Beyond Chrismukkah: The Christian-Jewish Interfaith Family in the United States

Samira K. Mehta. Univ. of North Carolina, $27.95 (272p) ISBN 978-1-4696-3636-8
Mehta explores how interfaith marriages between Christians and Jews help illuminate “the ways in which Americans navigate the meanings of ‘religion’ and ‘culture’ in their daily lives” in her comprehensive debut. Mehta begins with a 1988 legal case that established the limits of “religious expression” that a divorced parent could show to their children if those children were raised in a different religion. Mehta traces back from this point to explain how interfaith marriage had rapidly changed in the postwar era. Her analysis is thorough and impressive, dipping into how interfaith families navigate holidays and dissecting representations of interfaith marriage within popular culture (her analysis of the reception of the 1972 TV show Bridget Loves Bernie is particularly revealing). Mehta’s exploration of how religions are passed down from generation to generation will help readers understand how recent decreases in religious devotion and increased secularism in America has shifted social norms around marriage. However, stories of actual interfaith couples are largely absent (save a brief use of case studies near the end), which seems like a glaring omission. Mehta’s expansive book will be enlightening for academics interested in the subject of marriage in relation to religion and interfaith dialogue, particularly Jewish-Protestant and Jewish-Catholic dialogue. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 03/26/2018
Release date: 03/01/2018
Hardcover - 272 pages - 978-1-4696-3635-1
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