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Old 04-22-2019, 04:14 AM
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Jewish Shunning of Interfaith Marriages


I almost posted this last Friday, for the double-whammy of posting a Jewish question both on the Sabbath and the first night of Passover but managed to restrain myself. (Also, I had a seder to go to.)

Anyhow... as seems typical these days I wound up explaining about being the product of a mixed marriage again and it got me to thinking.

For those not in the know, in the Olden Days when a Jewish person married out of the faith they were "dead", to the point that the family sat shiva (held funeral rites) for the person in question and ostracized them.

This did, in fact, happen to my dad when he married my mom. His family sat shiva and even set up a coffin in the parlor (which, in a sense, was not a big deal as they ran a funeral home and probably had a stack of coffins ready to go in the back of the place.) Some of the relatives did, indeed, never speak to or associate with him, or us, again. Others were inviting mom and dad for dinner within a week. Obviously, in urban St. Louis of the 1950's observing this custom was a bit spotty already. Best illustrated by my grandmother's funeral. When Grandma died and we all showed up at the cemetery for the service (graveside in February - brrr!) we, the family, were seated on the shiva stools and definitely occupied the role of immediate family mourners. Then the cousin from out east shewed up and made a scene about how "those people shouldn't even be here!" blah blah blah. At which point the rabbi glared at her and said "Shut the hell up and sit down on the stool or leave if you can't behave." (In case you're wondering, she left rather than sit down with us. Her loss.) So yes, by the 1980's the rule(s) was far from universally enforced.

Roll the clock back - prior to the 20th Century and some definitely changing ideas and practices, in those days was it just the immediate or perhaps extended family that was supposed to do the ostracizing? Or the entire village/local community? Or was every Jew everywhere supposed to participate in shunning the person and their family? (And how the heck would that work, when one could move to a new place with the family where no one knew the story?) How many generations down the line was that supposed to be in force? I know that it definitely was supposed to apply to the immediate children of that "offending" couple, but how many generations out? Grandkids? Great-grandkids?

Or, maybe like so many other Jewish customs and traditions, this varied from place to place and group to group.

(In case you're wondering - in the present day in Northwest Indiana everyone seems quite welcoming. Jews do not proselytize, but it's also very clear that I am welcome to become more involved, join a synagogue, etc. if I decide that's something I'm inspired to do going forward. Hence the seder invitation, among other things.)
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Old 04-22-2019, 04:25 AM
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One of my Jewish friends married a Christian husband in the late 80s and nobody thought anything of it. No shunning or anything. They did have to get special permission to marry in church.
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Old 04-22-2019, 05:16 AM
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It's not exclusive to any one religion. It's not unknown in any cultural community, particularly among those who feel themselves to be a minority under potential threat, to react against 'marrying out' with hostility, even to the point of "You're dead to us!". Though they might not go so far as to formalise it with a ceremony.
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Old 04-22-2019, 05:24 AM
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The concept of "interfaith marriages" is itself pretty new: Basel (Switzerland) claims to have the oldest civil registry (f. 1876) and that its creation was triggered precisely by an interfaith marriage between two people who insisted in wanting to get married without either of them wanting to change denomination, something that their respective churches considered completely unacceptable (one was Catholic, one Lutheran). Previously, marriage was seen as a religious thing with civil consequences: your parents would have married into his faith (with your mother converting) or into her faith (with him converting). So the person who was converting out was leaving their community behind, not being kicked out; a man who'd converted out of Judaism wouldn't be supposed to take part in Jewish ceremonies any more (for a very small community this might even have led to the inability to reach minyan), or to call a Jewish tribunal in those situations were which ones to use was faith/community-based.

In our modern world it may seem strange, but once you look at where the custom comes from it does make a certain kind of sense.

Last edited by Nava; 04-22-2019 at 05:26 AM.
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Old 04-22-2019, 06:08 AM
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Of all my extended Jewish family, not one has married outside the faith, except me and my brother, who has had two Christian wives, with no shunning. Not only was my husband raised Muslim but we are a same-sex couple. There hasn't been any shunning to our faces, but I'm sure there's much behind our backs. Some relatives are positively accepting, others not so much. My in-laws are wonderful in this respect.
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Old 04-22-2019, 06:56 AM
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My mom was Jewish, my dad was Christian, and their families were assholes (neither had siblings, but their parents shunned them). On the positive side, I learned a bit about both religions, got xmas presents and Chanukah gelt, played with a dreidel under the xmas tree, while also learning that there are no gods.
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Old 04-22-2019, 06:59 AM
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I met a distant cousin of mine via a Jewish genealogy board when he was searching for the grave of his uncle in Natal, South Africa. I recognized the name because I knew this uncle had married a non-Jew and been cut off by the South African branch of the family, but they had come to the U.S. and visited my grandparents. (The family, on my paternal grandfather's side, was originally from Latvia.) He had been cut off from the family to the point that nobody in South Africa even knew where he lived anymore. These people were born around 110 years ago.

