March 25, 2010

Israeli organization seeks to break up interfaith relationships with Jewish *women*?

Posted in Interfaith, Judaism at 9:52 pm by chavalah

In response to the latest celebre-news that Israeli model Bar Rafaeli apparently looks to tie the knot with her goy-toy Leonardo DiCaprio, the organization Lehava (Hebrew for “flame” as well as an acronym for “Preventing Assimilation in the Holy Land”) has written a letter to try and stop this union.

A small excerpt, as penned by Levaha leader Baruch Marzel:

It is not by chance that you were born Jewish…Come to your senses, look forward and back too — and not only the present. Don’t marry Leonardo DiCaprio, don’t harm the future generations.

First of all, full discloser here: I did harbor a tiny crush on Leo during part of my teen years (so maybe he is a threat to Jewish women?) But secondly…seriously, Lehava targets Jewish women?

I can understand targeting Jews in general who stray from the fold, but women? First of all, Jewish men are more likely than Jewish women to be intermarried. But second, no matter what (in Orthodox/Conservative circles, as written in Halacha, the Jewish Law,) the child of a Jewish mother is always considered to be a Jew. Maybe Judaism is supposed to be about more than who you marry.

I’m always offended by letters like these. It’s the arrogant, self-righteous tone. Are people really blind enough to believe that something like this would change a person’s mind from marrying someone she’s been in a relationship with? Are they really doing this for the betterment of the Jewish people? Or is their concern a mask, a selfish desire to appear like tzaddikim, who can defend themselves to Gd, “Well, I tried!”

I’m not writing off the fact that intermarriage can (but doesn’t always) lead to a break from the Jewish tradition. But letters like this solely exist to fan the flames. Instead of telling a woman whose children will be Jewish anyway how horrible she is, remind her of the strength and beauty of our tradition. Make her proud to share this bond with her children, proud enough to put her children through religious school and participate in their b’nai mitzvah. No one wants to be trapped in a world of pessimism. And no one should be blamed for an issue in Judaism that runs much deeper than one person’s marriage.

My mother is a Jew and therefore, by Halacha, I am a Jew. Do I not have as much claim as anyone to the line “it is not by chance that you were born Jewish”?

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