A JTA article joins the fray of those advocating greater acceptance of the intermarried, seeing the Jewish future in large part from among the interfaith families. To make its case, it features one interfaith family that decided to raise their kids in both parents’ tradition, Judaism and Episcopalian Christianity. The obvious question is, is this good for the Jewish kids, and can this be the way we win them back?
Ever since the Pew Research Center’s recent survey of American Jews was just anticipated, pundits have been dising out their commentary on how to deal with the rising intermarriage rate. In fact, so did I, in English and as well as in German publications.
The present JTA article, however, goes further than any other I have seen in arguing for openness and even celebration of interfaith families. Interestingly, upon investigation, I discovered that this is all kosher, though not for the reasons mentioned by the JTA…
NEW YORK (JTA) — When Susan Katz Miller’s Episcopalian mother and Jewish father married in the 1960s, they did exactly what most religious leaders advised intermarried couples to do: They chose one religion and stuck to it.
Katz Miller’s mother put her religious tradition aside, learning to make matzah balls and shepherding her four children through bar and bat mitzvah lessons.
But when Katz Miller married her Episcopalian husband, she didn’t want to choose. Instead, she and her husband raised their two children with knowledge of both their Jewish and Christian heritages and left it up to them to decide how to identify.
Well, I fully agree that it was right not to teach those kids that they are Jewish, leaving the choice up to them, instead. Get this? The father is Episcopalian. He married the daughter of a Jewish man and an Episcopalian mother. In my book, that’s no intermarriage, they did the right thing. And if they love Judaism, they are right to teach them that the choice will be theirs, because only by choosing Judaism will they ever be able to properly convert. Indeed, the choice is theirs.
But does this have any bearing on Jewish policy towards intermarriage? Yes, in the sense of a wake up call not to let ourself be carried away like the JTA did.
[Hat Tip: Rabbi Dov Fischer from California]