The husband has predeceased the wife by quite a lot, and the wife had just died, but my grandparents were able to help the distant cousin find the cemetery where they were buried via a neighbor in South Africa.
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Old 04-22-2019, 07:22 AM
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I have always found this method of maintaining the purity of the genetic line through selective breeding amusing. You know who else was a fan of eugenics? Yep, dog breeders! Er, and also Hitler.
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Old 04-22-2019, 07:30 AM
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Did the tradition vary based on the sex of the couple? That is to say, would a Jewish man marrying a gentile woman (whose children would therefore be born gentiles) be regarded differently from a Jewish woman marrying a gentile man (whose children would still be born Jewish)?
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Old 04-22-2019, 07:32 AM
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Did the tradition vary based on the sex of the couple? That is to say, would a Jewish man marrying a gentile woman (whose children would therefore be born gentiles) be regarded differently from a Jewish woman marrying a gentile man (whose children would still be born Jewish)?

My mom was Jewish, yet I wasn't born Jewish.
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Old 04-22-2019, 07:33 AM
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When my Aunt Mary (a nice Catholic girl) married Uncle Simon (a nice Jewish boy) in 1970, Steve's mother sat shiva and had nothing to do with her grandchildren for years. She did come around eventually and at least reconciled with her son before she died.

Simon and Mary are still alive, still married. They're both pretty much agnostic and brought up their kids to make their own choice with regard to religious beliefs. I've no idea what religion their son does or doesn't follow; we don't keep in touch. Their daughter played around with Catholicism and Judaism as a teen, and had both a confirmation and bat mitzvah. She and her wife are mildly Reform these days.
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Old 04-22-2019, 07:44 AM
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My grandmother complained about my "mixed marriage," and I never knew if was because my wife wasn't Jewish or wasn't white. I never asked. Whatever it was, she got over it. She was much more upset 35 years earlier when my father married a non-Jew. (she got over that too)
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Old 04-22-2019, 08:02 AM
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My mom was Jewish, yet I wasn't born Jewish.
To a lot of Jews, you were. It may not matter to you, but it does to them.
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Old 04-22-2019, 08:06 AM
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Huh. My wife's mother, Jewish, married a Catholic. After that guy took off she married a Protestant. My wife's very Jewish bubby and the extended family seemed to be able to live with it.
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Old 04-22-2019, 08:28 AM
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in the Olden Days when a Jewish person married out of the faith they were "dead")
I like your expression "olden days",because I think it accurately expresses more than you intended.
In American experience you could define the "olden days" and , hence, the older generation --by the language they spoke. This is true for lots of ethnic groups, but especially for Jews.
The generation that entered thru Ellis Island (1900-1920) spoke their native language and lived in close communities with others of their same group.(Poles, Italians, Irish, and for Jews, Yiddish speakers).
And back in those olden days, marrying out of the group caused real, serious, pain to the older relatives.

Their children, born say 1920 till World War II, also knew the language, but were much less confined by the culture it came from.Still, some of the old attitudes remained, naturally. People don't give up their cultural values so easily.So interfaith marriages were still a tense issue.

And , let's face it--interracial marriages were off the charts and unacceptable to practically everybody. It just wasn't done. The movie "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner", was a risky venture for Hollywood back in 1967, and would have been impossible 10 years earlier.(And most of the audience who watched it thought, "well, it's a nice story, and okay for those two actors, but I'm glad it didn't happen in my family.")

So let's not judge past generations by modern standards. Things were different, and that's just the way they were, and most people kind of liked it that way.

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Roll the clock back - prior to the 20th Century, in those days was it just the immediate or extended family that was supposed to do the ostracizing? Or the entire village/local community?
I wasn't alive back then, but some things are still true: when human beings get pissed at each other, they tend to apply their anger to their entire social circle.
(Think of, maybe, one of your friends today ---who went thru a nasty divorce, and forced you to choose sides, and ostracize the other partner. Your decision affects more than just you, right? )The same logic applied in Fiddler on the Roof, set in the 1890's .

Last edited by chappachula; 04-22-2019 at 08:31 AM.
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Old 04-22-2019, 08:36 AM
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Huh. My wife's mother, Jewish, married a Catholic. After that guy took off she married a Protestant. My wife's very Jewish bubby and the extended family seemed to be able to live with it.

This sort of thing may not have varied ( or varied much) in the old days, but it certainly varies in more recent history , perhaps because there are more different "groups" ( I'm not sure if "denomination" is the correct word) than in the past. I wouldn't expect a Reform Jewish family to sit shiva for a member who married a Christian , but that doesn't means a Hasidic family wouldn't do so.

