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Perlancar Komunikasi Perkawinan Campuran PERKAWINAN antarbangsa rentan menghadapi persoalan karena banyaknya perbedaan.

Komunikasi yang lancar menjadi salah satu jurus jitu penangkalnya. Perkawinan adalah sesuatu yang sakral dan pastinya dinanti setiap orang. Apa pun itu masalahnya, hubungan dalam perkawinan harus dipertahankan, termasuk dalam perkawinan campuran yang rentan persoalan. Perkawinan antarbangsa atau yang bisa disebut perkawinan campuran, sesungguhnya adalah perkawinan antara laki-laki dan perempuan yang berbeda kebangsaan atau kewarganegaraan, berbeda keyakinan (agama), dan berbeda asal keturunan. Di Indonesia, bisa dikatakan bahwa saat ini, perkawinan antarbangsa bukan merupakan hal yang baru lagi. Beragam hal bisa menjadi alasan,di antaranya karena adanya budaya, ilmu, dan teknologi yang semakin berkembang yang telah menjadikan hampir setiap orang mudah melakukan saling komunikasi, baik langsung maupun melalui media telekomunikasi. Memiliki pasangan yang berbeda bangsa memang tidak mudah. Banyak hal yang harus dilakukan dalam menjaga hubungan pernikahan ini. Salah satunya dengan saling menerima kebudayaan yang berbeda pada tiap masing-masing pasangan. Dikatakan seorang psikolog keluarga dari Kasandra & Associates, Kasandra Putranto MPsi, bahwa perkawinan rumah tangga merupakan sebuah komitmen yang tidak boleh diingkari dari kedua belah pihak. Selain itu, perkawinan itu tidak hanya menyatukan dua karakter dari dua pribadi yang berbeda, tetapi juga menyatukan dua karakter keluarga yang berbeda baik dimulai dari kebiasaan, adat budaya, suku, persepsi, pemikiran hingga tingkah laku terutama bagi mereka yang melakukan perkawinan antarbangsa. "Sebuah perkawinan adalah komitmen yang sungguh-sungguh dari pria dan wanita, dan berbicara mengenai komitmen bukanlah suatu hal yang main-main," ucap Kasandra yang juga aktif mengajar di Universitas London School Public Relations. Emmylia Hannig, salah satu Ketua Srikandi, yaitu perkumpulan wanita Indonesia dalam perkawinan antarbangsa menjelaskan bahwa masalah yang dihadapi pasangan suami-istri yang berbeda latar belakang, kultur dan bahasa pada setiap pasangan, tentu saja berbeda-beda cara penanganannya. "Mulai dari isu legalitas yang berdampak pada pasangan campur, isu sosial, spiritual, kultur, sampai yang sehari-hari dihadapi seperti penyesuaian diri dalam kebiasaan berkomunikasi yang berbeda satu sama lain," terangnya. Emmylia menceritakan pengalamannya ketika memasuki awalawal pernikahan, yaitu sekitar dua tahun pernikahan, bahwa dirinya pun cukup sering berdebat kecil karena masalah sepele, seperti masalah masakan. "Bahkan, mengenai waktu berkunjung dalam keluarga pun menjadi perdebatan kita di awal pernikahan," ceritanya seraya menjelaskan bahwa budaya Indonesia memperbolehkan semua saudara berkunjung tanpa harus membuat janji lebih dulu, tapi dengan orang luar Anda harus membuat janji lebih dulu karena jika tidak akan dianggap mengganggu privasi. Konselor dari Jagadnita Consulting, yaitu perusahaan yang bergerak di bidang jasa konsultasi dan edukasi untuk semua anggota keluarga khususnya perempuan, Dewi Minangsari menambahkan bahwa sering kali komunikasi yang macet menjadi kendala dalam upaya suami istri untuk berekonsiliasi. Bila komunikasi sudah sangat parah, konseling pun cenderung kurang membantu mereka mencapai jalan keluar. "Mereka yang melakukan perkawinan antar bangsa, harus bersiap-siap mengalami culture shock atau

kejutan budaya akibat tinggal menetap di negara asing mengikuti pasangan, atau menyesuaikan diri dengan kebiasaan atau budaya sang pasangan," paparnya. D ewi mengungkapkan sangat merasa khawatir dengan maraknya perceraian di antara pasangan suamiistri di Indonesia. Dikatakannya, dahulu lebih banyak pasangan yang berusaha untuk menyelamatkan pernikahan mereka. Sekarang baik si istri maupun suami memiliki keinginan untuk bercerai apabila masalah mereka dianggap terlalu sulit untuk diselesaikan. "Tetapi tidak sedikit juga suami yang berinisiatif untuk melakukan konseling bersama kami," tuturnya pada acara saat menghadiri acara wawancara eksklusif dengan tema "Sariwangi Mari Bicara" Jembatani Perbedaan Antarpasangan dengan Komunikasi, yang diadakan Sariwangi di Jakarta beberapa waktu lalu. Dewi berpesan bahwa dengan menciptakan komunikasi, maka diharapkan agar semua masalah yang muncul pun bisa diselesaikan karena telah dibicarakan sebelumnya. Ciptakan benang komunikasi yang bisa dilakukan dengan cara-cara sederhana, seperti memanfaatkan kesempatan untuk meminum teh bersama paling tidak lima hingga sepuluh menit setiap harinya untuk berbagi cerita guna meningkatkan kualitas hubungan yang lebih baik dan harmonis. "Hal ini dilakukan agar dapat menghindari masalah yang semakin menumpuk," tandasnya. Setiap perkawinan yang dilakukan pasti akan mengharapkan pada akhir dengan kebahagiaan. Tidak ada seorang pun yang menginginkan bercerai pada saat menjalani perkawinannya nanti, sehingga yang perlu diingat adalah komunikasi merupakan kunci dan berperan penting dalam mengatasi masalah.

