Chaplaincy Holds Panel on Interfaith Marriage

February 9, 2007

Author: Alison Channon

Source: The Brandeis Hoot

The Brandeis chaplaincy held a panel discussing the issue of interfaith marriages on Tuesday, before a group of approximately 30 students. The panel discussion and subsequent audience response section was facilitated by Professor Bernadette Brooten (NEJS), and featured Rabbi Allan Lehmann, Father Walter Cuenin, Imam Talal Eid, and Rabbi Aharon Frazer.

The interfaith panel discussion comes after last semester’s Chabad sponsored talk on interfaith marriage featuring Doron Kornbluth, author of the book Why Marry Jewish? The controversy sparked by Kornbluth’s speech, Catholic chaplain Father Cuenin explained, “was a catalyst” for Tuesday’s panel discussion. Cuenin expressed his hopes for the event as two-fold: that the event “would provide information from the three major religious traditions” as well as induce “students to think more about how [interfaith marriage] impacts them.”

”We wanted to put an issue on the agenda which concerns people...but people don’t feel they can have a frank discussion with clergy because they think clergy have fixed opinions,” said Rabbi Frazer. “I like to assume talking about things and thinking is better than assuming.”

The focus of the night dealt primarily with law and practical matters. Each religious figure’s discussion dealt first with the permissibility of intermarriage and then with the pragmatic issues of whether or not he can or is willing to perform an interfaith marriage as well as the difficulties that these couples might face.

For some individuals, learning about different religions’ legal stances on interfaith marriage prompted their attendance. According to Lynn Lohnas ’07, she decided to attend the discussion because she was “curious to see, in the context of other religions, how my religion views [interfaith marriage].”