elephant_in_the_room.jpgA recent op-ed in the Jpost proposes a new solution to address the American Jewish community’s elephant in the room: Intermarriage.

The first half of the article bemoans those named “Cohen and Friedman marrying McCarthys or O’Connors, instead of each other,” and calls it a “crisis of unprecedented proportions, one that will only worsen over time if drastic steps aren’t taken, and soon.”

So what might these drastic steps look like? Obviously, another free trip to Israel.

Looking at the “success” of Taglit-birthright israel, the author, Michael Freund, suggests the following:

The idea is very simple: the American Jewish community would give every Jew who ties the knot a free 10-day trip to Israel to be used within the first year of marriage.

All American Jews, regardless of whom they marry, would be eligible to participate, with the goal being to spark their interest in all things Jewish as they set out to build a family.

First of all, the “success” of Taglit-birthright israel is a tricky question. Surely “success” should not be based on attendance, for if I was giving away free 10 day trips to Cancun to all Jewish college students, I’m sure my program would be a huge success as well. To the best of my knowledge, there have been no independently funded studies measuring how many birthright alumni are compelled to marry Jewish or live more Jewish lives because of the program.

Nonetheless, while Freund’s idea for this last-ditch attempt at saving the American Jewish soul is sweet, it is a band-aid solution at best. A connection to Israel does not a Jewish identity make. Why not propose a solution which not only addresses the problem closer to the root, but gives individuals the tools needed in order to know how to build a Jewish household?

The money he proposes the “American Jewish community” ponies up to pay for this would be far better spent making full time Jewish education affordable for all who want it, thus instilling a sense of why one would want to marry a Jew, rather than simply rewarding those who might do so latter in life.

Only a fraction of American Jewish Youth have a Jewish education that extends beyond Bar and Bat Mitzvah age. Just as we start shaping our identities, personal values and world view, the voice of Jewish wisdom is pulled out of our lives. My experience with birthright groups tells me that the majority of the participants lead Jewishly ambivalent lives not so much out of choice but out of ignorance. That is the real problem and another trip to Israel is not going to change it.

So how do we really fight intermarriage?

People say you can’t choose who you love. This is only true to a point. I’ve never seen a girl accustomed to a upper class kind of life fall in love and marry a nice boy struggling to make ends meet while living in his parents basement.

No matter how cute he might be, she will have made a decision, consciously or not, to only pursue relationships with men who can provide her with the kind of lifestyle she wants.

So too with Judaism. If Judaism is important to you, not just as a latent sense of “heritage” but as a daily lifestyle choice, influencing where you live, work, volunteer, give charity to, the books you read, the news you watch, what and where you choose to eat, your sexual ethics, your value system, what you’re doing Saturday afternoon, your daily, weekly and yearly life rhythm, then you will naturally seek relationships with partners who can share in, and provide you with, the kind of lifestyle you’ve chosen.

If Judaism is important to you, it may or may not dictate who you marry. If Judaism is a vital and daily part of your life, it probably will.

Israel is not a magic bullet. Ten fun-filled days can no more repair a relationship between a Jew and Judaism than it could between an long time absentee father and child.

About the author

Laya Millman

141 Comments

  • Addressing intermarriage is something that needs to start in high school – not in college, not post graduation. If Jewish kids in public schools (i say public schools because I’m assuming the kids with day school education are a smaller percentage of those who intermarry) discover why Judaism is important to them, they’ll have a stronger foundation for reltaionship criterion when they get to college.

    JSU (Jewish Student Union) is a program that I head up in Chicago that attempts to address this problem. We have advisors that go into public high schools after the bell has rung, bring pizza, and lead discussions on anything from Borat/Sacha Baron Cohen to the existence of God.

    In our short tenure, we have really seen good results in terms of “connectivity” after high school….

  • A connection to Israel does not a Jewish identity make. Why not propose a solution which not only addresses the problem closer to the root, but gives individuals the tools needed in order to know how to build a Jewish household?

    This comes to my thesis and why I started the Jew blog thing in the first place. We need to identify problems that are problems to the people that funders are not. Israel is a wonderful and beautiful place. But it isn’t where American Jews live. (duh) JSUs -see above- and youth groups of all kinds really are the most important aspects of cultivating Jewish life.

    NFTY, USY, BBYO or any of the other liberal youth groups are going to be instrumental to ensure the future of the Jewish people, not free trips to Israel. I never got to go cause I went in NFTY. I was committed enough to have my rents fork over big money for me to spend time in Israel.

    Did Israel affect me? Yes but it did not an identity make.

    Nicely put Laya

  • Brad,

    Your program sounds wicked interesting (no idea why I just broke into my non-existant New England accent). How can I get more information about the program, I would love to get involved in some capacity.

  • Hi Adam,

    Thanks for your interest – we are really doing some incredible things. We have established partnerships with all the major players in the youth group sphere from all denominations (NCSY, USY, BBYO, NFTY, Young Judea) and the goal is eventually that if a kid is interested in exploring their Judaism, that we get them in touch with whatever will pique their interests; if they are politically minded we’ll hook them up with AIPAC, if they are more volunteer oriented we’ll send them to the Federation’s soup kitchen, etc.

    This is a completely non-threatening or pressured environment with ulterior motives or agendas (other than to get each Jewish kid that comes through that door interested in who they are). Whether a kid winds up geting involved with NCSY and goes to every Shabbaton, or a kid goes to BBYO dances and meets a few new Jewish friends, those are both victories for us.

    you can check out the website at http://www.jsu.org, or just send me an email at

    brad (at) jsu (dot) org

  • I find the whole idea of eliminating intermarriage horrifically creepy. Doesn’t this sound like some kind of “purification of the race” thing…?

    If a Jew chooses to marry another Jew, fine. If they choose to marry a non-Jew, fine. But trying to influence their decision in order to “fight intermarriage”? Creepy, weird, scary, way too controlling.

  • RJG…

    The problem is that the numbers are startling, of the destructive results of intermarriage for the Jewish community. And if we believe that it is important for our people to exist well into the future, we would be entirely negligent to not do something. Just as the forces of assimilation reach out in innumerable ways, so must we as a community reach out just to at least spark a dialogue.

  • RJG – You would be right if some kind of “purification of the race” is the goal, but it’s not.

    First of all, because Jews are not a race. We are simply a subsect of the human species with a distinct history and culture.

    If someone is telling you to marry a Jew just because, then it is probably based on some chauvinistic perspective of what Judaism is.

    If someone tells you to marry someone who wants to live a similar kind of lifestyle as you, and that lifestyle is a vibrantly Jewish one, because you feel there is value and wisdom in it, well, that’s just common sense.

  • ok, call Muffti an asshole, but why is it important that our people last well into the people? Muffti likes his people, is not observant but lieks the structure and ritual, but truthfully he can’t help but thinking that just as we don’t aim to spread Judaism out to current people who aren’t jewish, why shoudl we try to spread it out to future people? In any case, isn’t it heretical to think that the jewish peopel could be copmletely destroyed or undone?

    There’s no real substantial fear religiously of this happening Mufti takes it. and there is no obvious religious problem if our ranks shrink. So let’s be hoenst: there is basically a political problem: we don’t have a voting base or a charitable base or a base with interest in Israel if we keep up like this. But given that it is a political problem, rather than a religious one, why should people who aren’t exctie about judaism or care more for their spouse than their religion, care about your politics?

  • RJG, it is not about controlling, but we are talking about people who have had no exposure of any kind to Judaism. SO the opposite is true. it is controlling to NOT give them some exposure to Judaism.

    Even though historically, intermarriage is inevitable, why do we think we can make any changes now?

    I don’t think anyone thinks they can make substantial changes, but we have a principal of to save one, you have saved the world.