Disamping beberapa kekurangan di atas, tentunya terdapat pula berbagai kelebihan dari perkawinan campuran. Hartati Papafragos menceritakan pengalaman hidupnya, bahwa salah satu kelebihan yang bisa dirasakan adalah jika pasangan berhasil merasakan hidup bahagia dan mendapati harapan sesuai dengan kenyataan. Hubungan ini dapat terjadi bila terdapat kesimbangan, saling percaya, saling menghormati, dan saling mengerti antarkeduanya. Kelebihan lainnya, kita dapat mengetahui seluk-beluk masalah sosial, politik, ekonomi, ilmu pengetahuan dan teknologi, serta budaya negara lain. Selain itu kita juga bisa menambah wawasan tentang negara lain, serta mengambil hal-hal yang bersifat positif sebagai suatu proses pengembangan kepribadian. Kelebihan perkawinan antar bangsa juga terletak pada generasi penerusnya. Menurut beberapa penelitian, biasanya anak yang dilahirkandari hasil perkawinan campur memiliki sejumlah keunggulan antara lain anak campuran mampu menggunakan dua bahasa atau bilingual dan mempunyai dua budaya atau bicultural. Dalam sebuah penelitian yang dilakukan oleh Gillian Rhodes, seorang psikolog dari Universitas Western Australia beserta Craig Roberts guru besar biologi dari Universitas Newcastle Inggris, ditemukan bahwa wajah Eurasian (indo Eropa dan Asia) secara fisik tampak lebih menarik hati (atraktif) dan kebal terhadap penyakit yang disebabkan faktor keturunan. Perkawinan adalah suatu masa dimana kita belajar saling menyesuaikan diri dalam segala hal untuk bisa hidup dengan rukun dalam satu tempat tinggal. Kawin campur tak sedikit menuai masalah, hal ini berkaitan dengan status kewarganegaraan dan hak asuh anak. Dari segi hukum misalnya, sebelum disahkan Undang-Undang (UU) nomor 12 tahun 2006 tentang Kewarganegaraan Republik Indonesia, para wanita dengan pasangan beda negara sering menghadapi masalah status kewarganegaraan putraputri mereka. Sebelum berlakunya UU tersebut, taip anak yang lahir dari hasil perkawinan wanita Indonesia dezngan orang asing tidak berhak menjadi warga negara Indonesia, tidak berhak mengikuti pendidikan di sekolah negeri, dan untuk menetap di Indonesia anak tersebut harus meminta izin tinggal yang dikeluarkan oleh pihak imigrasi. Oleh karena itu banyak wanita Indonesia yang menjadi sengsara hidupnya akibat kehilangan buah hati yang dibawa pergi oleh ayahnya pulang ke negara asal.

Beruntung masalah UU kewarganegaraan sudah dapat terselesaikan. Bahkan, sebagian orang tua pelaku perkawinan antarbangsa sudah bisa mendapatkan sertifikat pengakuan WNI bagi anaknya. Hal ini tentu menjadi kebahagiaan tersendiri bagi mereka. Dalam UU yang baru, tiap anak dari orang asing mempunyai dua kewarganegaraan hingga usia 18 tahun. Pada saat itu, anak tersebut sudah dianggap cukup dewasa untuk kemudian memilih kewarganegaraannya sendiri. Selain masalah kewarganegaraan, masalah imigrasi juga menjadi bagian tak terpisahkan dari keseharian para pelaku perkawinan antarbangsa. Sesuai UU Republik Indonesia nomor 9 tahun 1992 tentang imigrasi, seorang pria asing saat masuk ke wilayah Indonesia harus mengurus izin tinggal dan visa. Masalah wajib lapor ke imigrasi dan kantor polisi ini sampai sekarang masih selalu menjadi masalah bagi wanita yang besuamikan orang asing. Persoalan lain yang tak henti terjadi, yaitu berkaitan dengan masalah sosial budaya. Bagaimana menyatukan dua kepribadian yang berbeda, dua individu yang memiliki nilai-nilai dan kebiasaan yang berbeda merupakan masalah yang tak ada habisnya. Banyak tantangan bagaimana menyatukan perbedaan-perbedaan yang berujung pada timbulnya masalah baru. Padahal sebenarnya, jika kedua belah pihak mau belajar mengenai seluruh aspek kehidupan negara pasangannya sebelum menikah, maka masalah adaptasi akan menjadi lebih mudah. Sayang, nasih banyak orang yang menetap di luar negeri mengikuti pasangannya kurang siap sehingga terjadilah berbagai bentuk kejutan budaya. Untuk mencapai hubungan yang ideal seperti yang di dambakan, Hartati Papafragos memberikan beberapa tips berdasarkan pengalamannyadalam menjalin hubungan dengan pria beda bangsa: 1.Tunjukkan ketertarikan diri pada budaya pasangan. 2.Jangan menganggap seseorang akan cepat berubah hanya untuk mempertahankan suatu hubungan cinta dan pengaruh anda dalam hidupnya. 3.Diskusian semua aspek yang berkaitan dengan hidup masa depan Anda berdua. 4.Jika pasangan menolak untuk berdiskusi, Anda harus berhati-hati. Cobalah tanyakan alasan mengapa Ia tidak mau mendiskusikannya. 5.Buka topik diskusi masalah keuangan, cara mendidik dan membesarkan anak sebelum Anda memutuskan menikah dengannya. 6.Coba berdebat dan adu argumentasi dengannya. Lihat bagaimana caranya bertengkar. Sehingga Anda akan dapat mengetahui dapat bekerja sama dengannya atau tidak. 7.Pastikan bahwa Anda satu bahasa yang dapat digunakan Anda berdua secara fasih untuk komunikasi sehari-hari. 8.Renungkan kembali motif Anda. Apakah Anda yakin bahwa pasangan akan merasa aman dan bahagia jika tinggal di negara Anda? Bagaimana dengan Anda sendiri? Apakah siap jika harus tinggal di luar Indonesia? Bagaimanapun kejutan budaya (shock culture) akan dihadapi oleh setiap orang asing yang tinggal diluar negaranya. 9.Jangan menganggap remeh hubungan Anda dengan kedua ornag tua dan sanak keluarga pasangan. Jaga hubungan baik dengan orang tua dan keluarganya.
10.Jika dirasa sulit untuk menghadapi berbagai tantangan yang akan dihadapi, sebaiknya lupakan pria asing tersebut dan coba jalin hubungan dengan pria lain atau pria asal bangsa sendiri yang sesuai dengan kepribadian Anda. (dari berbagai sumber) INTERMARRIAGE

