Outside of very narrowly defined ultra-Orthodox enclaves, questions like this will continue to come up among American Jews. As long as we go to colleges with and work alongside non-Jews, we will meet and develop close relationships with them. And we'll have to answer sticky problems like this.
Intermarriage is a very threatening phenomenon to American Jewish life. In my view, we should oppose intermarriage, encourage endogamy, and when that fails, we should work to encourage non-Jewish partners to convert and adopt Judaism with enthusiasm. But the next question is: what good would it do to boycott the wedding of your family member? Does that accomplish anything? Or does it wreck a relationship for the sake of making a rhetorical statement of your values, which your family member likely knows anyway?
I believe we have ethical obligations to our family members - especially our parents, through the mitzvah of kibbud av v'em, but not only to them. We owe love and care to our children and siblings and others as well. Those obligations include respecting their decisions of conscience and of the heart. A parent cannot demand that a child violate his or her Jewish duties. They cannot ask you to eat treif or violate Shabbat. But neither should a child (or parent or sibling) say: since you're making a choice I deeply disagree with, I must boycott you and potentially destroy our relationship. May my children never put me in such a situation, but yes, I would attend their interfaith wedding.
As you haven't provided any details regarding this situation - i.e. the level of people's observance and their ages, the nature of the relationship between parent and child, the possibility of future conversion, whether the wedding ceremony will include other religious rites, the intent of the couple to have more children etc. - I will first answer generally. When there is a possible conflict between one's Jewish observance and the mitzvah of honouring one's parents, Jewish law is clear - since both children and parents are commanded to follow God's Torah, we must follow the Torah (Bava Metzia 32a). In the ideal situation, of course, there should be no conflict, as parents and children should both reflect and epitomize Jewish observance, concomitantly bringing the family together in loving harmony. Unfortunately, however, we often have cases like the one above, though the shoes are usually on the opposite feet.
While the parent here is not telling his child to transgress a specific law, the celebration of a marriage is obviously a very significant event, with the ceremony reflecting the bride and groom's values. Due to the significant danger that intermarriage poses for the future of the Jewish people, it would seem highly inappropriate to attend such a wedding, even if they won't be having children. The child should sit down with his parent and other family members and explain that while he deeply loves and honours such parent, going to such a wedding would be too painful for him. It is important to stress that an adult child may not condone everything a parent does, but can still love and respect such parent.
Nevertheless, there may be some grey in what might reflexively seem like a black and white issue. For example, depending on the family dynamics and the risk of deeply alienating the parent or other family members, I could envision a situation whereby the child would attend the reception, but skip the ceremony under all circumstances, especially if it involved other religious rites. This type of compromise would send the proper message about the importance of the Jewish tradition, while clearly showing that the child still greatly values his relationship to his parent, even in trying circumstances. There is no easy answer to this very difficult question, but by respectfully observing both the letter and spirit of Jewish law, while continuing to show love to one’s parent, it may be possible to both maintain one’s family’s love and respect, while remaining true to one’s deepest values.
One last point - while the details here may lead to somewhat different conclusions, the overall thrust of my response is an example of the difference between Jewish and modern liberal values, in which acceptance of almost any viewpoint is valid and defining right and wrong is generally frowned upon. There are objective criteria in defining such Jewish values and when these values conflict with contemporary values, which can change over a short period, Jewish tradition and history teaches us to follow eternal Jewish values. How to apply them, of course, is a bit more difficult, but we pray that God guides us in this pursuit.
This is the opposite of the usual question, should parents attend the interfaith wedding of their child. In today’s world, where children are often more ritually observant than their parents, I suppose this is a natural question. One could ask, why would the person not attend the wedding?We do not believe that a person who has entered into an interfaith marriage is considered dead. I I presume there is no longer a question of how they would raise potential offspring. There have been interfaith marriages recorded in our tradition starting with Joseph, continuing with Moses , and on through King David and King Solomon to name just a few. According to tradition, the “messiah” ( not a part of Reform Jewish theology) is from the family of Ruth, a Moabite woman. Judah’s lineage is also from an interfaith relationship.
Given all the above, from a Reform Jewish standpoint, it would seem that a Reform Jewish child, whose parent is contemplating an interfaith marriage, would respect kibud av v’em and attend the wedding.However, if the child is now thinking of him or herself as a Conservative or Orthodox Jew, he or she would have to ask if religion or family takes precedence. Under what circumstances would they attend any wedding of a parent? If the wedding was held in a Reform synagogue, if the wedding was held prior to the ending of the Sabbath, if the reception was not kosher ( and under whose hashgachah) --
The simple answer: as a Reform Jew, honoring of one’s parent is the overriding consideration. We see religion as a human institution, constantly evolving. Religion should bring us together, not separate us.Not attending the wedding could cause a rift that might be difficult to heal.It would be better to err on the side of family unity.
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