Article Discussion: The Price of Intermarriage

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April 10, 2009 at 4:14 pm #1452


Click here to read the article: The Price of Intermarriage

November 24, 2013 at 11:54 am #19646


I think you are failing to mention one of the issues with you marrying a non-Jew. The Jews are an ethnicity and you are ethnically half Jewish. If you marry a non-Jew, your kids will only be one quarter Jewish. I would venture to guess that part of the reason you feel such a connection to the Jewish people is because you are half Jewish by blood. If Jewish blood is further diluted down to 1/4, 1/8, etc., it is unlikely your descendants will feel much of a connection at all. The same could be said for any ethnicity.

October 7, 2014 at 11:21 pm #20423

Nicole Czarnecki

Based on the fact that Yitzchak was the first Jew and that Machir married back into Israel, one could say that 1/16 Jewish is the cutoff. I think that G-d designed the 1/16 Rule, despite how it has been perverted by the Jim Crow and Nazi types, to protect Jewishness (and other ethnicity) in a family for as long as possible.

Incidentally, the (as I learned) one-16th Black Walter White used his Blackness to help fight for African-American rights. According to, “White–whose parents who had been born as slaves–chose to embrace his African-American heritage.” The “New York Times” wrote in his obituary, “Only five-thirty-seconds of his ancestry was Negro.”

Similarly, the one-sixteenth Jewish Raoul Wallenberg risked his life to save other Jews during the Holocaust.

October 13, 2014 at 2:23 pm #20439

Rabbi Maurice Harris

I respectfully differ with the authors of the comments above that get into the subjects of “Jewish blood,” the significance of having 1/16th or more Jewish ancestry, etc. Judaism is more than an ethnicity and it’s not a race – rather, in my view, it’s a religious civilization. The Jewish people have, since antiquity, included converts and even members of the community who were not born Jewish and did not convert to Judaism (you can look up articles on people who were called “the God-fearers” in ancient Israel, or consider the passages in the Torah that describe non-Israelites living in ancient Israel and bringing their own offerings to the Temple.) I think we risk putting up barriers to people participating meaningfully in Jewish life when we make blanket assertions about bloodlines, about “percentages of Jewishness,” or when we tell someone that they are “half Jewish” when that person identifies as fully Jewish. I know there are philosophical disagreements within Judaism about what the determining factors of Jewish identity are, but even the disagreements between the different Jewish denominations over how people become “officially” Jewish describe a different set of issues than the ones I see in these comments above. All the movements of Judaism accept sincere converts, for example, and once accepted there is utterly no distinction in status between a Jew-by-choice and a Jew-by-birth, nor are family bloodlines an issue. Finally, I would add that when we look at the range of different skin-colors and physical features among the Jewish people, what we are seeing is partly the influence of both conversions and intermarriages that took place in the many different parts of the world where Jews have lived over the past 3000 years.

I’d also like to say thank you to Sarah Heilbronner, the author of this article, for writing eloquently and honestly about her own positive interfaith family experience.

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