Intermarriage is the marriage between two people of different backgrounds. This background can be either religious (such as a Christian marrying a Jew) or racial (such as an Asian person marrying a person of African descent). Views towards each type of intermarriage have evolved throughout history, although each remains controversial in certain sects of modern society. Intermarriage is a form of exogamy, or marrying outside of one's social group. Whether that group is defined by religion, race, or other difference, the difference is a barrier that is not easy to cross. When historical meetings of the groups have led to conflict and violence, the fear of the other becomes hatred and the barrier almost impenetrable. Marrying and producing children across such a barrier is difficult if not unthinkable and impossible. With increasing contact between different peoples of the planet, views towards inter-religious and inter-racial marriage have changed considerably. Many such marriages have taken place, and the children, while still experiencing some isolation, have begun to find their place in the world. In fact, it may be that the effect of intermarriage is to overcome the barriers and tensions between those of different social groups through the bonding of new familial groups. Such families may be the foundation of a happier world of peace and harmony. Frederick Douglass with his second wife Helen Pitts Douglass (sitting) who was white, a famous nineteenth century American example of "miscegenation." The woman standing is her sister Eva Pitts. Intermarriage is the marriage of people from two different religious or racial backgrounds. Participants in intermarriage have faced social difficulties throughout history for various reasons including prejudice, ignorance, and xenophobia. Those whose marriages involve different races have suffered racial discrimination, if not outright rejection by societies in which miscegenation (the mixing of races) was illegal. Those who marry from a different religious tradition may also face rejection, especially if one of the traditions teaches that only those faithful to their beliefs receive salvation and can go to heaven; all others being condemned to eternal hell. Intermarriage is a form of exogamy, or marrying outside of one's social group. With increasing contact between different peoples of the planet, relationships and marriages that cross racial and religious boundaries have become more common. However, couples and the children of intermarriage face issues of social isolation and lack of definitive cultural identity. Interreligious Marriage Religion is a difficult subject to broach for romantically involved couples. Crossing religious lines for the sake of marriage was once, and still is, considered by some to be an act of apostasy. The traditional view of promoting marriage within one's faith community stems from the fact that religion has traditionally dominated culture and social life, so to wed someone outside of this group would be wholly alien. There are still many reasons why religion acts as a barrier to marriage:

Some religions view their rules on marriage as commandments from God. In a few religions adherents view themselves as a priestly people, with a specific mission to carry out. Some people believe that introducing two contradictory belief systems into a marriage is grounds for marital strife, and increases the rate of divorce. Some believe that having parents of two different religions causes psychological stress on the children in such a marriage, as they often are effectively forced to "choose" one parent's faith over another. Religious intolerance leads some to believe that a person professing a different faith is considered incompatible and not worth marrying. There is the possibility of temptation to "wrong" practices by the "outsider" spouse, as well as the possibility of the children growing up in the "other" faith, or torn between two faiths. Some religions, such as the Druze religion, are closed communities and do not accept new members, whether through marriage or through conversion.

When a man and a woman professing different religions want to marry, and the religious laws of the faith upheld by one of them forbid this, they might:

abandon the relationship and seek a partner of their own faith, consider the conversion of one spouse,

live as if married with no ceremony, have a purely civil marriage ceremony, or if one of the two religions does allow interreligious marriage, hold the wedding according to the ritual of the accepting religion.

These opinions are shifting, however. Increased foreign travel and a trend towards secularism have deemphasized the importance of religion in the lives of many. Attitudes towards inter-religious marriage are becoming more liberal in the developed world, removing the once powerful stigma that may have suppressed inter-religious marriages in the past. Many see intermarriage as a good opportunity for diversity and are in fact attracted to others specifically because they are not members of their own religious sect. While some may only be interested in experiencing something different, for others intermarriage is seen as a way to break down barriers and bring harmony between different faith communities. Views of religions on interreligious marriage Judaism Intermarriage in Judaism is informed by two basics of Jewish law. First, the child of a Jewish woman is considered to be Jewish, regardless of the faith of the father, while, historically, the child of a male Jew and a female non-Jew is not. Second, a Jewish marriage is, by definition, a contract between two Jews, involving a Ketubah or Jewish prenuptial agreement. This states that the husband commits to provide food, clothing, and marital relations to his wife, and that he will pay a specified sum of money if he divorces her. If he dies and leaves her as a widow, she can collect the Ketubah money from his estate. The Ketubah is considered an integral part of a Jewish marriage. Intermarriage under strict Jewish law is therefore not only forbidden, but actually impossible. Orthodox Judaism strictly forbids interreligious marriage as well as any sexual intercourse with a member of a different faith. Secular intermarriage is seen as a deliberate rejection of Judaism, and an intermarried person is effectively cut off from most of the Orthodox community. Conservative Judaism rejects intermarriages as being a violation of halakha (the collective corpus of Jewish religious law), and as causing severe demographic harm to the Jewish people. Conservative rabbis are not allowed to perform intermarriages. However, the Leadership Council of Conservative Judaism has a more nuanced understanding of this issue than does Orthodoxy. The Conservative movement has stated: In the past, intermarriage was viewed as an act of rebellion, a rejection of Judaism. Jews who intermarried were essentially excommunicated. But now, intermarriage is often the result of living in an open society. If our children end up marrying non-Jews, we should not reject them. We should continue to give our love and by that retain a measure of influence in their lives, Jewish and otherwise. Life consists of constant growth and our adult children may yet reach a stage when Judaism has new meaning for them. However, the marriage between a Jew and non-Jew is not a celebration for the Jewish community. We therefore reach out to the couple with the hope that the non-Jewish partner will move closer to Judaism and ultimately choose to convert. Since we know that over seventy percent of children of intermarried couples are not being raised as Jews...we want to encourage the Jewish partner to maintain his/her Jewish identity, and raise their children as Jews. (Leadership Council of Conservative Judaism, Statement on Intermarriage. Adopted on March 7, 1995) Reform Judaism and Reconstructionist Judaism (known internationally as Progressive Judaism) discourage intermarriage, but, since they do not view halakha as binding, they have no mechanism for legal prohibition of the practice in the manner of the Conservative and Orthodox movements. Progressive rabbinical associations have no blanket prohibition on their members officiating at intermarriages. As a result, some Progressive Rabbis do perform such weddings without fear of the sanction faced by their Conservative counterparts. Intermarried Progressive Jews are encouraged to raise their children in the Jewish faith, and to become part of the local Jewish community, even if the Gentile partner does not

