Sunday, January 30, 2005


In the NYT Sunday Book Review section, modest Wendy Shalit notes: "Authors who have renounced Orthodox Judaism -- or those who were never really exposed to it to begin with -- have often portrayed deeply observant Jews in an unflattering or ridiculous light." OK, perhaps. She continues: "Some of my Jewish friends have intermarried with people of other faiths; others have gone back to their traditional roots. Because I did the latter, I'm fascinated by the ways different Jewish communities understand and misunderstand one another. "

Is this really a question of a former and a latter, of two mutually exclusive categories? And is intermarrying abandoning one's roots any more than never marrying, never having kids, and thus never technically abandoning or adding to anything? Can't roots be returned to in ways that don't specifically involve mating with one of your kind? Is marrying within the faith the only true test of devotion to Judaism? In a certain sense, bringing more Jews into the world may be the primary duty of Judaism, but this is more likely to result from intermarriage than from staying single and childless. I'm clueless. Any thoughts?

1 comment:

Daniel said...

I agree with you, but I like playing devil's advocate on these things so here goes.

I think that the thought is that intermarriage may result in a net loss of Jews from the world because the Jew who intermarries in some respects loses their Judaism (though, I don't think one can "lose" their Judaism without active conversion).

I wonder how many/what percentage of the intermarried Jews raise their children as Jews. Is it enough to offset all the others?