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Cissy Houston’s Hate—and Ours

Whitney’s mother to Oprah: Gay is not OK. Is her prejudice any different from ours against intermarriage?

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Oprah Winfrey sits down with Cissy Houston at her home in New Jersey on Jan. 22, 2013. (George Burns/Harpo Inc.)
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If you’re not a Lubavitcher, it’s possible you might have heard of Oprah Winfrey, the Edward the Confessor of the modern age. One day, when the rising waters of New York Harbor finally swamp its barrier islands, I fully expect the rebuilt Lady Liberty gracing the desiccated shores of what once was Manhattan to be fashioned in her likeness, with the poem engraved on the pedestal on which her enormous Louboutin-shod feet rest exhorting the world to give her its housebound, its compulsive, its seekers of absolution, its celebrity hangers-on that have a book to push.

Cissy Houston—mother of the late, great Whitney—belongs to that final category, although you’d hardly know it from the hubbub over her recent sit-down with the Mother Superior herself on Oprah’s Next Chapter. Instead, most of the post-show buzz has concerned Houston mère’s candid, and seemingly unashamed, admission that, well, she’s not super comfortable with gayness.

It came out in response to Oprah’s gentle probing about the nature of the relationship between Whitney—or Nippy, as per the childhood nickname her mother uses to refer to her throughout the interview—and Robyn Crawford, her close friend and rumored lover. Cissy never liked Robyn, she tells Oprah. She was “disrespectful,” and Cissy didn’t approve of her hanging around her daughter. Cissy can’t speak to whether or not things were romantic between them; in her book, she alludes to some unnamed “experimenting” that may have occurred within the bounds of their friendship. But would it bother her if Whitney were gay, Oprah asks, with an encouraging smile.

“Absolutely,” Cissy replies.

You can practically hear the screech as she slams on the brakes. Oprah tries again, perhaps wanting to give this elderly and probably still grieving woman a chance to walk it back. The answer is the same.


It’s a shocking moment in a time when most people have learned to at least avoid airing such noxious feelings in public; and even more so for a figure whose publishers must have given her some media training, considering what particular segment of the book-buying public might get really excited over a tell-all about Whitney Houston. (I’ll give you a hint; if Barbra Streisand had died young and her mother wrote a book about her, they’d have been excited about that too.)

And yet, I have to say, I kind of appreciate her honesty. Of all repugnant, unjustifiable prejudices, homophobia has always puzzled me the most: Why would you possibly care who someone else wants to sleep with? But something about Cissy—a woman whose beliefs remain rooted firmly in the church in which she and Whitney both began their careers—and her lack of embarrassment, her sense of rectitude about what surely she guessed would be, at the very least, an unpopular opinion, felt familiar to me. It reminded me of the attitudes many of us absorbed growing up about the possibility of intermarriage; not so much “marry a Jew or else” but “marry a Jew or we are going to be very unhappy. Marry a Jew or there will be unnamed consequences.” Seen through this lens, homophobia can be understood to be almost tribal. That’s not the sort of thing we do. Other people might be able to tolerate that sort of thing, but not us. That’s not who we are in our tribe.

You’ll forgive me for the Thomas Friedman nonsense talk for a moment, but in this interconnected world (hang on, I’m almost done) it seems like we’re subdividing ourselves more furiously than ever, taking sides over things as innocuous as bike lanes, organic vegetables, and sitcoms created by Chuck Lorre. The Republicans in Congress are against anything the president proposes, no matter if they used to be for it: If his kind of person condones something, their kind of person does not. But this contrarian tribalism—that is, defining yourself almost solely by what you stand against, regardless of reality or facts—still seems to express itself most elementally in questions of love, marriage, and sexual identity, reflecting, perhaps, a certain kind of parent’s deepest anxieties: Will the child go outside the tribe? If she does, have I failed? Have I lost her forever?

Cissy Houston really has lost her daughter, and her refusal, in the face of this, to be able to say, “You know what? I wouldn’t give a damn who Whitney maybe wanted to sleep with, if I could just have one more day with her alive” goes a long way in illustrating just how deeply ingrained these tribal prejudices can be. But in the end, that doesn’t give them validity. Nor is it fair to condemn Houston’s biases without examining our own, whatever they may be. I’m not saying it’s immoral—or even avoidable, if you find yourself so inclined—to demand that your children marry other Jews. Lack of comfort is not the same as hate, and nobody’s talking about disowning anyone or sitting shiva as if they were dead. But it’s not more moral than having a problem with them wanting to marry someone of the same sex, and all the excuses one makes as to why they have to—about religion, about tradition, about continuity—are probably exactly the same ones Cissy Houston makes to herself.

