People of the Book


Home
In this issue
April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review

An Improbable Journey to Orthodoxy

By Jonathan Rosenblum



His Judaism was sterile. Her Christianity, electric


http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | . My first contact with Harold Berman was about seven years ago. I had written something about work I was then doing with intermarried families, in which the non-Jewish partner was in the process of converting, and he sent me a proposal for mentoring such couples.

It was the most thorough proposal of its kind that I had ever read — not surprising as Harold's position at the time as Executive Director of the Jewish Federation of Western Massachusetts involved writing lots of such proposals. Subsequently, I met Harold, his wife, Gayle, and their children, Micha and Ilana, on a family visit to Israel.

Not by accident did the Bermans turn their attention to intermarried couples. When they first met, Harold was a clarinetist with the U.S. Air Force band stationed in San Antonio, Texas and Gayle was the choral director of a Texas mega-church and former winner of the Metropolitan Opera Council Auditions. Music drew them together.

And the fact that Harold was Jewish and Gayle Christian did not seem like an insurmountable obstacle to marriage. Harold too often performed both as a vocalist and musician in churches. Neither wanted children, at that stage of their lives, and so the issue of what religion to raise children did not trouble them.

"Doublelife: One Family, Two Faiths, and a Journey of Hope" is Harold and Gayle's gripping account, told in the form of epistolary exchanges, of their unlikely path to living as an Orthodox couple in Efrat, Israel. (Buy it for just $11.69 by clicking here or order in KINDLE edition at a 62% discount, $4.99 by clicking here)

Theirs is not the more typical story of the non-Jewish partner becoming enamored of Judaism and dragging the Jewish partner along towards observance kicking all the way. While Gayle took an ecumenical approach from the beginning -- fasting, for instance, the first Yom Kippur of their marriage -- she made clear that she was a believing Christian. For his part, Harold, despite his Reform upbringing, was equally clear that there would be no tree or other Christian symbols in the house.


STIMULATION AND INSPIRATION

Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes "must-reading". Sign up for the daily update. It's free. Just click here.


Harold already had more than passing familiarity with church services. But to introduce his wife to Judaism, the Bermans became regular participants in a variety of non-traditional forms of Jewish worship. They could not help noting, in almost every case, that their fellow worshippers seemed far less devout that those in Gayle's mega-church, and that the conversation both during and after services seemed to cover every topic but the Lord. As a performer, Gayle was particularly sensitive when members of one Reform Temple treated the cantor's opening his mouth as a signal to begin jabbering.

But just as intermarriage ironically led to Harold looking more deeply into his Judaism than he otherwise might have done, so the very emptiness of most of the services they attended kept the Bermans pushing forward, as if following an intuition that there must be more to a 3,000-year-old religion that has commanded such loyalty from its adherents.

The decision to raise a child was the next spur to religious growth. Harold and Gayle agreed from the start to raise their children in only one religion and to make that religion Judaism, though they still did not know very much of what that entailed. Micha, whom they traveled to the Artic Circle to adopt, showed from the beginning a natural attraction to all things Jewish. On a visit to the Western Wall, when he was only four, he told Harold the message he wanted to convey on his scribbled note pressed between the stones: "I asked that everyone in the world should know that G0D is one, and that there should be peace over Jerusalem."

But Doublelife is no fairy-tale. As Harold moves along the path towards full observance, Gayle expresses her anger that he is changing the terms of their marriage in midstream. (The same feelings are often expressed by Jewish partners when their spouse embrace observance, and no less an authority than Rabbi Elazar Shach, zt"l, used to tell the "returnee" partner to treat their spouse's reaction as fully legitimate.) In addition to the long odds against any non-Jew making the full commitment required for Halachic conversion, Gayle faced a particularly difficult obstacle, a career that was at odds with a Torah-true lifestyle.

Not only did the Bermans make it all the way to full Torah lives, they are using their own experiences to help others. Harold is a regular blogger at a popular Israeli news site. In addition, Harold and Gayle are busy developing a web presence (www.j-journey.org) designed to assist couples in the same position they once were.

Anyone who knows an intermarried couple could do no better than to give them a copy of Doublelife.

(Buy it for just $11.69 by clicking here or order in KINDLE edition at a 62% discount, $4.99 by clicking here)

Interested in a private Judaic studies instructor — for free? Let us know by clicking here.

Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in Washington and the media consider "must-reading". Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.

To comment, please click here.

JWR contributor Jonathan Rosenblum is founder of the Jerusalem-based Jewish Media Resources. A respected commentator on Israeli politics, society, culture and the Israeli legal system, who speaks frequently on these topics in the United States, Europe, and Israel, his articles appear regularly in numerous Jewish periodicals in the United States and Israel. Rosenblum is also the author of seven biographies of major modern Jewish figures. He is a graduate of the University of Chicago and Yale Law School.


© 2013, Jonathan Rosenblum

Quantcast