This interview with a Rabbi Sacks is rather hard for me to wrap my brain around. The first part is about something Sacks is very concerned about: Jewish continuity. He seems strangely concerned about Jewish young people marrying outside their group, and has run ad campaigns to convince young Jews to raise their children in their faith. It’s all very weird; I know my grandmother was concerned that her grandchildren marry good Scandinavians, and I even got admonished about what ethnic groups I could date when I went off to college. I’m afraid that when my Norwegian/Swedish grandmother did that sort of thing, we just called it bigotry and ignored her.
Even now, I can’t quite imagine telling my kids who they are allowed to marry, or being concerned with maintaining an ethnic bloodline. Be different and unique, I say — no one should try to be who their parents and grandparents are, but should follow their own path, and we parents and grandparents should reconcile ourselves to our progeny’s independence.
There is one odd moment in the interview. I don’t sympathize at all with the ethnic purity angle, but this part I actually liked:
In the question and answer session that followed Rabbi Sacks was asked how he would convince someone like scientist and atheist, Richard Dawkins of the benefits of religious identity.
Mr Sacks responded: “We need atheists to remind us things are not God’s will, God does not want hunger, injustice or violence. I am quite happy Richard Dawkins stops us having too much faith. There’s a lot more religion in the world than there was 25 years ago and there’s a lot more violence in the world than there was 25 years ago.”
I suspect that while I enthusiastically agree qualitatively with Rabbi Sacks, we might disagree on how much religion is too much — I’d say anything above zero.