web analytics
March 30, 2015 / 10 Nisan, 5775
At a Glance
Blogs
Sponsored Post


Intermarriage Rarely Has a Happy Ending

'Doublelife: One Family, Two Faiths and a Journey of Hope' is well written and compelling, but wrongly suggests that intermarriage is a workable option.
cat-dog

While I was reading Doublelife: One Family, Two Faiths and a Journey of Hope by Harold Berman and Gayle Redlingshafer Berman, I had to keep reminding myself that although I know quite a few couples with similar stories, the percentage of intermarried couples who fully embrace Torah Judaism is negligible.

Harold and Gayle Berman have put together a wonderful book about their relationship and certainly a surprise for them  discovery and adoption of a Torah observant Jewish life.  It’s written as a series of letter to each other, and I strongly appreciate the decision to give each of them a different font.  That makes it much easier to keep track of who has written what, even though their voices and stories are quite different.

It’s important to read their book as a book by intelligent, sincere people who due to a principled intellectual and spiritual curiosity found themselves both embracing Judaism.

It truly was love at first sight – even though Gayle was the Minister of Music in a Texas mega-church and Harold was a secular Jew from New York. Fate brought them together. But destiny had something else in mind. From the Bible Belt to northernmost Russia to the heart of the Jewish world, Doublelife is really about the journey within, to discover who we are and who we are meant to be. [Read More]

I think it’s dangerous for troubled, concerned parents and relatives of Jews marrying non-Jews to get too much comfort from the Berman’s story.  In the vast majority of cases, Judaism is lost to the children and grandchildren etc. of intermarried couples, even when the descendants are Jewish by Jewish Law.

I don’t see their bringing up the Purim story of Esther as historic justification for intermarriage.

The Book of Esther is a book of secrets. Esther is also a book of interfaith marriage, one of the secrets the story’s heroine keeps even from her husband. Esther, the Jew, marries the Gentile King Ahasuerus, putting her in the ideal position to save her people from the wicked Haman. Some have interpreted the story as a Biblical endorsement, offering ancient proof that two faiths within one marriage not only works, but can be a positive societal force. (preview)

I studied Megillat Esther at Matan with Atara Snowbell for an entire school year, and at no point did we come to that conclusion.  Queen Esther is revered by Bible scholars for her sacrifice, giving up a normal Jewish Life for the sake of the Jewish People living in the Persian Empire.  Her children did not live as Jews, and King Achashverosh certainly didn’t convert to Judaism.

This criticism doesn’t mean that I don’t find the book well-written and compelling.  I just find their reassurances that intermarriage may not be the end of Jewish life to be misleading. I certainly enjoyed reading Doublelife and do recommend it, but please don’t think that there is anything typical about the Bermans.  They are two extraordinary people who tell their story beautifully.  I wish there were more people like them.

Visit Shiloh Musings.

About the Author: Batya Medad blogs at Shiloh Musings.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

3 Responses to “Intermarriage Rarely Has a Happy Ending”

  1. We are very grateful for this review, and for the many very positive comments we have received recently from readers telling us they were inspired by our story. One point of clarification:

    We did not intend for the Esther story to be any kind of justification for intermarriage and do not believe that it does that. As the passage quoted in this review from our book says, "Some" have interpreted the book of Esther as a Biblical endorsement – i.e. we are referring to the arguments we have heard from intermarried Jews who support intermarriage – the passage goes on to say that to do that misses the point. In several places in "Doublelife," we give both our own opinions of what happens in many intermarriages and real life examples we have encountered of intermarriages that are problematic. And although our (former) intermarriage very definitely had a happy ending, we spent considerable time in the book detailing our struggles – although there likely are more intermarrieds out there who could successfully take this journey given the motivation, they are, as Batya Medad says, a drop in the bucket – and more to the point – it's a long and arduous journey. When we speak publicly about our journey, we emphasize that this is not an endorsement of intermarriage and that our route is surely not the easiest way to create a Jewish family. Rather, we wrote the book with the hope that our journey can provide people with inspiration for living a Jewish life.