Because that’s all they are, excuses. It’s easy to be sanctimonious about Cissy Houston being pissy about the idea of her daughter being gay, but it’s not really that different, in a sort of tribalist sense, from being upset by the idea of your kid marrying someone who isn’t Jewish. Houston voiced her unequivocal disapproval, and it reminded me of the kind of unequivocal messages a lot of Jewish kids get about marrying out. And Houston is wrong, but so are all the people who demand their children choose partners on the basis of what makes their parents comfortable. A child’s happiness should never be conditional on her parents’ limitations. In both cases—Houston’s prejudice against gays and Jewish prejudice against intermarriage—parents are asking their kids to choose what makes them and their tribe happy, as opposed to what might make the child happy. And that’s not fair. Prejudice is prejudice, even if it’s yours. And the children—who as Nippy sang, are the future, after all—deserve a lot better than that.


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Poupic says:

What a lousy parallel! Not approving of Gays and not approving of Jews marrying non-Jews. Capitaine Riom of the French Salvation Army who hid me during the Shoa wanted me to go to the inauguration of our Synagogue. I wasn’t yet 10 years old and refused to go because by that time alone, my parents deported I could not possibly believe in a God that allowed such things. Capitaine Riom won the debate with this: Jews are like a chain. That chain held for centuries. Do you want to be the link not strong enough to continue that chain?” As a result someone recognized me outside the Synagogue and the connection was made with some remnants of my family. Yesterday we lost fully one third of our nation. Today Iran is planning and declaring often that it aims to destroy Israel. Again fully one third of our nation would be gone. It is a matter of survival. None of my daughters married a Jew! After all those years I wasn’t strong enough not to let the link break.

    Pip Power says:

    YO Poupic,

    God doesn’t believe in Jews!

    Read Torah Exodus 32 and understand why YHWH wanted to wipe the Chosen People off the face of the earth.

    Straight after Passover, the Chosen People had their first Holocaust!


    They burnt their own children in sacrifice to Moloch! There must have been 3000 children offered up as a Holocaust – a burnt offering, to Moloch, because in Exodus 32:28 we read that 3000 of the Israelites were “put to the sword”.

    Now remember, the COVENANT with YHWH is CONDITIONAL!

    See the CONTRACT! Deuteronomy ch 27 & ch 28.



      Poupic says:

      You are very original! Parrotting the church’s garbage for the last 2,000 years. Go away, garbage!

        Pip Power says:

        Neither Judaism or Christendom seems to be aware of what I shared with you!

        Hollywood did a great job in disguising the Holocaust of Israeli children by their parents, by created a mock-up Golden Calf. Moloch DID have a CALF’S HEAD, but it sat on top of a FURNACE.


        The Golden Calf was the idol Moloch. Its head was that of a calf, but its body was a furnace. The FIRST Jewish Holocaust was offered to Moloch right after Passover & if you study Exodus 32, Amos 5
        & the rest of the Jewish Prophets, you will see that Jews Holocausted their children all through Old Testament times. But it gets worse! If you Google Sanhedrin 64a you will read:


        The last Holocaust of Jews was carried out by Nazis, under the instructions of Zionists. They didn’t want millions of OLD, SICK, POOR Polish Jews coming to New Israel, because it would destroy their experiment.


Cool_Romeo says:

This is a bigoted article.

I’m not sure how else to interpret this sentence: “In both cases—Houston’s prejudice against gays and Jewish prejudice against intermarriage—parents are asking their kids to choose what makes them and their tribe happy, as opposed to what might make the child happy.”

Does the author really believe that homosexuality is a “choice” as opposed to innate?

    frusciante says:

    I think you’ve misunderstood what choice the author is referring to. She’s not saying that the children could choose to be gay or straight. But she’s saying that some parents put pressure on a gay child to marry a person of the opposite sex anyway (or just not come out, or pretend to be straight, etc). Happens all the time. It happened to me.

