29 May 2007

JTA blog: Good for the Jews?

Intermarriage destroys Judaism - does intramarriage equal racism?

By Esther D. Kustanowitz

We're all familiar with the people who claim the secret to Jewish continuity is twofold: Step One: Marry Jewish (preferably really young). Step Two: Crank out Jewish babies (with the conventional wisdom that when it comes to bringing babies into the world, you give until it hurts and worry about Jewish
education later). This implicates anyone who is a) not married b) not married to a Jew or c) married to a Jew but not reproducing for some reason as party to "Hitler's posthumous triumph."

There are also people who claim that proponents of intramarriage are the ones who are ruining everything, and that it's nothing more than racism to suggest that Jews should only marry Jews. "Judaism should be open to anyone! Why don't you just take the sentence and replace 'Jews' with 'whites' and you'll see how elitist you are," they scream. (As Chanan Tigay noted in his Culture Schlock post from earlier this week, non-Jews are even looking to Jdate to provide them with Jewish spouses. This also leads us to be unsure as to whether we should celebrate at early reports – currently denied by publicists – that Leonardo DiCaprio had impregnated his Israeli girlfriend model Bar Rafaeli.)

Then there are the larger communal issues – like how one defines a Jew in this day and age, or whether families who are already interfaith should be reached out to, welcomed, or rejected from synagogue and Jewish community life. And then there are the journalists, who create a vast number of posts and articles in the Jewish press about this issue. We (and yes, I'm a party to this as well) express hopes that our Jewish celebrities should date within the tribe, not because of happy accident, but because it is important to them. But does that make us elitists? Racists? And do we gain anything from the debate other than intellectual exercise?

Beneath this admittedly incendiary post title lies a language infused with violence, paranoia and blame. And whether you're destroying Judaism or advocating racism, no one wins.

In truth, there is no such thing as "inter-marriage". A Jew cannot be "married" to a non-Jew in Halacha. Marriage implies, by definition, a Jewish male and female who are permitted to enter a sanctified state as husband and wife, a Kesuba, a Chupa, Eidim, Harai etc.

Therefore, the calculation of racism is not a real one and merely serves to be a lightening rod used by anti-Jews to raise the anxiety of the non-Jews. And even if Jewish marriage could be interpreted through twisted eyes as "racist", so what? Who really cares what the enemies of Torah think?

Further, the definition of Jew when framed in an halachic debate means one thing and framed within common language means another. Halacha is pretty clear on the matter. The popular opinion is unclear and subject to the whims of the day. I prefer to choose the Halachic approach.

The writer states in her last sentence, "And whether you're destroying Judaism or advocating racism, no one wins." A little retread analysis: Destroying Judaism = no Jewish children. Advocating racism = Jewish marriage with Jewish children. What is she really trying to say? Kustanowitz asks "And do we gain anything from the debate other than intellectual exercise?" Ms. Kustanowitz, yes we gain from the debate. Until the truth is told, maam, the problem cannot be corrected. All the "outreach" to the non-Jewish partner in the marriage is worthless until there is "in-reach" to the Jewish partner. The goal of the "in-reach" should be to promote halachic, normative Jewish observance. A Reform or Conservative "converted" partner where the life-style is no-different than before the "conversion" is window dressing and does not turn a non-Jewish child into a Jewish one. And even if we accept the "conversion", or the "converted" partner is committed to Judaism (in a Reform or Conservative sense) what is the educational message to that child?

Ms. Kustanowitz, there are those of us who will tell the truth whether you wish to do so or not. Whether or not your purpose is to add to the "debate", draw attention to yourself or contribute to the "koola affect" (see the article below about Sodomistic Rabbis) for the purpose of moving the "accepted standard" to no standard, I do not know. However, what the article does not contribute to is Torah. It is as we say, a Torah of truth.

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What Words Offend Arabs? The Truth.

Children's Poetry Booklet Recalled After Arabs Complain
(Israeli censorship kowtows to Arabs.
When Will We Tell The Truth Without Fear)

(IsraelNN.com 7 Sivan 5768/June 10, '08) Ynet's web site and Arab complaints against a ten-year-old boy's poem about terrorists has resulted in the recall of all of the Nes Ziona municipality's children's poetry booklets.

Ynet boasts that its coverage of the poem resulted in its being recalled.

The text of the poem (Ynet's translation):

Ahmed's bunker has surprises galore: Grenades, rifles are hung on the wall. Ahmed is planning another bombing!What a bunker Ahmed has, who causes daily harm.Ahmed knows how to make a bomb. Ahmed is Ahmed, that's who he is, so don't forget to be careful of him.We get blasted while they have a blast!Ahmed and his friends could be wealthy and sunny, if only they wouldn't buy rockets with all their money.

Poetry competition director Marika Berkowitz, who published the booklet, was surprised at the protests and told Ynet: "This is the boy's creation and this is what he wanted to express. Of course there should be a limit, but I think the there is no racism here. 'Ahmed' is a general term for the enemy. These are the murmurings of an innocent child."

The Education Ministry told Ynet: "The local authority that published the booklet should have guided the students in a more correct manner through the schools. The district will investigate the issue with the local authorities."
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