convert to Judaism. Gentile spouses of Jews are welcome in Progressive synagogues as long as they do not proselytise. Christianity Many Christians believe that anyone has the freedom to choose her or his partner for life, and that love has no boundaries. This attitude is found most often among those who may be identified as progressive or liberal Christians. Some Christian denominations forbid interreligious marriage, drawing from 1 Corinthians 7 and 2 Corinthians 6:14, and in some cases Deuteronomy 7:3. The Mormon Church emphasizes the doctrine of "celestial marriage" in which two people are eternally bound through marriage. Mormons believe this celestial marriage can only occur between members of the Mormon church, and thus oppose interreligious marriage for their faithful. The Catholic church requires permission for mixed marriages, which it terms all unions between Catholics and baptized non-Catholics, but such marriages are valid, though illicit, without it: the pastor of the Catholic party has authority to grant such permission. Marriages between a Catholic and an un-baptized person are not sacramental, and fall under the impediment of disparity of worship and are invalid without a dispensation, for which authority lies with the ordinary of the place of marriage. Bah' Faith According to the Bah' Faith, all religions are inspired by God, therefore interreligious marriage is allowed. In that case, the Bah' ceremony should be performed, and the non-Bah' rite or ceremony can also be performed. If it is the case that both ceremonies are performed, the non-Bah' ceremony should not invalidate the Bah' ceremony and it should be made clear to all that the Bah' partner is a Bah' and is not accepting the religion of the other partner by going through with the ceremony. The Bah' partner should also abstain from undertaking any vows or statements that commit the Bah' to any declaration of faith in another religion or that are contrary to the principles of the Bah' Faith. The two ceremonies should happen on the same day, but the order is not important. The Bah' ceremony may be performed in the place of worship of the other religion provided that it is given equal respect to that of the non-Bah' ceremony and is clearly distinct from the non-Bah' ceremony. Hinduism Hinduism declares that there are always innumerable paths to God, and that ones belief or perception of God is an individual matter and best left to the individual to decide his own path. Thus, Hindus have never hesitated to respect the freedom of other faiths to coexist and flourish and so interreligious marriages are accepted in Hindu society. It also does not put any obligation of faith on the non-Hindu partner. Inter-caste marriages were, however, problematic, but this too is becoming more acceptable with time. In metropolitan cities it is common to find couples with different faith, caste, and regional background. There are numerous laws in the Indian legal system, safeguarding interfaith marriage. Examples of such marriages occasionally appear in Rudyard Kipling's stories. Islam Islam allows a man to marry a non-Muslim only if she is Christian or Jewish. The wife need not adopt any Muslim laws, and the husband is not allowed to keep her from going to church or synagogue. The early jurists of the most prominent schools of Islamic jurisprudence ruled in Fiqh law that the marriage of a Muslim man to a Christian or Jewish women is mukruh (reprehensible) if they live in a non-Muslim country. The Caliph Umar (634644) denied interfaith marriage for Muslim men during his command of the ummah.

Fiqh also forbids Muslim women from marrying non-Muslim men, although there is nothing in the Qur'an nor the Sunnah that explicitly prohibits such unions. Some Muslim scholars go so far as to state that such a marriage is an act of apostasy, but with the growing number of such marriages, this position is being questioned. In some Muslim countries, if a non-Muslim woman is married to a non-Muslim, and she converts to Islam, the marriage is suspended until her husband converts to Islam. When he converts a new marriage is not needed. Interracial Marriage Interracial marriage was formerly seen as grounds for shunning members of some societies. Xenophobia and outright racism bred close-minded laws and social mores against miscegenation. The taboo against interracial marriage has been largely lifted worldwide today as the world shrinks through easier travel and globalization. Love has proved incentive enough for many to overcome the barriers placed by a jealous old guard opposed to mixed marriages. United States A black/white couple enjoying a moment during their wedding on the beach in Monterey, California In Social Trends in America and Strategic Approaches to the Negro Problem (1948), Gunnar Myrdal ranked the social areas where restrictions were imposed by Southern whites on the freedom of AfricanAmericans through racial segregation. Ranked from the least to the most important were found to be: jobs, courts and police, politics, basic public facilities, social equality including dancing, handshaking, and most important, marriage. This ranking scheme seems to explain the way in which the barriers against desegregation fell. The segregation in basic public facilities, seen as of less importance than intermarriage, was abolished with the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The most tenacious form of legal segregation, the banning of interracial marriage, was not fully lifted until the last anti-miscegenation laws were struck down in 1967.[1]
An Iranian groom and a Mexican-American bride enjoy their first dance as a mixed-race married couple. Interracial couples have made up an increasingly large percentage of the population of all American married couples. In 1960, 0.4 percent of all married couples were interracial. In 1992, 2.2 percent of all couples were interracial.[2] United Kingdom As of 2001, two percent of all UK marriages were inter-ethnic. Despite having a much lower non-white population (nine percent), mixed marriages are as common as in the United States. For example, Black British men are significantly more likely to have non-black wives than African American men; 18 percent of UK black African husbands, 29 percent of UK black Caribbean husbands, and 48 percent of other Black British husbands have a wife from a different ethnic group.[3] According to the UK 2001 census, Black British males were around 50 percent more likely than black females to marry outside their race, whereas British Chinese women were twice as likely as their male counterparts to marry someone from a different ethnic group. Among British Asians (South Asians, not including Chinese), Pakistani and Bangladeshi males were twice as likely to to have an inter-ethnic marriage than their female counterparts, while Indian and "Other Asian" males were more likely to have an inter-ethnic marriage than their female counterparts by a smaller percentage. In Africa Indian (Asian) men have married many African women in Africa. Indians have long been traders in East Africa. The British Empire brought workers into East Africa to build the Uganda Railway. Indians eventually populated South Africa, Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda, Rhodesia, and Zaire. These interracial unions were mostly marriages between Indian men and East African women. [4]

