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Frequently Asked Questions and Answers

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Question 10.4:
OK, then apart from halachic considerations, why do many Jews of all types oppose intermarriage?

Answer:

Children of intermarriages are statistically less likely to identify with Judaism than children raised by Jewish parents, so intermarriage weakens the Jewish people. Therefore, Jews across the spectrum oppose intermarriage in order to prevent this weakening.

A large part of Jewish observance and identity centers on the home, family, and community. Religion is a part of daily life, in areas as diverse as making a blessing before wearing new clothes for the first time to thanking G-d before and after meals. Special occasions such as Shabbat and holidays carry special customs and observances. A home made by a Jew and a non-Jew is much less likely to be a "Jewish home". Where children are involved, they are most likely to grow up with a positive Jewish identity when they see both parents Jewishly connected.

Also, for many people, a difference in religion is an added stress on a relationship. For this reason, many Jewish parents discourage intermarriage in their children in an honest attempt to help their children find long-term happiness.

Given all this, what should be our attitude when intermarriage occurs? There are some that believe the intermarried couple should be ostracized. There are sites that give information on how to prevent intermarriage, for example, http://www.jewishsurvivalseries.org/. Others take a different view.

First, if there are no children involved (as sometimes happens with elderly couple), then there is no real loss to the community in terms of future generations. If there is no conversion, each partner just practices their own religion.

If there are children, or potential children, involved, the issue is different. Ostracizing the couple may have the side effect of destroying any positive attitudes towards Judaism, ensuring the children will not be Jewish. Remaining open to the couple, inviting them to family ceremonies, and showing them the beauty of Judaism can help educate the non-Jewish partner. Even if the partner doesn't want to convert, it may convince the partner to raise the children Jewish, and (if appropriate) have the children be formally converted into Judaism. Often, having children will make a parent want to reconnect with their spiritual heritage. The Jewish parent may feel an increase desire towards reconnecting with Judaism, and keeping their children connected. This desired would be destroyed if the couple had been ostracized.

The best thing to do is to keep an open mind. Believe that the couple is not lost. By demonstrating to them the joy and beauty of Judaism, they may choose to return or increase their Jewish practices.


The FAQ is a collection of documents that is an attempt to answer questions that are continually asked on the soc.culture.jewish family of newsgroups. It was written by cooperating laypeople from the various Judaic movements. You should not make any assumption as to accuracy and/or authoritativeness of the answers provided herein. In all cases, it is always best to consult a competent authority--your local rabbi is a good place to start.

[Got Questions?]Hopefully, the FAQ will provide the answer to your questions. If it doesn't, please drop Email to questions@scjfaq.org. The FAQ maintainer will endeavor to direct your query to an appropriate individual that can answer it. If you would like to be part of the group to which the maintainer directs questions, please drop a note to the FAQ maintainer at maintainer@scjfaq.org.

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