    Maybe the Moshiach would be born this way.

  • Muffti doesn’t mean to. But it’s hard to purge the 1st person, and he doesn’t mind using ‘we’ as the sort of Muffti + you guys.

    Thanks for asking!

    and muffti meant to say ‘future’ rather than ‘people’ in the second instance in the frist sentence.

  • Muffti – we’ve agreed before that Jewish survival needs to be more about quality than quantity. Who cares how many of us there are if we suck?

    Neither of us believe in survival for it’s own sake.

    As I said above, the only compelling reason to marry another Jew is if you find Judaism to be a force that heavily influences your lifestyle and value system. In that case, it only makes sense to marry someone else with compatible a lifestyle and value system.

    I also find that when Jews learn more about Judaism, they generally want to do more Jewishly. Hence better education to eliminate ignorance and allow Jews to make those kinds of decisions more honestly.

    Is it important for Judaism to last into the future? Depends what it looks like. If it is predominately a force for good in the world and for the individual, politically, culturally, ethically and spiritually, then yes. If not, then I can’t think of a compelling reason why it would be.

    But I don’t agree that it’s solely a political reason.

  • Laya, Muffti agrees: he wasn’t attacking you. there may be some reasons to think that a greater number of people is good, even if they mostly suck: after all, more people = more money for israel, more money to pay for programs for the people that don’t suck…Muffti just thinks that largely teh reasons have nothing to do with a real fear of ‘dying out’ and everything to do with politics. And no one is being very honest about that in this debate. But maybe he’ wrong and was curious to see what others hve to say.

  • Although I personally was blow away and irrevocably changed by visiting Israel, I wonder if traveling to Israel might turn some people off from being more Jewish. I know that people reading this might gasp. But the more I learn about Israel by direct experience or by book knowledge the more I see a disorganized corrupt messy place that feels, in some ways; a lot less Jewish than I was lead to belive. But I don’t want to argue about here versus there, that is not the point. The point is that I am not certain that traveling and seeing Israel will bring you closer to your “roots” than visiting Lithuania, Poland and the Ukraine (in my case). No one in my family has been living anywhere near Israel in at least 500 years. Kiev is still alive in my grandmother’s stories, not Jerusalem. In fact visiting Eastern Europe was equally meaningful when compared to Israel.

    I have to say it; visiting Jerusalem was a deeply troubling experience for me. It symbolized everything we were taught not to do and it is a fucking mess. If G-d gave us that land we are certainly not keeping it clean. The North was so much more soulful and I could walk around up there for months. I would rather Israel give up dominion over Jerusalem before giving back The Golan.

    Anyway, what I think is facing Jews is not physical. It is mental. We are keepers of one of the world’s oldest and most magnificent traditions of philosophical and ethical practice. Why is that not cool to people? Everything is either a derivative, a rip off, or a case of convergent evolution. The way to teach kids to love being Jews is to show them what a marvelous wealth of information this is. I don’t need to do yoga because my proprioceptive exercises for the day are covered by tefillin. I don’t need to listen to Oprah about taking a break from the hectic day and reflect, that is what ma’ariv is for. I don’t need to listen to speeches about the searching for a deeper meaning in life. I have it all spelled out for me already! The legacy includes social action and the imperative towards it. We need to impress upon kids that they can be active and changing the world one interaction at a time. No lofty goals needed, just pick up trash in a park, help feed the homeless, etc… And point out how these things are related.

    My list goes on and on. But the coolest part is that me great-great-great-great-great-great-grandfather knew the same rules and used them to prosper.

    But see none of this will happen, because the fact of the matter is that it is easy to be non-Jewish, being Jewish means work and no one likes to work.

  • Laya and Mufti…

    Entirely agree with both of your perspectives. I suppose I should have been explicit in stating that survival of peoplehood is incumbent upon the assumption that is a worthy goal, and that our peoplehood is a source of positivity to the world. An assumption that I (for positive reasons) take for granted.

  • The money he proposes the “American Jewish community” ponies up to pay for this would be far better spent making full time Jewish education affordable for all who want it…

    To the best of my knowledge, jewish education is already available to all who want it, sometimes freely. Isn’t the real problem that many jews just don’t want it? A quote comes to mind: “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink”.

  • What a dumb idea to stop inter marriage.Thank you for being so diplomatic laya. Does this guy work fora travel company?

    And of course the numbers are staggering.

    But why bring non Jews to Israel, sothey can visit Nazarath?

  • Rabbi Yonah-

    I think you are kinda missing the point. The idea is that, like the omni-Jew creator birthright/taglit/etc, this nuptial-right program would not allow for adults to do anything outside of the tour… Brain washing to create more Jewish babies…there would even be time for that. If they find time of birthright I am sure there will be time on nuptial-right.

    But really folks let us look to the Boston Study that show us the best news we have seen in years; Outreach to interfaith couples works. Making people feel welcome and part of a caring community works. Sending people half-way around the world to the core of three religions isn’t going to create community, it is going to create jet-lagged newly weds.

  • No Yoni, there are very real dificulties to get a scholarship.

    It does depend on the school.

    When I needed help, one school was very good to us, but the other basically said no way Jose.

  • i agree that for the American Jewish community there are higher priorities than honeymoons in Israel. I can well understand though, that an ISRAELI sees attachment to Israel as more fundamental to diaspora Jewish identity than say, keeping shabbat.

  • Yoni, I have to back up SR on this one. Lots of my C Jewish friends couldn’t go to Solomon Schechter schools growing up because their parents couldn’t afford to send all of their children. Much more money needs to be spent on Jewish education, whether its K-12 schooling, youth groups, or after-school programs.

    Rabbi Yo, whaddaya say if the program Laya describes is modified to only allow intermarried couples, where the wife is Jewish? 😉

  • Just to set the record straight, birthright israel (known as Taglit in Israel) – IS TOO a magic bullet. THERE HAVE TOO been very careful studies done, and it is VERY EFFECTIVE in making bloodless, asleep Jews into awake ones, with pride, and beating hearts, who go on to have happy lives, married to other Jews.

    Don’t send in a flood of exceptions! Of course, nothing works for absolutely everybody. But it IS amazingly effective.

    Just had to set you lot straight.

  • They can’t use capital letters in the name, because they were legally challenged by another group, already called “birthright something”, not sure what.

  • Hey Mom-

    If you show me the study that is done by anyone besides Hillel or birthright funders, I will take what you say as fact. But until then I will stick with the fact that birthright, while a wonderful program with fantastic side-effects- is not as powerful of a tool as everyone(*) says.

    *Hillel, Taglit etc

  • Nobody but them bothers to study it. But they would not want to waste their money, right? They are not selling anything. They are spending. So, they want to see, accurately, if it is working. It is of no interest to anybody but them. It is not owed to the public. It’s THEIR money.

    WHO does not know of cases?

    But I don’t want to hijack this thread.

    Stay with the intermarriage thing.

  • This discussion is making me itch. Most of you are missing the salient points. It is not intermarriage that is hurting “the Jewish People”, it is the lack of the relevance of Judaism to so many that is causing intermarriage. You keep putting the cart before the horse…

    I speak from experience: I intermarried. But I also got mixed up with some people who embraced our family as a valuable asset to the faith. As a result, my husband converted, we had a halachic kiddushin, our kids all go to Jewish schools and we’re big supporters of living a vibrant Jewish life. If it worked for us, it can work for others.

    But welcoming people back into the fold isn’t as easy as just sending them on a vacation. Because once the honeymoon ends, they’re still left with the same spouse, the same community, the same life. There needs to be a support network.

