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Notes from Limmud 2009

Radical Talmud: What's the origin of the ban on intermarriage?

Dr Raphael Zarum

[Standard disclaimer: All views not in square brackets are those of the speaker, not myself. Accuracy of transcription is not guaranteed. This post is formatted for LiveJournal; if you are reading it on Facebook click on "View original post" for optimal layout.]

[This was the second in a series of three. The speaker opened with a summary of the previous talk, which I did not attend:] The Mishna talks about a number of foods that are banned if made, some for reasons of kashrus, e.g. milk, some to do with other issues, e.g. bread, as it could lead to intermarriage, through association with non-Jews (see below). In the case of Grodzinski's, the bread is פַּת יִשְׂרָאֵל: a Jewish bakery, and Jewish-owned. Even though it has non-Jewish workers, Grodzinski's bread can never be פַּת עַכֻּ״ם [bread of idol workers—lit. עובדי כוכבים ומזלות worshipers of stars and astrologers]. A Jew does some part of the manufacturing process. What if one day this is not done? The bread would become בִּשוּל עַכֻּ״ם; you can't eat this. This is worse, halachically speaking, than פַּת עַכֻּ״ם, because there is no justification for it. This would make Grodzinski's bread worse than Kingsmill [a supermarket bread bearing a hechsher, which no doubt was covered in the previous talk].

The point about intermarriage above is not to say we're not to associate with non-Jews at all, more: What level of reminder do we need to keep our consciousness that we are partly separate? It's like wearing a wedding ring: it's a cultural enactment created by society to tell you and others that you should not get too close to others. You can be in a bar with non-Jews, but you should "wear your ring".

In terms of idolatry, the gemara in Avodah Zara explains issues to do with idolatry and issues to do with intermarriage. The tractate can be quite rude about non-Jews.

What's the ban on intermarriage; how does it work? What's the fear?

"Intermarriage" and "assimilation" are used interchangeably in our culture by many. But of course a Jew might marry someone non-Jewish because they fall in love; this doesn't mean they don't value their Jewish heritage. The other possibility is that they haven't been brought up with Jewish values; they intermarry because they don't care about it; it's not a concern for them. The Talmud is clearly talking about the first instance of these. It's normal to fall in love; it's human.

What's the origin of the ban on intermarriage? The Talmud does this in a really backwards way: They keep coming up with reasons and then ruling them out.

Avodah Zara 36b1 עבודה זרה לו ב

Bali declared that Avimi of Nusa'ah said in the name of Rav:2 The bread, wine and oil and daughters [of idolaters] are all included in the eighteen enactments.3 What means "their daughters"?4

R. Naḥman b. Yitzḥak said: [The Schools of Hillel and Shammai] decreed that their daughters should be considered as in the state of niddah from their cradle.5

And Geniva said in the name of Rav: Concerning all of them they decreed for the purpose of safeguarding against idolatry.6 For when R. Aḥa bar Adda came [from Israel] he declared in the name of R. Yitzḥak: They decreed against bread [of idolaters] on account of their oil. But how is oil stricter than bread? Rather [they decreed] against their bread and oil on account of their wine.7 And they decreed against their wine on account of their daughters. And against their daughters on account of another matter [i.e. idolatry]...8

אמר באלי אמר אבימי נותאה משמיה דרב פיתן ושמנן יינן ובנותיהן כולן משמונה עשר דבר הן׃ בנותיהן מאי היא

אמר רב נחמן בר יצחק גזרו על בנותיהן נידות מעריסותן׃

וגניבא משמיה דרב אמר כולן משום עבודת כוכבים גזרו בהן דכי אתא רב אחא בר אדא אמר רבי יצחק גזרו על פיתן משום שמנן מאי אולמיה דשמן מפת אלא על פיתן ושמנן משום יינן ועל יינן משום בנותיהן ועל בנותיהן משום דבר אחר ועל דבר אחר משום ד״א׃

