More Negative, More Positive

Before getting to the recent news: I’ll be speaking at the Shames JCC on the Hudson in Tarrytown, NY on Sunday, November 4 at 9:30. The Rivertowns Jewish Consortium is sponsoring this community conversation; if you are in the area, I hope you’ll participate in the discussion of these questions: Why do some interfaith families

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Remembering Rachel Cowan

The Jewish world lost an extraordinary leader at the end of August when Rabbi Rachel Cowan died. Most of the much-deserved tributes have focused on her contributions in the areas of social justice, Jewish healing, and Jewish spirituality and mindfulness. I would like to highlight something that has received less attention: Rachel Cowan’s leadership in

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Progress on Officiation

InterfaithFamily has released a report on its survey of rabbis’ practices around officiation and co-officiation at weddings of interfaith couples. The highlights of the report have been covered by JTA and the Forward and follow a recent Forward story on Rabbi Joe Black changing his position on officiation after thirty years as a rabbi. The

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My Thoughts on Steven M. Cohen’s #MeToo Moment

Steven M. Cohen has been perhaps the most prominent critic of intermarriage. For almost twenty years he has been my ideological nemesis and I have disagreed quite vehemently with the substance of his analysis and interpretation of survey research. There has been wide publicity of news that Cohen repeatedly sexually harassed numerous women in his

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Language Shapes Reality

My friend Rabbi Robyn Frisch, director of InterfaithFamily / Philadelphia, wrote a wonderful Torah portion column titled “Language Helps to Shape Reality.” She notes that Jews too often use language that is insensitive to people in interfaith relationships, describing intermarriage as a problem, or suggesting people don’t “look Jewish,” or qualifying how they describe their

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Responding to the Fishman / Cohen / Wertheimer Challenge

Last Friday Sylvia Barack Fishman, Steven M. Cohen and Jack Wertheimer described Michael Chabon’s views on intermarriage as “morally abhorrent.” The JTA published my reply on Monday, ‘Radical inclusion’ of interfaith families is the best response to Michael Chabon. In their essay, Fishman and her co-authors address several questions to proponents of welcoming and inclusion

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Intermarriage in the Bible and Rabbinic Tradition

In April and May 2018, Rabbi Ethan Tucker, President and Rosh Yeshiva at Hadar, delivered an important series of three lectures on Intermarriage: Choices and Consequences. (Hadar is “a leader in the field of Jewish education and community building, engaging diverse populations in serious Jewish learning with curiosity, creativity and conviction.”) If you are seriously

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Michael Chabon Didn’t Go Too Far

Noted author Michael Chabon spoke at the graduation of the Hebrew Union College Los Angeles campus on May 14. The JTA story is titled “Michael Chabon attacks Jewish inmarriage and Israel’s occupation in speech to new rabbis.” Ben Sales writes that Chabon “delivered a diatribe against Jewish inmarriage” and says he “once wanted his children

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A Letter to the Leaders of Honeymoon Israel

Dear Avi and Mike, Congratulations on the great success of Honeymoon Israel described in your recent eJewishPhilanthropy article.  It is exciting to hear that 1,200 couples have gone on trips to Israel, that 700 more are scheduled to go this year, and that Honeymoon Israel helps couples begin conversations between partners regarding how they will

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Ignorant of Intermarriage? Ignoring Intermarriage?

I loved Rebecca Ennen’s piece in the Forward, How Can Jewish Leaders Be So Ignorant About Intermarriage?  It’s refreshing to see a 35-year old child of intermarried parents, who works in a Jewish organization and is raising a Jewish child, forcefully explain how Jewish leaders talk about interfaith families “in ways that are frankly ignorant”

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