In Asia

Many Asian cultures, such as China and Korea have indelibly strong familial ties, which have often emphasized marriages that will satisfy all of the members of the family. As a result of this tight family network, marriage to outsiders has been seen as taboo. For example, in Japan, non-ethnic Japanese residents have been called gaijin (meaning outsiders) and discriminated against in marriage and other relationships. This norm is changing as large Asian nations take their place in the world stage. Arranged intermarriages While arranged marriages are traditionally contracted among families within the same community; farsighted leaders have employed arranged marriages to bind together disparate cultures and nationalities in their realms. The most notable of these was Alexander the Great, (356-323 B.C.E.) from Macedonia, who in the year 324 B.C.E. married 10,000 of his officers to Persian women. The mass wedding, held at Susa, was a model of Alexander's desire to consummate the union of the Greek and Iranian peoples. In modern times, Reverend Sun Myung Moon advocates cross-cultural arranged marriages as a means of peace-building. Couples from enemy nations who work out great differences in the crucible of married life are said to contribute to the resolution of their nations historical and cul tural conflicts. Thus, Reverend Moon has acted as a matchmaker for thousands of young people who have volunteered to participate in the breaking of racial, national, and religious barriers. The couples recognized the challenge of creating harmony between each other despite their different nationalities, cultures, and historical memories, as a way to contribute to the reconciliation between their lineages. Intermarriage Today Views towards inter-religious and interracial marriage have evolved considerably over time. What once was an un-thought of transgression against one's family and culture is now commonplace. Many argue that intermarriage has a beneficial effect in society by decreasing inter-religious and interracial tensions through the bonding of familial groups in marriage. Despite this, many mixed marriages still face persecution and discrimination by those not accepting of their lifestyles. What is Wrong with Intermarriage? We live today in a multi-cultural and multi-religious society. We mix freely with, and respect, people of all faiths. Many Jews today grow up fully assimilated and comfortable in a secular society and environment. Why is it such a tragedy if a Jewish man finds a non-Jewish woman (or vice versa) with whom he feels totally compatible and decides to marry her? He claims that she is a genuinely lovely person with a fine character often much nicer than any Jewish woman he has met. She is at home with his Jewish background and culture and both share the same values, hobbies and pursuits. A perfect match, yet not made in Heaven. Why not? The decision to marry out is perhaps the most telling moment, when a person must consider what being Jewish actually means. Is being Jewish simply an accident of birth? Is there a difference between a Jew and a non-Jew? Can one retain full Jewish identity if married to a non-Jewish partner? What if one finds the perfect partner loving, caring, considerate, good fun but unfortunately non-Jewish? What means more in life a happy marriage or ones religion? If one has found true love, does religion really matter? Where do you come from? No person just arrives on the scene. We are all the product of bygone generations; in the case of the Jews, descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Jacobs family descended to servitude in Egypt and after 210 years was miraculously redeemed by Gd through Moshe, His faithful servant. The Children of Israel were subsequently constituted as a nation at the stand at Sinai the Torah being their wedding contract with Gd. To date, Jewish history spans over 3,300 years. During this time Jews have had their golden eras and also have suffered severe persecutions, inquisitions, pogroms and, ultimately, the Holocaust. To be born a Jew today is not an accident of birth but the sum total of over 3,300 years of ancestral self-sacrifice, of heroes who at times gave their very lives for their beliefs. Somewhere along our

ancestral line, you can be sure that a grandfather or mother had to accept poverty, hardship, derision, exile and humiliation, but stubbornly stuck to their faith. Greeks, Romans, Crusaders, Nazis and Communists all tried to obliterate Jewish practice and faith, but failed. The persecutors are all relics of the past but Judaism is alive and vibrant. The indomitable Jewish spirit survived and clung to its traditions despite all odds. And now, the very latest link of that glorious tradition wishes to sever the chain in one fell swoop! Imagine if one were able to resurrect all ones ancestors. They would differ in language, dress and cuisine but all would share the same Jewish tradition. What would one say to a great-great-grandfather who sat in prison for keeping Shabbat? What would one say to a great-great-grandmother who would walk for miles to buy kosher provisions? How could one possibly introduce them to a non-Jewish fianc? A story was told by Mr. George Rohr, an American philanthropist, at a convention for the Lubavitcher Rebbes emissaries in 1996. Mr Rohr related how he had the privilege to meet the Rebbe on one occasion just after Rosh Hashanah. Mr. Rohr thought it appropriate to present the Rebbe with a spiritual gift. A short time before, he had set up a beginners service at his shul in Manhattan, and on Rosh Hashanah 120 Jews attended this new service. Mr. Rohr decided to announce this to the Rebbe and was sure the Rebbe would receive much nachas from this good news. When his turn arrived, he confidently strode up to the Rebbe and said, Thank Gd, this Rosh Hashanah we set up a beginners service in our shul and had 120 Jews with no Jewish background participate! Until that point the Rebbe had a broad smile on his face, but when Mr. Rohr told him the news the Rebbes face dropped, and Mr. Rohr searched his words for anything he may have said that had upset the Rebbe. What?! said the Rebbe. Mr. Rohr repeated, 120 Jews with no Jewish background. No Jewish background? asked the Rebbe. Go and tell those Jews that they are all children of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Now Mr. Rohr understood. The Rebbe objected to these Jews being described as having no Jewish background. Every Jew has a very illustrious background they are all sons of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob! This is all the more true after the Holocaust. Intermarriage is, in a sense, an act of treason to our people for, instead of bringing new Jews into the world by marrying a Jewish wife, one would be contributing to the decimation of our people and the Final Solution that Hitler and his followers began and nearly accomplished. The horrific rates of intermarriage today constitute a silent annihilation of our people. The Chosen People One may ask, however, is this not a guilt trip? After all why do I have to be liable to continue this chain, to pass on the traditions and to carry the baton just because my mazal was that I was born Jewish? Who placed this awesome responsibility on my shoulders? Furthermore, there are plenty of others who will carry on the traditions. What difference does it make if I sidetrack a little and shunt myself into a deadend? Every merit comes with responsibility and every responsibility comes with liability. At Sinai, Gd proclaimed us the Chosen People. Chosen for what? Just before Gd gave the Ten Commandments he spoke to Moshe and said, (Exodus 19:5,6) Now if you obey Me and keep My covenant, you shall be my special treasure among the nations, even though all the world is Mine. You will be a kingdom of priests and a holy nation to Me.