      Pip Power says:


      A Critical View of Orthodox Judaism

      Not Even Discussed In Private Rooms: Childhood Sexual Abuse and Abuse Survivors

      There is a health crisis in this country (as well as worldwide) that adversely affects one-fifth of the US population. Consequences of this crisis manifest in a wide variety of serious disease conditions. Physically it can exhibit as cancer and/or as any number of equally severe mental illnesses. Socially the disease is, in a word, criminality. Costs are estimated at over $100 billion per year, or similar to the annual expense of the war in Afghanistan. Investment in its prevention is estimated at a nickel on every $100 in research, compared to $2 for cancer. (See Note 1)

      Despite considerable attention drawn to this issue this past year — the Surgeon General termed it an “epidemic” well over a decade ago — the crisis was not discussed during the presidential campaign. It remains largely ignored by the Congress (though just prior to adjourning sine die an innocuous bill to evaluate child welfare systems was passed), was unaddressed by the Affordable Care Act, and has been ignored as well to date by the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation. “The leading journal of health policy thought and research,” Health Affairs, has never published on the topic.

      The health crisis is child sexual abuse, which adversely affects the health status of 50 million survivors.

      Beyond the Catholic Church’s continuing inability to address, or indifference to, abuse by thousands of priests over the past fifty years, this year we learned about the cover-up at Penn State. Added to the reality of Jerry Sandusky’s conviction on 45 counts of abuse between 1994 and 2009 is the worry that he may have been abusing boys since the 1970s. We learned of the multi-decade cover-up of abuse at the New York City’s private Horace Mann School. We also learned the Boy Scouts of America secretly held “perversion files” for nearly a century that record sexual abuse accusations against thousands of scout leaders. In October it was revealed a long-time BBC program host, Jerry Savile (now deceased), had engaged in widespread pedophilia involving an estimated 500 children over six decades including children in 14 hospitals and a children’s hospice.

      What Can Be Done?

      Improving reporting and data collection. Despite all this and more, the issue is not discussed in Washington. Unlike Australia’s recent decision to create a royal commission to examine childhood sexual abuse, there is no national dialogue in the United States. One way to start a dialogue would be to realize there is no accurate reporting and data collection concerning child abuse. Child Protective Services investigate a substantial number of maltreated children, but far from all, because of interagency disputes over definitions and jurisdiction. Reporting responsibility, and to whom, is also confused if and when professionals in community institutions — for example day care centers and schools — are involved.

      Added to this are inadequacies in data collection. The Uniform Crime Reports does not provide sufficient details beyond arrests; the National Crime Victimization Survey does not measure crime against children younger than age 12. As for the National Incident Based Reporting System, not all law enforcement agencies and/or states participate.

      Beyond all this, keep in mind an estimated 90 percent of sexual abuses are never reported.

      Strengthening research. Equally underwhelming is research to treat adult survivors of childhood abuse. Anyone familiar with the 1990s ACE (Adverse Childhood Experiences) study is well aware of the long-term health impact of trauma over a person’s lifespan. Because of the prevalence of abuse, there have been calls over the years for the creation of a dedicated NIH Institute named, for example, the Institute of Child Abuse and Interpersonal Violence. Notwithstanding, there is little systematic research in the dissociative disorders. Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID) or Dissociative Disorder Not Otherwise Specified (DDNOS) are some of the most severe mental disorders survivors suffer. These diagnoses are associated with high levels of impairment, high rates of treatment utilization and costs, and can affect as many as 20 percent of psychiatric hospital patients. (See Note 2) That these patients are understudied is explained in part by exclusion criteria used in PTSD treatment studies.

      Studies are also lacking or undermined because the diagnosis and treatment of DID have been under attack over the past twenty years by the highly controversial False Memory Syndrome Foundation. FMSF has been successful despite the fact there is no peer-reviewed clinical literature concerning “false memory syndrome” and that the “syndrome” is not recognized by the American Psychiatric Association in the DSM-IV. Multiple Personality Disorder was recognized in the DMS-III in 1980 and renamed DID in the 1994 DMS-IV.

      Bolstering legal protections for survivors. Thirdly, due in part to the fact psychiatric disability is the most stigmatizing of all disabilities (one poll by the National Organization on Disability showed only 19 percent of Americans are comfortable with people with mental illness), many adult survivors find it difficult if not possible to secure health benefits if and when their mental health disorder becomes known to their employer. Studies show workers with mental health conditions are half as likely to receive accommodations as those with other disabilities, even though accommodations for psychiatric disorders cost very little or nothing in contrast to technological or architectural changes required for other disabilities.

