The statisticians tell us that 1 in every 2 Jews marry a non-Jew in America. Are you part of that growing demographic? Was the experience notable? Difficult? Funny? If so then InterfaithFamily.com is giving you the opportunity to turn your love into cold, hard cash! They recently announced a video contest with a top prize of $2,500!

We are looking for all types of videos, including but not limited to: wedding videos demonstrating interesting, engaging, interfaith wedding ceremonies; humorous videos dealing with interfaith issues regarding life-cycle events, holidays, and everyday life; interviews with people involved in interfaith relationships and how they are dealing with the issues they face; conflict resolution; cartoons; parodies (in good taste); and music videos.

Wedding ceremonies officiated by a Rabbi and a Priest? Little Yankele’s baptism? Sarah’s First Communion? Grandma Shapiro’s heart attack (RELAX! It was just indigestion!)? Chrismukkah celebrations featuring Ham Latkes? Got the tapes? Pull them out and send them in! Need more inspiration? Here’s a video made by Israel’s Channel 10 News that addresses the issue of Interfaith marriages in the US:

Now allow me to be serious for a moment. I recently read Shiksa : The Gentile Woman in the Jewish World by Christine (of course…) Benvenuto. While this book contains many discussions relating to the issue of matrilineal descent from both a religious and sociological perspective, it also makes extensive use of 1st person accounts of non-Jewish women married to Jewish men. Christine deals with the issue in a respectful, intelligent and thought provoking manner. As a result of reading this book, my perspective on the issue has softened and while I am still opposed to mixed-marriages, I am definitely not opposed to doing as much as we can to deal with the issue in a more sensitive and welcoming manner.

Getting back to the topic at hand – is it wrong for me to think that a viral video campaign is, well… kinda gauche? InterfaithFamily.com says they are looking for creative, sensitive and original videos – quality stuff – But then they urge entrants to “Tell all your friends to tell all their friends to watch your video online, the more people watch the better your chance to win” – they even have a prize for the “Most Viewed” video. Given what it takes for a video to go viral (2 Women 1 Miriam’s Cup?), is the end result going to be a “quality” video? Is it going to be sensitive and well thought out? Or is it going to be the YouTube generation’s version of Bridget Loves Bernie? I guess we’ll have to wait and see. The deadline for submissions is April 30, 2008. Winners will be announced June 3, 2008.

Follow me

About the author

ck

Founder and Publisher of Jewlicious, David Abitbol lives in Jerusalem with his wife, newborn daughter and toddler son. Blogging as "ck" he's been blocked on twitter by the right and the left, so he's doing something right.

38 Comments

  • Oh, please. No way am I reading or watching anything “insightful” about Judaism from the perspective of someone named Christine/Christina.

    Your name is your destiny. Duh.

  • That’s what I thought too Giyoret. But the book was really balanced and super-well documented. And it wasn’t preachy or anything – more like a snapshot of what was going on.

    Hey, wait a minute…

  • And there are lots of Jewish men named “Marc” or “Matthew” – not names one would consider typically Jewish either; one could claim people have become pretty thoughtless about naming their kids. And indeed, some of the best scientific stuff on Judaism was written by non-Jews, it all depends on the premises.

  • The Japanese-Jewish kids will probably remain Jewish, even though they were kind of tongue-in-cheek at the end of the video. But, for the most part, this trend does represent the loss of members to the Jewish community.

    Of course the two Irish-Jewish girls prefer Christmas! Who wouldn’t?

    Anyway, what will happen is that these kids will probably retain some aspects of their Jewish heritage, just like a half-Italian half-Irish person would remember the recipes for lasagna and soda bread. But these kids will probably not be Jews, and their own children certainly won’t be.

    Many of the kids in the video will probably feel a connection to Jews, and have a special feeling for them. As for their own children, they’ll just be gentiles who’ll be able to say ” I have a Jewish grandfather.” In the next generation, that will become “I have a Jewish great-grandfather,” and in the following generation that will become “I’m part this and part that, and I think I have some Jewish ancestry in there.”

    Can someone who’s part German, part Irish, part English, and part Native American, call himself a German-American? Of course not. I have an acquaintance with that ancestry, and when she asked “what am I?” I answered, “You’re mainstream American, just without the prestige of a WASP pedigree.”

    People with multiple ancestries will not belong to any one of them, they’ll just belong to the American mainstream, because that’s the culture they’ll know. And that culture will be basically Christian, Anglo-Saxon-based, with other elements thrown in as seasoning.

