Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Should intermarriage be viewed as a type of kiruv?

update: Regarding Eddie's recent comment that proselytising should be viewed as kiruv - this article presents a related viewed that intermarriage should be viewed a kiruv. Accepting intermarriage is viewed as holding on to Jews who would normally either leave the community or be driven away. I also means holding on to the 25% of their children who identify as Jews. Holding on to Jews who would otherwise be lost is called kiruv!

update     Head of Reform movement - intermarriage and kiruv

Forward  [...] Reform rabbis in particular receive no clear guidance on this issue from their denominational leaders. The decision of whether to officiate interfaith marriages is left to the clergy themselves and to their understanding of Jewish theology, of the right path for American Judaism and primarily of the needs of their own community. For some, like Zemel, coming out in support of marriage of Jewish and non-Jewish couples took the form of a letter to the community. Others took to the pulpit during prime-time High Holy Days sermons to explain their move.

“After long and deliberate consideration, I have reached this decision: Going forward, when a Jew and a non-Jew in our community here at Temple Israel come to me and state that both partners are willing to commit to a Jewish future, Jewish education for their children and the creation of a Jewish home, I will officiate happily at their chuppah,” Rabbi John Rosove stated in his 2012 Rosh Hashanah sermon at Los Angeles’s Temple Israel of Hollywood.

The stakes for Ponet were probably higher than for others. His decision in July 2010 to perform the wedding of Chelsea Clinton and Marc Mezvinsky made him the rabbinic public face of interfaith marriages. “I outed myself,” he said, “and I knew it would impact the dialogue.”

Reaction to the high-profile celebrity interfaith wedding was mixed. Many expressed their support, while others saw it as a “terrible betrayal,” he recounted. Looking back, Ponet believes that performing the wedding was the right move, and that sticking to old beliefs about intermarriage contradicts the rabbinical mission of attending to the Jewish needs of Jewish people. “We were neglecting Jewish individuals for the sake of some theory of demography,” he said.

The demographic predictions that Ponet and others refer to are based primarily on studies showing that intermarriage is a key indicator for the loss of Jewish identity in the second generation. The recent survey by the Pew Research Center does find an increase in Jewish identity among individuals born to interfaith families in recent years, thanks, presumably, to a greater effort on behalf of the Jewish community to welcome intermarried families. But the numbers still show a significant difference between Jewish identification and behavior of in-married and out-married families.

“I know the statistics that only 25% of children of intermarried families will identify as Jewish, but I want to keep these 25% in our community,” Rosove said.

The Reform movement, America’s largest Jewish denomination, has become increasingly tolerant of rabbis officiating interfaith weddings. Though the movement does not have a clear policy on the issue, it is estimated that half of the 2,000 members of its rabbinic arm, the Central Conference of American Rabbis, now perform marriages between Jews and non-Jews.

But in Conservative Judaism, American Jewry’s other major liberal religious stream, rabbis struggling with this issue face a more complicated situation. The movement maintains an absolute prohibition against rabbis conducting interfaith ceremonies — or even attending such a ceremony. Violators of this ban are subject to being thrown out of the Rabbinical Assembly, Conservative Judaism’s rabbinic organization. [...]


  1. Oh that is rich - talk about misrepresentation of my comments!
    Intermarriage in America is something that has largely by done by freewill. The Shmad of the Spanish Inquisition was quite the opposite.
    In any case, all the Kiruv organisations (Orthodox) in America and elsewhere deal with intermarried and their offspring. Anyone who has had some experience with Kiruv will know that there are many cases of Jews from intermarried families, and this often involves giur. So you must therefore level your accusations at all of the Rabbis and gedolim who backed Kiruv, such as the Bostoner rebbe, Lubavitcehr rebbe, R' Shach, R Soloveitchick, R Ruderman etc for having encouraged proselytization. I in fact shared a room with someone who was converted under the Bostoner Rebbe - so your misrepresentation of what I said is really more revealing of an ideology than of careful consideration of the metziut.

