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Does Torah Permit Intermarriage - Page 1

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 New forum
Author: Editor (
Date:   10-13-00 11:38

In response to a reader's suggestion on another forum, we are opening this discussion of intermarriage from a religious viewpoint. Does the Torah permit or prohibit intermarriage? State your views here.

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 Torah and Intermarriage
Author: Heidi (206.11.253.---)
Date:   03-07-01 22:34

I'm certainly no rabbi or Biblical scholar, and to be honest, I've never read the Bible from cover to cover, although I do attend a weekly Chevra Torah group to discuss the parasha for the week. But I can think of two instances where intermarriage occurs in the Torah:

Ruth, the most famous convert of all, was a Moabite woman married to a Jewish man. True, she "converted" after her husband died, but it was initially an "interfaith" marriage.

If I recall correctly, Moses' wife, Tzipporah, was a Midianite. Her father, Jethro, was a Midianite priest. Theirs was also an "interfaith" marriage.

I don't think the Torah comes out directly one way or the other prohibiting OR condoning interfaith marriage, as such. I think it is only implied, or interpreted to discourage them. The idea was to draw converts in to the House of Israel through example, and that example was supposed to be strong enough and attractive enough to convince any potential spouse to embrace the ways of the Israelite people and forsake their past practices.

Anyone else have a more learned response than mine?

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Author: Len (
Date:   03-09-01 15:37

The dirty truth of the Torah is that intermarriage is not something that is denied to Jews. There are many examples of intermarriage in the Torah besides the ones you sited. I would add though that there are many instances of intermarriage leading to disaster for the the people involved. Solomon in fact had many wives that where not Jews, unfortunately they turned him away from God in the end. In my own opinion I believe the Jewish sages felt it was easier to ban intermarriage than to have a constant struggle with your belief that many of the biblical characters had to deal with.

However, I still believe that after reading the Torah from cover to cover there is no explicit commandment from God that the Jews may not marry non-Jews.

As an additional aside, so far most of the people preaching on this board have not be able to site much biblical scripture to support a direct commandment against intermarriage. As such, I am still willing to discuss any and all such references especially this one:

When God your Lord brings you to the land you are entering, so that you can occupy it, He will uproot many nations before you - the Hittites, Girgashites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perizites, Hivites and Yebusites - seven nations more numerous and powerful than you are.

When God your Lord places them at your disposal and you defeat them, you must utterly destroy them, not making any treaty with them or giving them any consideration.

Do not intermarry with them. Do not give your daughters to their sons, and do not take their daughters for your sons.

If this is the directive against all intermarriage why mention specific tribes?


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 a closer look
Author: Bryce (
Date:   06-14-01 19:50

Actually, Len, you shouldn't assume that the 7 nations is an exhaustive list. There are other lists in the Torah (in the category of civil law) that are clearly not exhaustive. The Torah warns that the offspring of the intermarriage are likely to be weaned away from the God of Israel; hence it is a forbidden marriage. (Shall we do a study of grandchildren of those who intermarried 80 years ago, and see if they even categorize themselves as Jewish any more?)

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Author: Len (
Date:   06-15-01 12:41


Thank you for your response, hopefully we can have a civil discussion about this. I agree that the list is not exhaustive however the question remains, is there an actual commandment in the Torah that prohibits inter-marriage. I will agree that the Torah frowns upon the results of inter-marriage but it never comes out and says, You shalt not marry outside of the Jewish Nation.

In fact there are many instances where Jews married with non-jews produced beneficial results. Let's start with Moses-Ziporah. It could be argued that she was converted at Sinai with the giving of the Torah, it could also be argued that the torah was only given to the Hebrew nation and Ziporah is refered to as a midianite/cushite after the Torah is given. Additionally, Jethro plays a major role as an advisor to Moses, without his marriage to Ziporah, Moses would never have had access to this wisdom.

Another example would be Solomon. Gifted with wisdom beyond any man he had hundreds of wives, many if not all non-Jews. The marriages of course where political in nature, allowing Israel to have blood-ties to it's neighbors. Without these marriages it could be argued that Israel would not have achieved what it did during Solomon's kingship. Of course in the end he did turn against God, but the inter-marriages where not the problem, Solomon chose to turn from god.

My argument is this. While inter-marriage is discouraged by the Torah it is not, strictly speaking, prohibited.

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Author: Bryce (
Date:   06-20-01 22:51

Concerning Solomon: It is a Christian tradition, not a Jewish tradition, to take literally the Scriptural verses that Solomon "in the end, turned away from God". If there was any 'turning away', even a minute amount, was it not due to the influence of his idolatrous wives, or at least his inability to wean them away from their idols?

It's been 8 months since this forum has been opened and I'm disappointed that I'm the first to offer specific verses to consider. I encourage other contributors to submit verses. For instance: Ezra chapter 10, Deuteronomy chapter 7. Note especially Deuteronomy 7:4. Also Exodus 34:16.

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Author: Len (
Date:   07-03-01 22:14

regarding Solomon, how can you not blame solomon for his turning from God. His wives may have been an influence but, did not God give all of us free will. Solomon was distracted but he chose, of his own free will, to turn away from God. The lesson to take away here is that you should take responsibility for your own actions and not attempt to blame it away on another reason.

Duet. 7-4, per my previous posts I do not believe this verse prohibits inter-marriage amongst all nations, it specifically addresses the nations that where in Cannaan at the time of Israel's arrival. If we use your logic than any time any nation is mentioned in a mitzvot we should assume this applies to all nations, especially since most of these biblical nations no longer exist. Since we are commanded to destroy Amelek and since we no longer know who the descendents of Amelek are should we kill everyone who isn't a Jew? This same logic applies to the verse in Exodus. It should also be noted that the tribes that are not specifically mentioned are the Midianites, could it be becaue Moses was married to one and took council from his father-in-law the High Priest of Midian?

Ezra is no different, he is upset not at the inter-marriage itself but at the fact that the Israelites turned from God. Take some responsibility for your own actions and stop blaming it on outside influences.

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 Liberal Fundamentalism
Author: Benjamin (
Date:   07-03-01 23:31

I get the feeling from Len's post, and all his previous posts, that the only way he would concede that the Torah prohibits intermarriage is if somewhere it said "Thou shalt not intermarry ever, ever, ever, with anyone who is not Jewish, and "Jewish" as defined by the Chief Rabbi of Israel, the Orthodox Union, or other recognized Orthodox rabbinic authority. This is a law for all time, but applies especially to American Jews in the 20th-21st century." And even then, I'm not entirely sure that Len would concede the point.

