Read e-book Two Jews Can Still Be a Mixed Marriage: Reconciling Differences Over Judaism in Your Marriage

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They waited to get their periods back, and then they had a child.

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Perel thinks this was because the parents needed to establish themselves in society. Hers ran a clothes shop in Antwerp.

The family lived above the shop. Every evening they watched the news in German, French and Flemish, to get a good all-round view. As a teenager, she was interested in psychology, mostly because she hated the strictness of school. People dynamics. How do you talk to your mother so she understands you better? I was a massively curious person — I still am. After school she went to study in Jerusalem, a university course that combined French linguistics and literature.

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More importantly, she developed her interest in theatre, which had begun in early adolescence. At one point she went to Paris to study under Augusto Boal , who created the Theatre of the Oppressed. He would stage fake crises in everyday situations: actors pretending to have a physical row on the Metro, for instance. Perel found it interesting to see which passers-by would get involved and which would turn away.

She moved to New York to do her Masters.

Between Zionism and Hellenism: Amos Oz on the Meaning of Secular Judaism

She led workshops for what were then called mixed couples: interracial, intercultural, interreligious. I knew how to run a group. Around that time her husband, who is a few years older than her, suggested she might enjoy systemic family therapy. I ask what this is.

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What is the interactive dynamic that preserves this thing, that makes this child not go to bed? That makes this man never get a job? That makes this son be such a nincompoop? How is the family system organised around it? You need two to create a pattern, or three or four or five. She saw clients having problems with infertility, the changing role of women and daughters, the Aids crisis. In the 90s, single mothers, blended families, gay couples with kids.

Also, modern fatherhood — dads wanting to be more involved in childcare — and monogamy versus polyamory. This means he will be away from New York a lot, while she is usually in New York or travelling herself. She wants others not to copy her own relationship, but to use her work as a way to better their own relationship for themselves. Share Give access Share full text access.

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Log in to Wiley Online Library. Purchase Instant Access. View Preview. Learn more Check out. Abstract The application of racial categories to the Jews by Zionist physicians and anthropologists in the first half of the twentieth century has been the focus of several recent studies. Citing Literature. Volume 15 , Issue 3 September Pages In a depressed family, any holiday, whether it is Passover or Thanksgiving, will be experienced as depressing.

My job with them then became clear. Susan needed me to help her understand that Passover is supposed to be a joyful celebration. What is more, her born-Jewish husband needed to learn the same lesson. The Judaism their children will experience will be a joyful Judaism, far different from what their father knew as a child.


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I have said that Susan and her husband were the first interfaith couple to teach me something I have found to be useful in working with Jews-by-birth as well as Jews-by-choice. About fifteen years ago, after having continued to work with other interfaith couples, I felt that I had reached the limits of what I could do for them individually. It seemed to me that they had much to learn from each other. I called a psychologist in Dallas where I worked at the time and suggested that together we run a synagogue-sponsored group for interfaith couples. Our most basic mutual goal for the group was to provide them with effective communication skills and an arena for discussion of their issues.

That first group was so successful that, once I moved up to New Jersey in , I continued running groups for interfaith couples. Once again, I could not have anticipated how much they had to teach us. There was Arielle, a woman raised as a Protestant whose father had been a non-practicing Jew and whose husband had been raised in Conservative Jewish household. He could never have married a Jewish woman, he said, because he needed to rebel against his parents; but he could never have married a non-Jewish woman because part of him wanted to raise Jewish children.

Arielle was a perfect choice for him. She wanted to raise Jewish children who would never have the ambivalent identity with which she had been burdened. This family was not "lost" to Judaism as the statistics might indicate; on the contrary, through the efforts of the then non-Jewish spouse, Judaism gained a whole family.

This family taught me a second important lesson: We need to understand and confront the ambivalence of the born-Jewish partner. Working with these couples has taught me that this ambivalence of the Jewish partner is not unusual and crosses denominational lines. It does not belong exclusively or even necessarily to Jews raised in non-Orthodox households.

No one explanation of intermarriage will fit every situation. Obviously, as a rabbi I can only support and encourage Jewish observance at home and in synagogue. But the level of observance at home ultimately has less to do with creating future intermarriages than it does with the quality of the relationship between parent and child in that given family.