Most of the time when we speak of interfaith marriages in this country, it is between Jews and Christians—or lapsed Christians. Infrequently do we speak of the marriages between Jews and those of other faiths such as Islam or Hinduism. We may speak of them as multicultural and focus on their ethnic background rather than their religious background. Perhaps it is time for that to change.
When we screened Forbidden Marriages in the Holy Land during a JOI training conference about five years ago, it was rather controversial. The community was struggling enough with the growing numbers of interfaith marriage in the United States. But few were ready to discuss the challenge of Israeli Jews marrying Israeli Arabs who were Muslim. While the numbers of intermarriage are not as significant in Israel as they are in the United States, there is no reason to believe that such numbers will not increase.
Recently, a new film has been released which has already received more negative publicity than did Forbidden Marriages. This one is called Marock and is reflective of the director’s own life as a Muslim married to a Sephardic Jew in Morocco. The government has claimed that the film actually breaks Moroccan law which “forbids offense to Islam,” although the country is religiously tolerant in general, especially to its very old Jewish community. Perhaps that is why a year after its release at the Cannes Film Festival, it is only now getting some general play in theaters. Whatever the reason, it is clear that the controversy of Jewish-Muslim marriage is a reality, best dealt with openly and honestly, just like all other forms of intermarriage.