Three views on intermarriage
I must be living in some bizarre parallel universe. In the same edition of The CJN, (June 18), a former porn star is converting to Judaism and tweeting pictures of Shabbat dinner, and a rabbi is expounding on the merits of interfaith marriage and the role that intermarried clergy should play in leading the Jewish faith into the future.
Although I fully embrace and support Jews by choice, I have a hard time not believing that intermarriage, and certainly intermarried religious leaders, is the top of the slippery slope where Judaism becomes more of a cultural curiosity than the religion of the Chosen People.
Over the last few issues of The CJN, there has been a lot of discussion about intermarriage. Many of the opinions expressed did not have an issue with intermarriage, nor do they see it as a threat to Jewish continuity.
It would seem then that our greatest challenge is not intermarriage itself, but even recognizing that intermarriage is a challenge to begin with.
Letter-writer Leon Elmaleh (“Marrying within the faith,” May 21) takes a sadly parochial and even racialized view of Jewish affairs. Demonizing intermarriage is an easy polemic. Intermarriage brings many fine, dedicated people into engagement with Jewry and Jewish faith.
Speaking personally, I am proud of all of the non-Jews in my family history, beginning with my Christian great-grandfather in Victorian England who made the dramatic choice to make common cause with the Jewish People and bring Judaism into his life by becoming the husband of a Jewish wife and a father to seven Jewish children.
While we all know about Jews who have “married out,” when we harp on intermarriage as a generic evil, we show callous and needless disrespect to all the non-Jews who have “married in” and become the mainstays of Jewish life in their homes and communities. Do we really want to do that? Is there a reader of The CJN who does not know of a convert to Judaism who has become the backbone of Jewish commitment in his or her family?
Marry Jewish by all means, if that’s where life takes you. But remember the story of Ruth, which has an instructive message for every Jewish era.
Jews do not missionize to non-Jews, but the Jewish door can be found and opened. The “stranger” may enter and find welcome.
If Judaism and Jewishness are going to disappear, they’ll disappear due to a lack of interest on the part of both born-Jews married to other born-Jews and Jews-by-birth who make no effort to bring a non-Jewish marital partner into meaningful contact with the Jewish experience.
(ex-Montrealer and Kingstonian)
Harper and the Jewish vote
Michael Taube takes comfort in the fact that recent voting patterns in Canada and Europe among Jews support his small “c” conservative political philosophy (“Canadian Jews shift right, American Jews tilt left,” June 25).
It’s a sad commentary on Canadian Jews that Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s support for Israel is enough to persuade us to overlook the character of his leadership.
This is without a doubt the most relentlessly partisan government in my lifetime, the government that most blatantly disrespects democracy, democratic procedure and rudimentary fairness. It is secretive, mean-spirited and has sent a chill of fear through the civil service, which it does not hesitate to denigrate at every opportunity.
It is not enough for me that Harper supports Israel. He and his government are bad for Canada. That has to matter to us as Jews.
No plans for Jewish library
In your article about the smaller Sherman campus of the Bathurst Jewish Community Centre (June 18), there was no mention of plans to restore the Jewish Public Library which used to be at 4600 Bathurst St. If you go there today, you will find only the Frank and Anita Holocaust Resource Collection. When I asked the librarian what happened to the rest of 50,000 books about Jewish religion, culture and history, she said they are sitting in storage somewhere waiting for a new library to be built.
An outdated website claims this library still exists at 4600 Bathurst St. It is time to restore it.