New Trends in Intermarriage

I see family members—generally couples themselves but including parents, siblings, and friends—on a regular basis to discuss issues surrounding intermarriage. Although New York is an amalgam of cultures, my calendar does not reflect the national trends: those of other religious backgrounds who marry Jews in the Northeast are often Roman Catholic. Perhaps this is another example in which it is always important to filter the work of researchers through the work of those on the front line, those who are working with interfaith couples and their families on a daily basis.

It is in this context that I am intrigued about one of the latest Hollywood releases—27 Dresses—a film that I would normally pay no attention to since it is clearly a “chick flick.” What piqued my interest is the film includes a Jewish-Hindu wedding. As a matter of fact, this wedding opens the film (as the main character shuttles back and forth with another wedding), and thereby helps to establish the foundation for the film’s storyline. This serves as yet another example of the fact that megatrends are out as a way of informing our work, and microtrends are in. Jews aren’t just marrying Catholics anymore. There are a growing number of weddings between Jews and Muslims, Jews and Hindus, and Jews marrying those from a variety of other religious and ethnic backgrounds. It may not be the focal point of the film, it’s probably just included for so-called comedic purposes, but it is present nonetheless and must be reckoned with.

The Jewish wedding in the film reflects a circumstance that I encounter with increasing frequency in our work at the Jewish Outreach Institute. If we are to become a truly open community that welcomes a variety of diverse backgrounds, then we have to understand the latest trends and be responsive to them.

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