With so few Jewish professional athletes in North America, we’re always excited when another one comes along. The latest is Isaac “Ike” Davis, the new first-basemen for the New York Mets. His Jewish background is constantly brought up in articles and interviews, and he has said in the past that he is “really proud of his Jewish heritage.” But a question during an interview in the New York daily newspaper AMNY reinforced something we call the “Celebrity Exception.” He was asked how he navigates religion as a child of intermarriage.
This falls into the category of “Celebrity Exception” because despite his background as a child of intermarriage, he is wholly embraced as a Jewish baseball player. Meanwhile, too many other adult children of intermarriage genuinely seek a connection to their Jewish heritage but are turned off or turned away, either inadvertently or purposefully. It shouldn’t take a major league baseball contract for the Jewish community to open its doors so wide.
We believe the future of the Jewish community will be determined by how warmly we welcome in all those who are often left on the periphery – including intermarried families, unaffiliated Jews, and the growing number of children of intermarriage. It’s great to see Davis put his Jewish identity on display, but we also hope his status highlights the need to better welcome in all those who share his mixed background.