Here's a great tip:
Enter your email address and we'll send you our weekly magazine by email with fresh, exciting and thoughtful content that will enrich your inbox and your life, week after week. And it's free.
Oh, and don't forget to like our facebook page too!
Contact Us

Why Do Jews Exclude Other People?

Why Do Jews Exclude Other People?

 Email

Question:

I've been asking this from everybody and I can't get an answer: Why do Jews exclude other people? My fiance's parents told me that for a Jew to marry a non-Jew and have children is worse than the Holocaust! I don't get it. Am I really that terrible? In a world with 6 billion people, what kind of G‑d is the Jewish G‑d, who chose a tiny percentage of the population of the world and left the rest without G‑d's mercy?

I don't think I have to mention that I'm not a Jew myself, but I am in a relationship with a Jew, and I want to know more. I want to understand, because right now, I have big problems finding acceptance and respect for Judaism, which of course causes problems in our relationship. I could ask him, but I would rather ask a rabbi, since I expect you to have deeper knowledge than my boyfriend.

Hope to hear from you soon.

Answer:

I'm glad you were persistent in asking your question, and I'm glad you've given us a chance to answer.

First, please keep in mind that I didn't make any of the statements you are citing. Start reading fresh, like we've never discussed this before. Because, we haven't.

I'm sure you understand that every creature G‑d has made on this planet wishes to survive. Not just each individual critter wants to go on living, but the mothers want to see their children survive and those children want to see their children survive and so on. In other words, each species wants to endure and survive.

We Jewish people also want to survive. We are a tiny portion of the 6 billion you mentioned. We've been around for almost four thousand years. At times, we made up more than 10% of the world. At other times, much less. Right now, we're less than a quarter of a percent.

Each people makes their contribution to humanity -- inventions, ideas, wisdom, music, art, culture. As a people, we've made many important contributions to the rest of the world. Such as monotheism, the value of human life, equality before the law, the concept of world peace. All these and many other ideas that are central to our society today find their source in the Bible and the other traditions of the Jewish people. Since Biblical times, we have made many more contributions to the societies in which we lived, whether in ethics, in philosophy, in medicine, in the sciences...you name it. So it would make sense that the other nations of the world, as well, would want us to survive.

Do we claim superiority? I don't think so. Christians and Muslims both attest to the truth of the Biblical account, where we were picked out by G‑d to perform a mission -- to be a light unto the nations. We contend that G‑d never changed His mind. And, as anyone can see, we've accomplished much of that mission. Most of the ethics we were charged to teach have been accepted by most of the world. Maybe they haven't put it all into action -- but they will, and we believe that time will come very soon.

Do we exclude others? Absolutely not. Any person who wishes to join the Jewish people and their holy mission is welcome, regardless of race, color, sex or family background. We only ask that they commit to keeping the rules G‑d gave us, just as the Jewish people accepted those rules when they received the Torah at Mount Sinai some 3300 years ago. And if they opt not to join, we believe that the righteous people among the nations will share in the rewards of the time to come. I don't know of any other religion so liberal as to say such a thing: You don't have to join us, you don't have to do the things we do, just believe in one G‑d and fulfill the basic requirements of every human being to society, and you're in.

So what's so terrible about us wanting to survive? Obviously, we aren't going to survive if we intermarry with everyone else and raise our kids as just a muddle of everything. Our only route to survival is for Jewish people to marry Jewish people and bring their kids up as good Jews.

Of course, if a girl from a non-Jewish family decides she wants to join the Jewish people, well, what's stopping her? But we don't push that sort of thing, because, first of all, we're not out to push our thing on others. You can be a righteous non-Jew and be loved by G‑d, so why should we push you down a path you weren't born into? You may well resent it later on -- as often happens -- and that doesn't make for a good marriage. And, secondly, some people become Jewish just for the sake of marriage, and then once they're married, the whole thing is dropped. Which means we have to be a little scrutinous about accepting converts, to be sure they're doing this because they truly want to.

I hope this explains things a little for you. If you still can't swallow it, please write me back.

I wish you all the wonderful things your life has in store, not one should go missing.


Rabbi Tzvi Freeman, a senior editor at Chabad.org, also heads our Ask The Rabbi team. He is the author of Bringing Heaven Down to Earth. To subscribe to regular updates of Rabbi Freeman's writing, visit Freeman Files subscription. FaceBook @RabbiTzviFreeman Periscope @Tzvi_Freeman .
© Copyright, all rights reserved. If you enjoyed this article, we encourage you to distribute it further, provided that you comply with Chabad.org's copyright policy.
 Email
Sort By:
Discussion (768)
March 15, 2017
You are mistaken when you say we
We are not concerned with faiths. We don't tell people of other faiths not to intermarry. That's up to them.

As the rabbi says, we care what we are.
Regardless of belief or behavior or faith, a people who are born Jewish or become Jewish after birth, are Jews. That's their identity forever. They are persons whose souls stood at Sinai & accepted Torah, whatever their "faith."

A person also is a marriage partner. The spouse is the person's other half. The spouse is an essential part of what we are. Not of our "faith" but of what we are.
If a Jew marries a non-Jew, then an essential part of what each spouse id, is alien to him/herself. Half of the united person stood at Sinai and promised to keep Torah. The other half of that same person is alien to that covenant. For each, half of their essential self is alien to their other half.

