|Jewish Intermarriage: What does it mean?|
|Written by Tuvya Zaretsky|
There is no debate that Jewish intermarriage scares some people as a potential threat to Jewish survival. However, our concern is for Jewish-Gentile couples, and their children, who find themselves living in relational frustration amidst a cross-cultural complex set of misunderstandings. We want to help sort out the confusion and work toward better understanding.
Rabbis, community leaders and Jewish activists have lamented the trend toward Jewish intermarriage in the United States and across Europe. The 1990 National Jewish Population Survey (NJPS) reported that since 1985 more than half of all Jewish people in America were marrying gentiles. The trend toward exogamy (marrying out) stabilized at a level above 52% ever since.
Jewish opinion makers in the US have debated for more than 25 years just how to turn back that trend. One sociologist at CUNY philosophically observed, “Fighting intermarriage is like trying to turn back the wind.”
However, the trend to intermarriage is not the total picture within American Jewry. It is just that intermarriage is the only trending relationship that can be easily observed. Fewer statistics are available about Jewish cross dating or co-habitation with gentile partners.
In Israel, where the intermarriage rate is somewhere around 10%, the implications are different. The significance of intermarriage there is more about cultural changes taking place than for fear about survival of the Jewish people. For example, it was a fairly benign example of Jewish intermarriage when Ashkenazi and Sephardi Jews intermarried and discovered their cross-cultural differences. In recent years intermarriage in Israel is regarded as an excusable by-product from absorbing Jewish communities out of the Diaspora. The subject of intermarriage has also stirred up debate about sociological cross-cultural challenges when an Israeli Jew marries an Arab.
Jewish survival is not our foremost concern, though it certainly matters. Survival of the Jewish people is something that we believe is insured by God’s faithfulness in His covenant with Abraham and his descendants. Rather, our focus is in offering recourses to help Jewish-Gentile couples find spiritual harmony.
If you seek spiritual harmony, we would love to hear from you. Are you a dating, co-habiting or intermarried Jewish-Gentile couple? If so, then you are not alone. In fact, in America and many parts of Europe you are now in the majority of Jewish people. We believe there are ways for you to experience a satisfying, spiritually grounded relationship together with the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. And Jewish survival is not at risk.
Would you like to begin a conversation to find some helpful resources? We are not out to change the direction of the wind. Maybe we can help your communication about spiritual matters and create understanding in the process. Please contact us now.
I would say after 28 years of a "cross cultural" marriage there simply is no spiritual harmony. It has for me, been like being in a marriage by myself. With loving respect I would counsel anyone contemplating this sort of union to consider strongly 2 Corinthians 6:14.
That being said, I believe for those of us who did not heed God's guidelines, should stay in our marriage and believe God to display His mighty work (Romans 8:28).