When I was in college, I would say that I wasn’t against intermarriage and not against the idea of marrying a non-Jew. This came from knowing that whatever child came out of me would be considered Jewish by anyone anyway, and having seen just how hostile and ambivalent some secular Jews could be towards Jewish practice. I didn’t want to be with someone who simply felt a compulsion to “marry Jewish” but didn’t want to “do” anything Jewish and might even get hostile if I insisted on keeping pork and unkosher pizza out of the house.
Nor did I want to be the exotic Jewpanese wife who insured that some Jewish male’s children would be technically Jewish (to let off his guilt for having “married out”). Nor did I want to be with a religious fanatic who would be so careful to color everything “Jewish” to the exclusion of my Japanese side.
I also did not want to be with a non-Jew or secular Jew who was hostile towards all religions and religious practices, or who just thought of religious practice as this exotic cute thing that you did to make your life a little more interesting until it started interfering with your “real” life.
I wanted to be with someone who is not necessarily the same as me, but someone who would really understand and respect what I am about. And of course, without an interesting twist to themselves, I would not be able to stay with them long-term. Whether they were Jewish or not was not important.
I was warned though, by many of those who had the notion that “intermarriage is what’s killing the Jews!”
One person contested that “If you marry someone Jewish, they might decide to become religious later”—Well, if the non-Jewish person could convert, if their interests lead them that way. Besides, why did I want to change the person that I was with or hope that they would change?
Another contested that “It’s actually a lot harder than you think to have a mixed marriage.” Um, I probably know a lot more about that than you.
Others seemed to have simply worried that I would “stray” out of being Jewish if I ended up with someone who was not Jewish. Should I have been offended at that? This is the problem of being considered a Ba’al Teshuva (a born-again Jew) when you aren’t (more on that in a later post).
I did think through things though and knew that it could become quite lonely to have to celebrate the Jewish holidays and rules alone. I also thought that it would be a shame to miss out on the opportunity to have a Jewish wedding. But, I wasn’t going to rule out someone who wasn’t Jewish just for those rather superficial reasons.
Either way, if I were to be in a long-term committed relationship, there was only going to be one person for one unique match. That one person might be anywhere. I was unconcerned.