Sunday, October 14, 2007

What's Montague?

Interesting story on the Syrian Jewish community in Brooklyn in the NYT Magazine. The gist is that not only is intermarriage forbidden, but so is marriage with a convert, the descendant of a convert, or anyone who cannot produce
proof, going back at least three generations and attested to by an Orthodox rabbi, of the candidates’ kosher bona fides. This disqualifies the vast majority of American Jews, who have no such proof. “We won’t take them — not even if we go back three or four generations — if someone in their line was married by a Reform or Conservative rabbi, because they don’t perform marriages according to Orthodox law,” [the chief rabbi] said.
Boys also appear to follow their fathers into family businesses, to the detriment of continued secular education. Women's status and autonomy seem low.* The article has provoked negative reactions from Muslims and Harry-Potter-loving J-dubs and inspired Ms. Maltz to quip that the article's subjects are "soon to be the most-despised community in America."

Anyway, it reminded me of this issue, as well as U.S. Const. art. III, § 3. It also provoked a heated discussion with Steve on the relative objectionability of the aforementioned practices, however they are actually followed and regardless of which group practices them. Nothing highlights the universality of patriarchy like a rousing comparative religious debate.

* The article has several internal inconsistencies and some claim that the intermarriage barrier is slightly more permeable than the article makes out. I'm sure this will be clarified in days to come.
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