    I recently wrote about why intermarriage is not the ideal here: http://blogs.timesofisrael.com/intermarried-rabbis-please/?fb_action_ids=4844182303393&fb_action_types=og.recommends&fb_source=other_multiline&action_object_map=%7B%224844182303393%22%3A439650849452833%7D&action_type_map=%7B%224844182303393%22%3A%22og.recommends%22%7D&action_ref_map=%5B%5D.

    Harold Berman, Co-author, "Doublelife".

  2. FYI – for anyone considering getting a copy of "Doublelife" – it just went on sale on Amazon. They are currently selling it for $8.56 (vs. regularly $12.99 – a 34% discount). It is also available on Kindle.

    http://www.amazon.com/Doublelife-Family-Faiths-Journey-Hope/dp/061572115X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1365431485&sr=8-1&keywords=doublelife

  3. FYI – for anyone considering getting a copy of "Doublelife" – it just went on sale on Amazon. They are currently selling it for $8.56 (vs. regularly $12.99 – a 34% discount). It is also available on Kindle.

    http://www.amazon.com/Doublelife-Family-Faiths-Journey-Hope/dp/061572115X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1365431485&sr=8-1&keywords=doublelife

Comments are closed.

Current Top Story
One-third of polled Republicans see President Obama as the biggest imminent threat to the USA.
One-Third of GOP Voters See Obama Worse for US than Assad and Putin
Latest Blogs Stories
The seventh Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson

Wherever you are Chabad gives you that missing piece–the home you left behind, nourishing body&soul

American-Jews-100413

How do you put a love of Judaism into a middle-aged man when it was never there in the first place?

MK Haneen Zoabi being ejected from the Knesset Floor in July 2011. She flew into an uncontrollable rage while the Prime Minister was speaking.

It is perfectly understandable how someone who has no background in Israeli politics could mistake Bibi’s speech as racist…

Moshe Gafni

Israel’s Charedi world is in financial crisis. If the trend worsens it may be their breaking point.

Why do you need to file an FBAR if you’re a US citizen abroad? What happens if you don’t?

Jews caring for one another, that is how I would explain Israel to someone.

As Iran becomes the North Korea of the Middle East, Nasrallah doesn’t understand where all his friends went.

I pray each member of Knesset will represent the interests of the State of Israel & ALL its citizens

At no time did Kahlon say that he preferred to see Bibi in another term as PM-I don’t trust him!

“Israel has nuclear weapons & it isn’t afraid to use them if necessary-Does that frighten you? Good”

American Jews think they know what’s best for Israel-better than Israelis. Here’s my take…

An old Arab man yelled at me “You’re stupid!” I returned the compliment; He had murder in his eyes.

Why do people feel the need to check their email 50X a day, constantly dipping in & out of Facebook?

Betar is the world-wide Zionist youth movement that refuses to be silent, and as our founder Ze’ev Jabotinsky wrote: “Silence is despicable.”

Life in Europe’s pre-War Yeshiva world makes today’s rulings look like the Taliban has taken over.

Moshe’s the 1st family member in thousands of years to have the honor of serving in a Jewish army

More Articles from Batya Medad
Moshe Kahlon

At no time did Kahlon say that he preferred to see Bibi in another term as PM-I don’t trust him!

Betar1

Betar is the world-wide Zionist youth movement that refuses to be silent, and as our founder Ze’ev Jabotinsky wrote: “Silence is despicable.”

US official interference in Israel’s Elections is not only immoral but may be illegal under US law.

Politicians have their own egos as priority, not the good of the country nor the will of the people

If Bibi wins, the Left, media&politicians-all funded by the US- will try to weaken and harass him

The vote count just tells how many MKs each party will have and which parties will be in the Knesset

Israel’s economy is strong & US “aid” is a sham, consisting of shopping coupons boosting US economy

Has the Israeli media really succeeded in brainwashing the public that Bibi-Likud is so awful?

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/blogs/shiloh-musings/intermarriage-rarely-has-a-happy-ending/2013/04/04/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: