When one of our board members shared with me this online video clip from Israeli news outlet Ha-aretz about intermarriage, I didn’t know what to expect. I figured that I would hear the same old Israeli triumphalism about intermarriage (that moving to Israel is the only way to avoid assimilation and loss of Jewish identity). While this short segment included some personal testimony and offered perspective from both the East Coast (New York City) and West Coast (Los Angeles), I was pleasantly surprised to see that the only leadership quote was taken from Arnie Eisen, the new chancellor of the Jewish Theological Seminary.
Eisen’s statements are refreshingly realistic. First, he says that Jews act like other Americans. Intermarriage is an American phenomenon, something that we at JOI have been saying for a long time. He also says that we have to consider how powerful a statement it is that as many Jews as do marry other Jews when you consider how small the Jewish population is in the United States. Again, we have been saying for a long time that intermarriage is demographically driven. I am looking forward to his next statement. Perhaps it will also be in accord with JOI’s position—let’s stop focusing on intermarriage and instead help those who have intermarried raise Jewish children.