A letter writer insists that the children of interfaith marriages feel completely Jewish while another provides clues for why so many young Jews leave the religion behind.
They Do Feel Completely Jewish — Yes, They Do!
Kudos to the Jewish Exponent for featuring the symposium “The Interfaith Rollercoaster” as part of the front page story, “Do They Ever Feel Completely Jewish?” in the Oct. 25 issue.
But my answer to the article’s title would be an emphatic “Yes.” My wife, Janine, (raised Catholic) and I decided to raise our children in one religion. Our daughters — Maya, 16, and Lia, 13 — attended Jewish pre-school and became Bat Mitzvahs.
Maya was confirmed and is in the Isaac Mayer Wise Program at Gratz College while Lia is in Confirmation Academy at our synagogue.
And our family is fortunate to be members of Congregation Kol Ami in Elkins Park, where Rabbi Elliot Holin has created a welcoming environment for interfaith families.
Would You Like Clues as to Why Jews Leave?
Clues as to why some Jews are turned off by organized religion and Jewish life scream from the pages of the Jewish Exponent’s recent Mazel Tov! supplement.
Here’s just a sampling:
In “Controlling Your Date,” the author urges families two years before the B’nai Mitzvah party that they “might need to encourage” their child to make more friends.
Really? The Jewish purpose of friends is to acquire enough for a great party?
Maybe that’s code for sourcing eligible material so kids marry in the tribe. Any reading, though, distorts the meaning of friendship.
Same article: “… check in with your child … Ask your child’s tutor if you can sit in on some training sessions.”
Kids receive their Torah portions months, if not years, in advance, giving families time to build experiences and conversations connecting that portion to principles and issues in contemporary life.
This isn’t about checking the sauce to see if it’s thickened. It’s about the process of raising children in an authentic Jewish context.
Still talking party, the supplement suggests: “Establish a budget range and decide if you need to save more.” Thus, we are teaching families to spend beyond their budgets to add ostentation.
Three of five articles in the supplement intentionally tout salacious aspects for celebrating children’s religious mitzvot. This reflects crassly on the face of contemporary Judaism.
Big spending may be your objective, but your substance is cheap.
Ann L. Rappoport
Why Was There No Outcry Against Other Arrest?
While I saw a strongly worded editorial in the Oct. 25 Jewish Exponent, titled “Arrested but Not Halted,” condemning the arrest of a female “activist” for singing at the Western Wall, there was neither an editorial nor a condemnation of the arrest of Moshe Feiglin for praying on the Temple Mount.
If any Jew so much as moves his or her lips or appears to be engaged in any form of prayer or reverence, Muslim officials complain to Israeli police on the scene who then remove or arrest the alleged “offender.”
If Rabbi Steven Wernick (who’s quoted in your editorial) and other Jewish leaders are truly sincere that they find it “unconscionable that in the Jewish homeland any Jew would be arrested anywhere for the public expression of their religious identity,” then they should be hard at work to remove oversight and control of the holiest place in Judaism from Muslim authorities.
Otherwise, the rabbi, the Exponent and others are nothing more than hypocrites