I am in love with a
Catholic woman. I want to marry her. She loves me as much but religious beliefs
are getting in the way. Please tell me
what I should do, my parents say "no way." Help.
I’m getting married in
October to a girl who is not Jewish (she is Hindu, born in India) and we’re
having a difficult time finding a Rabbi who
will marry us. Why is this? And do you have any recommendations for Rabbis that
would consider performing the ceremony. It’s important to
me and my family that we are married by a Rabbi. Thanks.
I will be married (very
soon) to a Jewish woman. I am not Jewish, but would very much like to include
several of the Jewish traditions in our
wedding, to embrace her heritage as well.
Dear [email protected],
For Jews, "marrying
within the faith" isn't a cultural preference or prejudice. Rather, it is one
the commandments G-d gave us at Mount Sinai. A Jew who marries a
non-Jew transgresses a Torah prohibition.
The practice of not
"intermarrying" is in fact one of the oldest features of Judaism. It dates back
to Abraham telling Eliezer, his servant, not to find a wife for his son
from the Canaanites. It continues with Isaac's command to his son Jacob not to
marry the "daughters of the land." The practice is mentioned in the Bible as a
prohibition, and is also part of the covenant that Ezra the scribe had the Jews
make when they rebuilt the Temple after the Babylonian Exile.
In all the above cases
the underlying idea of the prohibition seems to be ideological. As Jews, we have
a unique identity that is connected to our purpose in the
world. We are the "chosen people." We were chosen to propagate the ethical
monotheism of Judaism.
In the words of Leo
"The Jew is that sacred
being who has brought down from heaven the everlasting fire, and has illumined
with it the entire world. He is the religious source, spring, and
fountain out of which all the rest of the peoples have drawn their beliefs and
their religious. The Jew is the pioneer of liberty. The Jew is the pioneer of
The Jew is the emblem of eternity."
We were chosen as a
permanent protest group against idolatry and immorality. Intermarriage is
therefore antithetical to the Jewish purpose and to the Jewish identity.
Can we prove that we are
chosen? Do we have evidence? Yes. In a brief look at history we can see the
antiquity, survival and impact of the Jewish people as unique
and remarkable. I don't think that I can put it better than Mark Twain, in his
famous description of Jewish history, "An Essay Concerning the Jews":
"If the statistics are
right, the Jews constitute but one percent of the human race. It suggests a
nebulous dim puff of star dust lost in the blaze of the Milky Way.
Properly the Jew ought hardly to be heard of; but he is heard of, has always
been heard of. He is as prominent on the planet as any other people, and his
importance is extravagantly out of proportion to the smallness of his bulk. His
contributions to the world's list of great names in literature, science, art,
medicine, and abstruse learning are also away out of proportion to the weakness
of his numbers. He has made a marvellous fight in the world, in all the ages;
done it with his hands tied behind him. He could be vain of himself, and be
excused for it. The Egyptian, the Babylonian, and the Persian rose, filled the
sound and splendour, then faded to dream-stuff and passed away; the Greek and
the Roman followed, and made a vast noise, and they are gone; other peoples
have sprung up and held their torch high for a time, but it burned out, and they
sit in twilight now, or have vanished. The Jew saw them all, and is now what he
was, exhibiting no decadence, no infirmities of age, no weakening of his parts,
no slowing of his energies, no dulling of his alert and aggressive mind. All
mortal but the Jew; all other nations pass, but he remains. What is the secret
of his immortality?"
Intermarriage is a
betrayal of our task and of our "choseness." It is also a guarantee against
Let me illustrate with a
conversation heard on the Dr. Laura Schlessinger show in the US:
A woman calls Dr. Laura:
"I'm Jewish," she says. "My husband is not Jewish, but he is very active in the
Jewish community. We are trying our best to raise our
children as Jews and give them a Jewish education. Now my son is almost
thirteen, and he tells us he doesn't want a bar mitzvah (celebration of the
one's Judaism). What can we do?"
"Let me get this
straight," Dr. Laura says. "You say your husband is not Jewish?"
"That's right," the woman
"How do you expect your
son to follow Judaism when you don't?"
Being Jewish isn't a
cultural affiliation or a tradition. It's being part of the Chosen People. That
means a commitment to the responsibility given to us by Hashem at
Sinai. Someone who understands this will obviously choose a partner who is
likewise committed. Otherwise, it's entering a relay race, but choosing a
running towards a different finish line.
Who you marry affects
every single aspect of your life. It affects your community. It affects your
children. It affects all future generations. The Jewish home is the
single most important establishment in Jewish life. It outweighs any synagogue
or temple, even the Holy Temple built by King Solomon. By marrying a non-Jew one
thereby ends over 3,000 years of Jewish continuity, effectively cutting oneself
and one's offspring off from what it means to be Jewish.
There have been many
other arguments offered against intermarriage, below is a summary of some of the
1. Six million Jews were
killed in the Holocaust, 12 million were left afterwards. Today there are only
13 million Jews in the world. Where are the rest that by natural
increase should number close to 20 million? The answer is that the silent
holocaust of assimilation has caused them to disappear as Jews.
Intermarriages are twice
as likely to end in divorce as same-faith marriages (75% divorce rate!). Some
reasons for this are the different identities of the spouses and
the differences in culture and family. For example a Jew will naturally turn
their head at the mention of "Israel" and "Jew." A gentile who converts in
insincere conversion only for the sake of marriage does not create a new
identity that is now Jewish.
3. One is granting a
victory to anti-Semites who seek to destroy the Jewish people. Think of what has
been sacrificed in the past by our own ancestors to keep their
Judaism. And think of the heritage that is being sacrificed for the sake of
Ultimately, however, all
Jews must have a sense of pride in their own identity. We cannot define
ourselves by foreign ideologies, nationalities or religions. As a great
author once wrote:
"Pride is faith in the
idea that G-d had, when He made us. A proud man is conscious of the idea, and
aspires to realize it. He does not strive towards a happiness, or
comfort, which may be irrelevant to G-d's idea of him. His success is the idea
of G-d, successfully carried through, and he is in love with his destiny… People
have no pride are not aware of any idea of G-d in the making of them, and
sometimes they make you doubt that there has ever been much of an idea, or else
been lost, and who shall find it again? They have got to accept as success what
others warrant to be so, and to take their happiness, and even their own selves,
quotation of the day. They tremble with reason before their fate."
Let us not live by the
"quotation of the day" but rather by our own heritage, the Torah. When Jews
study Torah, and identify as Jews they are really just returning to
their true selves.
In the words of the Rebbe
"If I am I because you
are you, and you are you because I am I; then I am not I and you are not you.
However, if I am I because I am I, and you are you because
you are you; then I am I and you are you."