    When we first started dipping our toes into observance, we lived in a palace in WASP-land. Which meant that while we had the joy of Shabbat in our home, we had no guests. At least none that came back twice (OMG!- they said brachot before and after meals!!! They must be fanatics! Grab the kids and run for your lives!)

    Now we live in a great community, with great people and a fine shul. Being Jewish isn’t a big deal- it’s just something we are- actively. My kids’ friends are of many faiths, but they feel a special bond with the observant Jewish ones (they all now go to Jewish dayschools, btw).

    If more people could see this side of Judaism instead of the side I saw growing up- lavish B’nei mitzvot- heavy on the bar and light on the mitzvah, obsession with lox, bagels and Fiddler on the Roof but no idea about anything else… you wouldn’t be able to keep ’em away.

  • Brad should have mentioned that JSU is under the auspices of NCSY, the OU’s youth program. We are active supporters of (local) NCSY programs. I see no reason not to be up-front about JSU’s affiliation, am I right?

  • Even if the success of birthright Israel can not be accurately measured, that doesn’t mean that it’s not a project worth doing.
    On the contrary, it is a project worth doing despite the fact that its results are difficult to measure, based on the Belief in its merit, and its long term impact on our community. Not everything has to be measured …

    I agree with Mom 🙂

  • Well, I agree with Judi. I do not like intermarriage but she didn’t really intermarry. Her husband’s soul was Jewish all along. But I digress. Don’t try this at home.

    Let’s hang with G-d, not J’sm. G-d. The big ununderstandable but so interesting to work toward, and loving. Grand. Great stuff.

    GM is right too.

  • but she didn’t really intermarry.

    Do I at least get an A for effort? Really, I tried!

    Actually, after having grown up mostly culturally observant (although my family had a history of leadership in the Jewish community, the link was broken in my parents’ generation), I attended Brandeis (where I learned to associate Jews with 2 kinds of snow- the kind you ski on and the kind you… never mind). After that, seeking some kind of non-farcical kind of Jewish affiliation, I became engaged to an observant guy but broke it off when I saw more neurosis and insane dogma than I could ever stomach.

    And then I met my future husband: pure, unadulterated non-Jewish rock ‘n roll hotness.

    Don’t give me too much credit, JW. I don’t deserve it 😉

  • Evidently my comment is “awaiting moderation”, but the correction went through. Be patient and my last comment might make sense.

  • Lots of sense. You simply met the right Jew for you, married the guy, and it all worked itself out in the wash. Now you live an observant life, without making a vast high holy big deal about it, because you are a just a normal, way-to-go, Jewish lady.

    Your road was not the easiest. There has to be a way to do it easier, with a more obvious Jew, one who is visibly walking around as one. We must scrape away the baloney somehow. It’s the women’s fault. They want someone tall who lives in the real world. But our men are shorter, and they walk in the clouds.

    So make tea. Tea solves everything. Really.

  • Hi Judi,

    Definitely true that JSU began as an NCSY/OU endeavor; there’s certainly nothing to hide there.

    What has happened though is that JSU is now a separate 501c3, with separate fundraisers, etc. JSU has plenty of non-orthodox staff, and definitely a lot of non-orthodox donors.

    We have to give thanks to NCSY for starting this program (and still heavily supporting it) and realizing that something had to be done to reach unaffiliated youth. As it stands now, though, JSU is pretty much a separate endeavor, but it depends on where you live.

    In Chicago, for example, JSU is pretty much independent of NCSY. This is not the case in other places. One thing is for sure – whether the people running it are NCSY or not, the goals are the same everywhere – to get unaffiliated Jewish youth to do Jewish things, in any capacity, in any denomination.

  • to get unaffiliated Jewish youth to do Jewish things, in any capacity, in any denomination

    Hey brad:

    There’s already such a Jewish youth group. It’s called BBYO. And it has thousands of members and hudreds of chapters across the world. So unless JSU enjoys reinventing the wheel, it seems pretty obvious that JSU is just a front-group for NCSY.

  • Nathan, you are right. But just let me remark that J’ism is not only “the world’s oldest and most magnificent tradition of philosophical and ethical practice ” it is a vision of a relationship with G-d. That is the engine, the gasoline.

    I think even a just-passing-through Jew has an obligation to ADD, BRING, CONTRIBUTE some holiness to Jerusalem, if only by wearing a kippah outdoors, or giving some money to a fellow Jew in need. Or dressing orthodox a little, if a girl. And thinking some right thoughts.

    Help. Don’t just expect.

    If you are on their side, Israelis are pure sugar. Don’t be a visiting supervisor. That doesn’t work. Learn a few words of Hebrew – such as hello, thank you, excuse me. It’s not that hard.

    I am sure the hills of the North were happy to feel your feet on them! Go back soon.

  • The discussion about Birthright Israel is interesting. Although there are claims based on so-called studies of success, the question is success in what? The answer I see most often is that participants admit to or claim an increased sense of Jewish identity as a result of the trip. Presumably, this is a positive result and may very well lead some participants to manifest their Jewish identity with some actions such as greater participation in Jewish organizations or groups.

    However, I strongly suspect that undue emphasis is being given to this concept of increased identity. If it does not lead to a more Jewish lifestyle, then it is a waste of valuable communal assets. The Jewish people, to avoid losing its members to assimilation and intermarriage, needs to cajole, influence, teach, etc. how and why to live a more Jewish lifestyle. This includes some degree of performing Mitzvos and some degree of obeying Mitzvos for it is the Mitzvos both positive and negative commandments which provide the blueprint and guide for Jewish lifestyle.

  • Oyster,

    No need for hostility….BBYO actually just came out with a press release last week about the cooperation that BBYO and JSU share. They do some great things, but they operate in a totally different way.

    Ideologically,the goals are similar. But how do you expect to magically get unaffiliated kids to just show up at BBYO events? What makes JSU unique is the mechanism; we go to where the kids are instead of waiting for them to come to us. We know where kids are from 8 AM – 3PM; in school. We go to them, make it easy, fun, relaxing and enjoyable. No re-inventing the wheel – we just added a few more wheels.

    This is the novelty, and this is why it works.

  • Oh, one more thing.

    Oyster, about your “front for NCSY” comment – feel free to contact NFTY, USY, Shorashim, BBYO and Young Judaea and ask them about their involvement with JSU, especially in Chicago. Each and every one of those groups, as well as the Federation (ESPECIALLY federations, who are particularly loathe to fund Orthodox projects) will emphatically tell you how trans-denominational JSU is.

    Would a front group for NCSY give scholarships to kids to go on USY conventions? How about sending high schoolers to a BBYO dance? Lastly, would an NCSY front group send staff members to NFTY events?

    Please think before you act. We’re all in this together for the same cause, no need to falsely accuse.

  • brad,

    No need for incorrect perceptions of hostility. I’d love a link to that joint press release that you describe.

    But how do you expect to magically get unaffiliated kids to just show up at BBYO events?

    From this statement it seems that you have a profound misunderstanding of BBYO. Perhaps it is different in various parts of North America, but from my experience in California, BBYO is predominantly made up of kids who are only loosely affiliated with their Conservative or Reform shul, or are Israeli, Russian, or completely secular/assimilated. All the gung-ho O, C, R, or Zionist youth are in their respective youth groups. The ideologically ambivalent are the ones who usually are recruited into BBYO.

    BBYO doesn’t recruit from schools or from shuls. They recruit from friends. At least around here. You make it sound like JSU’s “novelty” is that you guys do outreach during school hours. What kind of school allows external groups on campus on a regular basis? My public school wouldn’t allow that. Are you only recruiting from Jewish schools (in which case, you’re not really reaching the unaffiliated)? Please elaborate.

