Yoel Finkelman, Bar-Ilan University lecturer and contributor to the Yiddish language newspaper Jewish Daily Forward, has bestowed upon us his views of the effects of same-sex marriage on Jewish communities in the United States. He decides to compare this issue to Interfaith marriages, which are a continued source of debate and “concern” in many congregations, which is an interesting position to take.
He has some points, but I take issue with many (obviously). He makes a lot of generalizations on some really big topics, for someone who doesn’t even live in the United States. At least I have some grounds to flip-out on this topic, then again many of us do. There is amazing variety in American Judaism. Growing up I’ve been involved with Reconstructionist, Reform and Conservative Shuls. I’ve been part of one congregation who embraced families of all backgrounds with open arms, one who would perform civil unions, and one who condemned me because my mother was a convert. I’ve even been “converted,” by an Orthodox Rabbi but that’s another stupid story, but it’s my stupid story and a pretty good example of why that Forward article is invalid.
I was on one of the first Birthright Israel trips, someone asked me why my boyfriend wasn’t there and I said it was because he was “not Kosher.” One of the trip leaders tries to talk me into breaking up with him and start dating one of the “eligible bachelors” on our tour bus. That was the moment I realized that Birthright was just an Interfaith marriage intervention scheme. At least I got a free trip out of it.
When I was preparing to get married, I had such a hard time finding a Rabbi who would even perform an interfaith ceremony, we both converted. BOTH. I got guilt-tripped into converting by the freaking Rabbi because my mom was a convert, “just in case we made aliyah,” he was afraid I would have problems, and he’s probably right. It stills seemed like a lot of trouble for me to go to after 10 years of Hebrew School, a Bat Mitzvah, Confirmation and lifetime of Jewish identity. You know what, I gave up fighting at that point. It was pointless.
My personal argument aside, Yoel Finkelman has NO idea the hatred and discontent. He also has no idea what a good Jewish mother an Episcopalian can be and a good Jewish father a Catholic. Of my father’s side of the family 3 of the 4 kids married outside the faith and we all turned out very well! (other than my obvious anger issues :) Well educated in our faith and in the faiths of others, more open, tolerant and I think the world can use a lot of that.
I’m sorry I even give your argument this much attention, Mr. Finkelman. It doesn’t deserve my time and aggravation, but kudos to you on shining the strangest light on the most pointless long-standing argument in American Judaism.
Congregations should open their arms to more couples no matter who they are. If they have children, be happy that they are going to be raising them in your community and educate them. I have always wondered about that Synagogue whose youth group leader who lashed out at me, using my mom’s conversion as a derogatory slur against me, how that community educates their kids. A little diversity, at least in our views, might not be the worst thing in the world.
And that is enough of my hatred & discontent for one day.
BTW, thanks to Interfaith Family…they have another interesting rebuttal to this article