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Old 04-22-2019, 08:47 AM
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To a lot of Jews, you were. It may not matter to you, but it does to them.
I have nothing against Jews, I mean, my mother was one, but I was not.
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Old 04-22-2019, 08:48 AM
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From my Irish in-laws: "At least he's not Italian"
From my Italian in-laws: "At least he's not Irish"
From my Jewish family: "What a lovely girl!"

That was over 40 years ago, it's just not that much of a thing anymore.
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Old 04-22-2019, 09:35 AM
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My older brother experienced a bit of tension when he married Outside The Faith (to a nice Catholic girl in the '70s), but by the time I met my dream woman (a lapsed Methodist) no one gave a rat's ass about the interfaith aspect. Then again, our family was nonobservant to the point of agnosticism.
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I have always found this method of maintaining the purity of the genetic line through selective breeding amusing.
Resistance to interfaith or inter-ethnic marriages is not about eugenics.

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Old 04-22-2019, 09:36 AM
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Important to note that Jewish exogamy and relative wealth have led to a double whammy of people leaving the faith as well as low birth rates. It's a real concern for the Jewish community and there is disagreement on how exactly to deal with it. Exogamy rates are up to nearly 60% currently and there is a real concern that suggests that American Judaism, especially in its non-Orthodox forms will no longer exist except in isolated pockets within our children's lifetimes.
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Old 04-22-2019, 09:38 AM
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Is anyone else remembering the sitcome Bridget Loves Bernie? It was about the marriage of a Catholic woman and Jewish man. The Wikipedia page says it was highly rated but canceled after one season mostly due to objections from Jewish leaders who found it offensive. I never saw the show so I couldn't say. But while it may have been an exciting theme for a show decades ago, it now seems like an awfully flimsy subject to be the centerpiece of a TV show.

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Old 04-22-2019, 09:44 AM
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Important to note that Jewish exogamy and relative wealth have led to a double whammy of people leaving the faith as well as low birth rates. It's a real concern for the Jewish community and there is disagreement on how exactly to deal with it. Exogamy rates are up to nearly 60% currently and there is a real concern that suggests that American Judaism, especially in its non-Orthodox forms will no longer exist except in isolated pockets within our children's lifetimes.
Are absolute numbers a concern? Judaism is a not a huge global religion in the first place, and I thought they were not aggressively seeking proselytes.
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Old 04-22-2019, 09:47 AM
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Even in the mid 1930s, when my uncle married a Christian woman, there was no shiva, no shunning in our family. Perhaps some more distant, more pious relatives were put out. On the other hand, when my son did the same in 1992, my wife's stepfather announced that he would no longer be welcome in his house. Which didn't bother anyone (except my MIL) since I couldn't stand the man anyway and I don't imagine my son felt any differently.

My impression is that it is more a custom among some groups than an actual rabbinical law. But I could be wrong about that.

Oh, and when my brother married a devout Catholic, her mother called my mother and asked what they could do break it up. My mother wasn't interested and the other woman hung up in despair.

I forgot to mention that mitochondrial DNA evidence shows that most or nearly all Ashkenazi Jews have a non-Jewish female ancestor somewhere along the female line. Thus, according to modern rabbinical law, none of us are actually Jewish (including the learned rabbis).

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Old 04-22-2019, 09:47 AM
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My mom was Jewish, yet I wasn't born Jewish.
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To a lot of Jews, you were. It may not matter to you, but it does to them.
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I have nothing against Jews, I mean, my mother was one, but I was not.
Under Orthodox Jewish law, you are a Jew. Well, if you completely reject Judaism they might accept that (you'd be dead to them, in a sense) but if you choose to call yourself a Jew, that vast majority of Jews will consider you to have always been a Jew.

It's not just a religion, it's an ethnic group, and you are a member of it.
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Old 04-22-2019, 09:52 AM
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Are absolute numbers a concern? Judaism is a not a huge global religion in the first place, and I thought they were not aggressively seeking proselytes.
Yes, Jews hope not to become extinct. The Reform movement has decided to embrace those with one Jewish parent who are interested in being Jews. This is a bit of a mess from "who's a Jew" perspective, as this is contrary to the Orthodox rule that only those with Jewish mothers are Jews. But it has "worked" for Reform Judaism, in terms of keeping communities functioning.