  1. There are 3 chapters [in this tractate dedicated to, presumably, this issue: the speaker was going too fast for me to get it all down here. The lacuna ends:] in the time of Abraham 300! [Anybody got any idea what this was about?]
  2. This contradicts what the Gemara said in the previous talk.
  3. Shabbos 13a records how the School of Shammai, wanting to get some legislation through, turned up en masse and forced through eighteen enactments.
  4. It's not like-for-like: the other three you eat!
  5. But niddah applies only to Jewish women! It doesn't apply to non-Jewish women, and it certainly doesn't apply to girls pre-menarche. It's a technical way to make them off-limits to Jewish men. Recall, being in niddah does not make a woman unclean; it's just a separation. It doesn't reflect badly on her; it's not trying to be offensive to non-Jewish women. But a man knows niddah means no. (Note that this is slightly different from מִשׁוּם חַתְנוּת [intermarriage]. It forbids sleeping with them, marriage or no.)
  6. Yesterday's argument said that this was because of intermarriage! So which is correct? This has an effect today, as it tells us whether intermarriage is prohibited because of an ancient concern or one alive today.
  7. Because when you sat down to break bread with someone, they'd bring out the wine to accompany the meal.
  8. When a man and a woman set up a home together, it will have cultural values; and what values will those be? There was no such thing as atheism in the ancient world; everyone worshipped something. If you didn't, you weren't part of society. And in the ancient world it would be עֲבוֹדָה זָרָה. This is a bigger problem than the marriage itself.

If through intermarriage cultural things could be saved, it's not so bad. That's the attitude of Progressive Judaism. For Christianity and Islam, associating with non-Christians/Muslims is a good thing, as it means they might become Christians/Muslims. But it's not the same for Judaism as it's not a proselytising religion.

The attitude of the rabbis is that there's a slippery slope. Do they always get it right? No. But did they have the right attitude? Yes: A minority society is always at danger from the dominant one.

[But the prohibition against marrying] their daughters is a Biblical law, for it is written, "Neither shall you make marriages with them" [Deut. 7:3]! בנותיהן דאורייתא היא דכתיב לא תתחתן בם

I.e. how could the prohibition on intermarriage be one of the eighteen enactments, given that it's prohibited מדאורייתא!

Deuteronomy 7:1-7:6 דברים ז א-ז ו
When the LORD thy God shall bring thee into the land whither thou goest to possess it, and hath cast out many nations before thee,1 the Hittites, and the Girgashites, and the Amorites, and the Canaanites, and the Perizzites, and the Hivites, and the Jebusites, seven nations greater and mightier than thou; And when the LORD thy God shall deliver them before thee; thou shalt smite them, and utterly destroy them; thou shalt make no covenant with them, nor shew mercy unto them: Neither shalt thou make marriages with them; thy daughter thou shalt not give unto his son, nor his daughter shalt thou take unto thy son.2 For they will turn away thy son from following me, that they may serve other gods: so will the anger of the LORD be kindled against you, and destroy thee suddenly. But thus shall ye deal with them; ye shall destroy their altars, and break down their images, and cut down their groves, and burn their graven images with fire. For thou art an holy people unto the LORD thy God: the LORD thy God hath chosen thee to be a special people unto himself, above all people that are upon the face of the earth. כִּי יְבִיאֲךָ ה׳ אֱלֹהֶיךָ אֶל־הָאָרֶץ אֲשֶׁר־אַתָּה בָא־שָׁמָּה לְרִשְׁתָּהּ וְנָשַׁל גּוֹיִם־רַבִּים מִפָּנֶיךָ הַחִתִּי וְהַגִּרְגָּשִׁי וְהָאֱמֹרִי וְהַכְּנַעֲנִי וְהַפְּרִזִּי וְהַחִוִּי וְהַיְבוּסִי שִׁבְעָה גוֹיִם רַבִּים וַעֲצוּמִים מִמֶּךָּ׃ וּנְתָנָם ה׳ אֱלֹהֶיךָ לְפָנֶיךָ וְהִכִּיתָם הַחֲרֵם תַּחֲרִים אֹתָם לֹא־תִכְרֹת לָהֶם בְּרִית וְלֹא תְחָנֵּם׃ וְלֹא תִתְחַתֵּן בָּם בִּתְּךָ לֹא־תִתֵּן לִבְנוֹ וּבִתּוֹ לֹא־תִקַּח לִבְנֶךָ׃ כִּי־יָסִיר אֶת־בִּנְךָ מֵאַחֲרַי וְעָבְדוּ אֱלֹהִים אֲחֵרִים וְחָרָה אַף־ה׳ בָּכֶם וְהִשְׁמִידְךָ מַהֵר׃ כִּי־אִם־כֹּה תַעֲשׂוּ לָהֶם מִזְבְּחֹתֵיהֶם תִּתֹּצוּ וּמַצֵּבֹתָם תְּשַׁבֵּרוּ וַאֲשֵׁירֵהֶם תְּגַדֵּעוּן וּפְסִילֵיהֶם תִּשְׂרְפוּן בָּאֵשׁ׃ כִּי עַם קָדוֹשׁ אַתָּה לַה׳ אֱלֹהֶיךָ בְּךָ בָּחַר ה׳ אֱלֹהֶיךָ לִהְיוֹת לוֹ לְעַם סְגֻלָּה מִכֹּל הָעַמִּים אֲשֶׁר עַל־פְּנֵי הָאֲדָמָה׃

