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7 years ago  ::  Oct 15, 2007 - 1:11PM #1
Eliava
Posts: 62
lauramushkat
8/2/2007 1:30 PM 


I would like Jewish opinions on this topic.

Not long ago in a newspaper article there was an article on interfaith marriages.All types in the US. Later on they showed a poll that Jews in the USA thought our religon was dying out and had many reasons, including interfaith marriages. A local Rabbi agreed.

I had a conversation with another Jew on this topic who disagreed we would die out completely as some thought. Here is what he basically said:

That thruout Jewish history when Jews were a minority and felt safe in a area there was a lot of intermarriage and loss of members of our faith. Each time we were saved from extinction by 2 things.

First was the ultra-religous who rarely had anything to do with those who did not think like them, even in their work enviorment. The young never intermarried and had very large families who repeated the cycle.

Second, the fact that sooner or later something would occur so that Jews felt or actually were threatened and were more likely to have few dealings with those of other faiths. Often it was the other faiths blamed for the problems.

Therefore since history tends to repeat itself, he did not think we would ever completely die out.

Sad to say I must agree somewhat with this idea.

What do you think?

Laura
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7 years ago  ::  Oct 16, 2007 - 10:56AM #2
vra
Posts: 6,407
What we're seeing happening is also occurring within Christianity as well in that the more liberal branches are shrinking while the more "fundamentalist" branches are thriving.  However, there are some theologians that think this trend may be coming to an end soon. 

What's happening is that there are an increasing number in both religions who are questioning traditional teachings.  But uncertainty is not something most people are comfortable with, so there's been a backlash going towards fundamentalism.  But that backlash may not continue because an increasing number of people question concepts like biblical inerrancy and even divine inspiration, especially with those who have a greater educational, especially scientific, background. 

So where's it all going?  I don't know.  But if the more liberal branches don't somehow adjust, they may well go by the way of the dinosaurs.  The Reform shul that I belong to has made some adjustments that have drawn many more into our congregation and, even though we've only been in our new building for 10 years, we're going to have to expand it shortly.  But we're not only drawing from Reform, but also many who were former Conservative and even some Orthodox.

So it can be done.

Shalom,
Vern
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7 years ago  ::  Oct 16, 2007 - 11:02AM #3
Bunsinspace
Posts: 5,931
There appears to be more breadth of ineraction with the world and more areas of activity in Judaism than at any previous point in history.  I suspect that oen could view this expanding phenomenon as a "death" of an old one-dimensional modern view of ancient religion.  To me it is just enlarging its tent-strings.  ;-)
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7 years ago  ::  Oct 16, 2007 - 10:59PM #4
Beruriah33
Posts: 638
The biggest problem I see in my neck of the Jewish wilderness is that we are less successful at passing on Judaism to the next generation than we may have been in the past. Part of that involves Liberal American Judaism :a. following the societal/Protestant tradition that small kids are a distraction when doing prayer(bring em in, let em squeal, they will outgrow it eventually, and when they do, they will keep coming back) AND b. not really having any one particular set of standards or a fixed definition that adherents can agree upon. What does it mean to be a liberal Jew in America? What is liberal Jewish faith practice about? How can we instill in our kids a devotion to it?
When I converted, so did my three daughters. My eldest is now turning fifteen. She is coming back to her Jewish identity after being away from it for two years. Why did she leave Jewish practice? It's as if half the group wants to practice some aspects of Judaism and increase observance for those who wish to do so, and the other half of the group wants to limit Jewish identification as narrowly as possible to the confines of a few days of prayer per year and a cultural identity. Unfortunately, my daughter decided if the other half was going to keep ruining her Jewish learning experiences, why bother continuing them?
Oh but I forgot we are talking about 'is Judaism dying in America'? Yes, in some spots but certainly not across the entire nation. But in my opinion, it's not about intermarriage. It's about a lack of enthusiasm, lack of Jewish learning and practice(in some form or other), and a lack of religiously committed Jews.
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7 years ago  ::  Oct 23, 2007 - 12:27PM #5
eliana2005
Posts: 98
I don't believe that intermarriage is to blame...  My non-Jewish husband is the one who strongly encourages me to go to shul when I start to get lazy or frustrated.  I do think that marketing has something to do with it; Chabad seems to be flourishing (along with nondenominational shuls or churches that place such a heavy emphsis on personal development) .  I think the mega-shuls can sometimes seem unwelcoming especially to younger people.

I could expand on this but a deadline looms : (
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7 years ago  ::  Oct 23, 2007 - 12:27PM #6
eliana2005
Posts: 98
I don't believe that intermarriage is to blame...  My non-Jewish husband is the one who strongly encourages me to go to shul when I start to get lazy or frustrated.  I do think that marketing has something to do with it; Chabad seems to be flourishing (along with nondenominational shuls or churches that place such a heavy emphsis on personal development) .  I think the mega-shuls can sometimes seem unwelcoming especially to younger people.

