More Intermarried Bloggers
09/06/2011 - 12:35
Anonymous

This may come as a shock to you, but I am not the only intermarried mom who blogs about raising Jewish kids (among other in-the-mix-y topics).

InterfaithFamily.com recently launched a fabulous new parenting blog, featuring a variety of nontraditional women (no men yet, but perhaps this is in the works) writing about raising Jewish kids. They include an Evangelical Christian woman who is married to a Jewish man and pregnant with her first child; a pregnant single Jewish woman; a woman who converted to Judaism three years ago after her oldest daughter’s bat mitzvah; and a gentile mom who has been married to a Jewish man for 15 years and is preparing for her oldest son’s bar mitzvah.

So far, the posts are thoughtful and engaging — wrestling with everything from how to choose a baby name that will please all family members, to planning a bar/bat mitzvah (I’m already dreading this, and my oldest daughter is only 8) to the challenges of mourning a Catholic mom when one is no longer Catholic.

I’m looking forward to keeping up with these women and seeing how they respond to the various adventures and challenges life throws their way. Is a reality show next? Yes, I know intermarriage has come up as a side issue on a few shows already, including “Russian Dolls.” (Incidentally, I was in Brighton Beach this weekend and saw no one remotely resembling the blinged-out and Botoxed-up cast. In fact, I encountered very few Russians under the age of 80.)

Anyway, I mean a reality show in which intermarriage is the focus. Perhaps it would be called “The Real Jewish Moms”? “Intermarried With Children”? “America’s Next Top Interfaith Family”? “Jew-sy Shore”?

Since I’m vaguely repulsed by the whole reality-show genre, I hope not. But if such a show does come to be, let’s pray they find someone cleverer than I am to come up with the title!

Do you like “In The Mix”? Well, like it on Facebook then! And follow Julie Wiener on Twitter.
 

Comments

I disagree with the comment made about shiksas. I know of good jewish ladies marrying out , in fact i nearly did and I'm wondering if these good jewish men find a nice lady and she does or doesn't convert but brings her children up according to the husbands jewish customs do the non jewish children or jewish if the lady coverts become considered more jewish if they live in israel? Or if they have jewish children whom marry jews and the grandmother/s are jewish are they more or less jewish living out in the diaspora?

Even as one who is not an MOT, I get that there are traditions and rules even about who is considered a Jew and who is considered not a Jew. It seems to me, however, that the Jewish father and the Goyishe mother provide a child who is as Jewish as the product of an MOT-MOT pairing: both kids are at risk for Tay-Sachs, no?, and presumably God love both kids equally.

"I disagree with your statistics."

You can disagree all you want but those are the facts.

Kind of how you "claim" all kinds of mishegas as Jewish but in fact, ham and cheese sandwiches and working on Shabbos IS NOT JEWISH.

In response to "no to intermarriage," children with a Jewish father and a non-Jewish mother are in fact formally Jewish, but only by Reform Judaism's standards. The same Reform Judaism that dispensed with Kashrut, Sabbath observance, the belief in the divinity of the Torah, all aspects of Rabbinic Judaism, and at it's inception, the centrality of Jerusalem and Israel. So yeah, by those standards the children are Jewish.

Interfaithfamily.com's mission is ostensibly laudable - interfaith families who feel rejected by the Jewish community will understandably not wish to be involved, but is it intolerant to note the upwards of 70% divorce rate among interfaith families? Is it intolerant to note that less than 40% of children of interfaith families identify themselves as Jews? Isn't it in fact irresponsible and dishonest not to address these realities?

I'm just asking....

While I agree that intermarriage in the U.S. is a problem, I disagree with your statistics. I did intermarry, but I was only one of eight children in my family who did. All seven of my brothers and sisters married Jews, and one of the fully Jewish couples is divorced, and another one of them nearly got divorced! Seventy percent divorce rate? I don't believe it. My marriage is going strong and my husband jokes that he is "half Jewish." He was not raised religiously and believes that Judaism is a very special religion that he, too, would like to see passed on to his children. As he says, he "gets it." He understands the full dynamics of the pogroms, the Shoah, and the fight to keep this very smart, humane and talented group of people alive.

But the divorce rate is just one of my quibbles. We have three kids and I would say that two out of those three are staunch Jews who want to marry Jews. Less than 40 percent of interfaith families identify themselves as Jews? I don't believe that statistic either. I do believe that Orthodox Judaism is keeping Judaism alive, no question about it. But I want to help the rest of us who have found non-Jewish partners in a Christian world to keep this religion going. I love our people and am proud of my heritage. I believe my children - and my husband - feel the same way.

To the above poster, you say "less than 40% of children of interfaith families identify themselves as Jews," but how many of these children have only Jewish fathers? In this case, why should we expect them to identify themselves as Jews when most of the Jewish community rejects them as such? Furthermore, why should Jewish fathers raise their children as Jewish when they know it will constantly be called into question?

For me this is not a hypothetical issue. If I have children with a non-Jewish woman, as I might (I'm in my 20s), do I want to raise them in a religion that sees them as inferior on the basis of biological circumstance? I bet many Jewish men make the same calculation and choose to raise their children without religion. Isn't it a bit dishonest to deny the Judaism of patrilineal Jews, and then complain that they don't embrace Judaism?

The less than 40% statistic holds regardless of whether or not the children are halachically Jewish by Orthodox standards. The fact remains that the largest Jewish denomination in the US is Reform Judaism and they accept the validity of patrilineal descent. Parents have the option of raising their children in a community that accepts them as Jews. When they get older, Birthright Israel will gladly send them on a free trip to Israel. And yet? The statistic persists. It's not a matter of being accepted. There are plenty that will accept your children as Jews. It's just that kids can't help but notice that Judaism isn't their parents' top priority - so why should it be their's? The Jewish religion does not see the children of God as superior or inferior to one another. It's just that by traditional standards, you're either Jewish or you aren't - whether by biological circumstance or by choosing to convert. And I wasn't complaining - people are free to live their lives as they like. I'm just stating statistical facts, facts that interfaithfamily.com never ever mentions.

When and why did it start that only the mother could pass on the Jewish religion?

The Mountain Jews of the Caucasus area had patrilineal descent up until the 20th century!

The fact that they followed patrilineal descent does not provide much proof here. They did so because they were a population of Jewish men with no potential Jewish brides so they maintained a pseudoJewish identity via the husbands despite their gentile wives. They never intended this to be an expression of Jewish law, just a desperate attempt to keep their Jewish identity with their gentile brides. So the big question is where are their decendants today? Lost as Jews - patrilineal descent did not help!

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