Charles Dickens' classic, "A Tale of Two Cities," begins with the famous line: "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times." Sociologist Steven Cohen's new study on intermarriage has a similar title but a different spirit.
My earliest High Holiday memory goes back to about age 7. It was the night before Yom Kippur and my parents had gone off to the synagogue, leaving my 10-year-old brother and me with a babysitter. I forgot that I wasn't supposed to eat anything that night, went into the kitchen, got on a chair to get a banana from the top of the refrigerator, peeled it halfway down and put it into my mouth.
My brother shouted, "You can't do that!"
Since the National Jewish Population Survey (NJPS) confirmed the continuing high rate of intermarriage, it's been quiet on the "outreach"vs. "in-reach" front. The Jewish In-Marriage Initiative is slowly becoming active.
According to the released portions of the 2000-2001 National Jewish Population Survey (NJPS), 1.5 million non-Jews live with Jews. Who are they? How do they relate to the Jewish community? How should the community respond to them?
Against the backdrop of a Jewish population that the NJPS describes as declining and graying, the decisions that interfaith couples make about the religious identity of their children are critical to the future vitality of the community. I believe that every attitude, every practice, every policy should be evaluated primarily by this standard: Will it increase the likelihood that the children of interfaith families will be raised as Jews?