Intermarriage is decimating Jewish communities in America. According to Jewish law, a child’s religion is determined based on the mother’s religion. The fact that Reform Judaism has taken a different position does not solve the problem but creates a whole new set of problems.
Even when the mother of a mixed marriage is Jewish and the children are Jewish there are still problems. For example, in many families, the mother adopts the father’s faith or allows the children to be brought up in the father’s faith. In many families, both religions play an equal role. Thus, the children are now lost to the Jewish community.
As the problem has increased, the response has been more accepting, which makes a bad situation even worse.
Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump have little in common. One thing they have in common is that each has a daughter who married a Jew. Clinton’s situation is the typical case: Her daughter married a secular Jew and she is keeping her religion. It is of this situation that the Jewish community, especially the Orthodox, is not supportive.
Trump’s situation is unusual in that his daughter Ivanka married an Orthodox Jew and she converted. There have been various reactions to this situation. The one I want to address is the one expressed in last week’s Queens Jewish Link titled “The Miracle That Is Ivanka Trump.”
In order to defend Ivanka, there is no need to make her a tzadekes for the ages.
The title may give the impression that this was such a great occurrence that it was a miracle. Furthermore, the author writes, “Extraordinarily well-spoken, intelligent, beautiful, and successful, she is a walking Kiddush Hashem, as she brings honor and respect to our way of life in a way unparalleled perhaps since Queen Esther.”
In other words, it is an optimum situation for a Jewish man to seek out a non-Jewish woman with the intent to marry and convert her. This would be even better than a Jewish man marrying a Jewish woman.
Unlike some religions, the Jewish religion does not try to proselytize others. There is even an attempt to dissuade those who want to convert.
There is a major crisis for single women finding husbands in the Jewish community, including the Orthodox community. Do we really want to appear to be cheerleaders for Orthodox Jewish men who marry non-Jews who agree to convert?
The situation could have been worse if Ivanka had not converted, and therefore she should be commended for converting. However, this is not the preferred approach.
I also find the comment about Queen Esther troubling for another reason. Queen Esther became queen in the year 3399 in the Jewish calendar. It is 5777. It has been approximately 2,400 years since Queen Esther was born. In the 2,400-year period, to say that there has not been a woman as great as Ivanka is an insult to the Jewish women of the past 2,400 years. The Jewish community has gone through one challenge and crisis after another, whether it was the Spanish Inquisition, the pogroms, or the Holocaust. It has been the Jewish women who have helped keep the family together, and with their faith and effort have been able to keep us going for all these years.
As I have been told, sometimes it is important to take a step back and look at the ramifications of the rhetoric that one writes. We want to make a point and may overstate our position. The writer’s intent was to defend Ivanka from those who questioned the validity of her conversion and her religious observance. I agree that it is not for us to question the validity of her conversion or the level of her observance. However, in order to defend Ivanka there is no need to make her a tzadekes (righteous woman) for the ages.
P.S. In the article I wrote last week titled “America First,” I mentioned that anti-Semites including Pat Buchanan have coopted that phrase. Someone came over to criticize my article, saying that I was disingenuous in mentioning Pat Buchanan since he had been exiled from the Republican Party years ago.
This is incorrect, as indicated by the fact that on Wednesday, Buchanan was a guest on The Sean Hannity Show on Fox News the day the before the president was on the show. Hannity’s importance and his influence in the right wing of the country is evidenced by the president being a guest on his show. Buchanan’s appearance is an indication that he is alive and well and is accepted in certain powerful circles.
Warren S. Hecht is a local attorney. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org