Sh*t In-Married Jews Say?
02/01/2012 - 15:13

Remember my post back in December about what NOT to do when you discover an intermarried Jewish family member has a Christmas tree in their house? 

Now I’d like to share what NOT to say when you encounter a mom who tells you she is not Jewish but has agreed to raise her kids as Jews:

“As a matter of fact, you know, your kids are not Jewish’” — referring to matrilineal descent, the traditional Jewish law that says someone is Jewish only if he or she is born of a Jewish mother or undergoes a formal conversion.

A woman relays being told this on more than one occasion in an excellent article that appeared in last week’s New Jersey Jewish News. The article by Johanna Ginsberg does a nice and thorough job of exploring the ups and downs of being a gentile mom raising Jewish kids and the influence these women are having on their families and their communities. Check it out, but be forewarned: some of the comments posted below the story are a little hostile.

We really need to come up with a good shorthand way of describing gentile moms of Jewish kids, because GMRJK and GMOJK and NJMRJK just doesn’t sound very appealing. Yes, I suppose my regular commenter/fan “Anti-Intermarried” will pipe up and suggest “shiksa.” But seriously, anyone care to offer a friendly term to describe these ladies?

Also, while I’m getting all interactive here, anyone care to share more examples (preferably culled from your own experience) of what NOT to say to intermarried Jews, their spouses and their kids? Perhaps, if I had some video-making skills, we could put together a “Sh*t In-married Jews Say" a la the whole "Sh*t White Girls Say" meme craze that's spawned everything from "Sh*t Jewish Mothers Say" to "Sh*t Frum Girls Say" to "Sh*t Vegans Say."

On a related note, while Googling to make sure no one had already made such a video, I discovered this excellent post by Erika Davis. Which led me to Erika’s own blog, “Black, Gay and Jewish” (which I’m embarrassed to say I hadn’t seen before). And which I will add to my blogroll as soon as I figure out how (yes, video-making isn’t my only 21st-century media shortcoming).

Dost thou like “In The Mixxe”? Please like it on Facebooke and follow Julie Wiener on Twitter. (No reason for the faux olde English here, just feeling silly today.)

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I think they should be called "Zipporas," in recognition of Moses's wife.

Hi Julie... I can't comment on whether it was possible to convert or not back then. However, the tradition that Pharoah's daughter was a convert is based on the gemarah in Sotah 12:B

Great points Laurie. The truth is the truth and no amount of propaganda can change it.

I just want to point out that Moses the Lawgiver himself was raised by Pharaoh's daughter Bityah (Batyah). However, it should also be noted that she was a convert to Judaism anyway, so she was no longer a gentile at that point compared to when she was born.

In what text does it say that Pharoah's daughter converted to Judaism? How was it even possible to convert to Judaism back then?

The idea that non-jewish women (or men) can raise a Jewish child confuses me.

For thousands of years, a central message of Judaism has been "mesorah" -- transmitting the tradition from generation to generation. Part of mesorah includes the view that Jewish commitment takes the form of marrying someone who has that same commitment to establish a Jewish home and transmit the message.

How can you raise a child who has a commitment to creating a strong Jewish home when the child's parents, themselves, have chosen differently?

If the Jewish continuity of succeeding generations isn't the ultimate goal of a couple, what kind of "Jewish education" are they providing? Light a menorah for another few years till everyone grows up? Eat matza once a year for a few hours?

Jews held onto their heritage through unimaginable persecutions for thousands of years. It's ironic that today, when the persecutions are almost non-existent, that the continuation of Jewish mesorah is under the biggest threat.

Sugar-coating the idea that interfaith families will keep a family's Judaism going for another few years isn't going to change that. You can't teach "do what I say, not what I do." If you're truly invested in raising committed Jewish children, you must explore your own relationship with Judaism.

The anti-Jewish women sentiments on these pro-intermarriage websites do exist. It's subtle and not so subtle. The many articles I've read portray gentile women as being just as capable or even better equipped to raise Jewish childre than Jewish women. That is offensive!
I've read other articles where non-Jewish women state that they're raising children with a strong Jewish identity and feel like they are themselves basically Jewish mothers. What an insult to all real Jewish mothers!
I could go on and on. It's not just gentile women who disrespect Jewish women on these sites but it's also so-called pro-intermarriage Jewish men and"Rabbis."
These sites view Jewish women as being insignificant and inferior. That is the definition of hatred. You agree with these attitude so you can't see it.

i've never read anything about Jewish women being inferior to Gentile women, or vice versa. i think that's all in the minds of some of the readers.

there are plenty of people who come from intermarried backgrounds who've turned out just fine, along with plenty who come from in-married backgrounds that have experienced an identity crisis, and vice versa. it's more about who raises you and how they do it rather than simply who gives birth to you.

Gentile mom,
This is not intolerance but the truth. Only Jewish women can give birth to and raise Jewish children. I'm tired of seeing the attacks and outright hatred against Jewish women on pro-intermarriage sites. Jewish women are portrayed as being insignificant and inferior to gentile women. That is sad!

Jewish Mothers=Jewish Children: I honestly do not know what you are talking about. I have never seen any attacks on or outright hatred against Jewish women on sites that, I am guessing, you might consider pro-intermarriage (in that they are not anti-intermarriage). I have never seen any such site portray Jewish women as insignificant or inferior. As a Jewish woman myself, i would be offended by such comments and would notice them -- if they actually existed. 

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