Of course, no such verse exists. But I find it curious that Len, who clearly does not take the Bible as the literal word of G-d, nevertheless, concerning only this one issue, is being as hyper-literal as he possibly can so he can hold on to his point. To make an analogy, the Torah says that the world was created in seven days. Rabbis for centuries, if not millenia, have understood that this did not mean seven 24 hour periods. And they understood this in a non-literal way long before there was any scientific evidence of a longer time span for creation. But Len's interpretive method would force us to say that seven days is seven days, and that's all it means. Judaism has never held to this sort of unimaginative literalness. That is what it means to have an oral law, a law that has understood for thousands of years that the Torah does not permit intermarriage.

But if Len wants examples, then could Ezra really be any clearer? Len say that Ezra "is upset not at the inter-marriage itself but at the fact that the Israelites turned from God." Ezra says differently (JPS translation):

Ezra ch.9:2 - "They have taken their daughters as wives for themselves and for their sons, so that the holy seed has become intermingled with the peoples of the land." (Yes, Ezra is upset that the Israelites turned from G-d, a problem that persists today, but there is clearly something more at play here).

10:2 ". . . We have trespassed against our G-d by bringing into our homes foreign women from the peoples of the land; but there is still hope for Israel despite this. Now then, let us make a covenant with our G-d to expel all these women. . . "

The interesting point here is that Ezra then commands the Israelite men to renounce their non-Jewish brides-and they do. He does not ask that they enroll in an "Introduction to Judaism" class or even that the wives consider converting. Clearly, in Ezra's mind, intermarriage on this scale does not permit the practice of Judaism to remain intact. Len is right that people have free will. But Ezra (and 20th century Jewish experience) makes pretty clear that it is much harder to engage in deep Jewish practice when not part of a family and community that is doing the same.

I have every expectation that Len will disagree. But if we are to take what the Torah says so extremely literally, then I would ask Len to find me the passage that specifically says it is ok to intermarry. I have read the Bible "from cover to cover" and have found no such statement. Sure, some of the Israelite kings intermarried (usually with bad results). The Torah is full of examples of people disobeying the Torah-breaking the rules does not render them null and void.. But where does the Torah specifically permit intermarriage? Unless Len can show me such a statement, I have no reason to believe that the Torah permits me to do this.

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Author: Bryce (
Date:   07-04-01 04:34

I agree with Len that any decisions King Solomon made were his and his alone. Never did I imply otherwise. I did try to say, however, that he didn't "turn away from God" (as understood in the modern vernacular). And I also tried to show another lesson from Solomon's "turning away" (my definition, not Len's). It was this: When the Torah gives a prohibition of marrying into the Seven Nations, and then gives a warning: "For he will cause your son to turn away from Me" (Deut 7:4); a Jew who is considering intermarriage, and who cares about what the Torah has to say, shouldn't consider that that warning doesn't apply to him, merely because his girlfriend isn't from the Seven Nations.

I'll let the readers of this forum judge for themselves Len's logic concerning the Amalekites.

Concerning the Midianites, I'm not sure what the big deal is about Jethro's council. Perhaps Len is right. Perhaps that act made a difference in the marriage laws of the Israelites and the Midianites. Or perhaps it was Jethro's kind act in Exodus 2:20. On the other hand, perhaps Midian wasn't included in the list of the nations forbidden to marry the Jews because they didn't even live in the Land of Canaan. Either way, I doubt that Jethro's council (nor Moses' marriage to Tzipporah) had anything to do with how the Israelites treated Midian. Their destruction in Numbers 25:17 and Numbers chapter 31 was probably due to their despicable behavior in the post-Bilaam incident (beginning of Numbers chapter 25.)

But we're getting off topic.

Concerning Ezra: Was he upset at the "turning away from God", or the intermarriage itself? Len says the former. A closer analysis of Ezra chapter 9, however, will demonstrate his horror at the intermarriages themselves. While verse 1 mentions both the intermarriages with and the abominations of the 'people of the lands', verses 9:2, 9:12, 9:14, 10:2, 10:10, 10:13, and 10:44 mention only the intermarriages. (While we're at it, see Nehemiah 10:29-31.) Ezra 10:3 discusses the dissolution of these marriages "in accordance with the Torah".

A whole 'nother topic, related to this forum topic, is not merely whether the Torah permits certain unions (MAY they marry?), but whether the Torah even recognizes a certain union (CAN they marry?). Jewish law holds that some marriages are not permitted, but they 'take hold' (CAN but MAY not marry), meaning that they require a get <divorce>; and some "marriages" are not permitted, but they don't 'take hold' (MAY not and CANNOT marry), meaning that they don't even require a get.

I agree with Len that the Torah isn't explicit in forbidding intermarriage to the remaining nations. Emphasis on the word "explicit". As a nation "separate from all the peoples" (Leviticus 20:24), we should analyze carefully the Torah's instructions.

To the Forum readers who don't really care whether the Torah forbids, looks down upon, or even looks favorably upon intermarriages, none of the above Scriptural analysis will have any effect. It's only natural to dismiss those opinions, as well as the holders of those opinions, which oppose the decisions we've already made in life. But there are plenty of Forum readers who do care, so this posting is for you.


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Author: Len (
Date:   07-04-01 17:47

As a rabbi once put it to me the Tanach makes absolutely no sense as a document all on it's own. I tend to agree, if we read the Torah cover to cover we will certainly be left with many questions about what God really wants from us. Take for example "Thou shalt not kill", at face value this should seem an obvious mitzvah, however what about self-defense, abortion, etc... things aren't so clear then. What is the answer, the Jews would say it's the Oral law.

I may agree that Tanach is the word of God, however I disagree that Talmud is the authoritative word on interpreting Tanach. If we tried I would bet that we could all find examples in Tanach that would either support of rebuke our respective positions so as a final arbiter you would turn to Talmud and the oral law. As I stated before I don't agree. Example, in the morning you recite the prayer of redemption and then immediately following that the Shimon Aesri, the rabbi stated that anyone who does this "surly will inherit the kingdom of heaven". Of course there is problem because there are several blessings that interrupt these prayers. How did the rabbis solve this problem THEY DECIDED that the blessings where part of the longer prayer of redemption. They MADE IT UP. How many other things did they make up? Also, you should look at your Jewish history, if I am not mistaken the prohibition on imter-marriage wasn't always part of the oral law but was instituted during the Hellenistic period to keep Jews from embracing the secular influences of the Greeks. Perhaps the rabbis where worried that in an open society their political power would wane?


