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Mtl_zack's avatar

Jews: have you/are you planning to intermarry/interrelation?

Asked by Mtl_zack (6751points) September 17th, 2008

my mom talked to me today about finding a jewish girlfriend, but she was stressing the jewish part. what are the pros and cons.

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13 Answers

srmorgan's avatar

Zack this is a minefield, tread lightly….

I find it hard to believe that any Jewish person would conciously go looking for a non-Jewish spouse (although I will qualify this later in this post by describing the Shiksa complex) because we are generally urged to stay within the faith. That is for many reasons: continuity of the family heritage, to please parents and grandparents, it’s what you are used to and frankly the Jewish community is seeing a lot of intermarriage in the last 50 years.
I belonged to one of the “big” Jewish fraternities in the early seventies and a number of my closer friends married out of the faith and their children were not raised as Jews. That is not always the case but it happens often enough to cause some concern.

The Shiksa complex is the unexplainable drive that leads Jewish men to chase tall (or short) blondes (or redheads or brunettes) who are not Jewish. Why? Because they are not Jewish! I think there are a lot of examples in literature that touch on this subject – Portnoy’s Complaint comes to mind – but you might want to wait a few years before taking that book seriously.

I had a spell when I was 29 where I simultaneously dated a blonde girl from Colorado and an Irish girl from upstate NY and then moved on oddly enough to two different women who were raised within 25 miles of the Twin Cities but this all fizzled out after a while.

Try to please your mother, at least at this stage of life, it’s easier all around.

SRM

tinyfaery's avatar

Zack. Are you an adult or a child? Some of your questions imply you think you are an adult, but this question makes me think you are still a child. Are you out to please your mother or yourself? I’ve dated Jews, and know many Jews who date goys.

If you were black/poor/rich/Methodist, etc. would you only date within that stratum?

Mtl_zack's avatar

the thing is, my parents are always saying “we’ll support you in whatever decision you make” or “do whatever makes you happy”. does this apply here? if what makes me happy is a catholic girl, would my parents still approve?

i know there are some complications nowadays about intermarriage, because of the small population of jews. if there was a majority of jews in the world, will this rule still come into effect?

another factor that comes into play is that most of my friends are jewish, and i dont hang out with “my kind” “on purpose” i.e.: i dont participate in hillel, synagogue programs, etc…, and i find the girls who do participate to be snobs and stuck up assholes, and JAPs (jewish american princesses). I dont think i could ever hang out with one of those girls, or her friends, or guys who fit into that category, or their friends. I also think that those hillel groups are just matchmaking devices, which i dont like because i have my own brain, my own heart, and my own soul, and i want to use them the way that i want and the way that makes me happy.

Mtl_zack's avatar

and another thing: even if my kids dont become jewish, i will always be jewish, and i will always consider myself jewish, no matter what. its not like judaism is losing members, its just that judaism isnt gaining any.

augustlan's avatar

From the other side: I was raised a Christian (though I am seriously lapsed), and married a Jewish man. It was a slight concern for his grandparents, but not for anyone else. I think in this day and age we are all much more intermingled, and I don’t think that’s a bad thing. Both of our families and all of our friends learned many new things from “the other side”, which I think improves tolerance of differences in everyone. We have raised our kids with the holidays and traditions of both religions, along with full explanations of the differences between them. When they are old enough to decide for themselves what (if any) religion they want to follow, they can do so. Though we eventually divorced, it had nothing to do with religion. I say follow your heart, wherever it leads.

drhat77's avatar

It’s like i told tinyfairy the other day, if you do somehting because you feel forced, you will hate and regret it. if you marry someone because you feel forced, you will resent her the whole marriage. if you are making a choice that is that important, you should do it because you feel and beleive it is what you want to do. Ain’t that right, tiny?

BTW I am quite Jewish, and support marrying INSIDE the faith – find a nice sephardi girl, they tend to be less JAPish, and also don’t have all those ashkenazi genetic diseases lurking recessively.

srmorgan's avatar

@drhat77

Of course, no one wants to be forced into doing something they don’t want to do in any circumstances, but when dealing with marriage, that is something else again. There is a lot of pressure in Jewish households to stay within the faith.

I don’t see anyone sitting shiva lately when an interfaith marriage occurs as was “supposed” to have occurred in the old day whenever that was, but for some people and for some parents it is a difficult step.

SRM

tinyfaery's avatar

If someone is strong in their faith and their culture (I recognize Judaism as both), why would marrying or fraternizing outside of those things alter their beliefs? Love (if that is what you want to marry for), doesn’t come with labels like Jew or gentile.

augustlan's avatar

@tiny: The concern in Jewish families is that Judiasm may die out (in America) due to inter-marriage. Most children born of inter-faith marriages are not raised as Jews. In fact, in orthodox families they can’t be if the mother is not a Jew by birth.

tinyfaery's avatar

Yeah, I get that. I live in L.A.; lot’s of Jews here. And I agree, most are intermarrying, and rituals are being neglected. But, at the same time, these people still consider themselves Jewish. Maybe the culture is being altered, evolving. Nietzsche called the Jews the true Europeans; they were spread all over the continent; their religion comes from a unique mix of cultures as it is, as do all religions, really.

This is akin to second generation Americans. Most children of immigrants try to minimize their attachment to their parent’s culture; assimilation seems to be very important. Typically, the third generation tries to reclaim some of their heritage, but incorporates it into their chosen culture, thereby, altering tradition, language, beliefs, and creating something new and different all together. It’s cultural evolution. Those imbedded in the culture and religion of the past usually have a hard time seeing all they have known change.

srmorgan's avatar

@tinyfaery and @augustian.

I have noticed that my friends’s children and others of that age (say between 21 and 35) are much more oriented towards Israel than my generation was and they are more obvious about being Jews, look at Heeb magazine and the like.

And there is a very strong concern about how intermarriage reduces the size of the religious Jewish community. The fact is that (again my opinion and observation) less than 50% of intermarriages result in children being raised as Jews. Not observing holidays but being part of the faith.
I don’t want to get anecdotal here but that seems to be the pattern with some of my college friends who intermarried. And that of course is not a reasonable sample against which you can draw a broad conclusion.

It’s a really touchy subject in some quarters and in some quarters people are very open about discussing it.

The thing is, getting back to Zack’s original question, is that I have not experienced many Jews, male or female, who have had intermarriage as an objective in life. It happens sometimes and there is nothing wrong with it. Amor Vincit Omnia.

It’s just something to think about before you jump in with two feet.

SRM

rockstargrrrlie's avatar

I was raised within the Reform Jewish faith, although it certainly can be argued that I’m more culturally Jewish than religious in every area. My parents are both Jewish, were married in a typical Jewish ceremony, and my sister and I both had brit bat ceremonies.

Within my immediate family, we typically only celebrated major holidays (usually only Hanukkah, actually-which isn’t even that major) and went to other more religious relatives homes for Yom Kippur, Passover, etc. I was never bat mitzvahed and only went to Hebrew school after begging my parents to send me at the age of 9.

I went through all of this to say that despite my upbringing my parents were still adamant (when I was young) about me marrying someone who was also Jewish. Over the years, they have become less and less concerned with this issue; especially once they got divorced and both remarried out of faith. My mother would still probably prefer that I married someone Jewish, if only so that my children will be passed on whatever small amount of faith myself or my husband has.

At 23, I’ve dated quite a few people and of my serious relationships, I’ve only had one Jewish boyfriend so I think its safe to say that I’m likely going to be marrying outside of the Jewish faith. Since I don’t have much religious background myself, I can’t imagine that my status as culturally Jewish would be appealing to someone more serious about their religion.

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