The Jewish Eye
Perfect Strangers: Redefining Intermarriage
By Rabbi Avraham Jacobovitz
ELIYAHOO College Outreach Network
Distributed by Feldheim Publishers: 2006
Reviewed by Auggie Moore - January 20, 2009
Intermarriage - the term itself is controversial. Why are so many Jews against intermarriage with non-Jews? Is interfaith intermarriage really wrong? If you are against interfaith intermarriages, does that make you a racist? How to do you prevent intermarriage? Is it ok to interdate, even if you don't plan on marrying 'out'? And what about after the fact, when an interfaith marriage has occured? Are there any long-term problems for children of intermarriage? In Perfect Strangers:
Redefining Intermarriage, Rabbi Avraham Jacobovitz tackles these controversial questions, and more, in this timely book.
Intermarriage is a widespread and growing problem within the Jewish community, especially in the United States and Europe. In Perfect Strangers, Rabbi Jacobivitz clearly delineates why marrying a non-Jew is problematic for Jews, even for those who only consider themselves culturally Jewish. Rabbi Jacobivitz examines the difficulties that can, and often do, arise in a mixed marriage and the often psychologically damaging problems encountered by the children of such marriages. Within the pages of this book, the Rabbi also discusses steps that can and should be taken to help prevent intermarriages, and how to react if your child or someone you know elects to marry a non-Jew. The Rabbi also examines the steps that can be taken to 'fix' an interfaith marriage, and why conversion of the non-Jewish spouse is not always an acceptable answer.
Filled with sage advice, keen insights into the problem, and tips on how to foster a love of Judaism and Jewish culture in our young people, this book is essential reading for anyone dealing with the issue of intermarriage - either on a personal or professional basis. Rabbi Jacobovitz is the founder of Jewish Awareness America (JAAM), a college outreach group that is active on numerous college campuses throughout North America. The JAAM also established the Maimonides Jewish Leaders Fellowship, a Jewish leadership-training program for college students.
Through his work with the JAAM, and as a college lecturer, Rabbi Jacobovitz has gained a first hand understanding of the complex issues surrounding intermarriage, and he knows just how painful the decision to intermarry can be, not only for the person getting married, but also for their entire family. Within the pages of Perfect Strangers he shares the hard-earned wisdom that he has gained over the years, and offers numerous real-life examples of the challenges facing a couple that decides to intermarry and realistic, doable tactics that can be used to help prevent the intermarriage epidemic. He also offers practical and logical advice on the subject of intermarriage that will enable anyone considering this marital option to make an informed and intelligent decision as to whether or not it is the right choice for them. Be forewarned, the Rabbi is very blunt in his approach to this subject, and the short answer is that intermarriage is never the right choice. After reading this book, you'll understand why he feels this way.
I highly recommend this book to high school and college students, anyone who is actively dating, or planning to date, parents, outreach professionals, teachers, basically anyone who has ever been confronted with, or likely to be confronted with, the issue of interfaith marriage and dating.
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