They experience this as seeing that their essence will never be understood by their other half.

That is rough. But, that's what happens.
Jonah
Boston
March 15, 2017
living together in peace
It would be beautiful if all humans could live together in peace.
But first, Muslims have to stop murdering all those who are not Muslims. They are murdering the Christians in their countries as well as other Muslims who do not believe as they do. Have you heard about this slaughter that is going on?

And the Christians in Europe have to stop supporting the Muslims who are trying to wipe out the State of Israel and her six million Jews. The EU is sending gigantic amounts of money to support illegal building by terrorist groups within the heart of Israel. Have you heard about this?

The problem is that the basis of many religions is that if you are not their religion you are condemned to eternal hell and that it is proper to kill you out either by beheading, like the Muslims are doing today, or burning alive at the stake, like during the Spanish Inquisition, or murdering like during the Crusades and the pogroms, or gas chambers, etc. or the more "refined" actions of the EU today.
Shoshana
Jerusalem
March 9, 2017
I believe that with much respect Jews, Christians, Muslims, and all humans can live together in peace. We share a lot of similarities ! Thanks for the explanation
teto
March 8, 2017
I get it... you don't believe that people of different faiths should intermarry. Your religion is fundamentally against it; however, it is not okay to mistreat another member of the family just because they're not Jewish or married into your Jewish family. If you choose to write off your child for marrying outside their religion then that is on you. I can't get behind that.
Mel
March 6, 2017
Dear Friends -
I grew up in a community in the U.S. that was about half Jewish (secular), half non-Jewish. From kindergarten through high school we went to public school together, got along beautifully and were really good friends. But there was a red line that could not be crossed and that was interfaith dating.
I remember when all the local rabbis, priests and ministers got together to form a committee to try to figure out a way to stop intermarriage, which none of them wanted. That was in the middle 50's. No one was angry, no one was insulted, no one called names.
Today our vision has become blurry. Everybody's got to be the same, to blend into one mush. I even read an article that in some cities in China they are tearing down many ancient buildings and rebuilding modern ones and soon there will be nothing left of that beautiful culture. Why?
And why should we Jews tear down our beautiful ancient culture,a family going back 4000 years, to Abraham, Issac and Jacob?
Why should anybody?
Shoshana
Jerusalem
March 5, 2017
All groups are special, in various ways.

Every group should claim its own specialness.
Chaim
Buffalo
March 4, 2017
Dear Friends - in answer ot your questions:
The basis for the Jewish opposition to intermarriage is the Biblical prohibition in Deut. 7:3.
Shoshana
Jerusalem
February 23, 2017
Jewish separateness
Reine! Jews comprise less than .5% of the world's population! In spite of the European actions, and obvious continuous thoughts ,just as you are expressing, our numbers remain stable . Turn around, look at the much larger groups that are a threat to peace! The ones causing world disruption, hatred , war! If you can't see that Jew's philosophy is different from most others, again not better, just oriented , by adherence to Theology of compliance to the Creator's laws. If you say that those laws are constructed by man, why does it bother so many? Do you attack Vegaterians? Cargo cult followers? The answer is to clear for most to believe! Why would so much world energy be spent attacking such a small group of people whose proven Humanity is undeniable ! You are absolutely correct! War is evil, wrong, should be prohibited ! Except for the fact that some in our worked are not Humanity oriented! Self defense is a right of all organisms ! Who is the "us " to which you reference?
Howard
Ma
February 16, 2017
Why Do Jews Exclude Other People?
To Shoshana.
To claim "chosenness" and "specialness" for oneself is pride ! Is it not ? The story about the receiving of the Torah, wher the jewish theory claim that everybody else said no to G-d is in a way belittleing the rest of the "nations". Separating the "chosen" from the not "chosen". You claim that I said no to G-d ?
The jewish theory has directly lead to Christianity and Islam. They also want to be "chosen", so they invent their own form of "chosenness". They envied the jews, and made their own continuation on the jewish divisiveness. In their divisiveness they did all these things you mention; inquisition, pogroms, crusades, Holocaust. All direct consequences of the jewish divisive idea; Some people are "special". Stop this division into "chosen", "special".
The Torah is, what to say, quite a book. Where G-d slaughter and erase, kill and destroy. Punish and burn bushes.
And the jews said yes and all others no ?
Join us instead ! We are unity ! G-d is one. We are one
Reine Dyrstad
February 16, 2017
To Craig.
I have one rule: love. Love is forgiveness. I was looking for a way to unite the peoples of this world. I do not see "a G-d" in Rabbi Manis Freeman. I see him separating the people of this world. He even states that the jewish theory in fact has a lot about the jewish people being above the rest. The job at hand may be to "Be a light to all the nations", to follow more rules than the goyim or whatever. The division, with word like "chosen", "special", "All others said no to G-d, but the jewish did not" is in effect to elevate oneself and indirectly lower the others.
Many people has cut me some slack, and I try to live as a good person. I try to forgive, to live and let live as much as I can. What we discuss here is theory ! The jewish theory of division ! You write"I encourage you to at least try look past the sins that are between yourself and other people." What makes you think I do not try ? I try so hard I even try to find out what makes people so diverted and separated.
Reine Dyrstad