To mark IDC Herzliya’s 20th anniversary, we spent a day following Prof. Uriel Reichman, IDC’s founder and president, and Jonathan Davis, VP for External Relations, around its delightful campus.
Intermarriage is far and away the biggest test faced by Jews and Judaism. Irrespective of how one defines himself or is known to be Jewish, marrying within the faith lies at the core of our survival. Choose your pogrom or persecution down through our long history and the aim was the same – to eradicate Jews and Judaism. Saying no to intermarriage is our way of saying no to those who would destroy us.
I do not posit here on the extent of one’s practice or belief. It matters not if one is a yearly synagogue attendee on Yom Kippur, a devout believer praying thrice daily, or anywhere in between. The point is, a Jew, almost by default, has accepted the first Commandment: I am your God. Billions worldwide worship a god, but only a few million worship Him as the Jewish God.
Writers have on many occasions gone to great lengths to rationalize and even romanticize intermarriage. Some argue that a good non-Jew is no different from a good Jew – that a good person is defined by virtually all cultures and religions as someone who’s honest, just, and fair, and there are good and bad in every race and religion.
That’s all true, but societies and peoples have always placed great emphasis on the continuity of their generations through marriage and family. Choose your nation or religion. Catholics look to marry Catholics; Hindus look for Hindus. There are certain invisible lines one is expected not to cross. (In 1935, leaders of New York’s Syrian Jewish community were so concerned about the matter that they issued an edict forbidding intermarriage, disobedience of which would mean automatic shunning by the community.)
We have struggled through blood-soaked millennia just to maintain our relatively miniscule worldwide population. Intermarriage, by definition, creates attrition – a loss of population – as well as a schism that is both lifelong and intergenerational.
There are adolescents in crisis whose passage through drugs and defiance leaves them at times void of religion, Holocaust survivors who question God’s existence, victims of sexual abuse angry at God for permitting them to be hurt – but these individuals by and large do not become non-Jews.
An irreligious or apathetic Jew is wholly different from a Jew whose actions diminish the Jewish nation.
To be opposed to intermarriage is not to preach cultural or religious isolationism. Jews have historically been among the most active participants in all walks of life – finance, science, medicine, the arts, and public service. Jewish philanthropy benefits people of all races and cultures across the globe. Israel’s search and rescue teams have been first responders to the world’s greatest calamities, in regions both near and remote and nations both friendly and hostile.
To oppose intermarriage is not to seek self-absorption, but to seek to prevent self-annihilation. Our aim is to maintain a culture through the ages, a richness of belief and tradition that cannot be taught through a Chanukah bush or an Easter seder.
The intermarriage crisis has become especially acute over the past few decades for reasons such as men and women choosing to marry later; large numbers of women entering college and the workplace; a higher divorce rate; and greater flexibility in lifestyle choices. The growing percentage of singles in their thirties and forties just adds to an already combustible mix of factors enticing yet more to intermarry.
It is never easy or fair to get into someone else’s mind. Choosing whom and when to marry is one of life’s most complex decisions. Love, idealism, economics, happenstance – all are contributing factors.
Nevertheless, mix the elements of intermarriage with a growing divorce rate, a low birth rate, and the general assimilation within the Jewish community. Let it simmer for another 50 years. What will you get? Exactly what demographers are predicting: a smaller Jewish nation with an even stronger demarcation between those whose grandchildren are products of intermarriage and the Orthodox whose high birthrate remains the key to our survival as a nation.
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As Arabs murder and maim Jews, Jordan’s leaders bark the blood libel of “Israeli aggression.”
Perhaps attacking a terrorist’s legacy broadly and publicly would dissuade others from terrorism?
R’ Aryeh yelled “Run, I’ll fight!” Using a chair against terrorists to buy time so others could flee
The “Media” didn’t want us to know what a kind, giving, loving young woman Dalia was.
A “Palestine” could become another Lebanon, with many different factions battling for control.
Maimonides himself walked and prayed in the permissible areas when he visited Eretz Yisrael in 1165
Having a strong community presence at the polls shows our elected officials we care about the issues
Israel’s Temple Mount policy prefers to blames the Jews-not the attackers-for the crisis.
When Islam conquered the Holy Land, it made its capital in Ramle of all places, not in Jerusalem.
I joined the large crowd but this time it was more personal; my cousin Aryeh was one of the victims.
Terrorists aren’t driven by social, economic, or other grievances, rather by a fanatical worldview.
The phrase that the “Arabs are resorting to violence” is disgraceful and blames the victim.
Tuesday, Yom Shlishi, a doubly good day in the Torah, Esav’s hands tried to silence Yaakov’s voice.
Because of the disparate nature of the perpetrators, who are also relatively young, and given the lack of more traditional targets and the reverence Palestinians have for their homes, one now hears talk of Israel returning to a policy of destroying the houses of terrorists’ families.
Alcohol on Purim is viewed by many as the drinking equivalent of the Autobahn: no limits, no control.
Over the years, our community has become greatly enriched by the proliferation of a diversity of gemachs.
Yet there is one gemach that, to the best of my knowledge, is not found in any community but that now more than ever would benefit us the most.
What can a yeshiva do to institute practices that will help prevent any form of abuse?
Our community has become a focal point of scrutiny for not responding with greater fervor to the allegations and occurrence of sexual abuse. Not only does this create pain and suffering for victims and their families, it greatly undermines the very institutions built to help protect them. Yeshivas are bedrocks of our community, not only for education but also as a safe harbor for our children.
Ten years ago, If you had asked a victim of sexual abuse what he or she wanted most, the answer would have been, “I want my abuser to apologize, to acknowledge that it was his fault and not mine.” Today, if asked that same question, the victim would speak of prosecution and justice.
We play the odds all the time, don’t we? We may not consciously think about it as such, but in effect we do. Hashem rules the world and controls the odds; we have to do our hishtadlus. We get behind the wheel of a car, board a plane, or cross the street knowing there are risks such as car accidents, plane crashes and pedestrian injuries.
It is time to take back the term “children at risk.” Educators and mental health professionals popularized the term about ten years ago and we need to withdraw it. Labels can be helpful on clothing and shoes but not on children.
Rav Pam, zt”l, said the best antidote to divorce is a good marriage.
Unfortunately, there is no denying that divorce has become considerably more of a problem than historically was the case in our communities. Thankfully, the phenomenon is receiving some much-needed attention.
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