1. The assumption is that they're morally corrupt.

2. Quoted by Lord Phillips on the first page of the JFS case report.

The Gemara resolves this difficulty:

The Biblical law is restricted to the seven nations [of Canaan] and does not include other idolatrous peoples; and [the Schools of Hillel and Shammai] came and decreed against these too.1 דאורייתא ז׳ אומות אבל שאר עובדי כוכבים לא ואתו אינהו וגזור אפילו דשאר עובדי כוכבים׃
But according to R. Shimon bar Yoḥai, who declared that the words, "For he will turn away your son from following Me" [Deut. 7:4] include all women who would turn [their husbands aside from the worship of G-d], what is there to say?2 ולרבי שמעון בן יוחי דאמר כי יסיר את בנך מאחרי לרבות כל המסירות מאי איכא למימר
Rather [the explanation is that] the Biblical law is against intercourse through marriage, and they came and decreed even against promiscuity.3 אלא דאורייתא אישות דרך חתנות ואתו אינהו גזור אפילו דרך זנות׃
But the decree against promiscuity had already been made by the Court of Shem,4 for it is written, "And Yehudah said: Bring her forth and let her be burnt!" [Gen 38:24]. זנות נמי בבית דינו של שם גזרו דכתיב ויאמר יהודה הוציאוה ותשרף
Rather, then, [the explanation is that] the Biblical law refers to an Israelite woman in intercourse with an idolater since she would be drawn after him [into idolatry], but not against an Israelite man having intercourse with an idolatrous woman;5 so they came and decreed even against the latter.6 אלא דאורייתא עובד כוכבים הבא על בת ישראל דמשכה בתריה אבל ישראל הבא על העובדת כוכבים לא ואתו אינהו גזור אפילו ישראל הבא על העובדת כוכבים׃
But [the prohibition against] an Israelite having intercourse with an idolatrous woman is a law of Moses from Sinai, for a Master has said: If [an Israelite] has intercourse with an idolatrous woman, zealots may attack him.7 ישראל הבא על העובדת כוכבים הלכה למשה מסיני היא דאורייתא דאמר מר הבועל ארמית קנאין פוגעין בו
Rather, the Biblical law refers to a public act even as the "incident" that happened, so they came and decreed even against a private act.8 בפרהסיא וכמעשה שהיה ואתו אינהו גזור אפילו בצינעא׃
But the Court of the Hasmoneans had already decreed also against a private act, for when R. Dimi came [from Israel] he declared: The Court of the Hasmoneans decreed that an Israelite who had intercourse with an idolatrous woman is liable on four counts, viz., she is regarded as niddah, a slave, a non-Jewess, anda married woman; and when Ravin came [from Israel] he declared: On the following four counts, viz., she is regarded as niddah-slave-idolatrous-harlot! The decree of the Court of the Hasmoneans was against intercourse but not against private association [with an idolatrous woman]; so they came and decreed against this. בצינעא נמי דכי אתא רב דימי אמר בית דין של חשמונאי בית דינו של חשמונאי גזרו ישראל הבא על העובדת כוכבים חייב משום נשג״א כי אתא רבין אמר גזרו משום נשג״ז כי גזרו בית דינו של חשמונאי ביאה אבל ייחוד לא ואתו אינהו גזור אפילו ייחוד׃
But the Court of David had already decreed against private association, for Rav Yehudah said: At that time they made a decree against private association!9 ייחוד נמי בית דינו של דוד גזרו דאמר רב יהודה באותה שעה גזרו על ייחוד