    I’m sorry, but JSU still sounds like some group parachuting out of nowhere into an already crowded playing field. Until you can give me a clear explanation as to what JSU is contributing to the sector already served by BBYO for over 80 years, and with 18,000 current members, then I just see this as a front for NCSY.

  • Oyster,

    I can offer no link since the final draft was sent in last week, and I’m not sure where it was posted online, or if at all. I can, however, post it in it’s entirety here. You can contact Abby Strunk with any questions.

    I’ll address your other concerns in a new post….

    “BBYO, Inc. ¨ 2020 K Street, NW, 7th Floor ¨ Washington, DC 20006 ¨ http://www.bbyo.org

    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE CONTACT: Abby Strunk
    December 12, 2006 202.857.6651, astrunk@bbyo.org

    BBYO CREATES UNIQUE PARTNERSHIP TO REACH
    JEWISH TEENS IN CHICAGO PUBLIC SCHOOLS
    Leading Jewish Teen Movement Forms Partnership with Jewish Student Union

    Washington, DC – BBYO, Inc., the world’s leading pluralistic Jewish teen movement, and the Jewish Student Union (JSU) are pleased to announce an exciting new partnership to provide Jewish experiences to Jewish Chicago public high school students, who have little or no connection to Jewish life.

    “The BBYO/JSU collaboration is a win-win situation not only for BBYO and the JSU, but most important, for the Chicago Jewish community,” said Stacy Heller, Regional Director of BBYO’s Great Midwest Region, which comprises Chicago. “BBYO and JSU both offer innovative, appealing opportunities to involve teens in Jewish life. By working together, we will be able to fulfill our common goal of offering more Jewish experiences to more Jewish teens.”

    JSU has successfully launched several “clubs” in Chicago area public schools to bring Jewish teens together during lunch and before or after school. Gatherings feature speakers from a variety of Jewish organizations holding discussions on timely topics of interest to the participants and interactive activities. With engaging programs, charismatic facilitators and free-flowing food, JSU offers Jewish teens a simple way to connect to a variety of Jewish experiences.

    JSU’s access to public schools provides a unique opportunity to reach teens who may not be affiliated with more traditional Jewish institutions. Providing a handoff to BBYO – or other Jewish teen movements with which JSU partners – allows the teens to explore a deeper Jewish connection. Through BBYO, they will develop their leadership skills, participate in community service programs and learn about opportunities to participate in a wide-range of Jewish experiences.

    With more than 150 clubs across the country, JSU currently serves eight high schools in the Chicago community and has plans to expand to others. BBYO currently reaches more than 200 teens in the Chicago area and is growing quickly.

    “We’re excited to be collaborating with BBYO in Chicago,” said Donny Schwartz, JSU’s Chicago Area Assistant Director. “By combining forces we will be able to reach teens who are not currently on the community’s radar screen.”

    The Chicago partnership, which is funded by a private family foundation in the Chicago area, is being replicated in cities across North America, including Los Angeles and Vancouver, B.C.

    For more information on BBYO, visit http://www.bbyo.org.”

  • It appears as though you are defining “unaffiliated” vastly different than I am. By nature, if a student is involved, even marginally with BBYO, that student is somewhat affiliated – that is, they know that they want some connection to Judaism and they’ve found it in BBYO.

    I have a perfect understanding of BBYO and how they operate. BBYO’s GMR has had a great relationship with us for over two years.

    “All the gung-ho O, C, R, or Zionist youth are in their respective youth groups. The ideologically ambivalent are the ones who usually are recruited into BBYO.”

    …which is exactly why partnerships with all of these organizations make absolute sense. The kids that we reach every day will hopefully eventually be involved with one of them.

    Please re-read my other posts; our clubs function after school, not during school. Everything we do is school sanctioned with a faculty sponsor/advisor within the school. If you have any questions about this process or the church/state ramifications, they are all explained on our web page….(http://www.jsu.org/z_faqs.htm)

    We ONLY “recruit” in public high schools. We wouldn’t do this in jewish schools, because that would be absolutely pointless.

    In essence, we did “parachute from out of nowhere.” Major funders have recently recognized the impact that we are having in the communities in which we operate, and have stepped up to the plate.

    Again, I ask you why NCSY, an Orthodox movement, would actively promote non-Orthodox activies, youth groups and movements. The answer is simply that JSU is not a “front.”

    I invite you to speak with your BBYO colleagues about who we are, and their impressions of us. They obviously thought highly enough to issue a press release about our cooperation. Additionally, please feel free to get in touch with me whenever you want.

  • Laya, you know what you write sounds like common sense to me.

    But why not to everyone else?

    OTOH, I find it amusing (but totally understandable) for an american olah to say that a connection to Israel does not a Jewish identity make (of which I agree in my own Zionist self)

  • In my shtetl playground on the lower east side, the rate of intermarriage is not 50%, the number thrown around for years, but more like 90%, and generally its the guys thats jewish. but even in the reverse, the kids have little to no jewish identity. its hopeless, and nothing, nothing (short of aliyah will help unless the kids go to orthodox yeshiva (im not orthodox but my kids go to a coed yeshiva), have a kosher home and go to israel. otherwise, its truly hopeless.
    uzi
    nyapikores.blogspot.com

  • The only solution is taking the princess/prince out of JAP. Then Jews would be far more appealing to marry. For example, if I had the choice between a down to earth shiksa, or a money hungry obnoxious jewish woman, who do you think I would choose.

    So in the end, we must pin-point the royalty gene and eliminate it.

  • Seth,
    I’d rather have you marry the shiksa than one of my daughters. The shtetl , “poverty is noble and humble” mentality is what makes people think it’s ok to get married when they can’t afford a wedding and then ask for tzedaka (hint:figure out a way to pay for food before you get married). (Clue: don’t have more kids than you can afford to feed.)
    “Down to earth” is just a euphamism for “lazy bastard who doesn’t want to work too hard or give up his shabbos nap”.

  • Right, Chutzpah, because when we think of secular Diaspora Jewish men, we all think “lazy bastard” and “poverty.” Especially here in America.

    When there is a sense of entitlement, it most famously comes from the opposite gender. Not secular Diaspora Jewish men.

  • Alot of times it depends on the community. A small community is usually accepting. For some reason, most women always hold back somethng in terms of their passion and romantic sides. This applies to all ethnics but in my observation, especially to Jewish women, as we see in the post #50, it’s all about money for many of them, maybe someone better will come along, even tho the girl is married.

    I happen in some of my side jobs to observe intermarried couples, and I have never seen such a passion on the part in this case of the Gentile female she is dating this Israeli guy.

    Why Have I never seen this type of passion from Jewish women?

  • What the hell is a “money hungry obnoxious jewish woman” other than a silly and inaccurate stereotype?

    I have met obnoxious Jewish women, without a doubt. Money has nothing to do with their obnoxiousness. Religion also has nothing to do with it.

    I have also met very spoiled women who are Jewish and would be considered “JAPS” by people who use that term in a serious way. Usually these were women who grew up in affluent households. There are many non-Jewish women who behave no differently.

    I cannot recall, however, meeting any “money hungry obnoxious” Jewish or non-Jewish women who come from an affluent background, because usually it’s not of great concern to them – they don’t have a clue what it’s like not to have money and they can usually afford to be very romantic about choosing a partner.

    Usually, those women I’ve met who care about money are typically concerned about having enough because they come from circumstances where they didn’t have enough. However, I don’t recall any one of them caring about wealth and allowing that to influence their choice in partners. That’s not to say that some women of all faiths aren’t mercenary about their partner, or become so later in life after they suffered with a first partner who didn’t provide well, but it’s not so common that you can classify this as an issue and certainly not an intermarriage cause.

    I have met some women who strongly prefer that their spouse have the potential to earn an income that can support a family, but seeking such a husband who can provide is very different than being money hungry. This issue, by the way, definitely cuts across lines of religion. It’s a class issue, not one of faith.

