Live from the Lilith Blog

May 10, 2010 by

Readers Respond! To "How 20-Somethings Mate Now"

Lilith has gotten many responses to our recent article on “How 20-Something Mate Now”. We’ve posted a few below, but we encourage you to leave your own thoughts as comments below!

“Your observation that the “normative Jewish experience” is generational is so true and I can actually extend that from my personal experience. My husband and I met at Brooklyn College through a group of all Jewish friends. I thought marrying him was free will too–I never realized the smallness of the world I was inhabiting. We separated almost two years ago and here I am–single in Austin, Texas. I have plenty of Jewish friends through my temple but a great majority of them are in interfaith marriages. The norm looks different in Austin, TX for my generation. And the world has opened up for me. I am in a deep and happy relationship with a wonderful kind man who is not Jewish. In fact, he is German. I too, am struggling with the questions these 20-somethings are asking. And, yes, at some point, I will write about it.” –Esther Moritz

“The piece you sent me is just fabulous! I had such a good time reading it and quickly sent it on to about 15 family and friends… I want [my daughter] to read it to hear those incredible girls you interviewed. They are amazing and you captured them perfectly! Thank you so much for sending it my way. It would actually be a really fun piece to read and discuss with the kids in her Temple High School. That’s a fun idea! I’ll let you know.” –Jenifer Firestone

“I thought your article in Lilith was an amazing article which in effect creates a language for the experience of seeking commonality with a partner on the issue of religion.

Lately because of my own relationship I have been spending a lot of time thinking about what is necessary for me in a relationship in the context of my own strong Jewish identity.

I am currently a member of a Modern Orthodox synagogue. When out of town, except for B’nai Jeshrun in NYC, I daven at modern orthodox congregations. In terms of practice, I am really more Conservadox. My girl friend of many years has decided after some effort that she is not into Orthodox Judaism and left to her own devices would rather go to an art museum on Shabbos than synagogue. So, I have been struggling with this issue.

I am friendly with a Chabbad rabbi in Brookline with whom I recently had an intriguing conversation. He said that having similar ritual practices is not important. Going to shul together is not important. He sees things through the prism of the Orthodox perspective where male and female roles legitimately differ. From his perspective, the most important thing is for both people to have a relationship with Ha’Shem though that relationship would obviously not be the same for each person. As I have reflected on this idea of both people having a relationship with Ha’Shem, it makes a lot of sense to me. This idea seems to track with many things that you are saying in your article.

One of the main things that I got from your article was the idea of the importance of each person having a religious “sensibility.” For my purposes, I would phrase this as each person having a Jewish sensibility. Having said this, I am not yet sure what this means. One possible explanation of this phrase that I gleaned from your article is: sharing a knowledge base about time and space that is Jewish – the lifecycle, holidays, history and having a framework to talk about these things. I also think that having a Jewish sensibility might also mean having a relationship with Ha’Shem. That relationship would lead to manifestations such as: caring about one’s Jewishness; having kavanah about one’s religious practice whatever that may be; seeking greater understanding over time of that relationship and how it plays out in the world through study of Jewish ethics, law, precepts of social justice and putting these into practice.

Your article has helped me move further in my thinking now with the advantage of having a richer language through which to consider the issue.

Thanks to your daughter and her friends and yourself for the experiences and thoughts shared in the article.” –Barry

“Greetings, and first off, a compliment. I just read “How Twenty-Somethings Mate Now” in Lilith and could not put it down. It was fascinating and provocative. I loved the way Susan Schnur used an oral history approach akin to Studs Terkel’s technique. And, I liked the way she gave her own succinct interpretation at the end. I was sad that these three young women grew up so immersed in Judaism and yet likely will end up without Jewish partners. Still, like Susan Schnur, I realize that they are not abandoning their faith.”
–Linda K. Wertheimer (Linda also wrote a response piece to this article, which you can read here.)