Making a case for Intermarriage

I don’t agree with the premise of this post, but when people write something so outrageous I just can’t help posting it – the guy who wrote this is frum, albeit a little disturbed – his email address is published below.

A Case for Intermarriageby

I never completely understood the extreme agitation which my fellow Orthodox Jews experience when confronted with the phenomenon known as intermarriage. Recently one younger Ortho-Jew, a recent graduate of a prominent Right-wing Yeshiva, told me that “the greatest threat which Orthodox Judaism faces today is intermarriage.” Well, where do you even begin with a statement like that?

Even if I was willing to accept that intermarriage actually qualifies as a problem (a premise which I vigorously dispute below), I highly doubt that the problem intermarriage would in any manner qualify as the biggest threat facing our community today. Anyone who legitimately believes this to be the case should spend a few minutes outside of the cave in which they are living and they will swiftly realize that there is a lot of really bad things going on in our community which are not being addressed (see, for example, Child Molestation, Cheating Spouses, Adult and Teenage Drug Use, Rampant Business Fraud, Financial Stress, Domestic Strife and Severe Educational Neglect just to name a few of the big ones that I see with my own eyes). It is also worth noting that if the Jewish community would focus more on some of these serious defects in its character, as well as appreciate the fact that “derech eretz” includes being normal and socially acceptable (and not just socially acceptable in “heimish” settings) then we may take a step towards eradicating the distaste towards what we represent and entice some of our own to form relationships within members of their own social circle.

Admittedly, the exotic will always have a certain appeal. However, I don’t blame people for not wanting to marry a Jew (or at least not a religious one) when the sad truth is that we are not that appealing as people. Many of the Orthodox Jewish men that I know have an overinflated sense of self-worth and are lacking in education, cultural interests, hobbies and basic personal grooming skills. The women are no better, as they are barely educated enough to write at a high school level, they have no intellectual curiosity or interests, they all wear the same exact colors and styles (when they aren’t running around in black velour robes) and they are clingy and difficult as spouses. They also don’t drink for the most part and are not very fun to be around. When faced with such enticing choices, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realize that if you can overcome the taboo you may have a chance of being in a relationship with someone that is interesting and fun to be around. To the extent that we can address some of this through reform in our educational institutions, cultural expectations and family values we would probably make strides towards lessening the numbers of people who want to marry outside of the fold.

Notwithstanding the subjective nature of the above arguments, the biggest reason to encourage intermarriage is because it will prevent people from living a life of sin. It is a pretty good assumption that most people who would marry a non-Jew would not be keeping the laws of family purity and would not be raising their children to lead a Torah-observant life. It is also a good assumption that the people who are most concerned about the intermarriage problem are the very people who will be most concerned about violations of Torah law. If those individuals who are not inclined to comply with the precepts of the Torah marry a non-Jew it will mitigate the severity of future violation. Family purity is not as much of an issue in a relationship with a non-Jewish woman. In addition, children born to a non-Jewish mother are not themselves Jewish (according to the Orthodox Jewish viewpoint). This means that instead of bringing children into this world who will live a life full of sin the person who chooses to intermarry will bring children into this world who can be successful in the situation they find themselves in and lead a full filling life in that manner. Although the women who marry non-Jewish men will still give birth to Jewish babies, the children may themselves be more likely to subsequently marry outside the fold if one of their parents was not Jewish.

One argument that people like to make in defense for the villainization of intermarriage is that we as a nation need to propagate as a means of ensuring our survival. For anyone who claims to have the system of fundamental beliefs that are part and parcel of Torah-observant faith (or anyone with some basic knowledge of history) such arguments lack persuasive power. It is not the job of the Orthodox Jew to try and maintain the survival of our sect. That is something which is in the purview of our creator alone. We are not evangelical people, and we are not people who feel that the weight of our future rests on our heads. We should concentrate on issues which make us better people instead of trying to save the future of our world. Such refocusing of our efforts may inadvertently help ensure our survival, but more importantly it will make us better people. And becoming better people is what Judaism is all about.