    Finally, I have to say that the women who I’ve met who care about their partner’s potential as a provider (again, many of them are not Jewish) are typically anything but obnoxious. Quite the opposite. They tend to be well grounded in reality.

  • “Usually, those women I’ve met who care about money are typically concerned about having enough because they come from circumstances where they didn’t have enough. However, I don’t recall any one of them caring about wealth and allowing that to influence their choice in partners.”

    Someone has no life experience in the Northeast corridor.

  • Actually, I do. I admit that it’s not lengthy experience, but I have some. I grew up in a place with a similar class structure to what you would see in New York in the Jewish community. In my experience, what I write above your comment is valid.

  • Why are all my comments on moderation? Is this is the group blog that knows not DK? What do you people want from me?

  • I grew up in a place with a similar class structure to what you would see in New York in the Jewish community. In my experience, what I write above your comment is valid.

    Dude — don’t be like Steve Brizel — judging shit when your are just passing through. Socio-economic demands of elements of our community are exceptionally high. Not all, but some. Not all of us are able or willing to provide that, and its hard to find respective middle and working class maydlach in the secular community in Babylon. They’re there, but not in the same density.

  • Kelsey, fair enough, you live in a place where everybody’s father is either running a hedge fund, working for Goldman Sachs or is a partner at Skadden Arps. Their sense of normal might be unique, but you also live in a city where there may be more Jews than Tel Aviv and its suburbs. Surely, there are plenty of women who are going to love Kelsey The Poet. Out of curiosity, are you dating women in their twenties or thirties? I ask because I believe it’s much easier to be forgiving about income issues when one is younger than it is later on, especially if there have been financial concerns along the way.

  • TM,

    I’m dating a sweetheart, and have no complaints in recent years at all. What I saw that was problematic was from a few years ago and before. It’s important for people who are class conscience to date within class.

  • Lovely! If she’s Jewish, expect Jewish Mother to get on your case soon.

    As I wrote above, these things cut across lines of faith and tend to be more about class. There have been some studies that show a predisposition to marry partners with similar levels and types of education – thus it’s not always enough to go to college, you have to go to an Ivy League to find a partner from that pool. Of course these are generalizations, but in any case, I’m not sure they’re as much about money as finding a great deal in common with your partner.

    I, for example, didn’t seek a wealthy Jewish woman back when I was dating, just someone who shared my childhood background of watching every episode of Get Smart and Gilligan’s Island. Four or five times.

    Don’t worry, Kelsey, my search failed.

  • I happen to be a Jewish Mother as well and here is the list of men my daughters can’t marry:
    Rabbis
    Kollelnicks
    Poets.

    I’m not romantic anymore and have become grounded in reality after being married to someone my Grandma Chutzpah said came from “peasant stock’.

    The credentials on paper have to match. I was one who had no concern for money and married because I loved the way he davened with sincerity. My parents were horrified with my choice.

    They were right. I googled my boyfriends from my pre-Israel days. All Jewish, all Partners in large firms or successful in other ways.

    Men who have no ambition to succeed economically should not marry women from affluent families or who are working their way up the partnership track themselves. The princess and the pauper stories of happily ever after are from fairy tales.

  • Chutzpah,

    I like your list, but I think you should add the word “douchebags” to it. Also, men with STI’s would be a good one.

    But if a very lovely woman hadn’t married a rabbi some years back, I wouldn’t be here.

  • Chutzpah,

    What makes you think that you can decide who your daughter will marry? It seems that your parents couldn’t make this decision for you, so what makes it different this time?

    I agree with you that the credentials on paper have to match, but isn’t it your own choice to follow?

    There is another trick question that follows, given the main topic of this thread: would you prefer your daughter to marry a Jewish poet, or a non-Jewish partner in a large firm?

  • Always place your bets with the peasants. There’s just more of them, and your likelihood of meeting and marrying one is actually quite high. Here I define the real ‘Western’ peasantry in the US & Europe as anyone who does not have a net worth of above 10Mill. So people, Most of the folks you meet are peasants or ‘from peasant stock’, have no doubt about that. Most of us just work for and carry water for the other 1-2%. Being happy as you are and with what you have is essential to any lasting contentment in life. Cheers, ‘VJ’

  • As one who has been intermarried for nearly 20 years, let me speak from a different perspective. When I met and fell in love with a wonderful person who happened to be a practicing Catholic, I was not about to be a bigot and deny my love because of a difference in religions. Before we married, we agreed that the important thing was for us to raise good children, with good morals, ethics, and values, with a belief in g-d. Whatever “name” you want to put on this is fine.

    After exposing our children to both religions (something nearly every Rabbi and Priest will tell you not to do), both of our kids (now 10 and 14) decided for themselves that they wanted to pursue Judaism. Isn’t this better than “forcing” religion down the children, only to have them rebel at 18 or 20? I was brought up Orthodox, and after my Bar Mitzvah wanted nothing to do with Judaism anymore. We gave our children information, and let them acquire knowledge from it. In our case, the openness and acceptance of Reformed Judaism made them feel more comfortable than the rigidity of Catholicism.

    As an active member of our temple, and a former executive board member, I have spent a lot of time researching this subject. There is a mathematical reason that the URJ is stressing Outreach programs. If there are 100 Jews, and they all marry other Jews, you end up with 50 families with the potential for raising for Jewish children. If they all intermarry, you have 100 potentials. We all know that just because you have two Jewish parents doesn’t mean you’ll be a practicing Jew. In many cases that I know of, the non-jewish partner has taken very active rolls in their children’s Jewish education.

    In Leviticus Chapter 19, verses 33 and 34 it is said:

    When a stranger resides in your land, you shall not
    wrong him. The stranger who resides with you shall
    be to you as one of your citizens; you shall love him
    as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of
    Egypt: I am Adonai your God.

    In closing, let me remind everyone that intermarriage is not new. Moses married a non-Jew:

    (Excerpted from an article by Rabbi David B. Cohen, Congregation Sinai, Milwaukee, WI)

    Even in biblical times, Jews met and fell in love with non-Jews. Take Moses, for example, who married Tzipporah, the daughter of a Midianite priest. Even then, the non-Jews who dwelled among us—referred to biblically as gerei toshav, or resident aliens—were the support and help that made Jewish existence possible.

  • In the Bible, there were several instances where Israelites married out of the faith, but at that point, there was also an easy conversion process that worked something like this: you conquered our land, I’ll worship your God/s; if you marry me, I’ll follow your God. So whenever a biblical character “intermarried”, it was more like conversion and marriage, which is not neccesarily the same thing.

    Numerous studies have shown that all types of Jewish education are the most effective way of preventing intermarriage. By far, however, day schools are the most effective (and expensive) in this regard. But scholarships are not always to be had, especially if you are earning a middle class salary. Even if the tuition is a stretch on a middle class salary, it can be done, and the schools will give money to families who can’t do it period.

    But the real question is what are we doing this for. Yes, there are Jews who don’t practice Judaism because they are ignorant of its richness, beauty, etc. But there are plenty who don’t practice Judaism (or any religion for that matter – Judaism isn’t the only religion suffering) because they are secular, modern citizens of the world, people who can’t believe in a personal God who intervenes in their lives. They can’t take seriously rituals which seem barbaric or anachronistic and they can’t recite prayers which consider the Jewish people to be chosen (and some that call on other nations to be killed). The more they study Jewish history or the Bible from an objective point of view, the more they question basic assumptions about Judaism (I’m not talking tikun olam here). They can choose to ignore the answers and can take the leap of faith if they want, but if they don’t, Judaism is an empty shell without the meaty inside. Zionism was supposed to be the answer to this problem – it provided a living alternative to Jews who wanted to retain their Jewishness but for whom faith was lost. Whether Zionism solved that problem is still up in the air….