      The 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act required employers to make reasonable accommodations for disabled employees. Subsequent to the law’s passage, the intent of the legislation became narrowed or undermined through several court decisions. The Congress in 2008 again stepped in and enacted the ADA Amendments Act that reinstated or reaffirmed the broad scope of disability protections available under the ADA. Even with the renewed mandate, employees with a mental health diagnosis have a very difficult time being afforded reasonable accommodation, or worse, as numerous EEOC case filings show, lose their job (and of course their health benefits) when their diagnosis becomes known to their employer.

      Where there is a dialogue or an effort to address the crisis is in the realm of window laws for survivors. In most states, abuse victims have a limited period of time, a statute of limitations, to file a civil claim against their predator. For example, in New York a victim would have five years after turning 18 to file for a first degree offense. Other states have recently liberalized these civil laws. For example, in Pennsylvania the age limit for filing child sex abuse cases is 30 for civil cases. Other states, California then Delaware and recently Hawaii, have also created windows of time for victims who had timed out from filing civil claims.

      Some states like New Jersey are considering completely eliminating the time period. In New York, despite a fairly well-publicized effort to extend the statute of limitations, the proposal failed this past year. New York’s failure and the failures in other states have been due largely to efforts by the Catholic Church, as well as ultra-Orthodox Jewish leaders.Though the church did support extending the statute to age 28 in New York, bishops claimed generally the legislation “targeted” the church and would undermine its ability to provide social services. Window legislation has also been proposed but defeated in Colorado, Illinois, Maryland, Ohio, and Washington, DC. (See Note 3)

      Child abuse and its effects on survivors remains our largest public health crisis.

      Some say it may be the country’s last great civil rights issue. The ACE study mentioned above (and still ongoing) found survivors of childhood abuse suffer a long list of illnesses and disabilities. They include excessive rates of alcoholism, cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, depression and other psychiatric disorders, heart and liver disease, illicit drug use, obesity, poor school/work performance, poverty, risky sex and suicide. However, possibly worst of all is the inter-generational transmission of childhood abuse. That there is no national dialogue about any of this is unconscionable. We ignore the crisis at our collective peril.


      Note 1. Regarding the prevalence of sexual abuse see the CDC page. For costs see, for example, the work done by the Edna McConnell Clark Foundation. See “Mental Health, A Report of the Surgeon General.” (1999) For investment in research see for example F. W. Putnam, in The Cost of Child Maltreatment: Who Pays? K. Franey, et al., eds. (Family Violence and Sexual Assault Institute, San Diego) pgs. 185-198.

      Note 2. B. L. Brand, et al. “A Naturalistic Study of Dissociative Identity Disorder and Dissociative Disorder Not Specified Patients Treated by Community Clinicians,” Psychological Trauma: Theory, Research, Policy and Practice,” (2012): 153-171.

      Note 3. “The Children Deserve Justice“, editorial, The New York Times, June 16, 2012 and Laurie Goodstein and Erik Eckholm, “Church Battles Efforts to Ease Sex Abuse Suits,” The New York Times, June 14, 2012.

    Is homosexuality ultimately a “choice”?
    Despite the current Zeitgeist, the answer is yes.
    There is no homosexual “gene”.

arktikwolf says:

Scratch a homophobe, find a closeted, unliberated gay person.

arktikwolf says:

History abounds with examples that it has been quite acceptable for Jews to marry outside the tribe, if the outsider is royalty or just from the moneyed elite.

This is the most lame parallel.
Not wanting your children to marry a non-Jew has nothing to do with having prejudice against non-Jews. It is about the continuity of our people.
As a daughter-in-law of Holocaust survivors I have been very proud to raise 3 Jewish children and I hope that they will continue in the tradition, marry Jews, and have many more Jewish children. I hope that they continue to raise their children to be knowledgeable Jews, unlike the majority of jews in this country who know so little about
the laws, traditions, and culture of Judaism. I hope that they all understand the importance of the State of Israel in our long term survivial.
It is obvious that you have not studied enough history to understand the ramifications of what you wrote. It is a simplistic and foolish analogy.
Like you I am a liberal thinker , who believes in equal rights for all people regardless of Race, religion, or sexuality. Your analysis is not at all about these things. Your sanctioning of intermarriage is the sure recipe for Jewish extinction.

    Exactly right. Simply put, it’s not about hate for non-Jews.