    1. Eddie, don't be a dope. Those rabbonim who support kiruv do not in any way condone intermarriage or support giyur of non-Jewish spouses.

    2. M, don't use dope. Any kiruv you engage in will reveal intermarriage. The case i gave was someone who converted because he had a Jewish girlfriend. You are obviously an Ostricher Hassid - the type who keeps his head int he sand when he sees information that challenges his preconceived ideology.

    3. You know why R. Tropper's EJF fell apart? Because the Badatz condemned it for proselytizing non-Jewish spouses of Jews.

    4. no, not quite, It was because tropper got exposed as a menuval.
      Similarly, RYSE's bet din organised by Eisenstein fell apart because the rapist, Zalman Cohen, who was one of the "Dayanim", was arrested for child molestation in Nachlaot.

    5. Eddie read my comment to yy - your views are not being misrepresented.

  2. Intermarried Jews must be told that to do teshuva they must divorce their shiksa or sheigetz. This has always been the way. They need to get rid of their non-Jewish spouse.

    An intermarriage is not recognized as a marriage in Judaism and their non-Jewish spouse is not considered a spouse by Judaism.

  3. I'm astounded at DT using this article to suggest even a smidgen of "kiruv" ideology. This is pure Reform Jewish theology: Do what ever helps you identify Jewishly...

    Kiruv means encouraging, supporting, and inspiring those who are presently far from Torah life, not merely fanning feelings of "identity".

    1. yy you can make up whatever definition you like - but it doesn't change reality. Accepting intermarriage is viewed as holding on to Jews who would normally either leave the community or be driven away put it means hold on to the 25% of their children who identify as Jews.

      hold on to Jews who would otherwise be lost is called kiruv!

    2. what are we talking about by saying "Accepting intermarriage"?

      The article is reform, a Rabbi who conducts intermarriages.

      The word "accept" can have several meanings. It can be a psychological acceptance of how reality is. it can be a de facto , bdieved recognition of something ; or it can be a de jure - l'chatchila acceptance halachically.

      What I said was the first and also the second. I am not suggesting that you should conduct marriages between marranoes and catholics.

      in any case, the EJF - pre sex scandal - was basically an orthodox version of what this reform guy is doing. And the EJF was then being backed by the Litivsh world, and I provided evidence from the yated article i posted.

    3. But according to the ones making this statement and writing it in articles, this "25% of children of intermarriages" who they claim still identify as Jews, includes children who were born to a Jewish mother AND children born to a Jewish father only. So in many cases, by adopting this stance, the reformists are encouraging non-Jews (born to a Jewish father and non-Jewish mother for example) to believe they are Jewish. And of course they often (possibly without exception) consider those 25% of children who end up full-fledged members of their synagogue due to the way they identify - they consider them "Jewish" whether they are gentiles or not, because afterall, they define a person's Jewishness by whether or not he pay temple dues and hebrew school dues into the Reform system, not by whether halacha says they are Jewish.

      So what percentage of the 25% are actually born to a Jewish mother? If we assume it's an even split, I guess it could be 12.5%. But we should have statistics on the compositions of intermarriages (which are more common, Jew-man Gentile-woman or vice versa).

      And more than that, the bigger question to be asked here is what does it mean that if the intermarriage wasn't supported they would "either leave the community or be driven away." The translation of this statement from reform 'rabbis' is that they wouldn't pay temple dues anymore, and their kids wouldn't enroll in the hebrew school. But suppose they don't join a reform temple since no one would support their intermarriage, the Jewish woman has a few kids... So the Jewish woman wouldn't have a passover seder anymore, just like she would have if she stayed in the reform temple? Or she wouldn't tell the kids they were Jewish? Doesn't seem to be very "lost" to me - The kids are either born into an intermarriage with a reform temple membership, or born into one without a reform temple membership. Prove to me that it is more likely they will do teshuva one day, thanks to the reform temple's influence, vs. if the parents decide they can't be members of it since it rejected their intermarriage.