It may be replied [that the decree of the Court of David] there referred to private association with an Israelite and not an idolatrous woman, so they came and decreed even against associating with an idolatrous woman. אמרי התם ייחוד דבת ישראל אבל ייחוד דעובדת כוכבים לא ואתו אינהו גזרו אפילו אייחוד דעובדת כוכבים׃
But [the prohibition against] associating with an Israelite woman is a Biblical Law; for R. Yoḥanan said in the name of R. Shimon ben Yehotzadak: Whence is there an indication in the Torah against such association? As it is said, "If your brother, the son of your mother... entice you" (Deut. 13:7) Can, then, the son of the mother, and not the son of the father, entice? But the intention is that a son may privately associate with his mother, and nobody else may privately associate with any woman whom the Torah disallows him in marriage! ייחוד דבת ישראל דאורייתא היא דאמר רבי יוחנן משום רבי שמעון בן יהוצדק רמז לייחוד מן התורה מנין שנאמר כי יסיתך אחיך בן אמך וכי בן אם מסית בן אב אינו מסית אלא בן מתייחד עם אמו ואין אחר מתייחד עם כל עריות שבתורה
[The correct explanation is that] the Biblical law against such association refers to an [Israelite] married woman; David came and extended the law to association with an unmarried woman; and the disciples of the Schools of Shammai and Hillel came and extended it still further to association with an idolatrous woman. ייחוד דאורייתא דאשת איש ואתא דוד וגזר אפילו אייחוד דפנויה ואתו תלמידי בית שמאי ובית הלל גזור אפילו אייחוד דעובדת כוכבים׃
  1. So it was okay to marry anyone else until the School of Shammai made this ruling!?
  2. So then what was the point of the enactment?
  3. Sleeping with somebody not Jewish without getting married. Hence, not only can you not marry them, you can't sleep with them either. So is the prohibition on "daughters [of idolaters]" at the top against marriage [which would lead to idolatry] or cohabitation?
  4. They don't literally mean a Beth Din; they mean there were always basic human laws against this. Tamar's sin at the time was for sleeping with a non-Hebrew. According to the speaker, if she'd slept with a Jew it would have been okay. (It's not that she was betrothed to Shelah; she was not.) But what about Yehudah? He slept with what he thought was a non-Hebrew woman (even though it turned out to be Tamar).
  5. Which is Yehudah's get-out.
  6. So the enactment, then, was against a Jewish man: because we can't trust them either. Biblical Judaism is very male-controlled; rabbinic Judaism is a bit more equal; they recognise men are human too.
  7. As shown by the story of Pinḥas, who does so even without waiting to be told. (Though note, even though G-d says "Good one, Pinḥas", in the same sedra Joshua is chosen to be the next leader.) So what then was the enactment for!?
  8. The rabbis are enacting on not bragging in the bar about the non-Jewish woman you've slept with.
  9. That was the enactment. Hence bread leads to wine, wine leads to associating with daughters, which leads to being secluded (יִיחוּד) with them, which leads to having sex with them, which leads to marriage with them, which leads to idolatry!

