A Trend Too Big To Ignore

A couple of days ago, we blogged about the new Adam Sandler movie, “You Don’t Mess With The Zohan.” While it’s a slapstick comedy, it does deal with the bigger issue of an interfaith relationship – one between a Jew and a Muslim.

On the heels of Zohan comes another movie, this one dramatic, also about the relationship between Jews and Muslims. According to promotional material, the movie “David and Fatima” is about a young Jewish man, David, who falls in love with a Palestinian Muslim named Fatima. Unlike Zohan, where the protagonists carry out their relationship in America, David and Fatima try to have a relationship in Israel, against the backdrop of families and a culture that aggressively disapproves of their romance.

The Jewish/Muslim interfaith relationship might be the most taboo of them all. It offers some of the biggest challenges in the already complex world of cross-cultural relationships. Both these movies, while different in approach, show that it’s a subject becoming too big to ignore. Even last years “The Band’s Visit” falls into this category. Although it’s about an Egyptian band that gets lost in a small Israeli town, it drew rave reviews for it’s depiction of Arabs and Israelis putting aside their cultural differences and, as film critic Roger Ebert says, it “shows them both as only ordinary people with ordinary hopes, lives and disappointments.”

JOI has been advocating for a broader discussion of Jewish/Muslim interfaith relationships, and we hope the sudden spate of media interest in this subject will bring this conversation to a new level.


  1. Why would anyone be in favor of Jewish-Muslim interfaith relationships in Israel? Don’t they have enough problems to contend with (safety (!), unemployment, other demographic issues) without also depleting the number of Jewish offspring there through intermarriage? Thankfully, it is still very taboo. Hopefully it will stay that way.

    Comment by marc — June 27, 2008 @ 12:37 pm

  2. Yes, yes. I liked it better when it was called Romeo and Juliet or West Side Story than when it was an Adam Sandler movie. Naturally people pay a lot of attention when these real life exceptions happen. But they are overwhelmingly exceptions.

    Comment by Dave — June 29, 2008 @ 9:49 am

  3. They are only exceptions when people build barriers to entry into the community. It is not about favoring one relationship or another. It is about understanding reality and reclaiming the historical welcoming nature of the Jewish community that this generation–and some segments of the Israeli community–have forgotten.

    Comment by Kerry Olitzky — June 29, 2008 @ 9:11 pm

  4. Historically speaking, Judaism never welcomed intermarriage. In fact, it resulted in being ostracized from the Jewish community. In the case of a man who intermarried, it resulted in his children being non-Jews and having no part of Jewish communal or religious life.

    So, historically speaking, the welcoming nature of the Jewish community, which is indeed a very warm welcoming one, excluded the intermarried. Perhaps you have forgotten this in your desire to normalize intermarriage?

    And since Adam Sandler, even by your own admission, has made a movie which addresses the exception rather than the rule in Israel, he is not actually embracing reality. Rather, the movie is trying to normalize that which is still (and hopefully will always be) on the fringe.

    Comment by marc — June 30, 2008 @ 3:32 pm

  5. I believe that I am talking about “embracing those who have intermarried.” The welcoming nature of the Jewish communuity needs to be extended to those who have intermarried in this generation. I dont accept your reasoning from the past because like so many other issues in contemporary Judaism, the numbers make it so that we have to establish different positions. The bottom line which emerges in each post–which you continue to monopolize and therefore keep others from wanting to participate–is that we disagree. I can live with that. So why dont you just leave it alone?

    Comment by Kerry Olitzky — June 30, 2008 @ 7:49 pm

  6. I only commented b/c you were invoking historical precedent as being on your side. It is not.

    However, we have no disagreement when it comes to your point that with regard to those who have ALREADY intermarried in this generation, the welcoming nature of the Jewish community needs to be extended. This is because there is one Jew in that relationship whose soul desires to connect with G-d and do teshuva. We should make it easier for them, not harder. It is possible to accept the intermarried Jew and try to bring them back into the fold (often this will entail their spouse converting halachically) without accepting the state of intermarraige itself, which we should treat as unfortunate fot the Jew personally and for our community.

    I think your blog can hold many, many posts, so I’m not sure “monopolize” is really the appropriate term. My posts don’t prevent anyone else from posting. If you liked what I had to say, you’d probably call me a “frequent contributor” to the blog. You may disagree with my opinion, but I would at least hope that you would defend my right to express it freely.

    Comment by marc — July 1, 2008 @ 10:50 am

  7. If I didnt support the “freedom” of the blog, then I wouldnt allow, as moderator, for the posts to stay up. People may not be as willing to put themselves out there if they know that they are going to be slammed–when this is supposed to be a website and blog supportive of an inclusive Jewish community. But let’s return to the content rather than the context.

    Comment by Kerry Olitzky — July 1, 2008 @ 12:12 pm

  8. I think you and Paul are the only ones I “slam” : )

    I will try to do less slamming.

    Comment by marc — July 1, 2008 @ 3:25 pm

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