    4. Our differences are beginning to take on clear dimensions.

      Your reference to "reality" is woefully sloppy. You seem to define it here by the criterion of how "intermarriage is viewed". What?? "is viewed"= reality??

      In terms of substance: Your claim is that it's legitimate to ask if supporting intermarriage might stop the hemorrhaging of assimilation. To this I say again that it is ASTOUNDING for an Orthodox Torah Jew to ask this. Intermarriage is asur. Period. We can give plenty of explanations, halachically and kabalistically, but bottom line is there it is a toxic mix, no less than eating milk with meat. Aye, you may say that only if we give our hekhsher to cheesburgers can we save those many precious Jews who simply will not be able to respect their Judaism if it denies them such pleasures - to which I say stop the semantics and simply love the yid and suggest he find a way to make parve cheese, but keep away from his cheeseburger at all cost!

      Pampering Jewish "identity" doth not maketh a m'karev.

      It's called Reform

    5. Btw, since you promoted your comment to headline, you may want to correct the typos

    6. yy you clearly have an agenda in misreading my words. Where did I say that I advocate accepting intermarriage?!

  4. I don't get you sometimes, Rabbi/Dr. Eidensohn.

    "Accepting intermarriage is viewed as holding on to Jews who would normally either leave the community or be driven away the 25% of their children who identify as Jews.
    hold on to Jews who would otherwise be lost is called kiruv!"

    So, allowing transgressors of major offenses to be considered normal members of the community is actually a good thing - they'll stay connected! Actually, NO.
    From a halachic standpoint, this is ludicrous. Of course this article is about Reform rabbis.

    Or was this post just meant to call "reductio ad absurdum" on Eddie?

    1. @DT - you haven't shown that halacha forbids investigating who is descended from the Marranoes. As far as the Letter vs. Shavei, that is what was under discussion. You also haven't shown empirically that there are no halachic Jews left (ie matrilineal descent).
      Thirdly, you have not shown anywhere that halacha forbids contact with offspring of current intermarriages, which is what Modern kiruv does, ie those who are halachically Jewish. So this post of yours is quite irrelevant, and has nothing to do with the statements I have made.

    2. Eddie you have a tendency to ignore answers to your questions and move the goal posts. You have a population that is halachically goyim. Running after them to convert them is known as proselytizing. Your argument that we know that there most be some real Jews there has nothing to do with the halacha.

    3. "Running after them to convert them is known as proselytizing"

      I am not advocating converting the goyim. Ergo, I am not advocating proselytizing.

      "Your argument that we know that there most be some real Jews there has nothing to do with the halacha."

      It has everything to do with the halacha. If we know that some people are Jewish - once it is proven they are Jewish, there is no need to convert them. That is my point about kiruv. As i have mentioned in parallel, your alelgations would also apply to many of the Roshei Yesivot of the previous generation who sent emissaries to USSR to do kiruv to Russian Jewry. Since the shlichim in New york had no a priori knowledge of who is intermarried, who is born of an intermarriage, then your position is also calling the Gedolim who supported that Kiruv of proselytizing.

    4. Eddie you are not describing what the Gedolim said to do. Nor have you shown what they did and how they interacted with people. You are simply making a mishmash out of the situation

    5. If we know that some people are Jewish -
      But we don't know. Even the letter from the Portugese community only says that there are those of Jewish descent. We don't know if there was actual matrilineal descent for if they have already actually reintegrated to the Jewish community, as is the case with many forms of Marranos.

      once it is proven they are Jewish,
      Something, that even if it were the case, is completely impossible to do. for various reasons there sufficient records. There is nothing that is going to say that Judith Jewerson converted to xtianity on such and such a day, and here is her long lost line of female Jewish descendants. When the Jews were converted, they were given xtian names, and thus all links to the past were lost, along with documents of xtian(or G-d) parents thus all links with their Jewish past were lost. Add to that the difficulty of wars and 500yrs of history, and it is absolutely impossible to reconstruct any sort of ancestral line.
      It is an unfortunate aspect of life in Europe, but most Europeans can only reconstruct their genealogy for 100-200yrs back. In some really well perserved cases 300yrs maybe. Good record keeping simply wasn't done.

      there is no need to convert them.
      Ah but Shavei IS converting them. They ONLY do conversions, and this whole thread got started because you were trying to defend their conversions.

