DOUBLE OR NOTHING?: Jewish Families and Mixed Marriage

Sylvia Barack Fishman, Author . Brandeis Univ. $29.95 (220p) ISBN 978-1-58465-206-9

Recent population surveys have fixed the rate of mixed marriages in the Jewish community at about 50 percent, but they rarely prod the surface of that statistic. Fishman, however, employs a social scientist's eye to explore family dynamics in order to illuminate the larger social and psychological dimensions of mixed marriages. She posits that the unprecedented acceptance enjoyed by contemporary Jews and the permeable and tolerant boundaries of American society have resulted in the attractiveness of marriage between Jews and non-Jews. Because many who intermarry maintain their own faith—some raising children in one religion, some in both—negotiation and emotion color family life. "We are making the world a better place just by raising our children to participate in two religions," argues one couple. The book follows Jews and non-Jews as they "step through the looking glass into a world familiar yet different," says Fishman. Based on original interviews and published materials, Fishman's research reaches beyond the topic of mixed marriage to describe the complexion of American life in general, its perceptions, strengths and stereotypes. She places real-life mixed marriages in their literary and cultural American contexts, examining depictions of intermarriage in films, books and popular culture. Fishman concludes by discussing the impact of mixed marriage on Jewish heritage and the future of American Jewish life. Given the high percentage of intermarried families, this book should find a ready audience that will resonate with the experiences of Fishman's interviewees. (Mar.)

Reviewed on: 12/22/2003
Release date: 03/01/2004
Paperback - 220 pages - 978-1-58465-460-5
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