Fiddling on the roof

I. Am. So. Upset. First of all, because “ambivalent reactions” is an oxymoron.

Second of all, this is not news. Good for Chelsea Clinton, marrying whoever she wants. Plus I thought her dress was really pretty.

I also definitively disagree with just about every sentiment expressed by the author. Intermarriage is not a lethal threat to Judaism or Jewish culture. Most, if not all, intermarried couples I know have tended towards Judaism when raising a family. Even if they don’t, who cares? Someone who “leaves the faith” after marriage probably would have left it anyway, or at least stopped practicing. If they can be happy in this choice, why can’t you?

The author’s perspective pulls out some ADL-style anti-anti-Semitism which, in a country where – yes – only two percent of the population is Jewish, promises only to lead to more ignorance and anti-Semitism and misguided ideas about the isolationism and pretention? snobbery? of American Jews. The closed-minded segment of our community is trying so hard to make the rest of us feel the same way by guilting us into self-made ghettos (à la Eastern Europe, not Harlem) in which the preservation of some false genetic ideal is more important than actually being happy.

But most Orthodox groups adamantly reject intermarriage. Avi Shafran, public affairs director of Agudath Israel of America, a leading traditional Orthodox organization, said in an e-mail, “The toll being taken by intermarriage on the identifiably American Jewish community is obviously a grave one.”

Says the guy from the Haredi love fest.

It could be my dovish and pseudo-secular open-mindedness but I have always been under the impression that who you marry is your own choice and does not need to be extensively critiqued by the New York Times, or commented upon by the PUBLIC RELATIONS ARM OF ULTRA-RELIGIOUS SECTS. It also seems to me that we should be proud to have a vibrant community that does NOT condemn intermarriage, rather one that accepts plurality in the community as an asset. (I think I’m in la-la land again…what community are we talking about? Purity of the race, purity of the race…)

I just wish everyone would stop vilifying open-mindedness when it comes to religion. This whole universal trend towards extremism and fundamentalism and paranoia is unsettling.

Of course, the author does give brief airtime to the voice of logic and reason. But this doesn’t detract from his overall point which seems to be, “I have nothing to write about, so I am going to write a scathing critique of nothing at all in which I mention no one who actually matters or cares, and whose only purpose seems to be to vilify the personal choice of people whose business is absolutely none of mine. And make everyone hate me more.”

3 thoughts on “Fiddling on the roof

  1. this article was not a scathing critique! the main character is a rabbi who used to oppose intermarriage and now condons it! It is a fair picture of the jewish community to point out that most oppose intermarriage, but a growing number accept it.

  2. I’m with Eliav on this…it was a report not a critique. You may disagree with the individuals who are quoted but the writer reported about the transition over time and some people’s anxiety over it, the comparison to Methodists, etc. I did not understand the author to be making a significant statement about the interfaith marriage in either direction. There were two articles side-by-side as I recall, one, more about the rabbi in question.

    1. Yes, there were two. I guess I did not read anything notable in it, rather just “Chelsea Clinton got married and I need something to talk about.” If he is going to write an article about the changing attitudes towards intermarriage, I don’t know, I hope that is not it.

      Perhaps the two articles should have been merged – that would have made more sense. This rabbi used to be against intermarriage and now he performed the ceremony…blah blah blah look how the rest of the community is changing. But to me, all I saw was gossip column.

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