My synagogue has a whole set of procedures to include non-Jewish parents in Jewish rites of passage, for instance. So, instead of e.g. saying the usual blessing over the Torah (an honor usually given to parents on the occasion of their child's bar mitzvah) there's a non-denominational "blessing" they can say so they can be honored in front of the congregation.
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Old 04-22-2019, 10:00 AM
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Is anyone else remembering the sitcome Bridget Loves Bernie? It was about the marriage of a Catholic woman and Jewish man. The Wikipedia page says it was highly rated but canceled after one season mostly due to objections from Jewish leaders who found it offensive. I never saw the show so I couldn't say. But while it may have been an exciting theme for a show decades ago, it now seems like an awfully flimsy subject to be the centerpiece of a TV show.
I was thinking of that show when I wrote about my aunt and uncle earlier. I was going to say "If you want to picture them as Meredith Baxter and David Birney, go ahead, even though they don't look like that," but then I thought that the reference was too old and obscure, and hardly anyone would get it.
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Old 04-22-2019, 10:01 AM
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As for the shunning -- I think back in, say, "The Fiddler on the Roof", it wasn't that the Jewish parents chose to shun their child so much as that by marrying out, the child was removing herself (or himself) from the community, and it probably wasn't even safe for them to visit much, as they had to establish credibility as a good Christian. So of course the parents mourned.

But I worked with an older man whose parents sat shiva for him when he married a Catholic woman in the US, where of course they could have stayed in touch. But I wonder if that was sort of a hold-over from the forced separation of the old days. Or maybe it was just parents being really angry.

When my MIL told her parents she was marrying a non-Jew, they said, "well, his name is Jewish enough that we don't have to tell everyone". When my FIL told his parents he was marrying a Jew, they hung up on him. So the whole shunning bit isn't just a Jewish thing.
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Old 04-22-2019, 10:32 AM
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Quoth Hari Seldon:

I forgot to mention that mitochondrial DNA evidence shows that most or nearly all Ashkenazi Jews have a non-Jewish female ancestor somewhere along the female line. Thus, according to modern rabbinical law, none of us are actually Jewish (including the learned rabbis).
Not necessarily definitive. While Judaism does discourage conversion into the religion, it's still possible, and a Jew by conversion is regarded as every bit as much a Jew as one by birth. So if a Jewish man marries a woman of gentile ancestry, but she converts, then their children would still be regarded as Jewish. And of course genetic evidence can't say anything about that possibility.
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Old 04-22-2019, 10:50 AM
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Not necessarily definitive. While Judaism does discourage conversion into the religion, it's still possible, and a Jew by conversion is regarded as every bit as much a Jew as one by birth. So if a Jewish man marries a woman of gentile ancestry, but she converts, then their children would still be regarded as Jewish. And of course genetic evidence can't say anything about that possibility.
There is the famous biblical story about Ruth, who was originally Jordanian, but married a Jew, moved to Judah ("thy people shall be my people, and thy god my god"), and was pretty clearly accepted as a Jew. Of course no rabbis were involved, but scripture ought to hold some weight.
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Old 04-22-2019, 11:09 AM
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It's not just a religion, it's an ethnic group, and you are a member of it.
I think "ethnic group" isn't the right term. There are, after all, huge cultural variances between Jews from different parts of the world. Consider, for example, the Abayudaya of Uganda. Ethnically, they couldn't be more different from my Ashkenormative self, but they are most definitely Jews.

I think it's better the call Jews a "nation". The quality of being a Jew is more a question of citizenship than religion. Jewish Law is quite distinct from Jewish belief. According to traditional Jewish Law, if your mother is a Jew, you are a Jew in the sense that you are a citizen of the nation of Jews.

It's just like you're a US citizen if you're born in the United States, even if you leave as an infant, are raised in another country, have a passport from that other country, and have no particular feelings of identification with the US. If you come here and show your birth certificate (and do a lot of painful paperwork), you can get a US passport.

To extend the metaphor, conversion to Judaism is like becoming a naturalized citizen of the US. If you're born a Jew according to the traditional legal requirements, you don't need to undergo conversion to be counted as a Jew. Just like you don't have to go through naturalization if you were born in the US.
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Old 04-22-2019, 11:29 AM
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I think it's better the call Jews a "nation". The quality of being a Jew is more a question of citizenship than religion. Jewish Law is quite distinct from Jewish belief. According to traditional Jewish Law, if your mother is a Jew, you are a Jew in the sense that you are a citizen of the nation of Jews.
Calling Jews a "nation" is problematic. It's been the basis for discrimination for a long time.

Judaism is a religion. It's like any other in that it determines it's own membership rules. The rule is that the children of a Jewish mother are Jewish. It may seem to be a rather minimal standard for entry into a religion, but that hasn't stopped people from being killed on that basis.
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Old 04-22-2019, 11:36 AM
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1) Around here the JWs seem a lot more into fighting against interfaith marriage than the Jewish community. They make even the Mormons seem open and open-minded.

