Article Discussion: Small Community, Big Problems: What’s a Jewish Girl to Do?

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August 11, 2009 at 4:00 am #3541


Click here to read the article: Small Community, Big Problems: What’s a Jewish Girl to Do?

August 12, 2009 at 2:12 pm #3545


As someone in an inter-faith marriage, I can attest to the fact that a relationship where both partners are Jewish really is a whole lot simpler, particularly when it comes to raising children!

Having said that, however, we really do need to “lower the bar” and allow those who are unable to find a Jewish “significant other” to bring home a “Not” partner (i.e. she’s Jewish, he’s Not) without laying the whole guilt trip on him/her. Right now, Jewish biological survival requires that we put aside the insistence on endogamy and instead concentrate on giving those seeking a soul mate the motivation and tools to draw the prospective partner into the Jewish fold.

To paraphrase the author, unless you live in a cave (or Ghetto), the chances are good that your pool of potential marriage partners will be heavily skewed towards the Not end of the spectrum. It’s time for the Jewish collective to stop throwing up its hands in horror at the thought of a non-Jewish partner and instead concentrate on keeping both partners (and their offspring) within the Jewish orbit.

Our Patriarchs and Matriarchs were the original inter-married couples. Let’s get out of the business of interfering in the forces of attraction and love, and instead provide support for the new partnership or family. If we don’t, you can be sure somebody else will.

August 13, 2009 at 1:30 am #3549


As an orthodox Jew in an arranged marriage. Not here to judge you, but I see you have too many qualifications before you do the ultimate step. People who pick and choose like you, don’t end up in better or longer relationships. The world isn’t perfect, will never be. You grow into your relationship, everybody gives and you live happily ever after.

August 16, 2009 at 7:12 pm #3563


Why would anyone live in freezing Edmonton when they could move to another place with a larger Jewish, and for that matter larger anything, community-for example Montreal or Toronto.

August 17, 2009 at 6:04 pm #3570

Debbie B.


The author does not say that she turned down offers of marriage from Jews (or non-Jews, for that matter). Perhaps you think she should have pursued marriage with the Jewish man who seemed intent on quickly finding someone to marry. But I suspect that there were other reasons why they weren’t completely compatible: if it had been “beshert”, I think they both would have recognized that.

Paula does not seem to be observant, so an arranged marriage is probably not even a viable option for her. I think she feels that if she insists on dating only Jews that she will increase her chances of never marrying at all. I don’t think the fact that she has not found a Jewish man to marry necessarily means that she is too picky. I have watched as a number of our friends both Jewish and non-Jewish have stayed single not by choice while reaching middle age. They are now passing child-bearing age so adding to the Jewish population isn’t even an issue at this point.

I wish Paula luck in finding the right person to marry, and I hope that a future husband will be Jewish too because it is clear that the author herself would prefer that. On the other hand,  I support the fact that she is keeping open the possibility of marrying a non-Jew. This despite the fact that I even wrote an IFF article about the fact that I really hope that my children will marry Jews, and would not forbid, but be a bit worried by inter-dating (hasn’t come up yet).

As someone who was myself in an “intermarriage” for many years before I converted, I know first hand that marriage to a non-Jew does not necessarily mean giving up your Jewish identity. In fact, it can even strengthen it. If my husband had married a secular Jew, I think he’d be unlikely to be as involved Jewishly as he is now, would be less likely to have kids who have a strong Jewish identity (even if they would not have required conversion), and would certainly not have a kosher home (since I was the one who pushed for that!).

Ironically, the fact that Paula is keeping open the option of marrying a non-Jew, even though it is not her preference, indicates that she is not so picky that she is holding out for the perfect husband. Paula and Harry simply disagree on their priorities for characteristics of a spouse.

August 20, 2009 at 2:39 am #3616


as a jewish woman who has been married twice (to non-jewish, catholic, men) and is now engaged to a jewish man, i would add that marriage is very difficult, under the best of circumstances. the more things a couple has in common, and can just “take for granted”, the easier things are. so, while it is not critical that a spouse be jewish, if that spouse is not jewish, the more “big deals” (i.e. politics, socio-economic status, education level, child-rearing philosophies, etc…) you have in common, the easier your married life will be.