In these few words lies the task for which the Jews were chosen to be a kingdom of priests. This means that every one of us must be holy in our private life, and in our association with the outside world every one of us, man or woman, must fulfil priestly functions. The priests function is to bring Gd to the people and to elevate the people to be nearer to Gd. Every Jew and Jewess fulfils their personal and priestly duties by living a life according to the Torah. The extent of ones duties is in direct proportion to ones station in life. It is all the greater in the case of an individual who occupies a position of prominence, which gives him an opportunity to exercise influence over others, especially over youth. Such people must fully appreciate the privilege and responsibility which Divine Providence vested in them to spread the light of Torah. Jews are called Bnai Yisrael. The word Yisrael is an acronym for the phrase, Yesh Shishim Ribo Otiot LeTorah which means that there are 600,000 letters in the Torah. Every Jew is compared to a letter in a Torah scroll. Even if only one letter is missing the entire scroll is incomplete and invalid. Every Jew is an ambassador of his people in his echelon in society. That is his Gd-given responsibility and privilege. To shirk this responsibility is to deny oneself the ultimate privilege. To intermarry is an open violation of that responsibility. Children The Torah explicitly forbids intermarriage. The source is in Deuteronomy 7:3-4, You shall not intermarry with them; you shall not give your daughter to his son, and you shall not take his daughter for your son, for he will cause your child to turn away from after Me and they will worship the gods of others then the Lrds wrath will burn against you, and He will destroy you quickly. The direct implication is that children from such a union will be torn away from Judaism. Incidentally, this is also the Scriptural source for the law of matrilineal descent. Since the verse states for he (ie a nonJewish father) will cause your child to turn away ... , this implies that a child born to a Jewish mother is Jewish whereas, if a Jewish man marries a non-Jewish woman, the child is not Jewish. Thus, in the case of a Jewish man marrying a non-Jewish woman the child is not Jewish and an unbroken Jewish line has henceforth been broken. If a non-Jewish man marries a Jewish woman the children are Jewish. However the Torah explicitly forbids such a union for he will turn your child away. The truth is that a Jewish woman who has already married out and borne children should be encouraged to give them a full Jewish education. There are today thousands of practising Jews who only have a Jewish mother. However, to a couple contemplating intermarriage, the facts speak for themselves. Except in a small number of cases in which the mother is very determined and gives the child a very positive, strong Jewish education, in most cases the child grows up with a mixed and confused identity; in simple English, half-Jewish. Technically, there is no such thing one is either 100% Jewish or not. However, in terms of identity, the child feels only half-Jewish. Even if the mother is a proud Jew, the father, whether atheist, agnostic, Protestant, Catholic, Muslim etc., does not share the same beliefs and values. Even if he is sympathetic, or even agrees to the child being brought up Jewish, there are bound to be differences. Does one celebrate Chanukah or Xmas, both or neither? Whichever one chooses is confusing or even contradictory. Many intermarried couples today celebrate both but what sort of message does this give the child? Is the child Jewish, thus rejecting the notions of Christianity, or is the child a Christian with Jewish roots? It causes great confusion for the child and in many cases the child sees both faiths only on a superficial level, distanced by his parents from true belief. The child is also given the test of mixed allegiances. All passages of life create a problem. Should the child be circumcised, christened, both or neither? Should the child have a Bar Mitzvah or be confirmed, marry in a synagogue or a church, be buried in a Jewish cemetery or be cremated? And what chances are there that the child should want to marry a Jew? Even in the case of a determined Jewish mother who wishes to marry a non-Jewish partner and raise her child as a Jew, who says her

