Interfaith marriage: ‘enemy of the Jewish people’ or something that should be accepted?
By Talia Ran
A lovely sentiment often said in reference to a person finding that special someone to marry. While that is all well and good, there is; however, some debate on whether or not it should be said to those of the Jewish faith.
A press release regarding last week’s San Francisco meeting of the Central Conference of American Rabbis announced a conceptual shift in the Reform movement’s approach to marriage.
The largest group of Jewish clergy in the world has decided rather than spend time and energy on discouraging Jews from marrying non-Jews, they will begin to focus on outreach to intermarried couples, encouraging mixed-faith couples to be active in Jewish life—including creating special blessings for major life events such as weddings and funerals.
In addition, they expect Conservative Judaism to move in a similar direction in the coming years and say even Orthodoxy will have to formulate some sort of response besides a total rejection of intermarried couples.
However, Baruch Marzel of the Nationalist group, Lehava (which means flame in Hebrew as well as being an acronym for ‘Preventing Assimilation in the Holy Land’), is quick to disagree. In a letter addressed to Israeli super model Bar Rafaeli pleading for her to not marry non-Jewish boyfriend Leonardo DiCaprio, Marzel writes:
It is not by chance that you were born Jewish. Your grandmother and her grandmother did not dream that one of their descendants would one day remove the family’s future generations from the Jewish people. Assimilation has forever been one of the enemies of the Jewish people.
While his means were bold, Marzel stated, “I’ve got to try. I’m trying any way I can. I tried to call her, but she wouldn’t answer, so I sent her a letter instead.”
This is not the first time Marzel has made such a fervent plea in the name of maintaining future Jewish generations. In 2006, acting then as leader of the United Jewish Front, he publically wrote to Israeli model and former Miss Universe, Linor Aberjil asking her to turn down the marriage proposal from non-Jewish, Lithuanian NBA player Sarunas Jasikevicius.*
In an interview with The Jerusalem Post, Marzel cited, but refused to name, “many” examples of high-profile female Israeli celebrities who, with his help, had ended their interfaith relationships and went on to be “good religious girls.”
*Aberjil and Jasikevicius married in July 2006, but later divorced in 2008.