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Author: Bryce (
Date:   07-06-01 16:20

For those forum readers who don't know what Tanach is, it is the Hebrew Bible, made up of the Torah (T), Prophets (N=Nevi'im), and Writings (Ch=Ketuvim). I am in agreement with Len's first paragraph.

I'm not sure who Shimon Aesri is [;-)], but the most important Jewish prayer, the Shemoneh Esrei, ought to indeed follow a prayer for redemption. (And indeed it does for both the weekday and Shabbos morning service as well as the High Holiday services. That is, unless that one extra verse <not several> -- the one that reads "Ad-nai s'fahsye tiftach...", which is intended to prevent our prayers from becoming rote -- counts as an interruption.) What exactly does this mean? It's a complex topic, elucidated very well in the book "A Listening People -- Some reflections about the meaning and purpose of Krias Shema", by Moshe Eisemann.

While Len would like to foster the notion that the Talmudic sages "made things up," let's keep in mind a few things.

1. The Torah insists that it is incumbent that Jewry not only abide by *it*, but that Jewry follows *human authority*. (This is a very general statement, whose source is in Deut. 17:8-13, which requires much more elaboration.) God-willing, these authorities were and are intensely dedicated to the Torah and its proper application. This sanction includes creating the Shemoneh Esrei, a prayer I will assume Len doesn't object to. It also includes "making up" Chanukah. Surely Len wouldn't accuse Hillel, Rabbi Akiva et. al. of purposefully twisting Torah Law, would he?

2. The Torah itself hints to the existence of an Oral law in Deut 12:21. Len may choose to believe that the Talmud is a corruption of the Oral law, but that's his choice. I hope it's not the choice of the readers of this forum.

3. Did the rabbis worry that in an open society their political power would wane? Or were they worried that in an open society the influence and appeal of the Torah on Jewry -- the nation that dwells alone <Num 23:9> -- would wane? One with an axe to grind would choose the former, but it appears to me to be the latter. Either way, if Len thinks (without a source) that "the Rabbis" instituted a ban on intermarriage (with nations other than 'the Seven') in the Hellenistic period, why did they wait until then? Surely the Babylonians and Persians weren't such great influences either! (Not that it matters, but was the special brand of Greek secularity more of an incentive not to intermarry with them than their belief in a pantheon of gods?)

Since I started the ball rolling with some Torah verses dealing with intermarriage, let me share one more. These following verse, I'll freely admit to Len and the forum readers, is not a clear prohibition against intermarriage, but it gives an insight as to how it might be initiated. It is Exodus 34:16.

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Author: Len (
Date:   07-09-01 14:14

[Besides this, in general,] you must keep the Torah as they interpret it for you, and follow the laws that they legislate for you. Do not stray to the right or left from the word that they declare to you.
Shoftim 17:11

Basically, the Torah itself is stating that man will interpret it. Earlier in this parsha we learn that it is up to the individual community to elect judges and police to interpret and enforce the laws. So now we have an interesting problem, I say that the Torah does not prohibit inter-marriage; I can site examples to support my argument. Bryce on the other hand would argue that the Torah does prohibit inter-marriage and will site his examples. I would like to add that although I disagree I could see the validity of his argument. Now the problem becomes a matter of interpretation, who’s in charge? For me the Parsha Shoftim explicitly requires a man made interpretation of the law, further it requires judges to administer and police to execute. We have neither in the US, however we do have several movements of Judaism each with their own opinion, considering the largest movement is the reform are their opinions to be taken as the law of the land?

So I pose this question to Bryce, who and under what authority has the power to interpret Torah?

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Author: Bryce (
Date:   07-11-01 15:08

Len's final question, though it is veering off-topic, is a very good and interesting one. Difficult, too. I believe that Napoleon asked the same question to one of the leading rabbis of his time. There is an entire chapter in the book "The Handbook of Jewish Thought" that deals with this question. I'm sorry, but I can't give a sufficiently complete answer here.

I have a minor quibble with one thing Len wrote. He said that the Torah "requires judges to administer and police to execute. We have neither in the US." Len is more or less correct in saying that we lack the police to execute, but I would say that the US indeed does have Jewish judges who administer. Perhaps Len is using the term differently than I'm using it, in which case I'd understand if he decided to rebut. I just wanted the forum readers to know that there are such modern-day Jewish experts who rule on Jewish law, and that there are lots of Jews who are willing to submit to that law.

Len offers (whether seriously or lightheartedly) the suggestion that perhaps all Jews (American only, I suppose) should follow the Reform rulings on things, since they are the largest movement in America. I'll play along with his notion. Indeed, perhaps a Jewish posek's (Jewish person who rules on all sorts of issues) popularity should indeed count for his authority.

But should his authority be based on the size of the movement he's affiliated with, or just based on the size of the following he himself has?

Now, certain Jewish poskim (plural for posek) stand out, head and shoulders above the rest, as experts in Jewish law. Their following is very large. <<Can anyone reading this forum name a posek?>> I propose (and I'm being half-serious and half-kidding here) that all Jews follow the rulings of the poskim who have had (or are most likely going to have) over 50,000 people at his funeral. That's a pretty good indicator of a person's popularity. (I have two poskim in mind who fit the bill.)

All that being said, is there any other forum reader out there who wants to discuss any of the Bible sources I provided, or offer his/her own verses to discuss? We can slightly expand the scope of this forum by discussing the questions:
Does the Torah look favorably upon intermarriage?
What do I care what the Bible says on the topic of intermarriage?
Do I want my rabbi to adhere to the Bible's 'feelings' on this subject?

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Author: Len (
Date:   07-12-01 14:34


I hope you don't mind if we continue our conversation. I would like to respond to several of the points that you have brought up in your last email. First, I can certainly understand how you view that there are judges within the US today, I would assume that you are talking about our rabbis, after all it is their job to interpret and administer Torah law to their congregation. However my issue is this, there is no central authority that defines what the letter of the law is. In biblical times we had the Sanhedrin (sorry about the spelling) to provide the final word, now we don't. What we do have in the US is the reform movement where the rabbis basically are allowed to do what they want, the reconstructionists (I'm not clear on this) where the rabbis guide but the congregation decides, and the conservative and orthodox where both follow the decisions of a Halachic committee. Even the torah observant movements don't agree, is swordfish Kosher. So now we have some serious problems because the various movements no longer have consensus on what is right or wrong.

I'll reply later with my thoughts on your expanded issues.

As an added note, if you type in the following url: /phorum
it will bring you to the old forum layout that has a column listing the last time this forum was updated, that way you can check to see if there is something new to reply to.

