox leaders to confront the issue. “For a long time the community has been in denial,” says Rabbi Jonathan Romain, a prominent member of the Reform community and author of The Jews of England. He is critical of the stigmatism that has been attached to mixed marriages.
One of the most Christmas-y of this year’s Christmas movies, Deck the Halls, about two neighbors’ attempts to one-up each others’ lights display, has a couple intermarriage connections. Matthew Broderick is “half-Jewish” and tries to celebrate Hanukkah and Christmas and co-star Danny DeVito is married to a Jewish woman and celebrates holidays from both traditions.
“Rabbis used to tell couples that they were doing Hitler’s work for him by marrying out. The community used to assume that once you married out, that was it – you had opted out. But slowly attitudes are changing.”
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