I could expand on this but a deadline looms : (
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7 years ago  ::  Oct 28, 2007 - 12:12PM #7
eclecticspiritualist
Posts: 15
While I am not Jewish I know that the scriptures state '"do not be unequally yoked with others"and although one has to be careful on choosing a partner that respects ones beliefs and precepts there are so many stigmas attached to those who marry outside the faith from ones Jewish peer group although I know our ideas are continually evolving some ideas are entrenched.What is your take on the matter?
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7 years ago  ::  Oct 28, 2007 - 1:32PM #8
eliana2005
Posts: 98

eclecticspiritualist wrote:

'"do not be unequally yoked with others"?


Just curious, which "scriptures" are you quoting? If it's from the NT, it isn't applicable here; is this from the Tenach?  If so, then the mandate against intermarriage is already in the Torah, so it has nothing to do with being uneaqually 'yoked.'   
However, I'm not a rabbi, so, if I'm wrong, please correct me.



Again, I'm rushing, so excuse me if I come across as rather inarticulate...:o

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7 years ago  ::  Oct 28, 2007 - 6:16PM #9
RedEmma1
Posts: 6
Jewish concerns about intermarriage are closely linked to our feelings about being Jewish. That is, in the US and most urban cultures, mixed marriages are common and unremarkable. The Clintons are a mixed marriage, for instance; she's Methodist, he's Baptist.  But we never hear anything, from either the Methodists or the Baptists, about how their respective traditions are doomed to disappear if people keep following Bill and Hillary's example. Part of that is just statistical reality; most mainstream religions in the US tend to gain just about as many people as they lose through intermarriage.  But part of it is that nobody has ever claimed that "Es ist schver zu sein a Methodist/Baptist" (old Yiddish saying: "It is hard to be a ___")  Most Bapthodists can't see why anybody WOULDN'T want to join them.  Whereas all too many Jews see being Jewish as kind of like having a wooden leg--it is possible to live a rich, full life with a wooden leg, but anybody who had any choice in the matter would have to be crazy to want one. If we assume that fewer people are interested in entering Judaism than in leaving it, then we are naturally going to fear intermarriage.  Only if we find Judaism to be a positive joy that lots of people will want to get into if we can just introduce them to it, can we stop worrying about intermarriage.
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7 years ago  ::  Oct 28, 2007 - 9:02PM #10
Adam1985
Posts: 1
This is a very heartfelt subject for me, especially today when my fiance, who is Jewish, finally told her parents today that the man she chose to spend the rest of her life with, in fact, is not a Jew.  I was surprised to see this discussion topic in my e-mail on the very same day. When she called me today crying her eyes out, because of how big of a deal this is with her traditional parents. Being twenty-three years old I figured that her parents would let her make her own decisions... I was wrong...They scolded her with remarks like "how can you do this to us!?" and "We raised you better than this!?"....Which they did raise her very well. Being raised in a loving Orthodox Jewish home she has aspired to be a wonderful, brilliant, respectable woman. She is extremely dedicated to Judaism, the only law that she broke was loving me. BUT love is love, even she says that you can't help who you fall in love with.

I've heard that intermarriage was refered to as the silent holocaust, which is blowing it way out of proportion... The only thing that is killing the Jewish faith is lack of faith. In Judaism especially, faith is strong, considering the countless persecutions the Jewish people have endured, it has shown to be the strongest faith I've seen. So in order to call yourself a real Jew, your faith has to be strong. So why would your partner get in the way of your personal faith in God? If love has drawn you to a person, it would seem that they are a good person. Morality in Judaism is what draws me to it, not the belief in God. Even though everything is done through a God that I barely believe in, Judaism may lead on the path to God....maybe... maybe not...I'm quite certain that my fiance would like me to, and it would make it easier...but I can't be a real Jew unless I fully believe in God....if I choose to believe in God or not, because she loves me for who I am.........

Although I do see what it will do to our children, which is an argument in favor of the silent holocaust theory. It will be hard for children to understand why their mother and father don't believe in the same ideas about God. We both decided to raise our kids in a Jewish home. Which I'm completely in favor of, i love Jewish morality. But whether we like it or not THEY WILL MAKE THEIR OWN DECISIONS, as it is their right as humans. Sure, if we force them to do what we want them to do they MIGHT do it, and hate it, or they might do it on their own... Either way they are going to do what they want, and it's our choice to support them for it, as it's their choice to make it. There are cases in homes where both parents believe in the same thing, and the child still chooses a different path. This happens in Judaism as well as every other faith. You can't control your child, you can only control how you interact with them...What's important is that whatever your children decide, (canceling out stupid obviously horrible decisions: murder, stealing, etc.) if it makes them happy, show them that you love them, and that you will be there for them when they need you.

My fiance is forbidden to even speak to me now, and if we continue to stay together then it could lead to her being banished from her family. I don't want to come between her and her family, and we would love to have her family's blessing. I know it's a huge deal for them, but I don't want to change her, and I don't want to kill Judaism... Do good morals not matter if you don't have God or if your not a Jew? Do my fiance and I have to suffer because my ancestors didn't practice Judaism? If I wasn't who I was, and if she wasn't Jewish, then we wouldn't even know each other...and I wouldn't have found the perfect one for me....

this is my first post, ever... but this subject is a deep problem that i'm going through....any insight is appreciated....I could write about this for days, but I condensed as much as I could to spare you hours of reading....thanks

To summarize:

Q: is Judaism dying?...
A: only if you let it....
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