Divorce: A Laughing Matter?

Sometimes the best way to deal with difficult issues is through humor. It certainly worked for Sholom Aleichem, whose work is remembered perhaps more for its humor than its social criticism. Maybe that is what motivated the playwright Theodore Kemper to write FMNJ (Formerly Married to Non-Jews) and what enthused the New York Jewish cultural venue Makor to host it. Perhaps the abbreviation will even make its way into the Jewish community’s vocabulary, much like FFB (Frum [observant] From Birth) or MOT (Members Of the Tribe).

This play reminds me a little of the film The First Wives Club. I don’t really know what divorced women who were left behind for “trophy wives” felt when they watched that movie. I imagine that they were less than thrilled. Maybe it takes some time and perspective until it can be laughed at. But it may take a lot of time.

Divorce in the context of intermarriage may be similar. People who go through a divorce, especially if connected to issues that emerge from intermarriage, may not be in a position to laugh about it. This is especially true about the children who come from such a union. For so-called insider Jews, maybe it is a laughing matter. For others, I am not so sure. But the play does examine a lot of issues relevant to intermarriage and the Jewish community, perhaps in a more meaningful way than popular culture does.

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