Five Things People Assume When Your Spouse/Partner Isn’t Jewish


Whenever we meet someone new, I always worry about the reaction they will have when I tell them that my husband isn’t Jewish. ¬†I keep having images of Tevye in Fiddler on the Roof ripping his clothes in mourning when he found out his daughter married a non Jew. While that hasn’t happened, I have found that some people can be pretty opinionated on the issue of intermarriage.

I think we have found a fairly open community, open in that people are accepting of us, but in some cases it is very much a “don’t talk/don’t tell” kind of relationship.

So here goes, my top five things people assume when your partner isn’t Jewish:

1) You don’t care about Jewish spirituality. ¬†I admit, when we got married, I didn’t care that much about Jewish spirituality, but I cared enough that I wanted certain elements in our ceremony (breaking the glass, mentioning G-d…). ¬†We have grown and have learned there is a lot to Jewish spirituality, a lot of amazing things!

2) You probably belong to a Reform synagogue. ¬†I actually go to a Modern Orthodox synagogue. ¬†I don’t feel that the Reform path is for me. ¬†And that’s ok.

3) You probably don’t keep Kosher or Shabbat. ¬†Yes, we are kosher in this household. ¬†We don’t have separate dishes yet, but it is on the radar. ¬†My son and I keep Shabbat, no driving, using the phone, etc., etc. ¬†We have a beautiful Shabbat dinner and lunch. ¬†That being said, I do give my husband a “pass” every now and again, because I know he needs that space.

4) You celebrate non Jewish holidays.  Every family is different.  We are a full time Jewish household.  Other families do some of the non Jewish holidays and some do everything.

5) You are the reason that Jewish continuity is threatened. ¬†Oy. ¬†Yes I know. ¬†It says in the Torah. ¬†When the time comes (after 120 years), I will have that discussion with G-d. ¬†I know plenty of Jewish people who are Jewishly married who don’t really care about Jewish spirituality. ¬†Yes, genetically they are Jewish and their kids are Jewish. ¬†From what I’m seeing it is getting harder and harder to guilt these types of families into marrying Jewish.

Ahad Ha’am has said,¬†“More than Jews have kept Shabbat, Shabbat has kept the Jews.” What does this mean? ¬†It means that Jewish continuity occurs in the families that have shown some interest in Jewish mitzvot, ritual, and spirituality. ¬†I read a statistic that about 30-40% of intermarried families are raising their children with Jewish spirituality. ¬†(Not too bad!)

Is a kid in an intermarried family, raised with Jewish values, more likely to “stay Jewish” (for lack of a better term) than a kid in a fully Jewish family raised with no Jewish values?

What would you add to the list?