We’ve Come Long Way With Intermarriage
As an interfaith officiant, I deeply appreciated your two cover articles (“Finding Their Way” and “ ‘I Was the Stranger and Yet I Felt Very Welcome,’ ” Nov. 29) dealing with the joys, conflicts and debates that arise when interfaith couples come into our synagogues. I have seen firsthand what happens when a congregation holds out a welcoming hand — people who have absolutely no intention whatsoever about converting end up doing so because they weren’t pushed and because the congregants treated them like family.
A rabbi who will not marry committed interfaith couples will never see them step foot in a synagogue afterwards. Devout Jewish couples have told me that the experience was akin to a loving father suddenly slamming the door to their home in their faces.
We’ve come a long way from the slandering of Christians I heard by rabbis years ago, when I worked as a young soprano or conductor in various synagogues. It always seemed to be exactly timed with my asking some gentile friend to visit a service.
Your articles made me feel that there is progress. Kudos to those colleagues who change with the times, and with wonderful organizations like InterfaithFamily that have helped pave the way.
Cantor Ellie Shaffer | Jenkintown
Intermarriages Can Become ‘Mitzvah’ Marriages
Thanks for the Nov. 29 issue devoted to intermarriage. We think it’s high time Jews started welcoming non-Jewish partners, so that we can get more of them to become part of the Jewish community.
When my brother married an Episcopal woman 50 years ago, our mother’s response was: “She is not really part of the family, and conversion for marriage is wrong.” If my mother had pushed for conversion, she might have had three more Jewish grandchildren.
We know of several interfaith couples where conversion took place later, changing a mixed marriage to a “mitzvah” marriage.
Ernest B. Cohen and Elaine H. Cohen | Upper Darby
ADL, Holocaust Museum Partner on Program
We were very pleased to see featured in the Nov. 15 Exponent portions of Police Commissioner Charles H. Ramsey’s remarks that he made at a recent dinner for the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum describing the Law Enforcement and Society program.
The Anti-Defamation League has partnered with the Holocaust Museum to offer this program since it was created in 1998. The program has now trained close to 80,000 law enforcement personnel, drawing on the history of the Holocaust to provide law enforcement professionals with an increased understanding of their relationship to the people they serve and their role as protectors of the Constitution.
Philadelphia has the distinction of being the only law enforcement agency outside of the D.C. area that participates in the program directly on a routine basis. Thanks to the leadership of Commissioner Ramsey, every new recruit in the Philadelphia Police Department has gone through this program since 2008.
The police commissioner is a great ally of ADL and a true and trusted friend of the Jewish community. We are fortunate for his professional, humane and creative leadership.
Barry Morrison, Regional director
Eastern Pennsylvania/Southern New Jersey/Delaware Region