Intermarriage / Conversion


1) Why Should I Marry A Jew?

a - I’m Not Really That Religious, So it Really Doesn’t Matter.

b - I’ve Found the Perfect Partner. Why Do You Want to Disturb My Personal Happiness?

c - What About Giving My Children the Best of Both Worlds and Letting Them Choose?

d - You Don’t Seem to Understand, I’m in Love With Mary/John!

e - What If My Partner Agrees to Convert?

f - I Would Consider Myself a Racist to Only Date Jews.

g - Even If I Intermarry, I Still Intend Bringing My Children Up Jewish.




    The Jews are disappearing, fast. The greatest civilization the world has ever known is being endangered because most Jews in the world today do not regard marrying a fellow Jew as important. The world is quickly losing one of its greatest sources of morality, creativity and energy.

    It is probable that your grandparents and if not, your great grandparents and many of their parents’ and their parents’ parents gave up a great deal so that you could be Jewish. You are throwing away a gift that they gave all to make sure that you could have. In fact, you will be throwing away 3,700 years of the greatest spiritual and ethical tradition which the world has ever known.

1. Why should I marry a Jew?

a - I’m not really that religious, so it really doesn’t matter.


One doesn’t know how important something is to him until it is taken away.  A Jew might not realize how important being Jewish means to him until someone makes an anti-Semitic remark or until someone tries to raise his child to believe in Jesus.

    Besides, who says being Jewish is simply a matter of religion. Throughout history, many Jews who were not religious at all were willing to give their lives for the Jewish nation, for Jewish principles or so their children could remain Jewish.

    You may be entering college or in the middle or otherwise single away from home. These are years when religion is least important in people’s lives. This is also the time when you will probably meet the person you will marry.  Like most people, when you begin to raise a family and educate children, religious values will take on much more significance.

    In intermarriages, the issue of Jewish identity emerges sooner or later, even where the couple thought they had it figured out in advance.

b - I’ve found the perfect partner.  Why do you want to disturb my personal happiness?


Today, many couples live together without getting married. What pushes most to eventually marry is having children. Most people see the family structure of being married as the best option for their future kids.

    Sooner or later the question of how you are going to raise your children is going to arise.  Will they be Christian, Jewish, a combination of both or nothing?

    If you are like most Jews, the thought of raising your children as Christians probably bothers you.  We see our children as extensions of ourselves.  There has been a deeply rooted survival mechanism that has been ingrained in every Jew that tells us not to convert to another religion.  If becoming a Christian in any way bothers you, you won’t want to raise your children to be Christians.

    So you probably will want your children to be raised as Jews.  Will your partner understand this and agree to this?  Many Jews are walking around with a misconception that non-Jews today are flexible when it comes to religion.  A recent Gallop Poll showed that 90% of Americans identified with some religion (93% of those that did, identified as being Christians, 2% as being Jewish).

    More importantly, how will the children feel about being Jewish when only one of the parents is Jewish?  (“Mom, you expect me to go to Hebrew School and have a Bar Mitzvah when you can’t even convince Dad to be Jewish?”)

c - What about giving my children the best of both worlds and letting them choose?


Is this really fair to your children?  Aren’t you really asking them to choose between Mommy and Daddy or between two sets of grandparents?  If you think back to your childhood you’ll see clearly that your parents let you choose what color dress you’d wear today not whether or not you should go to school.  The message the child picks up when he is allowed to choose is that it is really not that important.  When given the choice between Christianity or Judaism, the child is most likely to choose neither.

    You may be feeling at this time in your life that religion is not that important. So you will be satisfied in raising the child with nothing.  Chances are that after you have children you or your partner will change your mind.  What will you do now?  What if you want to circumcise your son and your partner refuses?  What will you do if your daughter wants to join the Sunday School at church to be with her friends?