Is this about culture, or is this about the way humans interact? The rabbis are trying to say: where's the line?

Jewish learning notes index

Date: 2011-02-23 12:15 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] curious-reader.livejournal.com
The Kingsmill here in St Albans has no hechsher. I actually prefer organic German bread I get from the market. They don't put strange E-numbers in.

As I disagreed before I don't believe that people marrying non-Jews don't care about Judaism. You know some people who even converted to Judaism and ended up marrying someone non-Jewish. When the Rabbis wrote that it was a completely different situation. People lived in a Ghetto or at least very close together and the communities were much larger. There were lots of Jews to choose from. We don't have that anymore. As I also said before I met Jews who don't care about their Judaism and non-Jews who know a lot about it. It might be actually worth marrying someone non-Jewish who supports Judaism rather than a Jew who does not care.

Date: 2011-02-23 07:21 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] lethargic-man.livejournal.com

The Kingsmill here in St Albans has no hechsher.

Yes it does; you just don't know to recognise it. It's from the Sephardi Kashrut Authority and looks like this:


There were lots of Jews to choose from. We don't have that anymore.

Rubbish. You live in a country with 250,000 Jews, next door to by far the biggest community of young Jews in the country.

As I also said before I met Jews who don't care about their Judaism and non-Jews who know a lot about it. It might be actually worth marrying someone non-Jewish who supports Judaism rather than a Jew who does not care.

You'll not be surprised to learn I disagree strongly, and would consider that an abuse of privilege. (The privilege being that if you marry out, your children would be Jewish; if I marry out, mine would not.)

Edited Date: 2011-02-23 07:22 am (UTC)

Date: 2011-02-23 08:40 am (UTC)
liv: cartoon of me with long plait, teapot and purple outfit (likeness)
From: [personal profile] liv
I don't think this attitude about privilege makes sense. I can see that you feel resentful that if you want to have Jewish children you are halachically obliged to marry a Jewish woman. But Jewish women are not "abusing" their privilege by marrying whom they choose without it affecting their children's status. You might as well say that a born Jew is "abusing" her privilege of marrying a Cohen when a convert can't, or that a non-mamzer is "abusing" their privilege by marrying according to their choice, or even that a straight couple are "abusing" their privilege by marrying at all because there is no mechanism for same-sex marriages in the current halachically observant world.

You have a halachic system that permits some marriages and forbids others. That doesn't always match up with people's personal choices of partners. But it's not an abuse of privilege to follow your choice if it happens to be permitted.

Date: 2011-02-23 10:33 am (UTC)

Date: 2011-02-23 12:34 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] lethargic-man.livejournal.com
It goes against the principle of egalitarianism (which is, after all, one of the reasons why I moved away from Orthodoxy). It is true that for a woman to marry a non-Jew is not breaking the letter of the law; but I would say that it is definitely not in the spirit of the law.

As for the comparison with marriages with cohanim and mamzerim, those are in contravention of דאורייתא law; whereas matrilineality is a much later development (and indeed contradicts the situation we see in the Bible). And, regardless, rabbis (in some cases Orthodox) will do their best to try and accommodate people in either of the above situations too: I know Masorti rabbis who have married cohanim to divorcees, and no less a figure than Ovadiah Yosef has bent over backwards (http://lethargic-man.livejournal.com/59567.html) to avoid labelling someone a mamzer.

Date: 2011-02-24 07:58 pm (UTC)
liv: cartoon of me with long plait, teapot and purple outfit (ewe)
From: [personal profile] liv
Wait, I'm not arguing about whether certain marriages / relationships are against halacha; we both know that they are! I am arguing that getting married to someone who is permitted as a spouse is not an abuse of privilege because some people are halachically more restricted in their choice of partners than you are.

I do buy your argument that it isn't really in the spirit of the law for Jewish women to marry non-Jewish men, but they're not abusing any privilege by doing so, they're just making a compromise between their commitment to halacha and their romantic choice. I mean, seriously, this "privilege" of being able to have Jewish children without a Jewish partner also comes with having to bear those children in your own body, and take the risk of dying in childbirth (yes, it's less dangerous than it was historically, but it can still be fatal). It comes with a general social assumption, which is if anything more pronounced in religiously conservative communities than in general society, that you will do most of the work of childcare, that you will make most of the compromises that parenthood requires in your career and other aspects of lifestyle. Besides which, it is perfectly possible for men to have Jewish children by a non-Jewish mother: they can agree with their partners that the children will be brought up Jewish, and the children can convert formally either as children or when they reach bar mitzvah age, depending on how your community views these things.

Date: 2011-02-23 10:40 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] curious-reader.livejournal.com
You know perfectly well that there are not enough Jews in every area of Britain. In St Albans young Jews my age do not exist or at least one couple that is happily married. There are old people over 60 and 70 and children. Don't be such a hypocrat. You even have problems finding somebody in the country. You won't need that if you had such a great choice in this country. You even moved from the North of England and Scotland to London for the young Jews as there were only old Jews. It is not about abusing of privilege but desperation. Nobody likes to stay alone. That is human nature.

Date: 2011-02-23 12:38 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] lethargic-man.livejournal.com
You know perfectly well that there are not enough Jews in every area of Britain. [...] Don't be such a hypocrat. You even have problems finding somebody in the country. You won't need that if you had such a great choice in this country. You even moved from the North of England and Scotland to London for the young Jews as there were only old Jews.