2) Mileage seems to vary greatly. A former girlfriend (Methodist) married a Jewish man back in about 1980 and she and their children were basically shunned by most of his family and friends. Another friend about the same age did pretty much the same thing and was welcomed warmly; their one child was fully accepted into the faith although there was a couple extra steps thrown his was; almost a sort of conversion. I guess like any religion it depends on the branch/exact denomination and a lot depends on the people involved. In short I don't know that there is an easy answer or fast reply.
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Old 04-22-2019, 12:08 PM
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From someone without a religion and no familial religious interests in any way, the concept of interfaith marriages being a problem seems baffling to me. Any religion or any person that would impose such restrictions seems inherently problematic to me.

Marry who you love, if that coincides with a religious alignment as well then fine great I suppose. If your family or religion puts pressure on you simply because you are marrying outside of a faith then I don't reckon much to them as a family or as a religion.
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Old 04-22-2019, 12:13 PM
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Calling Jews a "nation" is problematic. It's been the basis for discrimination for a long time.
Maybe it has, but, functionally, Judaism is a religion; Jews are a people/nation. There is an existential quality of being a Jew that is separate from belief and practice of the religion. Just ask a secular Israeli Jew.

Jews are a nation. Israel, the United States, France, Germany, China, are all nation-states. They are all entities and categories that lack any objective reality. They're all things based on stories people use to organize themselves into groups, for good or ill.

Once again, nobody's forcing a person born to a mother who is a Jew, but raised in another faith, or without religion at all, to behave according to the religion of Judaism. But that person is a citizen of the nation or Jews, whether they know it or acknowledge it or care one whit about it.
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Old 04-22-2019, 12:45 PM
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The concept of "interfaith marriages" is itself pretty new: Basel (Switzerland) claims to have the oldest civil registry (f. 1876) and that its creation was triggered precisely by an interfaith marriage between two people who insisted in wanting to get married without either of them wanting to change denomination, something that their respective churches considered completely unacceptable (one was Catholic, one Lutheran).
Norway introduced civil ceremonies in 1845 in the "Dissenter" laws which loosened the grip of the State Church. As well as making it legal for citizens to leave the church, it created a way to get married by civil authorities.
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Old 04-22-2019, 01:38 PM
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Calling Jews a "nation" is problematic. It's been the basis for discrimination for a long time.

Judaism is a religion. It's like any other in that it determines it's own membership rules. The rule is that the children of a Jewish mother are Jewish. It may seem to be a rather minimal standard for entry into a religion, but that hasn't stopped people from being killed on that basis.
Purely secular Jews got killed in Nazi Germany

I'm 100% atheist. If I were born Christian, any type, I'd not be Christian any more. But I was born Jewish and am still Jewish in the tribal sense even if I don't practice Judaism any more.
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Old 04-22-2019, 01:41 PM
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Even in the mid 1930s, when my uncle married a Christian woman, there was no shiva, no shunning in our family. Perhaps some more distant, more pious relatives were put out. On the other hand, when my son did the same in 1992, my wife's stepfather announced that he would no longer be welcome in his house. Which didn't bother anyone (except my MIL) since I couldn't stand the man anyway and I don't imagine my son felt any differently.
It depended on the family. In the 1930s my aunt married a Catholic. My grandfather had no problem with it at all since my uncle believed in the true religion - the Brooklyn Dodgers.
But I strongly suspect my grandfather was an atheist, but you didn't come out in those days.
My kids have had no problem being the product of a mixed marriage, and my older daughter was active in Bnai Brith in a temple - a reform temple, but no problem.
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Old 04-22-2019, 01:44 PM
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Maybe it has, but, functionally, Judaism is a religion; Jews are a people/nation. There is an existential quality of being a Jew that is separate from belief and practice of the religion. Just ask a secular Israeli Jew.

Jews are a nation. Israel, the United States, France, Germany, China, are all nation-states. They are all entities and categories that lack any objective reality. They're all things based on stories people use to organize themselves into groups, for good or ill.

Once again, nobody's forcing a person born to a mother who is a Jew, but raised in another faith, or without religion at all, to behave according to the religion of Judaism. But that person is a citizen of the nation or Jews, whether they know it or acknowledge it or care one whit about it.
It is worth noting that not all Jews agree on that. Karaites, as far as I understand, specifically recognize only patrilineal descent (as well as conversion, integration into the community, etc.)
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Old 04-22-2019, 01:55 PM
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Note that Reform Judaism has a different take. Either parent counts if raised with the identity.

One rabbi I know has the line of not caring about Jewish sons or daughter in laws but about Jewish grandchildren.

Many Reform congregations are more mixed couples than not with very active participation by both.
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Old 04-22-2019, 02:05 PM
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Interfaith marriages could also be a basis for comedy. In 1926, a silent film, The Cohens and the Kellys had a Catholic familyand Jewish family, neighbors in an apartment building. feuding with each other. Unbeknownst to all four parents the Catholic son and the Jewish daughter fell in love and got married secretly, until her pregnancy outed the relationship. Her father shunned her but the catholic son and his wife and daughter were taken in by his family. In true schmaltzy fashion her dad eventually gave in. There was also some hoo-rah about an inheritance they shared, because it turns out an aunt in a previous generation, who became wealthy, had married out of her own faith. A very funny movie.