child would want to marry a Jew and most important what sort of example has the mother set for the child? Children learn from their parents. They cannot be taught ethics, they have to see them being practised. There is no sense in parents demanding that their child marry a Jew when one of the parents has married out! There is another point: people are social beings. From time immemorial they have gathered in communities. One thing the international Jewish community prides itself in is the idea of Kol Yisrael Chaverim all Israel are one fraternity, one brotherhood, one nation. If you are travelling to Bangkok and need a place for Shabbat you can be sure that if you turn up in shul you will get an invitation. Wherever a Jew goes he will have an international support group that extends hospitality and financial help, if needed. By having a non-Jewish child one has extricated the child from that community and bequeathed alienation to him. Everybody wants to belong it is a basic human need. Intermarriage causes great confusion to children with regard to where they actually belong. Its in the genes Marriage in general, even between two people of similar background, entails a certain risk as to eventual adjustment and compatibility. Even if the two have been acquainted for some time there is no sure guarantee as to what the relationship will be like when the acquaintance is turned into a marriage, where the two will be thrown together under one roof for 24 hours a day, day after day and week after week. But when the backgrounds are entirely different, and where these differences date back for scores of generations and are consequently of a deep and lasting quality the chances of adjustment and compatibility are so negligible as to be almost non-existent. Especially where the differences are of a definitely antagonistic and hostile nature, as has been evidenced by the pogroms and persecutions of Jews in every land where Jews sojourned in the past 2,000 years. Moreover, modern science recognises the hereditary nature of character traits, particularly deeply rooted ones developed over generations. Intermarriage usually results, sooner or later, in endless friction and unhappiness. That a casual, or even more serious, kind of relationship seemed in the past to indicate compatibility, is no proof that it would be so ever after in a marriage situation. On the contrary, it is inevitable that two people of such divergent backgrounds, one descending from generations of oppressed and victimised people the other from the world of the oppressors and predacious, should be affected by hereditary forces. No change Who says people dont change? Even if a couple are happy with each other, deeply in love, and have decided to marry despite their different religious backgrounds, who says that future events wont reverse their feelings? There are so many factors that can change a persons feelings. King Solomon states, I am sleeping but my heart is awake. A Jew may be sleeping spiritually but his inner Jewish heart is always awake and, at certain times, is aroused. Years into a marriage, where much of the relationship is routine, the soul and Jewish heart may be aroused to search for the deeper meaning to life. There may be a quest for spirituality and rediscovery of ones roots. Consider the fact that these feelings will not be shared by your spouse. They will neither understand nor feel those same emotions and you will be alone. On the other hand, a Jewish partner means a shared history and a shared destiny. But it works! There is, of course, the argument that the percentage of intermarriages is considerable and many of them seem to last. However, the statistics show that the percentage of separations and divorces among intermarried couples is incomparably greater than among marriages within the faith. Secondly, many married people try to put on the appearance of a happy marriage, being ashamed to confess failure and to reveal the frictions and indignities suffered at home. In an intermarriage the sense of shame is even

greater, knowing that many friends had warned against it, while the couple had maintained that their marriage would be different. Its simply not right To be honest in the plain sense of the word one would not wish to drag another party into an alliance which is doomed from the start. If there is true love between the two parties, and not in a selfish way, one would certainly not wish to involve the other in such a misfortune, and would readily forgo the prospect of immediate and short-lived pleasure in order to spare the other the inevitable result. Otherwise the professed love is nothing but selfish and egotistic. Should there be children from such a union, there is the added consideration of the tragedy of the children having to witness constant friction and worse between their parents, which is almost bound to follow in the natural course of events. It is necessary to emphasise the point that ones personal convenience, desire or gratification is no justification for involving oneself with that which is wrong, especially to involve another person least of all a loved one into such a situation, even if the other person is agreeable, and sincerely so. No person has the right to harm another person. A Jewish marriage A Jewish marriage is called a Binyan Adei Ad an everlasting edifice. In order that the edifice of marriage should indeed be strong and lasting, everything connected with the wedding, as well as the establishment of the couples home, should be in full compliance with the instructions of the Torah. The Torah is called Torat Chaim the Torah of life it is the source of everlasting life in the Hereafter as well as the true guide to life on earth. The analogy of marriage to an everlasting edifice is not merely a figure of speech but contains also an important idea and moral. In the case of any structure, the first and most important step is to ensure the quality and durability of the foundation. Without such a foundation, all the efforts put into the walls, roof, decorations and so on, would be of no avail. This is even more true of the structure of marriage; if its foundations are unstable, what tragedy could result! This is why a Jewish marriage must, first of all, be based on the rock- solid foundation of the Torah and mitzvot. Then the blessing of joy and happiness will follow the couple for the rest of their lives. The Torah explicitly forbids intermarriage. Such a union has no foundation and will not be an everlasting edifice. In fact for a Jewish person to marry a non-Jew is one of the greatest calamities, and not only from the religious viewpoint. Nor is it entirely a personal matter affecting only the person involved, for it concerns the whole Jewish people, and there are few transgressions that affect the whole Jewish people as an intermarriage (Gd forbid) does. It is a transgression also against ones elementary honesty, for it is exceedingly unfair both to the other party and to the respective good friends, who wish to see their near and dear one lastingly happy. Should I marry a Jewess just because she is Jewish? Many young people feel themselves pressured by their parents to marry a Jewish spouse and, even though the choice is wider in the non-Jewish world, they feel obligated to marry within the fold out of a sense of duty. They often ask the question, what is the difference between the Jew and the non-Jew both dress the same, both share common values, both eat the same food? If a man finds himself with a choice between two women, one Jewish and one non-Jewish, should he marry the Jewish woman just because she is Jewish? The answer is a resounding Yes! Yes, because therein lies the potential for a truly Jewish marriage. Although at present there seems to be no difference between the Jew and non-Jew, as people grow older they change and mature. The vicissitudes, strains and challenges of life pull a person in all directions. If

