The face of intermarriage


Eight years ago, I approached my boss with an idea that, at the time, seemed radical: a monthly column about intermarried life.

I was working for The New York Jewish Week, a newspaper with a predominantly Orthodox and Conservative reader base, and, like all mainstream Jewish publications then, we wrote about intermarriage all the time – but almost never from the perspective of actual intermarried Jews, or their spouses or children.

My column, called “In the Mix,” ran for several years, eventually morphing into a blog and exploring everything from the large number of non-Jewish moms raising Jewish children, to people who convert to Judaism after years of marriage, to issues that arise when intermarriages end in divorce.  I also wrote about my own experiences raising two Jewish daughters while married to a lapsed Catholic.

A lot has happened since I nervously proposed my column. The organized Jewish community has become far more accepting of interfaith families, recognizing for the most part that it’s counterproductive to write off, let alone condemn, a growing sector of the Jewish population and that aggressive efforts to discourage intermarriage tend to be more alienating than effective.

There’s also a growing recognition that there is no typical interfaith family, just like there’s no typical in-married Jewish family. And if you need further proof of that, check out “Up Close,” a new feature in Kveller that profiles interfaith families in their own words and photos.

So far, two families – the Steins and the Chens – have been featured. I’m looking forward to meeting the rest.

Recommended from JTA