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0016732...4?ref_=nv_sr_4
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Last edited by Baker; 04-22-2019 at 02:06 PM.
  #41  
Old 04-22-2019, 02:16 PM
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I have always found this method of maintaining the purity of the genetic line through selective breeding amusing. You know who else was a fan of eugenics? Yep, dog breeders! Er, and also Hitler.
Nothing to do with maintaning "genetic purity". A Jew is a Jew is a Jew- regardless of the color of their skin, the type of hair or facial feautures they have etc. The idea is that two Jews who marry and reproduce will raise Jewish children and the population of Jews will go up or at least stay stable. The risk of Jews marrying gentiles is that their children will not be raised as Jews and there will be fewer Jews in the world. My great aunt Esther married Danny (a fine man and the life of any party). Danny was Roman Catholic. Their children were Roman Catholics.


Back To The OP

After two bad marriages, my sister called me up and said "I'm done with men. From now on, I'm dating girls." I said "Okay. But, only date Jewish girls.". Now, she's in a relationship with a wonderful woman- who is a shikseh.

Re Sitting Shiva

Technically, this violates Jewish law. The Talmud says that you must always keep at least a small opening in your life through which you might reconcile. In practice, I'm sure it still happens.

Re Who Should Shun

It was my understanding that any Jew was supposed to shun somebody who married outside the faith. From a standpoint of Jewish law, they've committed a pretty large crime.

BTW

I'm not planning on shunning my sister- at least not over the shikseh. After two awful husbands, she really hit the jackpot.

ETA

I've known atheists with more knowledge of the Talmud, Yiddish and Jewish American culture than I have. Under Jewish law, if you come out of a Jewish mother then you're a Jew. I've even met an atheist rabbi. As we've said before in many threads, a Jew is required to DO certain things and to NOT DO certain things. Nowhere is a Jew commanded to BELIEVE anything.
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Last edited by DocCathode; 04-22-2019 at 02:20 PM.
  #42  
Old 04-22-2019, 02:26 PM
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Is anyone else remembering the sitcome Bridget Loves Bernie? It was about the marriage of a Catholic woman and Jewish man.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Baker
Interfaith marriages could also be a basis for comedy. In 1926, a silent film, The Cohens and the Kellys had a Catholic familyand Jewish family, neighbors in an apartment building. feuding with each other. Unbeknownst to all four parents the Catholic son and the Jewish daughter fell in love and got married secretly, until her pregnancy outed the relationship.
All of which is basically the 1922 Abie's Irish Rose redux.
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Old 04-22-2019, 02:30 PM
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In between, it was the main schtick of Jerry Stiller and Anne Meara.
  #44  
Old 04-22-2019, 03:02 PM
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And , let's face it--interracial marriages were off the charts and unacceptable to practically everybody. It just wasn't done. The movie "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner", was a risky venture for Hollywood back in 1967, and would have been impossible 10 years earlier.(And most of the audience who watched it thought, "well, it's a nice story, and okay for those two actors, but I'm glad it didn't happen in my family.") .
That just reminded my of a contemporaneous MAD magazine cartoon. Highly paraphrased, I’m sure, it’s a 40 year old + memory.

A young women tells her parents she is dating a black guy. They sort of flip out and try to forbid it. She retorts “When that girl in Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner brought home Sidney Portier, you said you didn’t mind.
And the father replies “If you bring home Sidney Portier, I won’t mind.

And, just an anecdote- my business partner is Israeli. As is his family. And the are all very Jewish. One of this brothers, however married a Christian woman. And one year, the entire extended family celebrated Christmas for her. My friend was extremely puzzled by , as he put it, “that whole hanging your socks on the fireplace thing”.

But they all had a really good time. I thought it was kind of cool.
  #45  
Old 04-22-2019, 03:21 PM
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So the person who was converting out was leaving their community behind, not being kicked out; a man who'd converted out of Judaism wouldn't be supposed to take part in Jewish ceremonies any more (for a very small community this might even have led to the inability to reach minyan), or to call a Jewish tribunal in those situations were which ones to use was faith/community-based.
Nava, I really don't think you understand. It wasn't a matter of participation in religious ceremony - the person marrying-out was shunned - a funeral was held, after which the person was not to be spoken to, not acknowledged if passed in the street, not spoken of...

I hate to rely over-much on Fiddler on the Roof because, after all, it is a sanitized, Broadway musical look at life in an Eastern European shtetl in the late 19th/early 20th Century but that is, in fact, where my family's father came from - a small, mostly Jewish village in Eastern Europe (the location apparently stayed in place while the Russia/Poland border vibrated back and forth across it over the years). The treatment of the third daughter, Chava, after she marries her gentile husband is very much what I'm talking about here.