  • Either way, things can be bad. Money has no influence on the happiness of the marriage or not.

    For example, you see many wealthy couples who are happy. They are intensly overweight for example. While many middle class couples are fit and trim.

    So which is better? The money and health problems and unhappiness or the other side of the coin?

    It is stupid to generalize like this.

    IN fact, being a Rabbi, is not that bad of an economic choice these days. THe basic salary of a Rabbi in a metro area is over 120K a year w. excellent benefits, and they usually also have a teaching position in Univeristy, they write books, etc.

    What will make someone happy over the money, and I am not saying don’t have money, is the passion and romance, and strong love and committment to the partners happiness from the spouse.

    This should be the focus in telling your children, to look for happiness not money first. and again, having both is a bonus.

  • “Been there done that” –

    If there are 100 Jews, and they all marry other Jews, you end up with 50 families with the potential for raising for Jewish children. If they all intermarry, you have 100 potentials.

    Should we all intermarry, then? Are you saying that intermarriage makes more potential Jews and is therefore good?

  • No, I’m not saying that we all should intermarry. What I’m saying is that those who scream “the numbers are terrible” need to understand mathematics to be able to understand a solution.

    *If* the goal is to increase numbers, than intermarriage is good — it DOES give more chances to raise Jewish children.

  • *If* the goal is to increase numbers, than intermarriage is good — it DOES give more chances to raise Jewish children.

    Or Jews could just have more babies. I mean, either way there are more potential Jews.

    Also, the problem with your numbers is that you don’t count that 50 of those 100 intermarried relationships would produce children who, according to a large portion of the Jewish community, would not technically be Jewish.

  • God, I’m so glad I no longer work for Federation CJA. Hell, it wasn’t so long ago I spent my lunches worrying about this stuff (I got paid to worry…I would’ve much preferred to be jamming or hiking in Vermont).

    I’m not sure why anyone is concerned anyway. Have you ever spent any time in the Plateau (Montreal)? Between Satmar and Belz…they’ve got our numbers covered.

    And by the way, a whole whack of ex-Vancouver friends of mine moved to Israel and are still….SINGLE!!! Why is that?

    Is it that y’ere all enjoying carnal activity without commitment? Or is it truly hard to meet Jews in Jerusalem. I don’t get it.

  • I think we’ve already addressed the issue of having more kids — it comes down to economics. Can you afford to have more kids?

    As to whether the kids are Jewish or not, I can’t argue with your statement. I look at things from a Reformed viewpoint, so in that world my statements work.

  • Shtreimel raises some good points. Why are we concerned anyway? Is it really that important to try to convince people for whom Judaism has no relevance that really- they need to identify as Jews! Or are we better off letting Darwinian evolution run its course, slough off those who couldn’t care less and go forward with whoever’s left?

  • “Is it really that important to try to convince people for whom Judaism has no relevance that really- they need to identify as Jews!”

    Moreover, the people who do the most worrying (community folks, jewish bloggers, etc), wouldn’t even dream of davening 3 times a day, keeping the purity laws, etc.

    Fact is…Judaism is HARD…HARD…HARD. I don’t care what Aish tries to shove down your throat. So unless a major revelation occurs i.e. rush hour disappears…jewish mother embraces promiscuity as a viable lifestyle, there’s only about 4% who really DO and TAKE Judaism seriously (kinda like Laya pointed out). For the rest of us, Buddhist Ashrams will continue to beat out shuls 10-1. And we’ll have to accept the fact, that without ghetto walls, non-Jews make really lovely partners.

  • Shules are a problem a major problem that is a very good point.

    If only you really and truly had this special aura and feeling there.

    That’s the problem, people who go there, become like zombies. Anyone who can’t get into that mindset gets into the politics. It’s always a new breakaway, that’s the answer.

    yeah I guess you could say that we turn off more than we turn on.

    Then you have the embarrassment know as ashe.

    I guess you could say that most Orthodox stay religious despite of shules. that is really an accomplishment.

  • May I be permitted some horrible, unfair generalisations?

    Non Jewish women like Jewish husbands because they are moral and hardworking and don’t beat you. No avalanche of exceptions, please.

    Non Jewish men like Jewish women because their fathers have money. And because they are energetic and intelligent, and actively help the man to advance.

    So there you are.

    And there is the charm of the unknown, the unfamiliar, the exotic.

    It’s only much later that it becomes un-fun to have deep differences in outlook and relatives from the other side who view you as Permanently Different and Wierd. From both sides.

    Northern, blond people really are pretty.

    And every ad has one in it.

    Chutzpah is not wrong, I get her point. I am not for gender role reversal, either.

  • “May I be permitted some horrible, unfair generalisations?

    Non Jewish women like Jewish husbands because they are moral and hardworking and don’t beat you. No avalanche of exceptions, please.”

    You clearly haven’t worked for Jewish Family Services. I have, and you’re wrong.

    People are “marrying out” because, as Laya said, most folks don’t find, or care about, a holistic Jewish life. Hence, any partner will do. Actually, most of my friends, having been scoled into going to boring shuls, gossip fueled family passover seders and endless annoying fund raising calls from UJA, are only to happy to jump ship into the cool, calm waters of non-Jewish living.

    Again, to be a Jew is HARD, HARD, HARD. Ask any frummie in the summertime as the anxiously await the end of Shabbat. Or all the Modern Orthodox folks that spend most their time finding loop holes in Jewish Law so they can live like a gentile, while reducing Jewish guilt.

  • hi Shtreimel,
    cool calm waters of non Jewish living? how about staid mikveh like water? the goyim I know on the lower east side (often married to Jews) actually prefer the gossipy (they would say chatty) seders and boring (they think community engendering) shuls which compare favorably with their unsalty families. they like the idea of belonging to a gossipy ancient tribe and enjoy the positive aspect (i think you’d would understand) of the insularity of our ‘hood.
    nyapikores.blogspot.com

  • Its a lost cause. the american diaspora is doomed to hopeless shrink. i see it everyday. the children of the non-devout will disappear into the american soup. while the progeny of the orthodox will remain. israel (assuming it survives) will remain the sole bastion of secular jews — excluding the few children of the orthodox that are bound to become alienated.
    nyapikores.blogspot.com

  • Here’s a take on intermarriage from 12 year-old Menachum Polack of Maimonides School in NY. In his essay “Why Do the Anti-Semites Hate Jews?” (12/29 Jewish Press Magazine), he writes:

    “Hashem promised Yaakov as long as you worship Me and do what is right, the hands of Eisav will not harm you. When you don’t behave properly, Eisav will prevail. However, during many periods in history Jews behaved properly . . . but still anti-Semitism existed. So what is the reason for this? Hashem wanted to create hatred between Jews and gentiles to separate between his chosen nation and all the others. If we lived in too much harmony we might intermarry. Then the Jewish nation would slowly disappear because of assimilation.

    “The fact that Hashem commands us to separate ourselves and be pure in front of Him keeps a tall fence between us and the other nations . . . We have to accept the fact that the Jews and the other nations will never be happy with each other’s presence and we should never question why, because this is Hashem’s will.”

  • Tom…the kids honest. I can respect that. Hell, it may even be true. We’re so caught up in white washing religion that we forget the Bible is full of cause and effect.

  • Hmm. Given all this Jewish-guy dissatisfaction with Jewish chicks, and Jewish Mother’s heads-up about their money– time for a dating rethink! Hell, I must’ve learned something on this site for all the time I spend here, right? Enough to snow the (rich) old man– yeah, I can do that. There’s a marketing niche here. And I can turn to y’all for advice on an as-needed basis, right?…. I’ll trade you insider data on gentile chicks, how’s that?