I'm not being a hypocrite; you can't compare living hundreds of miles away from the nearest large young Jewish community with living effectively next door to one. That's why I recommended you to move to St Albans in the first place! You've been to London lots of times since you moved to St Albans; I went to London maybe two or three times total during the whole period when I lived in Edinburgh!

It is not about abusing of privilege but desperation. Nobody likes to stay alone. That is human nature.

That doesn't make it right.

Date: 2011-02-23 12:52 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] curious-reader.livejournal.com
You still have not found anybody in London or anywhere in the UK and I have not found anybody either. There is not such a great choice. We both might have much more chances in the USA. The communities are a lot larger. I only go once a months to London. I do not meet people often enough to get to know them. Your 25000 Jews might only consist mostly of old Jews not young ones and even most of the youngsters are not religious. The only people who go more often to Shul here are old. Their teenagers are not that interested. The 24 year old triplets only go once a year or so. I usually see them at their parents home when they have an event there not in Shul. I believe they are too young for my age, too, and the parents will not be happy if I tried inviting any of them alone. They seem to be rather imature, too, not different from the teenagers.

Date: 2011-02-23 09:23 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] lethargic-man.livejournal.com
You still have not found anybody in London or anywhere in the UK and I have not found anybody either. There is not such a great choice.

Rubbish. There are loads and loads of young Jewish people; it's just a question of finding them and meeting them. That's the difficult bit.

We both might have much more chances in the USA. The communities are a lot larger.

London is more than big enough. I don't know what the figures are; let's assume 150,000 Jews live in London. Roughly 75,000 of them will be male. Roughly 10,000 of those will be within five years of your age either side. You're at about the average age for marriage nowadays, so that means there are probably 5,000 single Jewish men in London within five years of your age. Even if only one in ten is religiously compatible with you, that's still 500. The problem is not the numbers, the problem is finding and meeting them. And that would be the case just as much in a huge Jewish community in the States. Why else do you think JDate exists, or that most of the people on it are in the States?

Your 25000 Jews

250,000. You're out by a factor of ten.

might only consist mostly of old Jews not young ones

No. The community is shrinking, but not by much. In the provinces there's no young people, because there's no future: the young people have all gone to London or Manchester or out of the country. Admittedly, there's also many young people who are not religious, but there are parts of London where there are many young Jews, such as, for example, a two mile radius around where I live.

Date: 2011-02-23 11:13 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] curious-reader.livejournal.com
Exactly. You don't find many young Jews outsite of London and we are so scattered that it is hard to find each other. None of the Jews my age or even much younger were religious on the date pages. They don't want relgion just a girl-friend or boy-friend depending what they are looking for. Often their mothers tell them not to take a non-Jewish girl or boy. I definitely deminished my chances by moving out of London. Other people are even further from London. Not everybody can afford living in London. Not even St Albans is cheap and other nearby areas on the train line are cheap. You really have to live in the middle of nowhere to live cheap in the UK. You are pretty isolated there. I don't even meet non-Jewish young people here. It is more an area for the old people and children with their families. In general people do not always have the right surrounding or the possibility even going to more Jewish areas. That is why I am not surprised that people end up with a non-Jewish spouse either if they want children or not. It is a privilege and luxery to have enough Jews around to choose from.

Date: 2011-02-24 01:57 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)

I see curious, where you are coming from, there mast be at lest ten Synagogue's with-en a ten minute drive from me, yet these consist mostly of married couples, I know in St Albans, there are two, a United and a Masorti, though can imagine at both, the situation is much the same. My local Chabad has just started a singles group, as far from them I may be philosophically from Chabad, in same ways they are more in tune with the realities of modern life then same others!.

And also know what you mean about date sites, in my experience same of the most irreligious Jews, and even anti religious in some cases, don t, have much trouble in finding Jewish partners. These kind of people tend to call themselves "Culturally Jewish",(Culture usually just meaning Woody Allen, and Bagels).


Date: 2011-02-24 07:30 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] curious-reader.livejournal.com
St Albans has old Jews and children. I said it several times. The United which I don't like has even older Jews and less people. I was told so when I phoned because I thought maybe I could meet more people my age. I go to Masorti and still cannot find singles my age. Finding somebody young non-Orthodox but yet religious is really hard. The majority of Jews at my age are married. Outsite of London the situation is impossible. I do not know how many people of these old couples are married to a non-Jew but I know at least 2 who are. I am sure there are a lot more.