Here is a quote from a Syrian rabbi in 2017 from here. The quote is from quite a way down the article if you want to look for it yourself. I have added some emphasis.
Quote:
The Syrian Jewish community, of which I am a member, completely rejects intermarriage and conversion of any kind. So if there is intermarriage or marriage to a convert, even an Orthodox convert, it is 100 percent rejected. If a person chooses to go down that path, then their children wouldn’t be allowed to attend community yeshivot, the men in the family would not be permitted to take aliyahs or join the synagogue, they’re denied burial rights and they would face complete social rejection. Nobody will play with their children. They would not get invited to holiday events or weddings, and people would not speak to them. They are totally isolated from the community.
As I mentioned, the observance of the shunning custom in my father's family was varied, but there were indeed people who never spoke to or acknowledged my parents or us children after that. This isn't a matter of "oh, you can't attend a religious ceremony", it was a complete rejection and ostracization of the people involved. As I noted, in a large city this may not be such a big deal but certainly back when people lived in segregated villages it was.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Chronos View Post
Did the tradition vary based on the sex of the couple? That is to say, would a Jewish man marrying a gentile woman (whose children would therefore be born gentiles) be regarded differently from a Jewish woman marrying a gentile man (whose children would still be born Jewish)?
Nope. Who was Jewish and who wasn't in the mixed couple didn't matter.

Quote:
Originally Posted by chappachula View Post
I like your expression "olden days",because I think it accurately expresses more than you intended.
In American experience you could define the "olden days" and , hence, the older generation --by the language they spoke. This is true for lots of ethnic groups, but especially for Jews.
The generation that entered thru Ellis Island (1900-1920) spoke their native language and lived in close communities with others of their same group.(Poles, Italians, Irish, and for Jews, Yiddish speakers).
My Jewish grandparents came over earlier than that - between 1890 and 1900.

Quote:
So let's not judge past generations by modern standards.
I'm not judging them - I'm just curious about the details of the custom.

Quote:
Originally Posted by kayaker View Post
I have nothing against Jews, I mean, my mother was one, but I was not.
If your mother was a Jew then according to the Jews you are also a Jew. Which may or may not mean anything to you, personally, and you might never practice the religion or customs and maybe don't give a fig about the whole group, but you're still ethnically Jewish. It's not something you personally get to define, other people define it for you - if it's not the Jews consulting their rule books it's something like the Nuremberg Laws.

Quote:
Originally Posted by dropzone View Post
I have always found this method of maintaining the purity of the genetic line through selective breeding amusing. You know who else was a fan of eugenics? Yep, dog breeders! Er, and also Hitler.
Has nothing to do with genetic purity. It's about tribal identity. Those who join the tribe - that is, those who convert - become full members of the tribe. If a gentile woman, before she marries a Jewish man, completes a conversion to Judaism then she is Jewish and any of her children born after that are just as Jewish as anyone else (children from prior relationships are not).

(Most) Jews do recognize that people converting from outside their faith/ethnicity is a good thing as it prevents inbreeding. They don't go looking for converts, but those who are sincere about changing their status are welcomed.

Quote:
Originally Posted by senoy View Post
Important to note that Jewish exogamy and relative wealth have led to a double whammy of people leaving the faith as well as low birth rates. It's a real concern for the Jewish community and there is disagreement on how exactly to deal with it. Exogamy rates are up to nearly 60% currently and there is a real concern that suggests that American Judaism, especially in its non-Orthodox forms will no longer exist except in isolated pockets within our children's lifetimes.
Then there are folks like me who point out that if you didn't make a point of treating the children of interfaith marriages as lepers/pariahs/non-persons (which is not to say YOU do, or YOUR community did, just a general statement) you might get more of them staying within the Jewish fold. As an example, of the four children of my parents two of us as adults spent time within Jewish communities so hey, that's two out of four you might have kept. But when you grow up with your closest relatives pushing you away saying "you aren't one of us, go sit over there with those people" then no, you're not going to get a lot of folks interested in your camp. Tell kids you don't belong here often enough and they might well start to believe it. And that's the folks willing to talk to the kids at all. Becomes something of a self-fulfilling prophecy, right?

(Just to clarify - it was never quite that bad for us growing up. But that might also be in part because at a certain point my parents moved hundreds of miles away from the relatives. It think it was in part to get away from the bullshit and arguing but I was very young and not aware of some of this until much later.)

