Article Discussion: Lessons on Intermarriage from Abraham

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April 10, 2009 at 4:11 pm #1007

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Click here to read the article: Lessons on Intermarriage from Abraham

June 14, 2010 at 3:16 pm #4731

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So basically, your solution is:

A. Get your wife to convert to Judaism
B. If she won’t convert, try to make sure the kids pick your religion and not your wife’s

Those are both terrible ideas.

A. Conversion to Judaism is a serious decision. Judaism doesn’t believe in missionaries, and Rabbis are instructed traditionally to try to dissuade non-Jews from converting for the specific reason of filtering out the non-believers because Judaism requires a monumental level of commitment that a non-believer wouldn’t be able to handle. The individual who converts for the sole sake of marriage is converting for the WRONG reasons and will regret it. Did you know that conversions for the sake of marriage are not even recognized in many denominations of Judaism? (including Orthodox and Hassidic, which, BTW have much lower intermarriage rates than, say, Reform). This means the convert will at some point in their life have their conversion challenged by someone Jewish. Nowadays, some rabbis are even revoking conversions if they do not adhere to certain Jewish laws. Also, according to Leviticus 21:14, a Kohen (family from the priestly dynasty) is not allowed to marry a convert. This would forbid Kohanim from ever intermarrying, so if your last name is Cohen(generally a last name of Cohen suggests being from a family with a priestly dynasty) there is a good chance you’re up a creek.

To summarize: Pushing Judaism on a non-believer is a terrible idea and marriage-based conversions are not accepted by all denominations of Judaism.

B. Encouraging your kids to pick your religion over your wife’s… Are you for real? Let’s be realistic here. The odds are if you are Jewish and your wife is Christian, you will want to instill Jewish values on your kids and your wife will want to instill Christian values them as well. I have seen this in many intermarried families. I have never seen an intermarried family where the wife is indifferent and the husband raises the kids exclusively with Jewish values. Even offering this up as a solution suggests to me that even though you were once intermarried, there is a lot you do not know about intermarriages.

Here is my solution: If you are choosing to intermarry, raise your kids with both yours and your wife’s values. Give them a good education into the cultures and traditions of both their parents equally. When they come of age, give them the freedom to make their own decisions as to how to live their lives. And no matter how they choose to live, love them and accept them and their decisions.

You clearly have joined the ranks of Jews who believe that intermarriage is ‘hurting’ the Jewish nation. You think failing to raise Jewish children is a seen as a failiure, and that it is our obligation to do our part to enlarge the Jewish community with Jewish marriages and Jewish babies, by any means necessary, even if that means having your wife convert for the wrong reasons, or pushing for your kids to pick your religion and ignore their mother‚Äôs.

But you are forgetting one major fact: YOU CAN’T FORCE PEOPLE TO BELIEVE. Acceptance and love are much more important, but you seem to conveniently forgotten these two factors, two factors that are probably the most important thing a person can learn about being in a marriage. You should NOT make your wife convert and you should NOT make your kids pick your religion. In both situations, you stand the highest chance of sustaining your relationship by loving and accepting both your partner and your kids, without pressuring them to change their values to fit your own, or your community‚Äôs interests. I think that following the advice you gave will help destroy relationships, all for the sake of producing Jews.

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