  • Streimel, obviously people do not drop into Jewish Family Services to perch cheerfully on your desk, saying “My life is great. .. Ain’t marriage grand?” The people you see are a selected population who are unhappy.

    I am mulling and considering Forgiveness. How necessary it is. How you shouldn’t worry that, like welfare, it will occasionally be awarded to someone who is gaming the system, and doesn’t deserve it. So what. Better to live with a few cheats, than have the deserving starve in the streets.

    Because if you can’t forgive, you can’t anything else.

    There are people who just don’t have the Forgive gene. It is a DECISION to forgive. It is a COMPLEX decision.

    My private guess is that is the part of Judaism people find hard.

  • Tom Morrissey, present company is firmly excepted.

    There are non Jewish men who find Jewish women more interesting, more peppery, more doing, doing, doing. They find that useful. It IS useful.

    Jewish women may seem demanding, but they are actually quite trained, quite supportive, quite loyal. THAT is why they run from marriage so hard. They know how it works.

    Yes, it’s all the fault of the Jewish Woman. She is not making enough tea. The men are faint from dehydration. It’s terrible.

    If any women out there wants a husband, it is simple: don’t hate them. You will be the only one who does not, for miles. They will line up devotedly around the block, hundreds, clutching flowers, hoping for a smile – and a cup of tea.

  • Hi Jewish mother, I for one love Jewish women. theyre beautiful. And theyre at their most beautiful in Israel. naturally: women in the homeland drink delicious jewish cow’s milk, great honey from jewish bees, the juiciest tomatoes and cucumbers and the finest cottage cheese I’ve ever had (also from jewish cows).
    nyapikores.blogspot.com

  • shtreimel, no doubt the young man’s being honest. But about what? His beliefs, certainly.

    Now, Jewish Mother, I have to say– when I read your comments about gentile wife-beating, it was enough to make me want to put my fist through the wall. Then– you have the chutzpah to write of forgiveness.

    You want a credit card number? I deserve a second chance, dammit! The felonies, the restraining orders, the anger-management class…. How many of us haven’t been there, done that? OK, OK, maybe not the Jewish guys. But I’ve changed my ways. I really have. No more slapping women around (not when I can manipulate them in other ways.) And I’m doing better with the child support. Really. Not for all the kids, not yet, but for a bunch of ’em.

    Shoot, I’m as eligible as any bachelor out there. Ready or not, ladies, here I come!

  • Tom Morrissey wrote: “I’ll trade you insider data on gentile chicks, how’s that?”

    Lookb at the numbers Tom… we don’t need the inside scoop on gentile chicks, we’re already quite the friggin experts.

  • Tom, if you want an interesting experience consider doing the following:

    1. Date Jewish women to the point where you’re considering marriage with one.
    2. Then, convert to Judaism.
    3. At that point, your Jewish fiancee will reject you for one of the reasons noted above by people like JM and Kelsey, the key issue being that you’re Jewish, and as a consequence,
    4. You will be left single and Jewish.
    5. Then, you can date gentile women to your heart’s delight and,
    6. Even marry one to add to our woeful intermarriage statistics.
    7. You can ask her to convert.
    8. If she doesn’t, you’ll be fine for a while but soon your differences in faith and outlook will appear and cause cracks in your marriage -maybe a divorce even,
    9. at which point you’ll look for a Jewish spouse and end up with a divorced one with two kids and a mean lawyer husband who wants custody. Or,
    8A. If she does convert, there will be peace and harmony in your home but
    8A1. You’ll both weep for those intermarrying traitors to Judaism and
    8A2. Bitch and whine about all the [insert Jewish denomination you dislike here] Jews who are not really practicing Judaism the way it should be and are causing the destruction of the Jewish people.

    I guess the nice thing about all of this is that by step 2 you will have gotten the woman-beating-gentile syndrome well out of your system and will be well on the way to acquiring riches, not to mention controlling the world’s media and the US government.

  • Oh, man, Middle– that’s absolutely hilarious.

    ….I make it just to step 2, and it’s a guaranteed win-win!

  • Gag me, Jewish Mother. My husband finds me interesting because he finds ME interesting, not because by being Jewish I’m automatically “more interesting, more peppery, more doing, doing, doing.” And I don’t know how you can possibly conclude that Jewish women are more supportive or loyal than any other type of woman.

  • Either Jewish Mother smokes too much Meth, or she’s the most creative stormfront member to visit these pages. Either way, her posts make me dislike Jews. And I’m Jewish!

  • Jewish women have one thing going for them over non-Jewish women – they are statistically more likely to produce Jewish offspring. Other than that, there’s no real difference.

  • ck, are you discounting all that upbringing stuff? You mean all that differentiates a Jewish woman from a non-Jewish woman is that her offspring are considered Jewish by our rabbinic traditions?

    By the way, is one of our three Jerusalem residents going to write Kollek’s obit?

  • Hey, Jewish Mother’s cool. She just needs to venture outside the proverbial box a little bit.

    ck, nice Jewish girls also have rich dads who control US foreign policy. Let’s not kid ourselves.

  • Holy crap. Teddy Kollek died?? It’s 3 am here. We have a 6 am wake up call.

    TM: as for what you wrote, I said nothing about “Rabbinic traditions.” Read what i wrote, perhaps it bears repeating:

    Jewish women have one thing going for them over non-Jewish women – they are statistically more likely to produce Jewish offspring. Other than that, there’s no real difference.

    By Jewish offspring I mean Jewish children and grandchildren etc. etc. meaning again – the best way to statistically guarantee Jewish offspring is to start with 2 Jewish parents. If continuity is important to you and you have only one Jewish parent you are already statistically handicappping yourself.

    So to bring this back to the Jewish women thread, if you are a Jewish man, the only advantage you get from marrying a Jewish woman is that you are the more likely to produce Jewish children and grandchildren etc. Jewish women are in all other respects not that much qualitatively different than non-Jewish women around them. They are not neccessarily smarter, more caring, better lovers, better partners etc. The only thing they are better at than their non-Jewish sisters is in their ability to produce children and grandchildren who identify as Jews.

    This is just statistical – it has nothing at all to do with Rabbis.

  • They are not neccessarily smarter, more caring, better lovers, better partners etc. The only thing they are better at than their non-Jewish sisters is in their ability to produce children and grandchildren who identify as Jews.

    ck, as has been noted on our site many times, even if the Jewish woman isn’t able to produce children who identify as Jews, they will still be considered Jewish by the majority of rabbis, including the frummest rabbis around.

    For that reason alone, you can qualify your statement to say that even if the Jewish woman grows up as an atheist, but produces a child, that child will qualify as Jewish, whereas a devout female convert’s offspring will only be considered Jewish by certain streams of Judaism if one of their rabbis conducted the conversion.

  • TM: I wasn’t talking specifics, and there are always exceptions, I was trying to avoid partisan sniping. That’s why I said “identify as Jews” as this has nothing to do with whether or not said offspring are in fact Jewish. I used the simplest definition of who is a Jew – anyone who identifies as such. I hope we are clear on that because I am definitely not going to get into a long detailed discussion on an issue that I agree to disagree with you on.

  • I’m not sure what you’re saying in the last comment.

    Look, my point is a simple one: a Jewish woman is NOT like every other woman.

    A Muslim woman is NOT like every other woman.

    A Christian woman is NOT like every other woman.

    We can go by nationality:

    A Chinese woman is NOT like every other woman.

    A Maori woman is NOT like every other woman.

    Etc., etc.