If you want to get along with your neighbors then inevitably some of the kids are going to cross lines their parents didn't and marry those weird people over on the next street or whatever (that is, more or less, what happened with my parents - a group of Christians and Jews wanted better relations with the neighbors and - oh, surprise! - there were a few kids who started dating across religious/ethnic lines). You can either react with horror, or accept that this sort of thing is going to happen and keep the lines open with the kids. Maybe, if they have a positive experience of your culture, they'll be interested in joining/staying with the tribe? (Whichever tribe that is - I grasp that mom's family was not happy about any of this, either, but they didn't feel a religious/cultural obligation to shun her.)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Hari Seldon View Post
I forgot to mention that mitochondrial DNA evidence shows that most or nearly all Ashkenazi Jews have a non-Jewish female ancestor somewhere along the female line. Thus, according to modern rabbinical law, none of us are actually Jewish (including the learned rabbis).
Eh, as already noted, since a woman who converts is just as much a Jew as a woman born Jewish that actually proves nothing.
  #46  
Old 04-22-2019, 03:43 PM
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In the late eighteenth century one of my ancestors married a Jewish woman from eastern Europe and was beheaded. This was in what is now Germany. Twenty something years ago I married a Jewish woman of eastern European descent, and I'm still here. Nobody on either side objected; both my Southern Baptist parents and my wife's secular Jewish parents were fine with it, as was my wife's observant (Reform) grandma.
  #47  
Old 04-22-2019, 04:04 PM
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In college I had a Jewish roommate who had three older brothers. Now, her parents were always very nice to me, but they were the kind of people who not only had two sets of dishes, they had two dishwashers. One of her older brothers married outside the faith, and in fact his wife converted, but nonetheless he was dead to them and they sat shiva.

Then a couple of years later another brother killed himself. Faced with the fact of actual rather than symbolic death, the parents let the first brother and his wife back into the family. "After all, she converted. She's one of us now."

My roommate went all crazy in college. She dated Catholics. She dated heathens. She dated an Arab! She did not introduce these guys to her parents but she thought they'd be okay with it after their previous experience. At least, sometimes she thought that, other times she said, "My mother will plotz!" But then her parents hired a matchmaker to find her a proper Jewish fellow. This marriage did not work out very well, but it happened. She left him for an itinerant Cajun truck driver, and I lost touch with her after that so I don't know how her parents felt about that. Her mother probably plotzed.

Last edited by Hilarity N. Suze; 04-22-2019 at 04:05 PM.
  #48  
Old 04-22-2019, 04:43 PM
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Originally Posted by Broomstick View Post
Nava, I really don't think you understand. It wasn't a matter of participation in religious ceremony - the person marrying-out was shunned - a funeral was held, after which the person was not to be spoken to, not acknowledged if passed in the street, not spoken of...
I think what Nava is saying is that from the perspective of the shunners, they aren't shunning the person. Rather, the way they see it is that the person being shunned has abandoned the group/family by marrying out of the group. There's always more than one perspective , even if people outside the situation tend to agree with one more than the other.

Last edited by doreen; 04-22-2019 at 04:46 PM.
  #49  
Old 04-22-2019, 04:57 PM
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Hell, remember when it was a lot stricter? Catholics and Protestants didn't marry one another. My mother's friend from Ireland told her about the time she caught her (Catholic) mother-in-law trying to baptize her eldest in the kitchen sink! I can't imagine what would've happened if she had been Jewish!
  #50  
Old 04-22-2019, 05:07 PM
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Important to note that Jewish exogamy and relative wealth have led to a double whammy of people leaving the faith as well as low birth rates. It's a real concern for the Jewish community and there is disagreement on how exactly to deal with it. Exogamy rates are up to nearly 60% currently and there is a real concern that suggests that American Judaism, especially in its non-Orthodox forms will no longer exist except in isolated pockets within our children's lifetimes.
So, like what happened to Protestantism in the US?

The low birthrate of non-Orthodox Jews and the high birth rate of ultra/orthodox Jews isn't going to be a problem in the US but it may become so in Israel when you have a third of the voting population that wants to make Eretz Israel great again.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Hilarity N. Suze View Post
In college I had a Jewish roommate who had three older brothers. Now, her parents were always very nice to me, but they were the kind of people who not only had two sets of dishes, they had two dishwashers. One of her older brothers married outside the faith, and in fact his wife converted, but nonetheless he was dead to them and they sat shiva.

Then a couple of years later another brother killed himself. Faced with the fact of actual rather than symbolic death, the parents let the first brother and his wife back into the family. "After all, she converted. She's one of us now."

My roommate went all crazy in college. She dated Catholics. She dated heathens. She dated an Arab! She did not introduce these guys to her parents but she thought they'd be okay with it after their previous experience. At least, sometimes she thought that, other times she said, "My mother will plotz!" But then her parents hired a matchmaker to find her a proper Jewish fellow. This marriage did not work out very well, but it happened. She left him for an itinerant Cajun truck driver, and I lost touch with her after that so I don't know how her parents felt about that. Her mother probably plotzed.
That sounds like a pretty neurotic family all around.
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