WEEK OF DEC. 23, 2009

Intermarriage debate

I admire the Light bringing the ongoing debate of intermarriage to the forefront (Editorial “Pump Down The Volume” in the Dec. 9 issue). However, I am really somewhat offended.

At the very end of the printing, you point out this being the holiday season. I probably have as many Christian friends as Jewish ones, but we all know the real holiday season is from Rosh Hashanah to Simchas Torah.

That, however, is not really problematic to me. What does irritate me is your statement implying that those of us who criticize intermarriage are not adult. Then you go on to say the arguments outweigh the pain.

So very, very inaccurate! Either the Light is misinformed in the true meaning of Judaism or perhaps you are merely not addressing the situation properly. You even go on to mention, with absolutely no disappointment, that if the situation continues, Jews could be reduced to a lower number, five million people worldwide.

While I realize the issue is very delicate, I am nevertheless stunned that you claim those who are opposed to the situation are not acting like adults because of our beliefs against intermarriage. Remember, we are the Chosen Ones; we are the Ones who were picked by Hashem to follow proper, ethical and religious ways of life – not to be influenced by others who have other beliefs.

Howard Sandler

University City

The Jewish Light editorial “Pump Down the Volume,” as well as the front-page story in the previous week’s issue offering a cocktail of options for intermarried families to navigate “the holiday season,” are quite astonishing coming from a Jewish newspaper because it essentially sends a message of ambivalence and indifference. It is not clear why the Light chose this topic to discuss civil discourse. After all, is intermarriage the greatest thing that has happened to the Jewish community? Whether one argues from the standpoint of Jewish law or on the basis of pure demographics, the subject of intermarriage strikes at the core issues of Jewish identity and assimilation. A Jewish newspaper can wiggle all it wants but a call for a debate on this one is frankly irresponsible. Let people think anything they want and yes we can debate what we can or should do about intermarriage, or how we ought to relate to families that are already intermarried. As for the editorial section of the Jewish Light, the best advice is that it should help to promote Jewish identity rather than pursue a course of politically correct fence-sitting. Otherwise, our sons and daughters will hear a confused message and our community will have fewer Jews and less Jewish identity. What’s next, an editorial about civil discourse on the topic of whether Israel is a legitimate Jewish state?

Paul Hauptman

St. Louis

We at the Jewish Outreach Institute (www.JOI.org) think your editorial on the current state of discourse regarding intermarriage hits the nail right on the head. While arguments can get heated, and responses can be impassioned, it’s never a good idea to turn these discussions into a series of negative sound bites.

Through our work with intermarried families, we know how hurtful it can be when both sides of the intermarriage argument are attacked with invective and disrespect. Hurtful both personally and on a community level. Such negative bickering only stunts our growth because it pushes us further away from each other. The more we’re divided, the harder it is to find that point where issues are considered with respect for everyone’s point of view.

The growth and survival of the Jewish community depends in part on our ability to find and celebrate our common ground. This won’t happen if we can’t even sit down at the same table to have a civil discussion.

Levi Fishman,

Communications Associate

Jewish Outreach Institute

New York, NY