Doesn’t Love Conquer All?



Dear Rebbetzin Jungreis
I am in my second year of college and recently     met a wonderful, intelligent,
    compassionate young man. I am very much in love with him. He is not Jewish,
    however, and this seems to be a "tragedy" to my parents. Rebbetzin,     I just
    cannot understand it. My parents are not religious people. Their entire
    Judaism consists of buying High Holiday tickets once a year. They do not     keep
    a kosher home, they do not observe any of the customs and traditions, and
    they never gave me a Jewish education. So how on earth can they censor me     for
    wanting to marry this boy?

Believe me, Rebbetzin, my parents are       no more Jewish than my boyfriend. He is
      a good hearted, kind individual, with all the characteristics of what       my
      parents consider a "nice Jewish boy". The real reason that my       parents are
      opposed to him is because they are worried what people will say. They       don’t
      really care about my happiness, but what others will say and how this       will
      reflect on them.

I cannot see any difference between being       Jewish or gentile, we are all
      created by God, and therefore we are all brothers. My parents never gave       me a
      Jewish upbringing so why should I care?

I have reached the point where we are       about to announce our
      engagement—unless you can show me a reason not to.

I have no respect for the hypocrisy around       me.

Yours Sincerely,

Jewish in Name Only



Dear Jewish in Name Only,

While it is true that your parents have       failed to give you a Jewish
      education, their negligence does not exonerate you from YOUR responsibility,
      nor does it permit you to walk away from your people. There is no
      justification for abandoning your faith, your people or your God. Understand
      that by opting for intermarriage you are bringing your family’s Jewish
      existence to a close after thousands of years.

Nevertheless, I can comprehend your feelings       of resentment at having been
      deprived of a Jewish education. Judaism has never been made meaningful       to
      you….you have never been challenged by its majestic call. Therefore,       it is
      understandable that you feel apathetic, if not hostile, to your faith.       And
      so, under the circumstances it would not seem realistic to demand that       you
      sacrifice the man you love for a religion which is unrelated to your life.

We must, however, confront the truth:       you belong to a generation of American
      Jews who have been short-changed. although you have been given every
      educational and material opportunity, you have been Jewishly deprived.       You
      were raised in a spiritual wasteland….in a vacuum. Your contacts with
      Judaism have at best turned you off, and at worst, provoked you to disdain.

whenever I visit a high school or college       campus I am confronted by young
      Jews who are articulate in every subject but their own….Young Jews who       are
      experts in investment banking, computers and the sciences….who are senstive
      to the nuances of music and who are at home in the arts and culture. Yet       if
      confronted with the most elementary questions about spirituality, Jewish
      thought, the Bible or the Talmud—they remain totally inarticulate. We       have
      become a people who suffer from amnesia; a people without a past, without       a

In order for you to comprehend the magnitude       of your loss you must first gain
      some awareness of that which you once possessed. But you sadly lack this
      awareness. Therefore as I see it, the problem at hand is not so much to
      persuade you to give up this relationship, as it is to open your mind       and
      your heart to your own glorious history and destiny. Once you comprehend       this
      then forgoing intermarriage will be a natural byproduct of your newly       gained
      insight, for it is impossible to be knowledgeable of Torah and at the same
      time remain impervious to its mystical call.

And so, my friend, while I can empathize       with your apathetic state of mind, I
      cannot condone it, for YOU ARE A JEW, and you have a responsibility. Before
      you relinquish your heritage, before you give up the faith of your fathers
      and mothers, you owe it to yourself to discover your roots: to probe your
      history so that the decision you ultimately make will be one that is informed
      and intelligent rather than one based on ignorance and default.


Rebbetzin Esther Jungreis



  Dear Jewish name withheld,

Obviously, you did not ask to be born       Jewish. There is a mystical component
      to your Jewishness that transcends all logic. It is in your core and psyche
      and is part of the very fabric of your being. Your Jewish roots go deeper
      than you realize—to the depths of your life force. To deny those roots       is to
      deny your very essence. To activate those roots is to energize your very
      existence and purpose in life.

In the course of a lifetime, many mistakes       are made and most can be
      rectified. Some mistakes, however, are irreversible and cannot be rectified.
      The dilemma you are currently facing falls into this second category.       It does
      not involve only marriage. Rather, it concerns your personal destiny;     the
      survival of your people and ultimately your accountability to the Creator
      for your potential—and what you did with it. For this reason I urge you       not
      to act in haste—you must give yourself some time to discover and uncover
      your own roots—your Jewishness—your heritage. Take some time to rad       and
      study the wisdom and depth of the Torah-the blueprint of Creation. And       make
      contact with those who have been faced with this dilemma and benefit from
      their experience.

Deep down in your soul you know why your       parents are "heartbroken". They are
      not really concerned about "what the neighbors will say." There       is much more
      at stake-and you know it.

To Jewish parents the marriage of a child       to a non Jew is devastating because
      it means the end of the line of the heritage and history they were given       by
      their parents. It was a golden chain given to them as a legacy and they       want
      so much to keep the chain alive. It was entrusted to them—this 3000       year
      old family heirloom—a tradition of values…and now it’s future lies       in
      doubt. Your parents, due to their limited Jewish background are unable       to
      articulate exactly why they want you to marry Jewish—but they know
      instinctively that for their family to survive as Jews , their daughter       must
      marry a Jew: to keep the flame of Jewish tradition, values, law and custom

Think about your roots and how you are       the custodian of these epic values and
      You know the value of a Ming vase and would try your best to preserve       it
      because you can see and sense its tremendous value.

My dear friend-you have within your very       being something much more valuable
      than a priceless Ming vase. You may not even be aware of it. But you owe       it
      to your own identity to look into your heritage and to evaluate the value       of
      your Jewish identity before you lose this very real and intrinsic part       of who
      you really are. It would be a shame for this part of your identity to       remain
      dormant—and never know its true depth and beauty. Don’t deny your identity
      its own potential for fulfillment. I suggest you call the local     Aish Hatorah
      or Ohr Somayach branch or other outreach organization in your city and       take a
      class about Jewish identity. Your parents did not fully teach you about       your
      identity but you have an obligation to find out for yourself before you       give
      up your identity and bring to an end 3000 years of Jewish lineage, forever       .
      Get to know your Jewish self and make an informed decision.

Rebbetzin Esther Jungreis
    Book     By Rebbetzin Esther Jungreis:
        The Committed Life

MAIN PAGE:  Intermarriage…Why Not?

by  Rebbetzin Esther Jungreis
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