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The Intermarriage Handbook [Paperback]

Judy Petsonk
2.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Oct. 11 1990

The Intermarriage Handbook is a comprehensive, immensely practical self-help book for interfaith couples. Judy Petsonk and Jim Remsen interviewed hundreds of experts: psychologists, family therapist, sociologists, religious leaders--and especially the couples themselves. They discovered that the cultural differences between Christians and Jews are as significiant as their religious upbringings. Even if husband and wife are not practicing a faith, they may be feeling the strain of being in an interfaith relationship.

Filled with true-life anecdotes and useful step-by-step suggestions for a relationship at any stage, The Intermarriage Handbook is a book that couples can turn to again and again--for help with the questions that matter most.

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Product Description


"The Intermarriage Handbook will become a well-thumbed companion for prospective marriage partners." -- --Gael Garmire, Christian Century

"Every chapter bristles with practical psychological information." -- --Winston Pickett, Northern California Jewish Bulletin

Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Good book, but with some serious weak spots. Aug. 22 2000
By A Customer
On my engagement to a Jewish man, I found myself plowing through one badly written, biased book on intermarriage after another. This book was one of the only ones so far that was even worth checking out from the library! It is comprehensive- it doesn't dwell on the "December Dilemma" or in-laws to the exclusion of all else like so many others do, for instance. I appreciated the way the authors presented several possible solutions to each dilemma rather than just one or two- this was *very* helpful and often thought-provoking. My SO and I had some good discussions based on this book.
The major weakness of the book was its insistence on treating stereotypes about Jews, Irish, Italians, etc. as sociological facts. This offended me at first, but as I read more, it simply amused me and made me giggle at how inaccurate it was. I am Irish/Native American, for instance, but my personality type and that of my immediate family is more like the book's description of Italians and Jews than the book's description of Irish or WASPs. My fiance, a Jew, is a classic WASP by their description, and so is his family! What is the use of throwing these stereotypes around? I am not a feisty Ice Princess and he is not Woody Allen, for Pete's sake! I was also disappointed that there was nothing about ethnic groups other than white, also. A Black/Jewish couple encounters some special challenges in our society, for instance.
All in all, the book was good, but had some major flaws. Still, I would recommend it, as it is better than most of its type.
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By A Customer
I think that I have read all the books on intermarriage that have appeared in the past decade or so. The Intermarriage Handbook is by far the best. It is well written, nondoctrinaire, full of useful information and resources, and extremely practical and realistic in its approach. The authors' general point of view appears to be that intermarriage cannot be wished away. It is a reality. Therefore the most important thing is to enable interfaith couples who are contemplating marriage or who are married to think through the issues they will be or are facing, to see the variety of possible solutions, and to make decisions that are realitistic and reflect their own spiritual values. Relatives of interfaith must also be enabled to go through a similar process.
This is an empowering book. Petsonk and Remsen do not try to coerce their readers into a particular set of decisions. They try to provide information, tools, and resources to help their readers make their intelligent and spiritually satisfying choices.
Part of what is useful and interesting about the book is the richness of description of the actual experiences of interfaith couples and their families. The authors claim to have interviewed hundreds of couples and the book reflects that research.
I understand that this book is widely used by rabbis and ministers who counsel interfaith couples and also as a resources for conversion classes. Although I have no first hand experience, it seems to me likely to be well suited to that purpose, as well as for individual reading.
I especially liked the authors' emphasis on the ethnic and cultural differences that intermarried couples face, as well as religious differences.
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4.0 out of 5 stars candid advice from both sides June 11 2001
this is the only book of the 5 that i have read which provided candid advice about the possible ups and downs of creating an interfaith family. admirably, it goes to decent length explaining the psychological development of children and the role religion and G-d plays in that development. then the book explains inter- and mono-faith family options through the lens of child development. thus, i gained a perspective on the pros & cons of interfaith issues from a tangible perspective which only this book has provided. this is not to say the authors have written a formal paper on early childhood development. rather, they have applied a useful and practical lens to issues which are broadly addressed from moral or anecdote-based perspectives.
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1.0 out of 5 stars Avoid May 20 1999
By A Customer
We both found this book to be distasteful - the stereotypes (Jews passionate and intelligent, Christians cold and distant) were rampant and ridiculous. Since the time when you are looking for interfaith advice may find you particularly vulnerable to this weirdness, I would avoid this book. We couldn't find any authors' credentials for dispensing thier opinions/advice, either.
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