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Author: Bryce (
Date:   07-16-01 14:57

Len made a sincere assumption that I was referring to congregational rabbis when I was talking about Jewish judges. That assumption would be correct though, only if we were talking about the everyday issues they must address. I was talking about certain men, often living in New York or Jerusalem, who get forwarded the difficult questions of Jewish life -- whose answers are not so clearly spelled out** in the Code of Law. (The local rabbis handle the easier ones.) For instance in the eighties, a Jewish family gave birth to siamese twins, and the doctors said they had to kill one to save the other -- otherwise both would die. This family wanted a Torah answer. I suspect they asked their rabbi, and that rabbi decided to pass to his authority, until the question finally reached the "leading authority" in Jewish law. (100s of thousands of Jews believed in this particular man's decision-making process and integrity.) Now, the family, as well as this man, pray every day for the restoration of the Sanhedrin (yes, correct spelling) -- so Len is correct in saying that we don't have a central authority like a Sanhedrin. Instead we have a much looser authority, whose power is granted by the people. In the Orthodox branch of Judaism, there are more people who are willing to have an authority rule on all sorts of matters. I can understand Jews not willing to abide by an authority -- our desire for personal freedom is very powerful, and perhaps there's a fear of tyranny. But we must make sure that our desire for personal freedom does not create Anarchaic Judaism in its wake.

** It is with this statement that I object to Len's comparing differences of opinions about the kashruth of swordfish to differences of opinions about intermarriage. In the former case, there has either been no historical stance on this particular fish, or there has been a historical difference of opinion (probably based on the types of scales they have -- bony tubercles) concerning their kashruth. In addition, there has been no major community disruption which resulted from this difference of opinion. In the intermarriage case, however, there definitely has been a historical stance and there were no differences of opinion for thousands of years -- no authority saying "we interpret the law 'differently'" (said in a nasal tone) -- until very recently. And the community disruption, whether we feel it is deserved or not, is very noticeable.

This topic of rabbinic authority is huge, so shall we steer this discussion back to intermarriage and the Torah?

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Author: Len (
Date:   07-17-01 20:26

I'm going to cheat and look at a source outside of Torah but I think it's pretty compelling. Purim is a pretty good indication of the positive aspects of inter-marriage; in fact the entire festival could be interpreted as a show of how an inter-marriage saved the Jews of Persia.

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Author: Bryce (
Date:   07-18-01 11:53

(I consider the Purim story to fall within "Torah", so it's not really looking "outside the Torah".) With Len's final argument, I believe this discussion has ended. Thank you, Len, for the give-and-take. I encourage all forum readers to go through this list from the bottom up, to follow the argumentation, and to look up the Scriptural sources I submitted.

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 Esther's intermarriage worked out great!
Author: Tsar Chasm (
Date:   07-19-01 12:00

Mr. Len made a good point. Esther's "relationship" with King Ahasueros - if you
can call the king's abduction of Esther an intermarraige - did indeed turn out well
in the end for the Jewish people. I'm sure it was Monica Lewinski's desire to
emulate Esther and to save the Jewish people from total anniliation when she
tried to get intimate with our ex-Pres.

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 Queen Esther and Monica Lewinski
Author: Susan (
Date:   07-26-01 15:31

Well, I'm conviced. What other motive could Monica possiby have had? I think we should all concede to Len that intermarriage must be A Good Thing, because every 25 centuries or so, there's the chance that someone might save the Jewish people by doing it. It's just too bad that the entire Esther story is probably fictitious!

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Author: Bryce (
Date:   07-26-01 17:00

I chuckled in agreement at what you said, up until the last phrase. Before we plant seeds in the forum-readers' minds that perhaps the "near-holocaust" story from 2400 years ago never happened, we must be very cautious and keep in mind that many folks want the world to believe that the *real* holocaust from 60 years ago never happened.

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 What happened?
Author: Susan (
Date:   07-26-01 18:24


The only flaw in your analogy is that we actually have some reliable historical evidence about the events of 60 years ago. The fact that the Persians did not behave as horrifically as the Assyrians and other ancient superpowers would be a nonstory, were it not for the drama of Purim.

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Author: Bryce (
Date:   07-27-01 01:04

Susan: If only you realized how many Jews throughout history you are deeming unreliable.

Perhaps this subject should be dealt with on another website?

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 Lighten up, Bryce!
Author: Susan (
Date:   07-30-01 08:04

Are you trying to get all cautious and serious about <I> Purim, </i> for goodness's sake? Oy! Go ahead and strengthen Len's case, if you must, but personally, I think it would be better for you to develop a sense of humor.

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 Intermarriage/ Purim
Author: Jonathon (63.237.246.---)
Date:   07-30-01 10:59

Bryce / Susan,

Hello group members. Thanks for all the lively discussion. The discussion on this list is educational and even entertaining. I would just like to say that I have been studying the responses and subsequent verses on this list “from the bottom up” for a few days now. I also looked up many of the Scriptural sources submitted by Bryce and Len. It made me realize one thing… this debate is a little deeper than just reading the Torah in a literal way. I recently learned that the majority of Orthodox Jews agree (and still agree) on Jewish Law –in terms of 99% of the issues—for the past two thousand years. And that even different communities across the globe continue to interpret the (majority of) law in a unified way –thanks to the technological age. So (at the risk of ‘argumentum ad antiquitam’), I just cant bring myself to dismiss *current* (non-literal) interpretations that come through such an old, preserved, and agreed upon (by such a diverse group) tradition. I don’t think anyone will deny that the Pharasaic tradition ‘of old’ is most reliably protected by today’s religious Jews – at least in terms of Talmudic and Midrashic studies. Even my Christian theology professors were quick to acknowledge (during Judeo-Christian heritage class) the historical treasure that today’s “religious” Jews have to offer to the world. So who else could the Torah have been referreing to when it said to “ask the judges at those times” for legal opinions in the current age. They are still carrying the suitcases from Egypt –in my opinion. I just can’t settle for something too new when there is a buried treasure to be explored. Just an opinion.

I am sure that even Susan will concede that most spiritual people (ie: those who believe in G-D) must take a leap of faith at some point in history –based on their gut (as opposed to evidence). Although this is not the forum to prove or disprove the existance of G-D based on evidence… I imagine I would never believe in G-D based on Susan’s evidence approach (this is said with love). Or perhaps she was just kidding about the ‘stict evidence’ approach.

I am pretty tight on my belief in G-D and it certainly does not stand on evidence. The beauty of Judaism is that it takes the believer back significantly farther in history than most other beliefs. This allows the believer to rely on history for a longer time before the leap (to faith) becomes necessary. That’s something I really like. So I agree (with Bryce) that the holiday of Purim (preserved within the Orthodox tradition) should not be thrown away so quickly—because there is evidence for so much of what Judaism tells us about our past --in other areas. Anyone who has ever visited Israel with a shovel can attest to this.

