And like many other Jewish parents, you’re thinking about interdating and what to do if your child brings home someone from another background. Your high school and college seniors are thinking about how to maintain romantic relationships after graduation.But somehow, relaxing the prohibition on interdating is more troubling.“It’s almost like saying the organization no longer feels it’s a value,” he said, quickly adding, “or at least it can be perceived that way.” For some rabbis, the increasing numbers of inter-married families is a challenge that must be addressed through better and more inspirational religious leadership, not a problem to accept.A doctor in Jewish education, Schatz’s dissertation, “The Impact of Teen Leadership in the Jewish Religious Youth Organization on Adult Jewish Observance and Identity,” tracked former members of the youth movement from 1960-2005.Prior to the rural Pennsylvania’s failed candidacy, said Schatz, USY hadn’t had to deal with the issue of leaders interdating.Show that you mean what you say by engaging in Jewish life in your home and community. Invite them to Shabbat dinner, a Passover Seder, or High Holiday meal. Use these occasions to expose them to Jewish life, show them that Judaism is important to your family and give them insight into a different tradition.Remember, interdating is a form of social experimentation. Instead, focus on influencing your teen’s connection to Judaism.
After Jewish media began publishing conference coverage with variations of the inflammatory JTA headline, “USY drops ban on interdating,” Facebook discussions lamented, “Another nail in the coffin of Conservative Judaism,” and “This year it’s a language shift, next year (or 5 years from now) that language disappears completely.” Others decried Conservative Judaism, with one saying, “United Synagogue has always moved policy and theology closer to its participants’ choices, rather than move participants closer to its policies and theology,” and another noting, “The movement is in the midst of a major identity crisis.” When a change of wording to a set of standards that affects a mere 100 teens is cause for a social media storm, all signs point to sensitive territory.The standards allow the leaders to be visible models for the movement’s missions.There are also two prohibitive clauses to the standards: abstinence from illegal drugs and alcohol, and wording taken to forbid interdating, which read, “It is expected that leaders of the organization will refrain from relationships which can be construed as interdating.” It is the interdating clause that sparked the revision of USY’s standards of leadership, a project that, according to 2014 international USY president Aaron Pluemer, began over a year ago at the urging of his constituents.“It was just inconceivable, something that wouldn’t happen.
It doesn’t mean it didn’t happen, just wasn’t so widespread in the Sixties and Seventies,” Schatz said.A few dozen Jewish teens compelled North American Jewry to collectively groan “Oy gevalt” in a chattering digital chorus this week.