I just returned from making a presentation at the Anita M. Stone JCC, in Flossmoor, Illinois (a southern suburb in Chicagoland). While the presentation was originally slated to focus on issues of grandparenting interfaith grandchildren, emerging from the book on the subject that Paul Golin and I prepared, the conversation evolved to include family dynamics relevant to interfaith marriage. While it was a self-selecting audience, and included some community professionals, when I asked the question about how many in the audience were directly impacted upon by interfaith marriage (in their immediate family) every hand in the room went up.
This didn’t surprise me. We were far from the historical core of Chicago’s Jewish community. And as we continue to demonstrate at JOI, when we map out a community, the farther you are from the historical center of the Jewish community in almost every North American city where there are Jews, the higher are the interfaith marriage rates.
Several of the communal professionals from the JCC attended our recent national JOI conference in Washington, DC. Both their attendance and this session confirmed for me that they are anxious to move the agenda of building an inclusive community forward. It also confirmed for me the fact that the pioneering leadership in such an initiative regionally does not always have to come from its center—rather, it too can come from the periphery.
Some people talk about Israel and the Diaspora. At JOI, we talk about the historical Jewish community (in the center of all the big cities, and in the east) and the Diaspora: at the outskirts of the big cities, as well as in the smaller ones, and often outside of the east. It is there where the inclusive Jewish community is being created and will be leveraged against the other communities.
No comments yet.