    Given that the Jews are 2 or 3 percent of the population, the pull of the majority culture is inevitable. Given that Jewish culture has been thoroughly diluted since the immigrant days and has not been handed down…and given that religion is not that relevant for many people…even American kids of totally Jewish descent will not see their Jewishness as a compelling or major part of their identity.

    This trend is not just the result of the Jews’ being more accepted in American society, but also of Jews’ own culture being allowed to die out among successive generations. I suppose the following will happen with every immigrant group: further distance from one’s background, dilution of one’s inherited ethnic culture, and intermarriage. Will there be 8th-generation Irish-Americans or Italian-Americans? I doubt it.

    Friends, this is a losing battle.

  • That’s preposterous, that names determine who we are…as if anyone named after a queen of Persia who wrote megillahs is automatically destined to herself become a writer….

    Um, oops.

  • Whoever said anything about “names” determining who we are? We are all individuals, and ultimately no one can be put into a box. But we don’t exist in a vacuum. We are part of larger communities, even if not by choice. We are parts of groups that have their own histories and heritages that help define who we are.

  • It’s a pity to watch American Jews evaporate and I’m sorry that most don’t see Israel as an option.

  • Well, sometimes things turn out in an interesting way.

    My mother comes from a long line of assimilating, essentially secular German Jews. My father is a German WASP (he told me that a cousin of his from the part of the family that stayed in Germany was killed on the Eastern Front in WWII (not sure if he was SS or regular Wehrmacht). After having been card-carrying members of the Communist Party (my father was blacklisted, lost his job, and couldn’t work in a regular job for years afterwards because the FBI kept tabs on him and would tell his employers that he was a Red) and dabbling in various New Age-type stuff, they have been Soto Zen Buddhists for the last 35+ years. My mother was the Abbess of her organization (or, as I like to call her, “the Abyss”).

    As I have mentioned previously on Jewkicious, my wife is a Japanese convert, we’re Shomer Shabbat, and my sons are both frum, one of them working on his second child and the other having just gotten smicha in Jerusalem.

    So, you just never know. The Pintele Yid works according to its own calculations.

    Please don’t take this as an endorsement of intermarriage. For every story like mine there are a hundred of the other kind. It’s just that not all of those children will be lost. Most, yes. But not all.

  • Isaiah 43:1?

    The re-naming of Abram and Sarai to mark the transition of polytheism to monolatrism according to Biblical tradition?

    Jacob’s epithet Israel?

    The official naming of a child on the 8th day?

    The Ashkenazi tradition not to name a child after a dead relative?

    The insistence on converts choosing a Hebrew name?

    The family names medieval Jews chose for themselves, which brought us Goldblums, Silbermans, Greenbergs etc.? Vice versa, last names that tell anybody who’s familiar with German and medieval European history that people lamenting pure lineage are actually just of German descendence?

    Right, I can be convinced that names are not important in Judaism and that the naming of children has never played an important role. Let’s keep blaming intermarriage for a loss of Jewish identity; Jewish knowledge probably doesn’t matter.

  • Anglia? Saxony? Hello?

    The Angles and the Saxons are about as Teutonic as you can get. They only became “English” (“Anglisch”, right?) after the Normans (“Northmen”, Frankified Vikings) took over in Britain.

    So he is most definitely a White Anglo Saxon Protestant, in a manner of speaking. He just isn’t English. Even though he was born in Brooklyn, German was his first language and he didn’t speak English very well until he went to elementary school.

    He visited Germany with his grandfather in 1933 when he was 18. I’m not sure how many Jews there are whose father actually heard Hitler (may his name be erased) address a rally, but I’m one of them. Der Teufel was, apparently, a spellbinding speaker.

  • Cultural Judaism = dead end.

    The common denominator of successful transmission of Jewish identity is a sense of a binding religious/moral covenant, a living relationship with G-d as defined by the Torah.

    Unconsciously the Israeli TV clip recognized this: outside Israel, the reporter naturally fell back on religious practice as an indicator of membership – asking questions about circumcision, showing blessings and Reform shul service as representative of the successful 1/3 that were raising their kids Jewish.

