Ed Siegel, the Jewish intermarried former theater critic for The Boston Globe, has written an amusing piece for the Globe about interfaith couples. It begins:
I have a theory about intermarriage. I know some people think Judaism is going to die out if Jews keep marrying outside the religion, but if my circle of friends is any indication, there’s a practical, perhaps even evolutionary, reason for Jews to be marrying gentiles. In every relationship I know of, the Jew has the worse sense of direction.
…It’s the same in every relationship, male or female, gay or straight. The gentile looks at the map and says, “This way.” The Jew says, “After you.” Why is this? Did our forebears walk around the desert for 40 years because they couldn’t find their way out? It couldn’t have been that they liked the sights so much.
It’s a funny essay, but its point is less about the distinction between Jews and gentiles–his portraits strike me as a little tongue-in-cheek–than about the way that partners in a couple should complement each others’ strengths. In that way, intermarried partners can be a positive influence on each other because of their different cultural and religious backgrounds.
Interestingly, I think his theory is bogus. I’ve never noticed Jews having an exceptionally poor, or exceptionally good, sense of direction. But that’s why I also think his essay is notable. Even when the stereotypes have no connection to reality, I don’t mind seeing somebody put them in print. We should all be able to laugh out our foibles, whether real or imagined.
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