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Why Do Jews Exclude Other People?

Why Do Jews Exclude Other People?

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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.
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Discussion (543)
November 17, 2014
to here are my two cents
I do not see why it is insulting it does not imply we are better in fact Jews cannot cook the food without a Rabbi supervising and let me ask you this if we stopped doing all the little things that makes us "Jewish" keeping the Sabbath, eating kosher, marrying other Jews then what would happen to the Jews in a 100 years? There would be no Jews this is not because of a superiority complex this is because G-d told us A and B its survival for us
Joe
Launceston
November 13, 2014
Gd wants Jews to preserve a Torah lifestyle. "two cents" is right--if you do not become Jewish, you are not living a Torah lifestyle and Jews cannot eat at your table. But I know Jews who keep kosher and they do eat at the homes of gentiles. This is accomplished by bringing the food with them them.

In addition, gentiles can eat at Jewish homes. So we can all eat together. We can love each other.

But if there are to be Torah observant people, going forward, it IS needful for them to be brought up in Torah-observant families.

It is difficult to keep Torah, and as "two cents" points out, it is even more difficult for those who are not brought up keeping Torah.

"Two cents" only underscores why children need to be brought up Jewish in order for Torah observance to continue. Obviously, a Torah observant home requires both parents to observe Torah. Otherwise it just gets too confusing.
Holly
Indianapolis
October 25, 2014
Here are my two cents
As a Gentile, please let me add my feelings. I have read through the multiple responses to this thread, and I want to add my feelings. Marriage aside, many laws are hurtful emotionally and help to maintain a schism between Jewish people and others in their communities and an interfaith marriage can deepen this rift. As an example, let's look at dietary/kosher restrictions. A Gentile might want to include Jewish friends and family members in a meal, research dietary law, proper utensils, keeping them separate, etc. Then we find that (borrowing or renting aside), these cooking implements need be immersed in a mikvah by a Jew. Well and good, that is fine. I want my guests to be comfortable and welcome. Then it becomes "Certain foods which were completely cooked by a non-Jew (bishul akum) may not be eaten, even if the foods are kosher and are cooked in kosher utensils." Jewish people may light the oven, though, and that is fine.Do you not see how that can be construed as insulting?
It hurts me in friendship
October 23, 2014
Sean, this is not true about "most" or even "many" European Jews.
On the contrary, the European Jews are most likely to be descended from the Jews who rebelled against the Romans in Judaea in 70 c.e. The Jews of Egypt & Babylon stayed in Egypt and Babylon, where the Romans had no power to enslave and sell them to Europeans. It was the Judaean Jews who were shipped off to Europe. DNA tests have confirmed that almost all European Jews are of non-European, Mid-eastern, origin, and genetically similar to Middle Eastern Jews and, to a lesser degree, to other Mid-Eastern peoples. There were a few European converts, of course, as the Jewish way of life has always attracted spiritual people, but these converts constituted a miniscule minority of the ancestry of European Jewry. Interestingly, more than 80% of the Cohanic Jews (the priestly line) turn out to have a special gene on the male chromosome.
Miriamne
San Diego
October 23, 2014
How does Jewish belief differ? Ask rather how Jews differ in ways other than belief.
Being a Jew is less about belief and more about accepting Gd's way of life.
We are sent into the physical universe to lift up the material to a spiritual level by our actions and our attitudes.
Some may ask, "Why would Gd care what you eat?" Gd is the Gd of life, and food is life.
Of course G-d cares what we eat.
We eat such as to nourish the food as the food nourishes us, spiritually & physically.
We nourish the food by our intention that by incorporating it, we lift it from the plant or animal level, using spiritual energy. But if a man gluttonously eats large amounts of meat, he takes a serious risk that instead he may well lower himself to an animal level. We must eat gratefully, humbly, mindfully, & without greed so that the food nourishes the soul as well as the body. Kosher food is spiritually nourishing, in part because it expresses love for Gd, & obedience to Gd.

Shabbat best nourishes the soul. Visit a home that joyfully keeps Shabbat. That may answer all your questions.
Hanalah
Atlanta
October 20, 2014
so much judgment
Jews have a way of life; just leave us alone if you don't like it. I don't criticize others for believing what I don't and living the way I don't. If someone sits Shiva for a child that married out it is their business - no one else's. The world never wanted us to assimilate because then we're taking over the world. When we don't they knock down our doors and persecute us. Either way we get killed. Just leave us be already. Sick of being judged by people who are so perfect they claim to walk on water. And then they wonder why we don't bow? OY. Just leave us alone for once and go to some persecution management classes.
Shoshana
October 20, 2014
Discussion 533, Jewish selectiveness and exclusion
Jewish thought, Theology ,is based on prior religion's thoughts. Those religions created after Judaism beginnings ,added onto, and modified its thoughts. cultural modifications formed much of the new beliefs. So in my thoughts, religions are the consequences of the culture they developed in. The problem , as I see it, as a member of a religious group, it is too difficult to see the distortions to the basis of a religion, and how it is actually carried out. Desert warriors have a different interpretation of the world, that Western Europen developed Christianity, Or American Moronism. So it is not so much of what, but how we believe that is different.
Howard
Ma
October 20, 2014
That's asking a lot of someone to change their religion in order to marry someone. Why is it that we don't hear of Jews converting to Christianity for their partner?
mel
Clay twp
October 20, 2014
what do Jewish people believe in that others don't
Anonymous
October 13, 2014
RE: In the Jim Crow South, this type of reasoning was standard on the part of the white Christians; they didn't want their kids to be "mutts," aka "a muddle of everything" either.

If you are not White you can't become White, but if you are not Jewish you can become Jewish by converting regardless of your color or race. There is a difference. I have a White Jewish girl friend and she said her mother did not care if she married a Black man as long as he was Jewish.
AJ
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