Letters to The Editor

Speaking against interfaith dating – perspective from a Jewish parent

This is what I hope is a respectful response to ‘Megan’s Musings’ (Ohr Chadash Teen Page, Oct. 9). I understand that when you are a teen, “love is love” might seem like a perfectly reasonable stance, but is it? If love is to lead to marriage (it does not always, and in many cases, it is for the best), what are the long-term implications of an interfaith situation? 

When a relationship is at the infatuation stage, which lasts perhaps three to six months, it seems that the outside world ceases to exist, and that each other’s company is all one needs for complete happiness. It is an absolutely wonderful time, but it does not last. It never ever does, even in the best relationships. That “strong connection” does not last, unless it is built upon common goals, values, and a sense of shared destiny. Could you truly have common goals with someone from a different faith? Maybe, if you are speaking of professional goals, financial goals, and certainly some of your moral values. However, while Jewish values and traditions may have influenced everyone else’s in our Judeo-Christian society, they are not anyone else’s. They are unique and do not lend themselves well to being infinitely watered down, at least not if you want your children to appreciate them for their true meanings, and for your grandchildren to even be aware of them. 

The reality is that is it hard to be Jewish. Jews have unique gifts and unique responsibilities, which is why conversion to Judaism is traditionally discouraged. It is hard to be Jewish when you have to tell your boss you need as much as seven days off in the fall because of the Jewish holidays, it is hard to make Hanukkah the exciting holiday for your children in the middle of the overwhelming Christmas season and it is hard to keep a kosher home when you are a working mother.

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Yes, some interfaith marriages do work and last, but as the recent Pew survey suggests, there are consequences for the children of these marriages: “intermarried Jews, like Jews of no religion, are much less likely to be raising their children in the Jewish faith” and “among Jews with a non-Jewish spouse, [only] 20 percent say they are raising their children Jewish by religion . . . “ Nowadays, there are no guarantees that marrying a Jewish partner will ensure Jewish grandchildren and survival of the Jewish community, but you do not have to be a statistician to understand that you are really stacking the cards against this outcome if you chose a non-Jewish mate. 

By writing this, my intent is not to pick on the courageous and well-spoken young woman who wrote the original article. But if my son, currently three years old and really into the Jewish holidays, ever writes something similar, I hope another Jewish parent will write this reply because it does take a (Jewish) village.

Dr. Carole Granillo, St. Louis