Mixed Message On Mixed Marriage


Gary Rosenblatt reports in his column, “At Year’s End, Struggling To Stay Together” (Sept. 19), that at a recent meeting of 50 Jewish “thought leaders and communal activists” in Baltimore, participants noted that many in the Jewish community measure the success or failure of Jewish education according to “the choice of a Jewish marriage partner.” Certainly despite other religious differences in the Jewish community, there is a broad consensus that intermarriage is undesirable.

Yet the same edition of The Jewish Week published an extremely sympathetic front-page feature (“I Have The Right To Love Who I Love”) about an Israeli Jewish woman who is angry with the Israeli government for not recognizing her marriage to Musa Sulaiman, a non-Jewish Sudanese migrant who entered Israel illegally.

Nobody is denying her right to love whom she chooses. Nor is there any validity to her implication that the Israeli government's action is racist; Israel has taken in tens of thousands of black Jews from Africa and treats them the same as any other Jews.

Leaving aside the complications of Suleiman's status as an illegal immigrant, the broader question we should all consider is whether the Jewish State should give its stamp of approval to marriages between Jews and non-Jews. If American Jews do not approve of their own children marrying non-Jews, do they have a right to demand that the State of Israel approve of Israeli Jews marrying non-Jews? Was Israel intended by its founders to be a completely secular state, no different from any other state in the world? Or should Israel reflect at least some basic Jewish values — such as the principle necessary for the continued existence of the Jewish people, that it is desirable for Jews to marry fellow-Jews?