In terms of intermarriage… it never appeared to be a good thing –as described in the Tanach – regardless of the legal status. I hate to say this… but right now I am leaning towards Bryce’s argument that intermarriage was always understood as something forbidden. There are just too many inuendos in the Torah (instruction or teachings from verbal noun horah) that suggest this fact. Boy… Pinhas sure didn’t like the idea. Let’s compare it to polygamy. Even if we say (for example) that marrying more than one wife used to be allowable in the Torah… we know it was never a good thing. So why do it? I think Whoopy Goldberg might have known something about intermarriage when she said, “A bird can marry a fish... but where will they make their nest ?” You can choose whoever you want to be the bird or fish. Okay… I admit she wasn’t talking about intermarriage. But in today’s age, we need as much in common withour potential spouse --as we can-- before taking that LEAP OF FAITH.


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Author: Susan (
Date:   07-30-01 13:55

I think that Bryce and I probably agree with each other more than not. Most of us observant Jews do not take everything in the Bible completely literally. Just because a number of impartial scholars agree the Queen Esther story may all be a fairy tale is no reason not to celebrate Purim or any other Jewish holiday.

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 Thanks, Len!
Author: Susan (
Date:   07-30-01 17:30

I want to thank Len for providing the the following url: /phorum

I've bookmarked it, and I'm sure all my detractors will be happy that now I'll spend less time on these boards!

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 Oh Vey!
Author: Len (
Date:   07-31-01 01:39

This is probably one of the most diffucult postings I have to make. First and foremaost a big apology goes out to Susan whom I know I have offended in the past, so I'm sorry. Where do I begin, perhaps my own interfaith story may be of some interest to some people, draw your own conclusions.

I was enagaged to be married this fall to a wonderful Turkish girl, that is not going to happen. When we fist got engaged to be married one of the things I asked of her was to take and Intro class, for her as much as for me. This started me down a path that led to the predicament I am in today. As a Soviet immigrant I did not have much Jewish knowledge and so this was a sort of awaking for me. Not to prattle on and on the bottom line is this. In the end I found that I wanted my children adn my home to be different from what I had, I wanted my children to be Jews and I wanted my wife to feel the pride and joy of the huppah as much as I did. For us this was not to be, that pride and joy can't be conveyed to someone else they need to feel it for themselves. This I found out late but not too late. So I will now like for my beshert where I should have looked for in the first the place, among the people that are my heritage so that my children will not be like me or Susan, they will know who they are from the day they are born.

Intermarriage may work but not for me. I would go on but I'm tired of telling the story sufficed to say Susan my apologies.


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Author: Susan (
Date:   07-31-01 11:02

That must have taken a lot of courage. You never offended me, and I am not going to gloat. I will confess that I had fun arguing with you, sometimes at your expense, because I found your self-assurance naive and amusing. For that, I suppose I owe you an apology. I did not realize what a good reason you had for knowing so little about Judaism, so I took you for another one of these arrogant all-American kids who think they know it all. Perhaps it's because your English is so good (well, better than many people here. I'm really glad now that I resisted the temptation to nit-pick about your spelling!) So I'm sorry if I offended you in any way.

Best of luck to you in your quest for Jewish knowledge. I can recommend some excellent books. Let me know. If you want the quickest and most intense remedial education, you will probably find there is more of substance to learn in the more traditional synagogues, although of course, you'll run the risk of turning out like me, with some people calling you a "fundamentalist" or a "fanatic" some day. My advice is that you go to Orthodox (they have the most complete Hebrew prayers) or Conservative (they say the prayers out loud together so you can hear the words). If you make friends with some Orthodox rabbis, they'll take you under their wings, invite you to dinner at their houses every Friday, and help you learn the ropes. There's also an excellent chance that they can help out with the matchmaking!

As for your wonderful Turkish girlfriend, I'm sure she really is wonderful. Many, many people are. Just remember, you can't marry every wonderful person in this world. The right woman is out there for you, and if you know where to look, you'll find her.

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 Jonathon's note
Author: BobP (159.53.32.---)
Date:   07-31-01 13:30

Jonathon wrote <<I think Whoopy Goldberg might have known something about intermarriage when she said, “A bird can marry a fish... but where will they make their nest?” You can choose whoever you want to be the bird or fish. Okay… I admit she wasn’t talking about intermarriage.>>

This quote is actually from the play "Fiddler on the Roof". Teveye (the father) says this to one of daughters when she says she is going to marry a Russian boy from her village. So the quote IS about intermarriage.

I very highly recommend seeing the play if it tours in your area.
Theodore Bikel stars in one of the touring companies.

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Author: Bryce (
Date:   08-02-01 20:46

Len: Your last post was touching. I enjoyed our exchange.

I apologize for going off topic, but I'd like for Susan (message #25) to know that I have read a lot of her postings and agree that we do agree with each other more than not. I enjoy her posts, too. Also, like Susan said, it's true that the observant Jew does not take everything in the Bible completely *literally*. (This opinion is agreed upon even by the so-called 'ultras'. eg: The book of Job, according to a view in the Talmud, is a parable.) However, there is no Talmudic opinion that treats the story of Esther as anything other than a true story, and there is no reason for us to contradict those sages such as Akiva, Judah haNasi, etc.

Perhaps if Susan can name two impartial scholars who claim our Purim holiday is based on fiction, I will find two biased scholars who claim it is based on reality. Oh, wait. Maybe *she's* got the biased scholars and *I've* got the impartial ones. <grin>

If Susan convinces people that the Purim story were a myth, then I'm concerned that she'd be leading them to believe that *all* the episodes I mentioned in this forum-list (as described in the verses in Deuteronomy, Ezra, Nehemiah, etc) are also myths, which would totally undermine all my arguments about the Torah and intermarriage. I wouldn't even be surprised if there is a correlation between those Jews who treat the Esther story as a myth and those who intermarry.

Let me ask the forum readers: How would your celebration of Passover be altered if you decided one day that the Exodus never happened, but that it was just a myth? (Or, vice versa, you *had* thought it was a myth and then you decide it was true.) I would venture a guess that the physical and emotional investment one puts into the holiday is in direct correlation to the reality he gives the story behind the holiday.