    It’s not about marrying Jews because they are “better” (or conversely, that non-Jews are “worse” or “bad”). It’s not about feeling “super comfortable” around non-Jews. It’s about sustaining Judaism — our traditions, our unique values, our religion, and the “marry a Jew or else” thing is simply about the fears parents have about ours becoming a dying religion. I also think it’s about the fact that we ARE unique in certain ways (not better, different), and parents wanting their children to be happy (the assumption being that we are happy when we are surrounded by people we can best relate to).

    I must say, I find some of Rachel’s analyses to be completely tone deaf. Under the guise of being “progressive” some of her analyses just strike me as dumb.

      Pip Power says:


      And the Jewish Talmud teaches:

      The Talmud specifically defines all who are not Jews as non-human animals. Some Teachings of the Jewish Talmud

      Where a Jew Should Do Evil

      Moed Kattan 17a: If a Jew is tempted to do evil he should go to a city where he is not known and do the evil there.

      Penalty for Disobeying Rabbis

      Erubin 21b. Whosoever disobeys the rabbis deserves death and will be punished by being boiled in hot excrement in hell.

      Hitting a Jew is the same as hitting God

      Sanhedrin 58b. If a heathen (gentile) hits a Jew, the gentile must be killed.

      O.K. to Cheat Non-Jews

      Sanhedrin 57a . A Jew need not pay a gentile the wages owed him for work.

      Jews Have Superior Legal Status

      Baba Kamma 37b. If an ox of an Israelite gores an ox of a Canaanite there is no liability; but if an ox of a Canaanite gores an ox of an Israelite…the payment is to be in full.

      Jews May Steal from Non-Jews

      Baba Mezia 24a . If a Jew finds an object lost by a gentile (“heathen”) it does not have to be returned.

      Jews May Rob and Kill Non-Jews

      Sanhedrin 57a . When a Jew murders a gentile, there will be no death penalty.

      What a Jew steals from a gentile he may keep.

      Baba Kamma 37b. The gentiles are outside the protection of the law and God has “exposed their money to Israel.”

      Jews May Lie to Non-Jews

      Baba Kamma 113a. Jews may use lies (“subterfuges”) to circumvent a Gentile.


      Non-Jewish Children are Sub-Human

      Yebamoth 98a. All gentile children are animals.

      Abodah Zarah 36b.

      Gentile girls are in a state of niddah (filth) from birth.

      Abodah Zarah 22a-22b . Gentiles prefer sex with cows.

      Yebamoth 63a. Declares that agriculture is the lowest of occupations.

      Yebamoth 59b. A woman who had intercourse with a beast is eligible to marry a Jewish priest. A woman who has sex with a demon is also eligible to marry a Jewish priest.

      Hagigah 27a. States that no rabbi can ever go to hell.

      Baba Mezia 59b. A rabbi debates God and defeats Him. God admits the rabbi won the debate.

      Gittin 70a. On coming from a privy (outdoor toilet) a man should not have sexual intercourse till he has waited long enough to walk half a mile, because the demon of the privy is with him for that time; if he does, his children will be epileptic.

      Menahoth 43b-44a. A Jewish man is obligated to say the following prayer every day: “Thank you God for not making me a gentile, a woman or a slave.”

        the talmud is not the torah. and you are an idiot.

          Pip Power says:


          The Talmud is Judaism’s holiest book (actually a collection of books). Its authority takes precedence over the Old Testament in Judaism. Evidence of this may be found in the Talmud itself, Erubin 21b (Soncino edition):

          “My son, be more careful in the observance of the words of the Scribes than in the words of the Torah (Old Testament).”

          Jewish scholar Hyam Maccoby, in “Judaism on Trial,” quotes Rabbi Yehiel ben Joseph:

          “Further, without the Talmud, we would not be able to understand passages in the Bible … God has handed this authority to the sages and tradition is a necessity as well as scripture. The Sages also made enactments of their own … anyone who does not study the
          Talmud cannot understand Scripture.”

          The Talmud (and not the Scriptures) is the legal/canonical text
          which obligates those who follow the Jewish religion. It is from the Talmud that laws, regulations, and world views are drawn. In practice, the everyday life of the modern religious person is drawn and influenced by the Talmud.

        You are either an uneducated dolt copying and pasting from some anti-Semitic website, or you are deliberately misleading people; which is it?

        The Talmud is a collection of debates on various topics spanning hundreds of years and over 5000 pages. You can’t pluck a quote out of the Talmud and say Judaism teaches that anymore than you can take a quote from a political debate and say Americans believe that.