    6. Ramatz - I suppose I have made 2 comments on conversion -

      the first one that you refer to was " However, it provides a chazakah that there is ahigh probability of someone being jewish, hence a giur l'chumra should not be out of the question for those who claim to have Jewish descent. "

      If someone claims they have matrilineal descent, which is what I was arguing, and there is chazakah that it is true, and they claim to be jewish - then I don't see what the problem is. If they can prove that descent, then they do not need to convert, do they? If they cannot prove it, but wish to be Jewish, there is nothing that forbids them from converting.

      Now there are specific claims against the shavei organisation. If they are doing a John the Baptist style mass conversion, with an EU sponsored Mikve and doing 1000 conversion a day, then it would look a bit dubious.

      However, as i mentioned before, they brought the Chueta community to the attention of R Karelitz in Bnei brak, who accepted them for conversion or as Jews.
      DT asks me to bring relevant teshuvas, but then ignores when I cite RNK , since it pulls the rug from under the anti-Shavei campaign of this blog. Is R' Karelitz not a competent authority?

  5. Regarding gerut on recent posts , the lenthy article on dayan yehezkel soloman , who worked hand in hand with RYSA on these matters should be read
    משפחה ד כסלב תשע׳ד

  6. "This latter approach is spearheaded by R' Leib Tropper of Yeshiva Kol Yaakov in Monsey. See his website [Eternal Jewish Family - Convert to Judaism, Jewish Conversion, Universally Accepted Halachic Conversions for Intermarried Couples ] - especially the videos of testimonials from satisfied customers. It has the official backing of Rav Eliyashiv, Rav Dovid Feinstein, Rav Reuven Feinstein as well as many others important rabbis."


    I rest my case.

  7. Eddie I am glad you are resting your case. The official halachic pronouncements of gedolim dealing with intermarried is not what Tropper and EJF were doing. Even Rav Reuven Feinstein's recorded pronoucements on the subjecter were specifically against what EJF were doing. Rav Eliashiv's guidelines for dealing with intermarried couples was also against what EJF was doing. Thus the website etc etc is not proof as to what the halacha is dealing with the subject.

    Please let's stick to straitforward responsa - not inferences because so and so attended a maleve malka.

  8. DT - where is my last response to you? Are you purposely not posting my comments?

    1. yy you need to count to 20 before you reply.

    2. No, DT - this was referring to a comment that did NOT get posted! Besides, I have some experience with you ignoring some of my comments...

      In the meantime, I'd like to take the opportunity to recommend again that you post something from the links I offered re. Dr. Sue Johnson's EFT couple counseling successes, and Rabbi Shlomo Slatkins searing reports on how IMproper counseling can destroy marriages.

      Good luck in guiding that b'khor...

  9. wow - thank you RaP. These are important links, written well before I started contact with this blog.

    Again to DT - I don't understand why you confused us with your reasons for sharing the above post. Rav Sternbuch's Daas on the matter of how to relate to intermarriage makes things crystal clear.

  10. @DT, this is an article which claims all the Gedolim were duped by Tropper /EJF.


    There is a photo of several of these Gedolim siting on a table with Tropper. Of course the new nonsense that Tropper/Eisenstein brought into the game, like disqualifying conversion, sex for certificates etc is criminal. But how can all of these Rabbis not have a clue what the EJF was doing (when they had their clothes on)?
    having a tape of RRF after the event is like having a Tape of President Nixon denying he did anything wrong.
    And if the Hasghacha of all these rabbis was unreliable, why should we rely on anything that rabbis certify?

  11. The article you cited does not adequately or accurately present what actually was going on

  12. do we know what in actual fact was going on?


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