|What can we do?|
|Written by Tuvya Zaretsky|
It was art imitating life, when the January 10 episode of The Simpsons featured a Jewish-Gentile couple wedding. The storyline focused on the marriage of Krusty the Klown (aka Herschel Krustofski) and his Gentile princess bride.
Some in the American Jewish community didn’t see the humor. Perhaps it was because it just happened to air around the same time that the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia released findings from the "2009 Jewish Population Study of Greater Philadelphia." The demographic realities of that study did not give community leaders cause to smile.
It reported that among intermarried families in the Philadelphia area only 29 percent of the children of intermarried families are being raised as “Jewish only.” It is more common now to find children in Jewish-Gentile households being raised with mixed ethnic and religious cultural identities.
The survey also found that the Philadelphia intermarriage rate has reached 45 percent for Jews who are under 40. That represents a surprising increase, where the eastern American Jewish community has lagged behind the national intermarriage rate that exceeds 52 percent. Barry Shrage, president of Boston’s Combined Jewish Philanthropies has observed “the undeniable reality that intermarried couples will one day make up the majority of Jewish families.”1
The issue continues to focus on how the Jewish Federation should respond with programs and spending on outreach to intermarried couples. Sadly, there is reluctance to allocate community funding when only 6% of intermarried households in the Philadelphia area donate to Federation causes.
However, our view is that Jewish-Gentiles couples and their families ought to have available spiritual and cultural support simply because they need it. Their marriages are often at higher risk of dissatisfaction and distress. Children from Jewish-Gentile couples can benefit from efforts to help them appreciate their bi-cultural inheritance.
Families greatly benefit from efforts to preserve the unique cultures that are presented in a Jewish-Gentile Couple family. That means that Jewish partners can discover the Jewishness of Messianic faith (aka “Christian faith”). Gentile Christian partners can come to appreciate their marriage into the Jewish people and the foundation of their own faith within a Jewish cultural context and history.
Instead of nervously laughing at Jewish-Gentile couples, or making jokes about them, we are aiming to reach out and provide resources to assist them. If you are in an inter-dating, cohabiting or intermarried Jewish-Gentile relationship we are glad to be available.
We can help you gain some understanding about your situation. The new demographic information on the Jewish community reveals that you are now in the majority of American Jewry. We want to provide information about how you can find spiritual harmony in your relationship and home life. We can recommend congregations where both partners are welcome and can be comfortable without fear of being asked to jettison Jewish identity or Messianic faith. We are also able to suggest children’s camps and clubs where the next generation can meet other kids who are bi-cultural just like them. Spiritual faith and ethnic identities can be developed in children through a thoughtful and intentional manner.
Please let us hear from you if we can be of support.
I would say after 28 years of a "cross cultural" marriage there simply is no spiritual harmony. It has for me, been like being in a marriage by myself. With loving respect I would counsel anyone contemplating this sort of union to consider strongly 2 Corinthians 6:14.
That being said, I believe for those of us who did not heed God's guidelines, should stay in our marriage and believe God to display His mighty work (Romans 8:28).