    These women come from different backgrounds, different heritage, different cultures, different faiths and this resonates in their beings and determines who they are. They may become similar over time if they live in the same culture. Thus, you might have a Persian non-Jewish woman who came to the US as a child resembling an Israeli-born Jewish woman who came to the US as a child, but both will be considerably different in many respects. Their US born and raised daughters, however, might be much more similar, particularly if they come from secular households where faith is not a meaningful issue.

    This issue is also a critical one for converts because a convert is taking on our culture. Yes, we describe it as taking on the faith and its obligations, but in essence she becomes someone who accepts our culture and heritage and is willing to make them her own. In this regard, her husband finds the same unique blend that would make her resemble other Jewish wives.

    To conclude, my intention here is not to debate your remark that there are many similarities between Jewish and non-Jewish women because that is clearly true.

  • I respect everybody. Obviously.

    There is enough nonsense in the world to go around, and no group has a monopoly on it….

    As I have one foot in the grave anyway, I can lay stuff on you somewhat hard. Who else is going to tell you?

  • I like post 97. CK is right.

    People should marry for love, and some inter-marriages are destined. However.

    I don’t think non Jews should inter-marry, EITHER. They need to preserve THEIR heritages, TOO!

  • It’s not as complicated for non-Jews, though, Jewish Mother. I don’t have to marry an Irish woman out of responsibility to my Irish heritage. (Which is fine, because I’d marry in part to escape my own lousy cuisine, and an Irish girl won’t help there.)

    If I marry an Italian or a Colombian or a Dutch or a Mexican woman, nothing’s put at risk. My religious views are, in essence, a matter purely of personal belief.

    Many Jews like yourself view your own heritage differently, with its ethnic as well as spiritual dimension. Intermarriage involves a lot more baggage for you.

  • ….So, with a substantial falloff in anti-Semitism, you’ve got a permeable, overwhelmingly non-Jewish population. So it’s not so much, intermarriage or not?, as the rate at which intermarriage takes place in the West, vs. Jewish birth rates, etc.

    I’d think the only solution is moving to Israel. People often pair off as a result of Brownian motion, and all incidental contact in Israel will be with Jews. Calling to mind one of Saddam’s favorite adages– where there is a person, there is a problem. Where there is no person, there is no problem.

    (Again, it’s easier to be a gentile. Aliyah to– Ireland? Man. The food, the climate…. no thanks. Thank goodness my forebears used their noggins and got the hell out of there.)

  • Tom, even in Israel you’re not assured of finding a spouse, although the odds of finding a Jewish spouse increase exponentially.

    I think many studies show that in North America (and probably parts of Europe) a solid Jewish education, probably to be found these days in Jewish day schools, are a good indicator and instigator of marrying within the faith.

    However, your general point is right. In the absence of overt antisemitism and the acceptance of Jewish people as part of the fabric of North American life, the secular or mildly faithful Jew finds him/herself open and perhaps even more likely to consider all marriage possibilities. After all, there are 49 available non-Jews for every available Jew which means the odds are clearly in favor of finding a partner who isn’t Jewish unless you care deeply about marrying a Jewish person.

    The issue here, however, is a deeper one than the openness of the society that surrounds us. Rather, it has to do with the Jewish community being unable to articulate to its non-observant or partially-observant members (read: Reform, unaffiliated and Conservative) what is particularly appealing and important in our traditions that is worth preserving. In this regard, not only is it easier to intermarry or to intermarry while giving the other person’s faith greater importance than one’s Jewish faith, but it also means that those who might care about preserving their identity and their childrens’ identities as Jews may not be able to articulate to their non-Jewish spouse why s/he should convert or dedicate her/himself to raising the children as Jews.

    I believe this problem is further compounded by the some of the ugly exclusivity that we see in many circles, including on this site, where people openly exclude other Jews or converts to Judaism as not Jewish or Jewish enough.

  • (I hope that last fling was not at me.

    As a BT I follow the Orthodox rules. Proper conversion: you’re in. Not Orothodox, or not doing anything at all, or even hating the whole thing, but born a Jew? You’re in. In, in in. There is no such thing as a lapsed Jew.)

    This shadchan called Brownian sounds like a very nice person.

  • Is it time to mention the twin studies? Identical twins raised apart from birth, who have just a little more in common than they should?

    Nurture is huge, but Nature is not nothing. We say, all is foreseen but free will is granted. That is MEANT to be complicated. The idea is to work on it, not return it to the store as defective.

    Many fabulous things have come out of Ireland! Get over it! I am sure you have studied this, about how they Christianized Europe (translation: they brought the Torah to Europe in a form the locals could work with) and if that isn’t grand!

    They didn’t win militarily. That has never bothered us, why should it bother you?

    You have to find the good parts, and triumph over the bad parts. Yes, it’s hard. What is easy is boring.

  • Middle, the division you refer to on this site over conversions, etc., never ceases to amaze me. Why not just form a circular firing squad? And you’re right that there’s got to be an affirmative reason to stick with the tribe in this culture, the Jewish tribe and others, too.

    Here’s another factor on the intermarriage front: Christian ecumenism, which impacts Jews. Two, maybe even one, generation ago, it was a scandal if a Catholic married a Protestant; my uncle had a difficult time after marrying my Armenian Orthodox aunt. Greek girls rarely dated outside their Greek Orthodox tribe.

    All that has changed, and I venture it’s had a spillover affect on gentile attitudes toward dating Jewish folks

    And JM, I’m fine with being Irish. We out-mastered our colonial oppressors the Brits at their own language, and produced some of the English-speaking world’s greatest writers (e.g. Beckett, Yeats, Joyce, Wilde, Heaney, and, here in the US. O’Neill, O’Connor).

    And Irish monks kept the lights on during the Dark Ages, as you note. We gave the NFL Tom Brady.

    However, the food’s pretty lousy. There’s that soupy climate. No beach scene. And we’re tougher on each other than even you Jews are (truly). I’d rather be here than there. But to quote that Southie bumper sticker: If it weren’t for whiskey, the Irish would rule the world.’

  • Tom, I spent two wonderful, sunny afternoons at the beach near Dublin with a beautiful curly red-haired, milky-skinned Irish lass. We walked into the seabed during lowtide and picked seashells by the seashore. That’s a beach scene.

    But more relative to the inter-cultural romantic relationship issue here, when we returned later that evening to my five-star hotel we were refused entry – actually she was. (After 11 the bellman comes to the door, you give your room #, last name, show your passport). Posh hotel, I thought, worried about security. So I explained that my friend was a photographer (she worked at the Independent), that we’d worked together in the States on a few stories I wrote some years earlier, that she had made some prints at my request and wanted to show them to me (all true). Meanwhile a very drunk American appeared with an equally drunk Dublin gal. He gave his name (Olson or something ) and both were immediately allowed in.

    I asked the bellman why he let this couple in. He ignored the question and repeated his policy. I was incredulous. I’ve stayed in all types and qualities of hotels all over Europe in much more conservative towns but not one ever kept me from bringing a friend in. I continued to argue with him when another drunk American named Rogers or something, also with an Irish woman, appeared and were ushered in.

    Now my last name (the one that appears on my passport… like Winona Ryder I change my name for professional reasons) is a very common Jewish surname in the U.K.. My friend is as Irish-looking as a lass can be. I’m not saying, I’m just saying…

    I threated to check out, the response was “if you wish”, the door closed behind me. We sat on the steps, me confused and furious, she completely unfazed. She calmed me down and said, basically, “What do you expect, I’m an Irish Catholic woman.” She didn’t say and you’re an American Jew but she didn’t have to.

    True story. I’d been to Dublin a few times before and after and never experienced anything other than friendly people (sometimes a bit too friendly in the pubs). This was just one anti-semitic Basil Fawlty. Could’ve easily gone the other way in another place.