STRANGERS TO THE TRIBE by Gabrielle Glaser


Portraits of Interfaith Marriage
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 An absorbing and articulate study of the special challenges posed by intermarriage between Jews and Christians. Freelance journalist Glaser (herself raised Protestant and married to a Jew) interviewed scores of couples of various ages and ethnicities throughout the US. The stories of 12 of these couples- -all married, with the exception of one lesbian pair--form the core of her presentation. Though each couple is unique, a number of common themes emerge. Among these are the strains between the Gentile spouses and their Jewish in-laws. Even when Jewish parents offer their children little in terms of Jewish observance, most are disappointed when their children don't marry ``a member of the tribe.'' For example, Josh Steinberg has a Jewish identity based primarily on socializing with other Jews in a predominantly Jewish Cleveland suburb. When he finally tells his mother that he plans to marry his Irish Catholic college classmate, she cries, ``You're going to kill us.'' Though not deterred, Josh is overcome with guilt as his wife is spurned by his family. Another notable theme is the ease with which the Christian partners seem to repudiate their religion and embrace Judaism; many have had trouble with Christian theology even before marriage. Rick O'Neil, who decides to convert to Judaism before marrying his medical-school classmate Rebecca Grodin, ``especially liked the Jewish notion of man's responsibility to atone for his wrongdoing to his fellow man, rather than praying to God for forgiveness.'' Among the more unconventional couples are Alvin Wong, a convert to Judaism, and his wife Trudy Schandler-Wong, who are raising two children with strong Jewish and Chinese identities. The only relationship here that ends because of one partner's deepening commitment to Judaism is the lesbian partnership. An intriguing look into an increasingly common religious dilemma in America. (Author tour)

Pub Date: Sept. 25th, 1997
ISBN: 0-395-72776-6
Page count: 288pp
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15th, 1997


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