        Furthermore, many of the quotes you give that sound incriminating out of context are motivated often motivated by humanitarian or universalist impulses, given the time period. If your ancestors had been able to read and write 2000 years ago, imagine what they might have put down in writing.

      neils60 says:

      Dan, You nailed it, as your final sentence sums up the entire article.

        Pam Green says:

        Not just dumb, unfortunately. It’s offensive, starting with the provocative title, “Cissy Houston’s Hate..” Rachel (or is that Lady Gaga of the literary world?) will do anything for attention, even rip into a grieving mother, who lost her daughter less than a year ago under the most suspicious circumstances. Rachel has no shame or class.

    Pip Power says:





The comparison of gay marriage and inter-marriage omits a very important distinction. Gay marriage does not lead to children and descendants ( except by adoption, which could occur without marriage). Inter-marriage, typically, leads to your children and even more so, your future descendants out of Judaism!

    oaklandj says:

    Wow. What a stupid comment. So you need marriage for straight couples to have children and descendants?

Robert Kaiser says:

Being against intermarriage isn’t prejudice against gentiles. Jews have the right to marry who they wish to marry, just like anyone else. It’s a free country.

Falsely claiming that it is “prejudice”, however, is anti-Semitism. Shame on you
for spreading hatred and lies about Jews on the internet.

Wanting to marry someone who share’s your faith and values, and who wants to
raise children in the same way that one was raised, is not “hatred” or “prejudice”. A Jewish person who wants to raise Jewish children is not a “bigot”.

Only a Nazi could write such hatespeech…oh…wait. I almost forgot. You see, I researched Nazism and Antisemitism about ten years ago..and found this exact same statement that you presented. Yes, “White Pride” and “Aryan Nation” websites use this same, tired canard as “proof” that Jews are all racist.

Anyone who researches this issue will find the same quotes, and arguments…from Nazis (literally. This is not ad homenim.)

But to see it here? On a Jewish website, slanderously spewing hatespeech towards Jews? How dare you.

    Pip Power says:


    Racism was invented by the Jewish Priest/scribe Ezra!

    Ezra & Hitler are in total agreement

    “it was against the will of the Eternal Creator. . .Nations that make mongrels of
    their people or allow their people to be turned into mongrels sin against the
    Will of Eternal Providence.”

    Mein Kampf, p. 186 .. . p.162

    The Book of Ezra is the Mein Kampf of the Bible

    In 587 B.C. Jerusalem was conquered by the Babylonians.
    The town and the Temple were razed to the ground and the Jewish people were exiled to the land of their captors. But fifty years later Cyrus, King of Persia, conquered the conquerors and established his own rule in Babylon.
    He was well-disposed toward the Jewish people living there and issued an edict
    allowing them to return to their own country. But not everyone wanted to go.

    Although the siege of Jerusalem had been brutal, once the people were settled in their land of exile, living conditions kept improving. Ultimately, they were given the opportunity to become contributing members of the Empire and encouraged to retain their own Jewish culture. By the time Cyrus came to power, the majority of Jewish people did not want to exchange a prosperous lifestyle for the uncertainty of returning to a country that had been lying in ruins for half a century. But they were quite generous in their financial and moral support of those who were willing to go back and resettle their homeland.

    When the first group of exiles arrived back in Jerusalem, circa 537 B.C., they found things were even worse than expected. The countryside was desolate and rebuilding loomed as a monumental task. And other problems faced the returnees. They had come back ready to reclaim Jerusalem and institute their own agenda. But when they arrived they found that the ruins of the city were inhabited by the descendants of poor peasants who had hidden out in the hills during the Babylonian siege. They had escaped capture while the wealthy merchants, landowners and priests who had substantial lands and other holdings, had been rounded up and deported by their conquerors.

    During the years of Exile, the peasants left behind had made a life for themselves that centered around Jerusalem. They built homes for their
    families and for many years had eked out a living in the barren countryside.
    And during those years, the peasant survivors of the southern kingdom of Judah had made common cause with those left alive after the takeover of the northern kingdom of Israel. The bitter rivalry that had once divided the Jewish tribes had been healed by the misfortunes they suffered and by the need for mutual aid if any of them were going to survive.

