Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Book Review: Inside Intermarriage

The subtitle of this book by Jim Keen is informative: "A Christian Partner's Perspective on Raising a Jewish Family." Here's an excerpt from the preface:
"...before we know it, wedding plans emerge. And then, suddenly, the questions arise. What are we going to tell our parents? What kind of a ceremony are we going to have? Who is going to marry us? In what religion do we raise the children? How will we celebrate the holidays? Which ones? Yours or mine? Finally, how can each of us keep our own identity amongst all this give and take? It's not easy."
If you and your Jewish partner plan to raise your children Jewish, this book will help you understand the enormity of the undertaking. Nevertheless, the author is the children's father, and however much he participates (and he participates a lot) in holiday observances, schlepping the kids to Hebrew school, etc., it is usually the mother--that will be you-- who bears most of the responsibility for the children's Jewish education.
What is unusual about this book is that it is written from the perspective of a devout Christian. The intermarried couples I know are not very religious, although they often choose to have their sons and daughters bar or bat mitzvahed, and the Protestant or Catholic shiksa (in my own case, Protestant) had not been actively practicing her religion. The author spends a lot of time and energy helping his wife and daughters celebrate Jewish holidays and traditions; then he goes off to church by himself, except for major holidays, when they come along to show respect. It seems to me that he has to give up a good deal of his identity and status, but clearly he, his wife, and children have a close, loving relationship that works for them.
URJ Press, a Reform house, published this paperback in 2006. You can find it at Amazon.com for around $16 (new).

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