  • Ephraim, the Angles and the Saxons were small tribes among plenty of others, including the Teutonians, so your father was neither necessarily an Angle (who possibly migrated collectively to ‘Angelond’, which was named after them) or a Saxon (about which there are claims that they died out completely on mainland Europe – like the Teutonians – and the modern-day Saxons are not nescessarily descendent from but them merely living in their area). If you know whereabouts your ancestors were from, I can look into what tribe in specific settled there.

  • Oh froylein. Arcane facts about anglo saxons? You’re like a young “Jewish Mother.” Where the hell is “Jewish Mother” anyways? I miss her!! She was a little unconventional but she always STAYED ON TOPIC!

    ๐Ÿ˜‰

  • ck, British history and the history of the English language were part of my university studies. BTW, if Ephraim’s last name is the one he uses in his email address, it’s the Anglicized version of a German lastname that likely was a Germanized version of “Levy”. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  • And Jewish Mother comments every now and then; either she’s busy or not too fond of the post topics as of late, but I think today’s posts should be topics she enjoys.

    And are you saying I digress a lot? ๐Ÿ˜›

  • Yikes, Froylein. Geek out much?

    Hey, I thought my e-mail address was invisible! Oh, right: you’re part of Jewlicious, not a visitor.

    Yes, that’s my real name. We always have spelled it with one “n”. From what I understand the more common German spelling is with two. That’s an interesting factoid about the name, though. What’s the connection with Levy?

    I use “Teutons” in the sense most Americans understand it: another word for Germans.

  • In fairness, Muffti thinks htere is no evidence that Jewish Mother stayed on topic: it was impossible to figure out wha the hell she was talkign about and so hard to figure out if it’s on toipc.

  • Good to see that jews leave their island of religion and culture and intergrate in the society in which they reside. It’s a major progress after 2000 years of mainly coexistence. Mixed marriages are the ulitmate way to love and understanding. It’s seperation that leads to fear of the unknown; hatred and rascisme. I hear insinuations that a jew shouldn’t marry a muslim/christian/atheist… this sounds like superiority feelings to me. Why would a person be defined by religion and be less worthy of marriage because of it?

  • Sen, why think of it as superiority and not think of it as a simple desire to maintain traditions and raise your child in that tradition? This sounds to me like a lack of sympathy for the one major religion coming out of the Middle East that doesn’t proselytize. In case you don’t understand, shrinking in size means the eventual demise of the religion.

  • My issue is not with the desire to live by the traditions of your ancestors. I only stipulate that when you see a non-jew as a no-go for marriage; you put your own religion and tradition above potential partners. You demand that your child and partner will have the same view on life as you have. Perhaps that’s your flavor of men/woman; who am I to comment that. I only see that often the choice isn’t personal, yet rather commune (who like to feed it with fear). And about the demise of a religion… is it something to be scared of? I just returend from visits to mountain-tribes in Laos/Birma/Thailand; and these ppl are loosing the same battle. Isn’t it the way nature, ppl, cultures evolve? It’s sad you think I have a dislike for Judeisme. If I have a dislike it’s with ppl thinking they own the thruth no matter what the thruth may be, because such behaviour only can end in conflict; as life is based on compromises. So let me end by admitting that I know nothing and that my oppinion isn’t a thruth. It’s just a personal perspective on what might be. BTW I wouldn’t be scared of marrying a jew. I think it’s very enriching when different cultures meet (not to mention a healthy diversity of genes :)). And yes I’m married with someone from a totally different culture… I also know the issues it can give. But during those 8 years, I have never regretted it.

  • Sen, the intermarriage rate for Jews in the US stands at around 50% according to most stats I’ve seen. That suggests that most Jews are putting religion and tradition either aside or in a minor role in their relationship decisions.

    Communal pressure, or family pressure for that matter, are weak tools when it comes to preventing intermarriage among Jews. Violence isn’t on the table and rhetoric isn’t working. Many of the same people who are so-called “leaders” in the Jewish community and some of whom are simply very active and caring members of the community who wish for it to thrive and grow, have seen their own children intermarry.

    In other words, you have little to worry about because Jews are doing precisely what you’re suggesting.

  • Just out of curiosity, what is the textual/Scriptural basis for the prohibition on marrying non-Jews?

  • Tom, this sums it up pretty well. I also suggest reading this

    Critical exegesis suggests that the later re-interpretation of the ban more or less could be summed up as, “The mother is always known.” Declaring biblical figures that intermarried converts in retrospective was vital to maintain the ban on intermarriage in the diaspora situation and likely also reflected a legal situation in which Jews were not permitted to marry Christians.