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 Did Purim happen?
Author: Susan (
Date:   08-02-01 22:18


I read an article a few months back about Purim, and I recycled that issue of the paper long ago. I can't give you the source and you kow what? I don't really care whether it's true or not. As long as my family's Purim costumes are the best one in shul and as long as I manage not to lose my place in the Megillah reading and as long as my noisemaker works and as long as my shtick gets the most laughs as the seudah, and as long as I give out the best hamantashen, it doesn't matter. My point, as someone whose mother is a holocaust survivor and whose senior thesis was on WWII, is that we should not try to compare the evidence in Esther to the historical evidence on those events. You do *not* have my permission to compare me to the holocaust deniers out there.

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Author: Bryce (
Date:   08-03-01 11:30

I apologize to Susan for intimating such a thing.

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Author: Jonathon (
Date:   08-17-01 10:49

Susan/ Bryce,

Putting all this heavy shoah (Holocaust) stuff aside for one minute...I would like to say that my Pesah (Passover) experience would definitely suffer if I thought (for one minute in my heart) that is was just a Buba's (Grandma’s) tale.

About Bryce’s comment…I would imagine that one's theological position on the permissability of intermarriage IS related to how one views the Torah—as he stated. So I can respect his efforts to maintain the integrity of scriptural citations by defending the historical truth of the Torah.

Whether Purim falls under the catagegory of Torah is a whole other issue. Although I would have to say that it does--technically. Linguistically (at least), the word Torah means instruction, teachings, or doctrine as the verbal noun of horah . In Jewish literature, this word is popularly used to refer to refer to the chumash—IE: the Five Books of Moses). However, it was never limited to that usage.

Torah has ALWAYS consisted of two elements: Torah sh’Bikthav (written) and Torah She ba al peh (oral). Perhaps this site should have been labeled: “Does the Tanach allow intermarriage” in order to clearly include the books of the Prophets and Writings. But either way, the Torah (at least technically) ALREADY includes the Writings and Prophets as they appear in all Hebrew Bibles. So I hope this (all inclusive) definition of “Torah” will serve a useful purpose during future correspondence.

Getting back to the need to defend the historical truth of Jewish Teachings…I just assumed that this site preemptively accepted the premise that Torah was true --by virtue of the title: “Does Torah allow intermarriage”. Why ask the question if you were not willing to accept the authority of the Torah in the first place (at least for the sake of this discussion.

Either way, I wish everyone a Shabbat Shalom (peaceful Sabbath)…


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Author: Susan (
Date:   08-17-01 14:58

I think this board was created last year because Len disputed something I wrote on some other board about Torah not permitting intermarriage. I thought it was kind of funny, because there's no question in my mind, and I figure that people who disagree with me on the issue probably aren't very concerned about what the Torah says on the subject, anyway. Now that Len seems to have more or less come around to my way of thinking, I think the question is even more moot than it was before.

As for the Torah, even if there may be a wee bit of allegory or exageration or obsolete information (no, the world took more than 144 hours to form, and no, the sun does not orbit it) in it, I think it has a truth which goes beyond the mere literal details of its stories and that truth is meaningful and instructive.

Shabbat Shalom

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Author: Bryce (
Date:   08-18-01 23:45

I like your last phrase in your posting, but I think you could've given better examples of the Torah's "allegory, exaggeration, or obsolete information." It is unclear whether the examples you gave were intended to fall into the category of "allegory", "exaggeration" (I prefer the term 'hyperbole'), or "obsolete information." If you meant "obsolete information", then I feel I need to let the phorum readers know the the Torah does not insist that the Six Days were six human days. Centuries before Edwin Hubbel et. al. claimed the universe was ancient, our ancient scholars posited that the "Six Days" could mean "Six ages". (See message #8, paragraph 2). Also, the Torah does not insist that the sun revolves around the earth, any more than you and I say it revolves around the earth when we say "the sun sets in the west". (Of course, we post-Relativity-ists realize that they really revolve around each other ;-) )

I wonder if some readers might choose to consider the Torah's prohibition against intermarriage "obsolete information."

Anyway, Susan, should we inquire of the editors of this website what their take is on this question ("Does the Torah Permit Intermarriage"), or would that be asking for trouble? I'd hate to disturb your retirement. :-)

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 Rantings from the sound-proof room
Author: Susan (
Date:   08-19-01 16:22


Feel free to inquire if you wish, but I don't believe the editors here are very interested in the question. As I mentioned before, I think they created this board because Len wanted to debate the issue with me on another board and there were people there who didn't want to have to read my "negativism" every time they visited the board. I think it was a case of "let's isolate that nasty intolerant fanatic Susan to some place where we never go." This way, intermarried can avoid getting their feelings hurt by yours truly and others of my ilk, and we can write whatever we want to out here in Siberia where nobody else has to pay any attention to us.

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 Our take
Author: Editor (
Date:   08-28-01 23:25

Bryce asked what the editors' "take" on the question whether the Torah permits intermarriage. This is Ed Case's response. I'm not a rabbi. My understanding is that the Five Books of Moses do not contain a blanket prohibition of intermarriage. There is a provision in Deuteronomy that prohibits intermarriage with certain specified nations, but no prohibition of all intermarriages. Of course, one could argue that that prohibition is of all of the tribes that were then in Canaan which the Israelites were about to enter, implying that it was supposed to be a blanket prohibition. On the other hand, a rationale is stated in the prohibition, having to do with the intermarriages leading the Israelites to idolatry; so one could argue that an intermarriage that does not lead the intermarrying Jew to idolatry would not be prohibited.
The other point that is often made is that many of the leading Jewish figures in the Torah were themselves intermarried - so if there were a blanket prohibition, how could that be?
I think the most accurate answer is that at various times in ancient Jewish history attitudes towards intermarriage were more accepting and less accepting. There are provisions that can be pointed to that are very hostile to intermarriage, for example Ezra; but then again there are those intermarried leaders, Joseph, even Moses.

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Author: Bryce (
Date:   08-29-01 17:14

I'm sure a dozen readers are achin' to answer the editor with this simple answer, but I'd like to be the first.

Marriages before the giving of the Torah, the event that stamped the nation as a Jewish nation, don't violate the Torah, because the rules weren't in effect yet.

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Author: Bryce (
Date:   08-29-01 17:16

I forgot one thing:

Mr. Case wrote: "so one could argue that an intermarriage that does not lead the intermarrying Jew to idolatry would not be prohibited. "

Not just the intermarrying Jew, but his children and grandchildren.

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 Editor's claims are faulty
Author: Chuck (
Date:   08-30-01 21:44

Ed Case's view on the permissibility on intermarriage has been published repeatedly in various journals including The Jewish Week of New York and Commentary magazine (a response to an article by Jack Wertheimer) besides in this venue. His view is wrong.

