By Erica ChernofskyBBC News, Jerusalem
Intermarriage – when Jews wed non-Jews – is called a risk to your future success of this Jewish country. So what occurred when there were reports that the Israeli prime minister’s son had been dating a non-jew that is norwegian?
The Norwegian daily Dagen a week ago reported that Norwegian Sandra Leikanger and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s son Yair certainly are a few, to which the office of Mr Netanyahu has answered – based on Israeli media – by insisting they’re only university classmates. But the damage has already been done.
Leikanger just isn’t Jewish, a fact who has sparked outrage in Israel, a country that is jewish since its inception has battled to have its Jewish character recognised throughout the world. While Judaism isn’t a religion that is proselytising Leikanger, like any non-Jew, does have the possibility of converting should she wish to be Jewish.
Intermarriage and assimilation are quintessential Jewish fears while having been called a danger to the future success of this fairly little Jewish nation. In accordance with law that is jewish the faith is passed on through mom, therefore if a Jewish guy marries a non-Jewish woman, kids would not be considered Jews.
The chance that kids of a blended few would keep or pass along any Jewish traditions to future generations is radically diminished. As today’s rate of intermarriage among Diaspora Jews stands above 50%, most are concerned that the world that survived persecution, pogroms as well as the Holocaust could fundamentally die out of its undoing.
The anxiety ended up being expressed in an open letter to Yair Netanyahu by the Israeli organization Lehava, which works to avoid assimilation, in a post on its Facebook page, which warned him that his grand-parents “are turning over inside their graves they didn’t dream that their grandchildren would not be Jews”.
The issue of intermarriage has largely been one for Diaspora Jews – the Jews who live outside Israel. Inside Israel, Jews (75% associated with population) and Arabs (21%) seldom marry, however with an influx of foreign employees and globalisation regarding the Israeli community, in the last few years the event has emerged.
“Jesus forbid, if it is true, woe is me personally,” says Aryeh Deri, leader associated with the Ultra-Orthodox Shas party, up to a radio that is local, lamenting the headlines that the prime minister’s son had been dating a non-Jew. ” I do not like speaing frankly about private dilemmas but then it is not any longer your own matter – oahu is the sign of this Jewish people. if it is true God forbid,”
Within the week-end, Eretz Nehederet, the favorite Israeli satirical television show, aired a parody showcasing infamous historic oppressors associated with the Jews such as the biblical Pharaoh and also the Spanish inquisitor. The show culminated with Yair Netanyahu’s non-Jewish gf, who they called the “newest existential threat”. She sang in regards to a shikse, a non-Jewish woman, sarcastically crooning that she actually is “worse than Hitler”.
But jokes aside, perhaps the prime minister’s brother-in-law, Hagai Ben-Artzi, spoke away highly on the affair, warning his nephew that if he does not end their relationship with Leikanger, its just as if he could be spitting regarding the graves of his grandparents.
“From my point of view, if he does any such thing, I personally will not enable him getting near their graves,” he told an Ultra-Orthodox web site. ” This is actually the most awful thing that is threatening and had been a danger throughout the history of the Jewish individuals. More awful than making Israel is wedding with a gentile. In such a circumstance, God forbid, We’ll bury myself I do not understand where. I’ll walk within the roads and tear my hair off – and here this is certainly occurring.”
Anyone who’s watched Fiddler on the Roof, where Tevye claims his child is dead to him for marrying a non-Jew, understands the issue is definitely a sensitive and painful one amongst Jews.
But Dr Daniel Gordis, a writer and specialist commentator on Israel and Judaism, says which has changed within the past few decades, especially into the Diaspora community that is jewish.
Whereas once it had been greatly frowned upon for a Jew of any flow to marry a non-Jew, today, among unaffiliated (no synagogue), non-denominational (those who don’t identify with any movement), conservative or reform Jews, it is not the taboo it once was. The intermarriage rates of non-denominational Jews approach 80%, he claims.
But among Orthodox Jews and in Israel, it’s still much more controversial.
“It’s not a racial issue, it isn’t a superiority issue, it’s not a xenophobia issue,” he says, explaining that we now have two grounds for the opposition to intermarriage, one of that is it is simply forbidden in Halacha, or Jewish law.
“The other thing is that Jews came to see that the actual only real real way to transmit powerful Jewish identity to their young ones is to allow them to be raised by two Jewish parents. Children raised by one Jewish parent and one non-Jewish parent do have more tepid, more delicate, thinner Jewish identities than their Jewish parents did.
“They are statistically almost certainly going to marry non-Jews. There isn’t any guarantee, but statistically it is nearly impossible to create a youngster because of the sense that is same of passion that the older generation has if he is raised by someone who does not share that tale.”
The end result, he adds, is the fact that in the usa, ” there is a quickly eroding sense of Jewish commitment, a whole collapsing of Jewish literacy, and a thinning of Jewish identity”.
So Israelis are petrified, says Rabbi Dr Donniel Hartman, mind associated with Shalom Hartman Institute of Jewish studies, because since intermarriage can be so uncommon here, whenever an Israeli marries a non-Jew they notice it just as if he’s leaving Judaism.
” When you’re a little people and you lose your constituents it does make you quite nervous. We’re 14 million Jews within the global world, that’s it,” he describes. ” What’s changed in contemporary life that is jewish of Israel is the fact that a Jew marrying a non-Jew doesn’t necessarily suggest making Jewish life any longer.”
It is a phenomenon that is new Judaism, and Hartman states Jews must rise towards the challenge.
“The battle against intermarriage is really a missing battle. Our company is a people who are intermarried – the issue is maybe not just how to stop it, but just how to reach out to spouses that are non-Jewish welcome them into our community,” he claims.
“Our outreach has to be better, our institutions need to be better, our experiences that are jewish to be more compelling, we have to begin working much harder.
” Living in the contemporary globe calls for you to be nimble. Things are changing, I do not know if it’s for the even worse or perhaps not, that will depend on what we do. Nevertheless the globe is evolving, so we have to evolve along with it.”