    Even should you as parents agree to bring up the child with both religions - that is terribly confusing for and therefore unfair to the child. Children need a sense of identity. Only a super-genius and spiritual giant like Abraham could figure the whole thing out himself. Besides, Judaism and Christianity are very different religions. One cannot be both a Jew and Christian. Moreover, a great deal of Judaism is dependent on the family experience, on experiencing the warmth of Shabbat together, on having a Passover Seder, on discussing what your moral and spiritual traditions are - this can’t be done when one of the parents is doing this as an outsider - unless you reduce Judaism to a meaningless set of different customs. But that’s a lie - that’s not what being Jewish means. Your kids will know whether you are presenting them authentic Judaism or not.

    And beyond the family there is the community-experience which has shown that bringing up a kid in two faiths doesn’t mean that he will belong to two communities - it usually means that he will belong to none. He will have no community to share his joy and his sadness, to celebrate his successes and commiserate with his disappointments.

d - You don’t seem to understand I’m in love with Mary/John!


    If you really love this person you will want what is best for him or her.  Chances are they are not aware of how differences in religions can cause problems later on in the marriage.  Do you love your partner enough to consider that marriage may be the wrong thing?

    What is really going on in your mind is that you don’t want to give up this feeling of closeness that has developed.  Think for a moment. If something happened and the relationship ended, would you be capable of having an intimate relationship with someone else?  If the answer is “No,” perhaps you should develop yourself into a more loving\loveable person.  Realize that the joy you feel now is the joy of intimacy, and it is not necessarily limited to this particular partner.

    You need to first decide what your life goals are and then find someone who matches, rather than find a partner and then try to rearrange two lives to suit each other’s needs.

e - What if my partner agrees to convert?


    And what if she doesn’t?  Out of every one hundred marriages between Jews and non-Jews, less than ten involve conversion.  Asking someone to give up their religion and adopt another one is a lot to ask.

    One should not enter into a relationship with someone thinking one can change the partner.  Chances are something is gong to be compromised, often the relationship itself.

f - I would consider myself a racist to only date Jews


    I hope that you reserve the right to determine who will be the mother or father of your children.  You don’t have to marry anyone you don’t want to.

    We can generally assume that we will marry someone who we first date.  Therefore, if one wants to be selective as to who one marries, one must first be selective of whom one dates.

    It is important to be aware of the many difficulties that arise from entering into serious relationships with people that you do not wish to marry.  You or your partner are going to get hurt.  Since the process of dating often unwittingly advances from casual friends to serious partners, you ought to be selective as to whom you date.

    There are many reasons why people intermarry - they may have dated many Jews before and found them all shallow and insensitive, finally they meet a non-Jew who is deep and caring. They usually believe that they have to marry the person they love - this is a one time opportunity. They usually think that the problems of higher divorce rate and other marital problems with intermarried couples won’t happen to them.

g - Even if I intermarry, I still intend on bringing my children up Jewish.



    If you don’t marry a Jew your children will not be Jewish. Patrilineal descent is only recognized by Reform, which has only about 2 million out of 18 million Jews world wide. The chances are pretty good that your kid will meet someone not Reform, and be shocked to find out that his/ her fiancee does not consider him/her Jewish. You can’t imagine the trauma that people like that go through - who could be so selfish as to maybe cause their kids that sort of pain.


    Even if you bring up your kids Jewish they are unlikely to remain so. Statistics show that less than 10% of the children of intermarried couples identify themselves as Jews. The grandchildren of such couples are almost never Jewish. Don’t fool yourself that you are going to be different - you’re playing around with other people’s lives.


    Even if your spouse says that he doesn’t mind you bringing up the kids Jewish, that has a good chance of changing when you actually have children. Children arouse one’s identity - you’ll suddenly feel more Jewish at the very time that he is beginning to feel more Christian. You will want to circumcise the child, he will regard it as barbaric; your spouse will want to take the kid to church on Christmas (never mind whether he ever goes now), you’ll feel very uptight about that. Often these conflicts spill over into the broader family network, requiring you to choose between your spouse and parents or siblings. The older you get, the more important these relationships become. That’s one reason why intermarriages have over a 50% divorce rate, as opposed to only 20% for all Jewish, marriage - you’re
getting involved in a marriage that is probably going to fail. Your children are going to forever suffer because of that.


Posted in: Hot Topics