Judaism unambiguously prohibits intermarriage. This is stated very clearly in the Talmud (tractate Kiddushin).

Mr. Case takes a hyperliteral interpretation of the Written Torah and decides that since only a handful of specific (and today unrecognizable) nations were prohibited, intermarriage must be OK. Too bad he did not make such a hyperliteral reading of the Oral Torah.

Secondly, our Biblical protagonists did not intermarry. To refute the two examples he gave: Moses' wife converted prior to marriage (did you really believe the most elevated of all Jewish prophets who ever existed, who engaged in dialogue with the Almighty Himself, who brought forth the Torah [Written and Oral] to the Jewish people would actually marry a non-Jew???); similarly, Joseph's wife was Jewish (she was actually the daughter of Dinah [who was one of Jacob's daughters] and was raised in Egypt as the adoptive daughter of Potiphar, Joseph's master when he was a slave in Egypt). All of this is well documented in the Oral Tradition (ie. Talmud and Midrash).

Frankly, the editor's analysis of the Torah's outlook on intermarriage is disingenuous. It would be one thing for him to admit: "Judaism prohibits intermarriage, but I believe this law is old-fashioned and unapplicable in today's socially advanced society". That would be totally wrong, but at least he would acknowledge the Torah's position accurately.

Instead, he says: "There's nothing here to prohibit intermarriage; the Torah indicates it's perfectly valid". That is a gross distortion and deliberate misrepresentation of Torah and Judaism.

The Oral Torah (Talmud) is not simply a commentary of the Written Torah, but an equal to it. One simply cannot determine the correct interpretation and performance of many mitzvot from Written Torah alone. A well known example is: "an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth". The Talmud clearly indicates that we are not to blind someone in retaliation for his act of poking the victim in the eye. Rather, he owes his victim the value of the eye (ie. he has to make monetary restitution). Now, I wonder if I have helped prevent Mr. Case from advocating the wrong punishment if he is ever required to judge such a case according to Jewish law.

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 Even without the Oral Law. . . .
Author: Benjamin (
Date:   08-30-01 23:35

Although I agree with Chuck about the veracity of the Oral Law, I think that even the Written Law by itself presents a pretty dim view of intermarriage. The only example we have in the Tanach of widespread intermarriage (such as exists today) is in Ezra (ch. 9-10). And the response there to intermarriage on a large scale is crystal clear.

As for individual situations, they mostly fall into two categories. The first is people like the spouses of Joseph and Moses who either married before the Law was given at Sinai or themselves converted. In the case of Moses' wife, Tzipporah, she not only married Moses before the Law was given, but so far as we can tell, herself stood at Sinai. Judaism of course is not a race defined solely by blood, but is a people defined by a particular covenental relationship with G-d that was formed at Sinai. Judaism says that all Jewish souls stood at Sinai, and in fact says that all converts' souls stood at Sinai. So by definition, Tziporrah was Jewish. Clearly, she didn't "opt out" while everyone else was experiencing G-d's revelation.

The second category consists of post-Sinai examples and pertains mostly to various kings of Israel. There we must distinguish between Biblical Law and Biblical narrative. To illustrate this, Biblical Law permits polygamy. But looking at Biblical narrative, every single man who took multiple wives (from Abraham onward) met with bad, sometimes tragic results. This is one of the reasons the Rabbis outlawed polygamy even though the Torah technically permitted it. Similarly, Israelite kings who intermarried, whether or not permitted by Biblical law, met with bad results (Jezebel may be the most extreme example of this). I am NOT equating intermarriage with polygamy, only demonstrating that the Torah must be read in the context of its narrative to see what it is trying to tell us.

The non-kings in this second category are Ruth and Esther. Although Ruth was not Jewish at the time of marriage (and the Talmud comments on this), she indiputably converted later on, in fact becoming the prototype of a Jewish convert. In Esther's case, it is not clear that she had a choice whether to participate in the King's "cattle call". But more important, her intermarriage was a unique situation that functioned to save the Jewish people from destruction. I would venture that relatively few intermarrieds today could claim that their marriage serves such a vital role to the Jewish people.

I am not writing this to in any way denigrate the extraordinary commitment made by some intermarried families, and particularly non-Jewish spouses to raising Jewish childre. Rather, I am addressing the narrow issue, raised on this discussion board, of whether the Torah permits intermarriage. Whatever ambiguities might be pointed out by some super-literal interpretation looking at isolated passages without context, it is clear that the Jewish people have understood the Torah not to permit intermarriage (meaning where the non-Jewish spouse does not convert; where a conversion takes place, it is by definition at marriage of two Jews) for thousands of years. It is disingenuous to rationalize intermarriage today on the basis of Torah when not only does it not comport with historical experience, but virtually no Jews contemplating intermarriage make their decision based on what the Torah says.

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 software test
Author: editor (
Date:   09-13-01 11:49

ignore this posting--testing software

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Author: IFF editor (
Date:   12-13-01 16:09

This posting is a test of software.

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 Interesting thread
Author: Nance (
Date:   12-26-01 18:33

well, this has been an interesting debate. As an agnostic, who will be raising her children Jewish, I find some of the arguements both enlightning and infuriating. However, as Susan stated, this was set aside on purpose (sorry that you felt pushed out...fourms should never do that to people).

So- what are your view of a Jew and an agnostic? My personal views of G-d match closest to Judiasm, but I generally dislike organized religion. I have chosen not to convert. I do NOT practice any other religion.
Is marriage in this case still prohibited IF no other G-d is worshipped?

Just curious what your takes are since you believe the Torah is against interfaith marriage.


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Author: Bryce (
Date:   12-26-01 19:55

That's okay if you dislike organized religion -- Judaism is incredibly disorganized. I'm curious what you mean when you say your views on God most match Judaism's. Are you referring to the part of you that does believe, as opposed to the part of you that doesn't believe?

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 Hmm, the board is active again
Author: Chuck (
Date:   01-02-02 00:01


The Torah prohibition is against Jews intermarrying with non-Jews. This is irrespective of the "faith" of the non-Jew. Furthermore, this has nothing to do with what I "believe". This Torah law has been elucidated, taught, and accepted since the Giving of the Torah.

Again, if someone wishes disregard this Torah law as inapplicable in modern society (or whatever excuse du jour), than that is a different story. Then, the person is simply following the lead of Jewish movements that dispense with kosher food, tefillin, tallis, etc. That these principles are commanded in the Torah are acknowledged, but shunned for whatever reason. The person who intermarries under these conditions (in my estimation) is making a profound mistake, but that is their choice.

