Reverse Course on Intermarriage?

There has been no more astute observer of the American Jewish community’s response to intermarriage than Jack Wertheimer. Wertheimer, a professor of American Jewish history at the Jewish Theological Seminary, has been writing incisively about this topic and others for many years principally in the pages of COMMENTARY. He has taken up the issue again in this month’s issue of Mosaic where he argues that the organized American Jewish world’s defeatism about intermarriage is unjustified. Wertheimer provides a brief yet definitive history of the last 20-plus years of Jewish communal debate about intermarriage, and his analysis of the data leads him inexorably to the conclusion that most of what has been done has been utterly useless, if not completely counterproductive. He rightly believes the overwhelming emphasis on outreach and inclusion of intermarried families has done little or nothing to increase the chances that their children might choose to affiliate with the Jewish community in the future. Even worse, he understands the impulse to avoid any taint of a judgmental attitude about intermarriage, and that the desire to welcome those who choose to marry a non-Jew and their spouses and children has only helped to engender greater acceptance of a trend that threatens to drastically reduce Jewish numbers in the future and to undermine the community’s ability to maintain vital institutions.

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Reverse Course on Intermarriage?

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