  • Thanks, froylein. As someone of Karaite extraction, I see I’m out of luck. No J-Date for me.

  • If you want to annoy a Chasidic rabbi beyond measure, ask him how come they keep the (flaky) ban on intermarriage up outside Israel (“thou shallt not” in the original as was understood at that time was Future I, therefore the laws pertain to the [time of] Jews living in the Promised Land), but won’t endorse the stoning of homosexuals.

  • That clip was great and this discussion is also very stimulating. We’re not the only ones who have these problems by the way. I have Greek friends and Persians and others who worry about the same things. Granted we are a much smaller group but nonetheless.

    I will out myself much to the chagrin of certain people here, including those I agree with on other topics, but I am guilty myself of marrying a non-Jewish woman. I think about it nearly every few days, I feel guilty, yet I don’t regret it because I am happy every day with my wonderful wife and our life, and there were many times in my life where I thought that could never be possible. Perhaps it was bad timing as I never dated any Jewish girls I fell in love with and I never went to Israel and missed out on all of those hot girls we see on the net!

    My wife and I plan on raising our children Jewish, joining my sister’s congregation (for the children, not for us, as I find Shul boring except for Yom Kippur when I go out of respect for my relatives who have passed and cry like a little girl), having a Bris, Bar/Bat Mitzvah’s, etc. Being Jewish and having Jewish children is critical for me, and I’m sorry Sen, but I do feel especially proud of being a Jew and nothing else. Yes, I know, I’m screwed up in the head, but I’m alright with that.

    I have to disagree with ben David on this point:
    “The common denominator of successful transmission of Jewish identity is a sense of a binding religious/moral covenant, a living relationship with G-d as defined by the Torah.”

    As some of you know, I am an immigrant from the FSU and came here when I was 4 years old. My father’s Bar Mitzvah consisted of his father patting him on the back and saying, “today you are a man”. Judaism was very hard to understand and practice in the FSU, but my parents were damn proud of the fact and chose to write “Evrey” on my birth certificate instead of “Russian”, and to this day, I glow when I think of that.

    When we came to this country, despite my parents being die hard athiests, capitalists, and Zionists, they signed me up for a Yeshiva, not knowing just HOW Jewish one can be in America. Two years later, they put me in public schools and I have not been happier since. I still went to sunday school, but I was definitely raised reform. The orthodox lifestyle was torture on me at that early age, but to this day, I have a strong love for the Orthodox because I believe, (socialism aside), that they and their propensity for large families, are the bedrock of our future.

    To this day, being an Atheist/Agnostic when my wife is listening, I feel more Jewish than ever. I constantly learn about our history, our people and our traditions and my wife is very supportive and interested too. I am as cultural/ethnically Jewish as they come and spend my time at the JCC, reading Jewish authors, watching Jewish themed movies, etc. However, I would never expect my wife to convert as I would never convert myself away from Judaism, nor do I believe in g-d, so I have a hard time being a hypocrite and expect her, who does believe in g-d, to believe in our laws to the point where she has to do something I consider ceremonial so that I can ensure that my children are Jews.

    Furthermore, when I was ready to propose (we have been friends for a long time) to the woman I fell deeply in love with, I struggled with this and sought many opinions from those I considered knowledgeable. One point that rings in my mind (or that I obviously use for justification), is that there are many Jews who are Halachically Jewish whom are not good people. Was my goal to simply marry a Jew (for the team) or to marry someone I could trust and love and raise good children with, who maybe considered half-Jews or not officially Jewish, but raised to be Jews?

    The answers are not easy my friends. But in the end, I have no regrets, but only challenges ahead, like explaining to my in-laws that we’re going to party like its 1999 when we snip my son’s foreskin off in front of all of our friends and family. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Lastly, my best friend from childhood, who was raised conservative Jewish also ended up intermarrying a child of Korean Christian missionaries. Their relationship requires much more compromise than mine and I do not envy him, but I do respect his choices and his wife. Personally, I think that if Jews can be identified as Jews outside of Halachic definition, then we should use intermarriage to our advantage and not to our detriment. I understand that using our enemies’ definition of who is a Jew is unacceptable, but when you poll Americans of whether Ben Stiller and Adrian Brody are Jews, most will say, hell yeah. I think Judaism, like being black or Italian, is the dominant ethnicity in a lot of cases. That’s my 2 cents.

Leave a Comment