August 20, 2009 at 11:47 pm #3621

Paula Kirman

Thank you all for your interesting and informative comments so far. I’ve never really heard of “arranged” marriages except in the very, ultra-Orthodox sects of which I am definitely not a part. There is no shadchan here that I am aware of. Edmonton is actually a great place to live and is a decent size for everything else I am involved with – the Arts, the literary community, activism – but the Jewish community has always been disproportionately small. I don’t see myself relocating. I also don’t see myself as overly picky – in fact, I have a tendency to go for non-standard types, both physically and in personality. Debbie is correct in that there were other factors with the Jewish guy – it just wasn’t meant to be. I don’t believe anyone is perfect and agree that you have to be able to compromise and, as Harry put it, grow into your relationship.

August 24, 2009 at 10:01 pm #3636


regardless of where you live, i think basically anyone can relate to Paula Kirman’s article and its subsequent follow-up. for me, reading this was like staring into a mirror…the only difference is that i live in a huge city with a fairly sizable Jewish population. even so, i feel as though i’m part of a small community because the social circles i tend to gravitate towards don’t attract a lot of Jews…thus flexibility is important and ruling out someone who may very well be a wonderful match for me in several ways just because they aren’t Jewish would be a disservice to myself. i’ve had several long-term relationships (both same-faith and interfaith) and i’m still trying to figure out what is best for me. yes, sharing a religion is easiest. but it also doesn’t guarantee that everything will be smooth sailing (especially if the two people involved have absolutely nothing in common other than they’re both Jewish…i’ve been in this situation and it’s very difficult), and as i’ve also discovered it’s entirely possible to have a strong spiritual connection with someone who isn’t Jewish (in my instance, i’ve found Agnostics and Atheists to be incredibly open-minded…contrary to what the reports say in terms of their attitudes towards organized religion…maybe it’s just me, who knows). i think what matters most is the two people involved in a relationship and how much effort each is willing to put in, regardless of whether or not both are Jewish. all relationships require compromise and open communication, not just interfaith ones.

November 17, 2009 at 10:28 pm #4042


Marriage is what you make it. There has to be give and take whether in Religion or in social interests. A Jew marrying a Christian should be no more complex than a Catholic marrying a Pentecostal. It becomes a matter of give and take.

Since we all believe there is one Gd and Yewah is Gd, the differences become more of tradition than religion. What marriage doesn’t start with vastly differing traditions, even within religious communities?

Paula, darling, methinks you are setting yourself up for spinsterhood, though I could be mistaken. I think you need to study the meaning of Love. Love by its very nature expects and rewards compromise. Interfaith marriages require compromise and understanding. Ergo, Love and Interfaith marriages are made for each other.

I’m just sayin’. The Chuppah is a symbol. A non-Jewish man who refuses to marry under the Chuppah is not the man for you. No compromise on symbolism is going to mean no compromise on important things.

November 17, 2009 at 10:45 pm #4043

Paula Kirman

I agree that if two people want to make a union work, it will work. It’s what you put into it, combined with open communication and making sure you’ve agreed on the big issues before you take the plunge. I have also had situations with Christian men who did not respect my Jewish values and traditions (perhaps fodder for another article?) and needless to say, those relationships did not work out either. While there are similarities between different religions, when it comes to a Jewish person marrying a non-Jew there are issues of generational continuity that can cause concern for a Jewish person and his or her family. I would be willing to marry a non-Jewish man who 1) I love 2) Loves me 3) Respects my traditions and values 4) Is skilled at the art of compromise. In many of my relationships, including one with a Jewish man, I was the one expected to make all of the sacrifices. Whether it is about religion, sex, how to raise children, family time or any issue, compromise is important.

November 17, 2009 at 10:56 pm #4044


Compromise has to be a two way street. Any Christian man who would ask you to give up or turn your back on cultural or traditional values, ignores the fact that Christianity, by its very nature is an extension of judaism. By denying your tradition he, therefore, denies his own Christianity. Oy, this could get complicated. (perhaps fodder for MY blog).

I just think you may back yourself into too deep a corner and, because of the depths of your expectations, not be able to get out of it. The problem with being too embedded in the faith of our fathers’ is we tend to see the world from behind a glass wall.

Fortunately glass can be broken./

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