Date: 2011-02-24 08:05 pm (UTC)
liv: In English: My fandom is text obsessed / In Hebrew: These are the words (words)
From: [personal profile] liv
This argument would be a great deal more plausible if your plan to find a wife by moving to North-West London had actually worked! Yes, it's still possible that it might eventually pan out, but it's perfectly reasonable for [livejournal.com profile] curious_reader not to want to wait ten years or more to find a Jewish husband. And yes, you have some real difficulties in meeting and forming attachments to people, but do you really think her difficulties are any less than yours?

You have created this detailed argument for why it's imperative for you to live in Golders Green. And you persist in believing this argument even though all the empirical evidence points against it, and furthermore you are trying to convince your friends that they should follow suit and live in an area they can't afford. This is really not sensible.

Date: 2011-02-24 10:13 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] lethargic-man.livejournal.com
I'm not trying to argue the point you seem to think I'm making. I'm not saying it's easy to meet someone; what I'm arguing against is [livejournal.com profile] curious_reader's argument that the UK Jewish community is too small to meet anyone.

And I don't believe it's imperative for me to live in Golders Green; that argument had fallen by the wayside by 2004, when I gave serious thought to leaving London. At the time, it was only my job that kept me here; now it's my community (and my job). But my "community" is actually a combination of partial communities spread over a geographic range. Golders Green does not match any of them; its only convenience is that (a) it's midway between most of them, (b) it's a compromise between closeness to shul and closeness to work, and (c) it's very convenient for the kosher shops.

I'm not trying to convince [livejournal.com profile] curious_reader to live in Golders Green, or even London. What I'm trying to convince her to do is at least live within reach of London, which she does. If she'd done what her parents had wanted her to do, and moved back to Germany, or what she'd proposed doing, and moved to the Netherlands, she'd have found it much harder to be part of a Jewish community that she'd feel at home in. (And by her community here, I don't mean the St Albans Masorti community, but her continuing to occasionally attend Assif, and the Friday night meals at the Wittenbergs', &c.)

Date: 2011-02-27 04:37 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] curious-reader.livejournal.com
Even my brother thinks that the number is small. There are a lot more non-Jews out there then Jews at all. This is what you have to compare. The majority are not going to Shul either. I am sure the number in the USA is much bigger as others also said and young people are more likely to go to Shuls and there a lot more choices of Shuls. I completely understand that not everybody married a Jewish person. Maybe they wanted one but could not find one. So they made compromises instead of staying alone for the rest of their lifes. I am not even sure if I want to get married but at least being in a serious relationship with a boy-friend.

Date: 2011-02-27 09:12 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] lethargic-man.livejournal.com
Even my brother thinks that the number is small.

Like he's an expert on Jewish communities?

There are a lot more non-Jews out there then Jews at all.

Well, of course! Judaism is not a proselytising religion; the numbers have never been large. If you add up all the Jews who have ever lived, I think the number would still come out as less than the population of the UK today.

I am sure the number in the USA is much bigger as others also said

Depends where you live. I have a friend who lives in Ann Arbor, for example, and also can't find someone; there's only eight thousand Jews there. Not everywhere is like New York!

and young people are more likely to go to Shuls

What makes you think that?

and there a lot more choices of Shuls.

Depends where you live, again.

Date: 2011-02-28 01:06 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] curious-reader.livejournal.com
It is not just New York but other big city. When even the smaller cities have communities than it is better than the UK. The St Albans community is relatively new and most of them don't even live in St Albans who go to Shul.

Young people don't go here to Shul because they are mostly secular. USA is much more religious in general. The children have a more religious up bringing then. They question less about their religion than people do here. I met a family from the USA who had very strong God believes. I also had the feeling that the new female Rabbi from the USA who goes occacionally to Assif believes much more in our bible than other Rabbis from here. I was told by Rabbi Jeremy Rosen not to worry about my non-believes because none-of the Masorti Rabbis connected with the Beit Din knows what God is.

Date: 2011-02-23 11:14 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] curious-reader.livejournal.com
I will look out for that chechsher next time.


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