one is at least married to a Jew, there is common ground and potential to grow. That is certainly not the case in an intermarriage. However, as strongly as the answer is yes, it carries an equally strong piece of advice. The institution of marriage any marriage needs much hard work. It is absolutely imperative that two young Jewish people who wish to marry should examine the huge repository of knowledge that the Torah has to offer to guide them in their future lives together. Couples must learn about the laws of Taharat Hamishpachah the laws of Family Purity that enhance the marriage. They must learn of the great importance of Shalom Bayit peace in the home and how to run a kosher home. They should learn about the importance of chinuch education even from an early age. No marriage can be taken for granted. As stated above, the foundation for a good marriage must be the Divine directives of the Torah, but a man and wife must understand that they have to work very hard to implement these directives in order to make the marriage successful.
Is conversion an option? Conversion is serious business. Ask yourself a serious question: Is the conversion being carried out from a true desire to become Jewish, independent of any impending partnership, or is it a token conversion, done to please some parent? A serious conversion can take years and involves serious changes in lifestyle and conduct. To undergo a cosmetic or plastic conversion is, obviously, no solution to a seriously minded person, and even more abhorrent to an honest person. A true conversion has to be such as to transform a non-Jew into a Jew, with a new Jewish Neshamah (soul), like a newborn child of Jewish parents. Such a conversion is one that is carried out in strict accordance with Halachah; anything less is only a sham and a mockery. The Halachah is very clear in its insistence that the would-be convert honestly and wholeheartedly accepts all the mitzvot. Accepting all but one of the mitzvot automatically invalidates the conversion, and the non-Jew remains a non-Jew exactly as before. Of course, it is possible to mislead a rabbi or a Rabbinic Court by declaring ones readiness to accept all the mitzvot, but one cannot mislead the Creator who is the One who imbues the Neshamah. There is the well known argument that it is unfair to demand more of a would-be convert, in terms of adherence to the mitzvot, than that which many born Jews observe in practice. This contention is inadmissible since it is a requirement and stipulation of Jewish Law to which the would-be convert must unequivocally commit himself. A word of caution: within the Jewish community today one may convert in either an Orthodox or Progressive establishment. It should be clear from the start that an Orthodox conversion is accepted in all Jewish circles whereas the Orthodox do not accept a Progressive conversion. To convert in a Progressive establishment is hazardous in itself, for ones Jewish identity is not universally recognised. It is analogous to a longer-but-shorter way. To get to a particular destination one can take a long route but it may in fact be the shortest route. One may take a short route which might turn out to be a very long route. An Orthodox conversion is the longer-shorter way. It may be arduous and take a longer time but it is the shortest way to universal recognition. A Progressive conversion may be relatively easy but, in the final analysis, it is a very long route, for the end result is not recognised. It is a source of great shock to many children who find out that, since their parents underwent Progressive conversions, the Orthodox establishment does not consider them to be Jewish. When a person marries he must be a little long-sighted. One cannot think just of oneself. One must take into consideration the status of ones offspring. Just as all parents wish to do the best for their child so, too, must all parents ensure that their offspring will not have any problems of Jewish status. Accordingly, anyone serious about conversion should consult a competent rabbinic authority. The reader is referred to the book Who is a Jew by Rabbi J.E. Schochet, which discusses this issue at length. Advice to parents Parents often seek rabbinical advice on how to stop an intermarriage.

In truth two pieces of advice are needed. One, before the crisis, and one after. When a child is born we wish the parents Mazal Tov. In many cases, straight after the Mazal Tov, the parents put their newborn childs name down to attend the best schools in the area. One often hears from parents that they want to give their children the best education possible. By this they mean that they wish to expose their children to the highest levels of academia available in the secular world coupled with a weak pre-Bar Mitzvah education in the basics of Judaism. They expect their child to be worldly, educated, modern and open minded. They then pronounce that after such a broad education the child will be able to make his own choice about who he wishes to marry. When the child decides to intermarry the parents then run to the rabbi for a quick fix. Some parents resign themselves to the situation while others seek a token conversion. In truth, such an education does not give the child free choice at all. If their choice is between a modern wellequipped science laboratory and an old stuffy synagogue classroom with a boring teacher for sure they will choose the lab! The story is told of a person who was asked if he knew what a Tallit Katan was. He replied affirmatively indicating on his own body the size of a pair of Tzitzit suitable for a seven year old probably the type he once wore at Hebrew School. He was then asked what size suit he wore. When he appeared puzzled at the question it was explained to him that, since he now wears an adult size suit, why does he see himself in a childs size Tzitzit!

The point of this story is simple. The mans conception of Judaism is that of a childs because while in every other subject Maths, English, History, etc. he proceeded to higher education, in Judaism he stopped at Bar Mitzvah. No wonder he chooses to be assimilated since his choice appears to be between an adult modern world and an archaic irrelevant past.
If parents want to give their children a real choice, they have to give them a strong Jewish education and identity. It is only then that an informed choice can be made. A father once came to a rabbi with his daughter and asked the rabbi to persuade her not to marry out. The rabbi asked the daughter why she didnt want to marry a Jew. She replied that her father never took her to synagogue, never ate kosher, never kept Shabbat or the festivals in short, lived exactly like their non-Jewish neighbours, so why now the hypocrisy in demanding that she marry a Jew! The rabbi turned to the father and said that he agreed with her. The father was dumbstruck and then said that he had brought her to the rabbi to convince her not to marry out, and not to agree with her. The rabbi responded that, in order for her not to marry out, the father had to start living as a Jew. He suggested that the father should lay Tefillin daily and that his wife should start lighting the Shabbat candles. After a lot of persuasion the daughter eventually married a Jew. To live as a Jew that is the advice before the crisis, since prevention is the best cure. But what if one is already in a crisis?

Obviously parents should intensify their own efforts as well as enlisting the aid of friends to do everything to prevent the tragedy. When it comes to a Jewish heart one never knows when and how its innate Jewish feelings will be aroused. However, parents should consider the following:
All the members of a Jewish family constitute one organism and, when one part of it needs special treatment, it can be given in one of two ways; either directly, if possible, or indirectly, through strengthening other parts of the body, particularly those that govern the functions of the entire organism. The head of the family is called the Baal Habayit and the wife is called the Akeret HaBayit, corresponding to the heart of the family. Thus, strengthening the commitment to the Torah and mitzvot on the part of the parents has a beneficial effect upon all the members of the family. Of course, it may sometimes entail certain difficulties by having to make some changes, perhaps even radical ones, in regard to habits and lifestyle. On the other hand, considering the farreaching benefits, and especially the fact that parents surely would not consider anything too difficult if it could be beneficial to their children, of what significance can any difficulty be, especially as in most cases these are often exaggerated? In any case, a Jew is always required and expected to live according to G ds Will; how much more so when a special Divine blessing is needed. At the same time there is the assurance that, however on ones everyday life and conduct was in the past, a Jew can always start a new life through Teshuvah which literally means returning to ones essence.