Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Intermarriage - Kol Hadash

Two months ago I discovered the podcast Kol Hadash and wrote an excited review of it. Last week Kol Hadash came with a new issue that had me even more excited and inspired. It really seems that Rabbi Adam Chalom (pronounce as Shalom) has very similar views that I have. And in this issue also spoke about a subject that goes to my heart. (feed)

Intermarriage is not exactly an easy subject, for Jews nor for any other faith or cultural unity. Chalom describes the various ways intermarriage has been met. From plain rejection (sitting 'shiva' for those who intermarry) to conversion of the other to some half-hearted acceptance (you can be in our synagogue but not rise to the podium on a bar-mitzva). Chalom proposes to do more than that. He proposes to accept and even value intermarriage. He himself takes part in mixed faith ceremonies and reveals how exceptional a rabbi he is in this respect and how large the demand is. He makes his arguments mimicking advertising: why ignore two-thirds of the market?

That is enough for one podcast, but it leaves a couple of fundamental ends unresolved. Much of his talk is still informed by that deep Jewish self-image of being a small community under pressure of assimilation and the main aim of acceptance seems to be to preserve mass. But what does this mean? What kind of a Judaism is his? What kind of a Jewish community does he envision, when more and more non-Jews will become part of it? And what are these Jewish non-Jews in the community; are they real Jews in his view, or do they need conversion? If so, what kind of conversion? And what about the non-Jewish sources the outsiders bring into the mix? Will they receive equal rights? Will Chalom's congregation openly give authority to Greek philosophy or even Gospel? It seems to me that his courageous and laudable approach is opening a box of Pandora. It makes me very curious, again, to find out more and I am waiting for more installments of the Kol Hadash podcast.

More Kol Hadash:
Rabbi Adam Chalom - Kol Hadash Podcast
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