    But those who first returned from Babylonian Exile, under the leadership of the High Priest Jeshua, had nothing but contempt for those who had been left behind. They were considered ignorant; the dregs of society, because without the leadership of the exiled priests and scribes, they would not have properly fulfilled the religious rules and regulations that were supposed to govern daily life. Therefore, they were ritually unclean and were to be shunned. Of course, ritual impurity can be remedied over a period of time by observing every jot and title of the Law but this remedy was not applied to those who had been left behind. Their impurity stemmed from intermarriage with mixed-race Jews. They had mixed the pure blood line of Abraham through intermarriage with those of impure lineage and their offspring had been contaminated.

    So, although the resident survivors around Jerusalem thanked God for the
    return of the Exiles and wanted to help them rebuild the Temple site, they were not allowed to do so.

    They presented themselves to Jeshua and other leaders saying

    “We would like to build with you, for we seek your God as you do and we have sacrificed to him since the time of Esarhaddon”

    Their offer was refused, they were unworthy; unclean.
    They reacted to this bigotry by harassing the returnees as they undertook the
    reconstruction of the Temple.

    If it’s prejudice when a Christian says he doesn’t want his daughter to marry a Jew, it’s equally bigoted when a Jew says he doesn’t want his daughter to marry a Christian. Don’t give me any of this crap about “continuity.” That’s very much like saying “preserving the Jewish race” but in a very slightly more euphemistic tone.
    Kaiser, you’re a hypocrite.

Rachel, not everything is like everything else, and in particular not everything is like something (usually to be considered reprehensible) that Jews do. A genuinely tolerant reading of Whitney’s mother’s comments is that she answered Oprah’s question honestly. People are entitled to their religious beliefs (which, I am guessing, drove her comments) even if they ruffle the feathers of those of us who think, like you, that we should not care who sleeps with whom. We should hope she is no position to apply her beliefs in ways that cause harm to anyone alive (she was speaking about her daughter).

Caramia999 says:

Well, Guest, as much as we might like our children to marry other jews, this is not happening with anywhere near the frequency that it used to. Jewish men increasingly and quite deliberately look elsewhere for wives, so Jewish women must adapt. Sorry, just the way it is. And to say, as many do, that Jewish women are “fussy” is repellant. Plenty of my daughters’ friends have married non-Jews but so have their brothers. Both of my girls have found that Jewish guys have preferences that exclude them because they are Jewish. So rather than be excluded from marriage and having a family, the girls look elsewhere too. And I say, good for them! The onus on marrying other jews has always fallen disproportionately on women, or perhaps women have been more worried about the “consequences” than men are.

As for the state of Israel being important, I could not agree more. But once again, most jews do not vote pro-Israel despite their alleged feelings on the topic. I say “alleged” as if you refuse to care about the current state of American policy toward Israel and assume that all will be well “on account of because”, you really don’t care a whit. To complain about Hagel, when one voted for the Obama of Susan Rice or Samantha Power, speaks volumes about delusion.

Yehudi says:

The author actually has it right in one sense. Homosexuality and intermarriage parallel in that they are both clearly forbidden in the Torah. The Creator of the universe gave us instructions for life in this world (for Jews and non-Jews). The seven laws of the bnei Noach are for the non-Jews to live by. He also gave us free will to choose life or death (this is a figurative statement)as; G-d implores us to “choose life,” to live according to his Divine plan, not ours.

Keshet follower says:

What I don’t understand about this whole post is its assumption that all Jews, unlike Whitney’s mom, are supercool with GLBTQ matters and particularly in their responses to their own children coming out. Are you seriously suggesting that there aren’t thousands and thousands of, even otherwise liberal, Jewish parents who struggle with their kids’ non-normative sexual and gender identities?

“But would it bother her if Whitney were gay, Oprah asks”.

“Yes” would appear to be a reasonable answer.

By every quantitative standard, the homosexual lifestyle is more difficult and troublesome (and not just because of the prejudice of others).

DRT Goodman says:

Well said.

“What a sad era when it is easier to smash an atom than a prejudice.”
― Albert Einstein

Madonnna says:

I agree wholeheartedly with Cissy Houston. She is not a homophobe but a Christian and is holding to her beliefs in what G-d has said about homosexuals. And she finds that in the Jewish portion of the Bible. She is only following the teachings of G-d. Her dislike is not toward the individual but to the lifestyle they have chosen which is totally against everything God desires. You can justify it away with all they psychobabble you want, but it is still sin and Cissy Houston knows that and will not compromise her beliefs to please someone else.

