There’s a new Jewish quarterly magazine out now called Guilt & Pleasure, sponsored by our friends at Reboot, an organization whose goal is to help its generation (Gen X? Gen Y? Millennials?) “grapple with the questions of Jewish identity, community and meaning on its own terms.” Guilt & Pleasure calls itself a journal, and is considerably more heady than some of the other recently-created Jewish periodicals like the irreverent Atlanta Jewish Life or the raunchy Heeb, while remaining somewhat less (intimidatingly) literary than another new cultural journal, Zeek.
This week, Mireille Silcoff, editor-in-chief of Guilt & Pleasure, submitted to an email interview with the Israeli newspaper Haaretz in which she was asked, among other poorly-phrased questions, about “the war against intermarriage.” I found her reply a perfectly succinct encapsulation of what we at JOI have been trying to get across for years, including:
You can tell a youngster that it’s important to marry Jewish. You can also tell them that it is important to save for retirement. Or that once they do their own washing, they should separate lights from darks. Will this information, if it is taught, and memorized, like a subject in school, be something they hang on to as valuable years later? Possibly the bit about washing. The other two parts will depend on a youth’s experience more than anything any elder tells them.
But to say intermarriage is the product of mainly Jewish dissatisfaction is erroneous - there’s also, more than anything, the world at large. Jewish parents might send children to mixed schools, encourage children to respect other cultures, to have all kinds of friends, to have an open world view. These parents are thrilled when their children speak a second or third language, or do something like a cultural exchange program. But then the kid hits their twenties, and suddenly this person, reared on multicultural colouring books and Spanish skits on Sesame Street is told to forget all that in romance and marry someone exactly like themselves. It’s a tall, narrow order - and it doesn’t match the kids’ variegated experience in growing up.
The full interview is worth reading. Ms. Silcoff’s thoughtfulness and vision bode well for the success of her magazine.