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 Can a Jew b happy 4 & love an intermarriage co
Author: Jez (
Date:   01-04-02 08:55

Hi there,

I am born Jewish but do not believe in God and have no desire to follow my Jewish Heritage. This (understandably) is very hard and painful for my two brothers who have emigrated to Israel and now follow Hasidic life. However, none of this has been a problem and I have continued with very close relationship with them both.

Now I am engaged to marry my non-Jewish wife. My brothers will not come to our wedding which is hard enough in itself. The wedding is in a hotel, is civil and has absolutely no religious connotations whatsoever. They claim their rabbi has informed them that according to Jewish oral law they are not allowed to go. 1 Week later they were told that they have now been told they can go to the party in the evening. When I questioned them on how this is possible my brother explained that he would come out of solidarity and to maintain a relationships with me.

My problem is I don't need proof of his love for me. What I want is happiness and blessing for us as a couple. My brother told me he could never 'be happy for us'. This makes me feel sick. Is there any wonder that so much of the world (not me) think that Judaism is intolerant and judgemental? Can you imagine how my fiancée feels? How ever hard this may sound, I didn't choose to be Jewish yet my birthright means that my own brothers can never having a loving relationship with my future wife. As most, my fiancée/ future wife is the most important person in my life. If my brothers can't accept this I feel like cutting ties with them.

Can anyone out their advise what I can do about this? Does anyone empathise/ agree with how I feel? Editor wrote:
In response to a reader's suggestion on another forum, we are opening this discussion of intermarriage from a religious viewpoint. Does the Torah permit or prohibit intermarriage? State your views here.

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 [big?] brothers' blessings
Author: Susan (
Date:   01-04-02 13:03


I can understand why you feel the way you do and why your brothers' attitudes seem so puzzling and unfair to you now. Please correct me if I'm wrong, but I am going to presume that your brothers are older than you. Perhaps they were not religious originally either, but they know that people can change. People who are at the standard age of seeking a mate are often not as religious as they will be after they have children and deal with issues of parenting, then they may become more religious yet as they age and face their parents' and their own mortality. It happens so frequently, and people often report on these boards, that when they first married, their spouses' religions couldn't have mattered less, but twenty years later, they feel very differently.

It sounds as if your brothers love you and really want you to marry a woman who makes you happy. In refusing to attend this wedding, they may be hoping they can somehow pressure you into calling off the marriage, even though they probably realize that would fail. If your brothers are both chasidic, then they accept the traditional view that a relationship between a Jew and a non-Jew is not a legal marriage. It would be exactly the same thing, from their perspective, as living together without marriage, except that if *you* consider *yourselves* legally married, then they'll have no expectation of your breaking up and marrying someone Jewish. Whatever happens, remember that their refusal to accept your marriage is not a personal reflection on the woman you've chosen, but disappointment in their hopes of having Jewish nieces and nephews.

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 An interesting case
Author: Chuck (
Date:   01-24-02 21:32

Here's a major surprise that I just discovered. Readers may be interested in the following web site:

It's a Reform responsa for a problem. It seems a female Jew, married to a non-practicing non-Jew, wanted to become a Reform rabbi, but was denied entry to the Reform HUC rabbincal college BECAUSE she was married to a non-Jew. If interested, readers can go to the website to see for themselves.

However, what really caught my attention is two things. One, the responsa stressed the Reform rabbinate organization's stressed their fairly strong opposition to intermarrriage, something that, frankly, I never would have guessed. Second, in their footnotes, they quote several authentic sources for the Torah prohibiton against intermarriage. They even acknowledge the sources that stipulate there is no kiddushin (sanctification) in a hypothetical marriage between a Jew and a non-Jew.

So, it makes for a rather strange picture. Perhaps even hypocritical?

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 I can't believe it!
Author: Lucie (
Date:   01-25-02 11:36

What Chuck wrote really is terrible! My Jewish fiance and I always thought we could have a Rabbi and a Priest co-officiate at our wedding together, but now I'm really worried! I know the other branches of Judiasm have alot of prejudice, but I would of never thought there could be so much intolerance in the reformed branch.

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 two postings
Author: Ed Case (
Date:   01-25-02 12:04

I have heard the head of the Reform movement say that 50% of Reform rabbis will officiate at intermarriages. A much smaller number will co-officate with a priest or minister. One way to find such clergy is to visit the website of the Rabbinic Center for Research and Counselling; there is a link to that website on the front page of

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Author: Sam (
Date:   01-25-02 14:41

It seems like you've found yourself in a bind. I would encourage you to take another look at Reform (not reformed) "intolerance" and view it instead as a case of "tough love" -- or something along those lines. Also, I would suggest looking at my posting at /phorum/read.php3?num=20

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Author: Sam (
Date:   01-25-02 14:47

I thought that this website was intended to give advice to already-intermarried couples and advice to the interdating. However, I did not think it was to provide suggestions as to how to go about easing the way toward finding rabbis who will give their "seal of approval" in their intermarrying service. That seems to go way beyond the purpose of this website.

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People who attend and worship at a given synagogue. God. In traditional Jewish circles, it is forbidden to write or say God\'s name, so God is typically written with the vowel (o) replaced by a hyphen. According to Jewish law, as interpreted by the rabbis. Triangular fruit-filled pastries traditionally eaten during Purim. The language of Judaism. Used in prayer in most synagogues and the official language of the state of Israel. Also refers to Jews, especially before they entered Israel and were given the Torah, as in "the ancient Hebrews." A huppah--often spelled ?chuppah?--is a Jewish wedding canopy with four open sides. A Jewish wedding ceremony typically occurs under a huppah. Within the bounds of Jewish dietary laws (kashrut). Usually refers to the Book of Esther read on Purim. A religious obligation or commandment; a good deed. Religious obligation or commandments; good deeds. One of 54 sections of the Torah read in order on a weekly basis throughout the year. The spring holiday commemorating the exodus of the Jews from Egypt. The festive spring holiday celebrating Esther's saving of the Jews from the plans of the evil Haman, marked by costume parties and consumption of alcohol. The Jewish Sabbath, from sunset on Friday to sunset on Saturday. The Jewish Sabbath, from sunset on Friday to sunset on Saturday. "Hear" in Hebew. The first word and name of the central Jewish prayer and statement of faith. "Synagogue" in Yiddish. The major collection of rabbinic Jewish law. The first five books of the Hebrew Bible, or the scroll that contains them. Chanukah is an eight-day Jewish holiday commemorating the rededication of the Second Temple in Jerusalem at the time of the Maccabean Revolt of the 2nd Century BCE. It is marked by the lighting of a menorah. meal in Hebrew.