The issue of intermarriage is, as most readers note, NOT one of prejudice. It is one of two competing “goods”–Amerticanism and Judaism. On the one hand, we raise our children in a democracy, where democratic values require us to judge everyone as an individual and not by the group they belong to. On the other hand, we raise our children to be Jews and to care about preserving and passing on (and, with good fortune, adding to) the Jewish tradition–which requires marrying a Jew (or a person who at least supports our Judaism) so that we add new Jews to the world. When it comes to love and marriage, this is one of those rare instances when our American values and our Jewish values come in conflict. Which value our children give priority to in choosing a spouse will help define which identity they experience more strongly.

disqus_po54wgRAOl says:

For the record, perhaps the perspective on intermarriage needs to change from seeing it all as Jews marrying out. We need to see it as nonJews marrying in and make room in the community for all would cast their lot with the Jewish people.

Rabbi Kerry Olitzky, Executive Director

Jewish Outreach Institute

    We could, except that most of the time, statistically, descendants of intermarried couples are less attached to Judaism than descendants of those with two Jewish parents.

    As a man who married out, all I can say to you, Rabbi, is Bravo!

There aren’t going to be any Jews left in the United States without that “prejudice”. It comes down to pride in culture. Also, no one is born intermarrying.

yaakovwatkins says:

Why should I care when someone uses heroin? Because it’s bad for them and society in my opinion.

I think homosexual behavior is bad for the participants and also for society. I could explain why, but that is not the point.

Now, given my beliefs, should I support the legalization of heroin?

When my children do things which I think are not good for them, I try to help them find a better path.

The idea of family obligations has become unpopular in the US. It’s the idea that we have obligations and privileges because of who our parents are.

If you don’t believe in it, then then you believe that every child should have to qualify for American citizenship. If we believe that babies born in the US have some kind of magical right to benefits which we don’t believe that babies born in Ethiopia have, then you should not allow your child to use up resources which could be used by Ethiopian babies.

If you do believe that babies born in the US have privileges and responsibilities that children born in other places in the world don’t have, then conceptually you can believe that babies born of Jewish mothers have special rights and responsibilities.

    arktikwolf says:

    There are heroin users in the upper classes with good incomes, homes and families who have regular and nutritious meals and good hygiene. They do not need to commit crimes to maintain their habit. They have access to quality product (not street drugs), are meticulous in their dosage, so as not to risk over-dosing and lead productive lives. Your doctor may be one.

      yaakovwatkins says:

      You are absolutely right. I maintain my position that the regular use of mind altering addictive substances is bad for people.

Ho Kat says:

just as Eric explained I’m stunned that a person can get paid $5712 in a few weeks on the computer. have you read this site link big44.comONLY

Pam Green says:

Yuck. Out of 32 comments thus far, not a single one criticized Rachel for her treatment of Cissy Houston. “It’s easy to be sanctimonious about Cissy Houston…” Rachel wrote. Easy for you, Rachel! Why? “Cissy Houston really has lost her daughter.” No kidding, and it hasn’t even been a year! Shouldn’t that make you hesitate to preach to her and insult her? You write, “…celebrity hangers-on that have a book to push. Cissy Houston – mother of the late, great Whitney—belongs to that category.” How dare you, you f*cking bitch!


People being shocked because mum doesn’t want her baby to be gay!


God, I’m happy my kids ain’t gay. You know why?

Gays die younger. Of worse diseases. They are more unhappy than hetero’s. They have problems with long term bonding. Domestic violence is MUCH worse with gays. Promiscuity among them is simply dangerous. Sexually transmittable diseases, including all sorts of nasty anal stuff, much worse among them. Stats show they feel more lonely and isolated (because they don’t have a family). Kids forced to live with them show development disorders and are unhappy to not live with a mum and dad (because both sexes have something unique to offer).

God, you people suck with your political correctness

    Oh, I forgot: the homosexual agenda is being pushed by the monied elites because they want us useless eaters to breed less.

    You know?

    Time to wake up?

    hahahahaha, you soulless critters

In Tablet, the invidious comparison between a (gentile) woman who thinks homosexuality is perverse and the Jewish imperative to marry one’s own finds a happy home. The question is, do the Jews really need yet another left-liberal dispenser of sophomoric malice and confusion? The answer is no.

God what a bunch of bigots this forum actually has! Wake up people!


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Cissy Houston’s Hate—and Ours

Whitney’s mother to Oprah: Gay is not OK. Is her prejudice any different from ours against intermarriage?

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