Membership, Community, Diversity

What questions does the prospect of interfaith marriage raise for Jews?

Attitudes to interfaith marriages vary a great deal among Jews. It is probably fair to say that the preference of most Jews would be that their sons and daughters marry other Jews. But resistance to interfaith marriage is certainly stronger among Orthodox and Conservative Jews than among Reform. Virtually complete prohibition of interfaith marriages in some Jewish communities arises less out of concern for ethnic purity as such than out of a desire to prevent the faith tradition from being irreversibly diluted. Experience has shown that families in which the parents are not both Jewish are less likely to educate their children in the Jewish tradition. Tradition lost is extremely difficult to recover, especially in cultures and societies that seem to value the “new” much more highly than anything with deep historical roots. The musical Fiddler on the Roof goes a long way toward helping non-Jews to appreciate the beauty and centrality of “Tradition! Tradition!” for Jews. Families are the first line of defense against the permanent loss, not just of a collection of ritual deeds performed mechanically, but of the meaning of life itself as interpreted from a Jewish perspective.

Rolling stone door at the rock-cut burial place popularly known as the Tomb of Herod’s Family (first century C.E.) just west of the Old City of Jerusalem.


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