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Why Do Jews Exclude Other People?

Why Do Jews Exclude Other People?



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.


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 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, 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 (609)
November 20, 2015
Re: Chaim - I like your attitude:
“There were some awkward moments when our child was exposed to Xmas as celebrated by "our" family and when he realized that his paternal grandma did not keep kosher, but we explained that it was fine for her, as a Christian, to celebrate Xmas and to eat non-kosher.”
I think Hashem loves your Grandma for her ability to eat with you as much as your ability to eat with her, but if either is the case, I think Gd allowed your family to be happy. He granted you happiness because on a smaller part He was impressed with your family’s love for Him Xtianity aside, but on a greater part because the time your family spent together inspired deeds of love, inspiring Him to happy, such that He granted your family happiness. Cheers!
Craig Hamilton
Sandwich, MA
November 19, 2015
Who died and made you GD?
Who gave you the authority to demand that we marry someone YOU prefer instead of someone compatible with us?
Why do you think it is OK for Christians to celebrate Christian holidays but it is not OK for me, as a Jew, to celebrate Jewish holidays? Or do you advocate a family in which each partner celebrates separate holidays at separate times and places? What makes you think we would be happier dividing ourselves in pieces in this manner?

I am a widow. I enjoyed many happy years of cooking shared meals, including Thanksgiving dinner, and enjoying the sight of my two dozen guests enjoying the various celebrations. I still enjoy attending the celebrations, at their own homes, of non-kosher-keeping dear ones, even when I could only eat what I had brought.
My mate knew the joy of keeping kosher with me.
I don't tell anyone what to do or how to eat.
You selfishly demand that all Jews should marry incompatible mates, whose food we would never enjoy.
November 19, 2015
You criticize me for wanting to marry someone who is compatible with me.

You advocate wedding one's choice. So it is right for me to have wed someone of my own choice, & selfish of you to claim that I should have wed someone of your choice.

I married a convert who kept kosher and Shabbos. Thank Gd, her family did not reject her. Nor did mine. We all remained close and loving to one another. There were some awkward moments when our child was exposed to Xmas as celebrated by "our" family and when he realized that his paternal grandma did not keep kosher, but we explained that it was fine for her, as a Christian, to celebrate Xmas and to eat non-kosher. When he was old enough, he had a Jewish education.
When he grew up he met and married the woman he loved. We, his parents, rejoiced at his happiness and participated in their wedding. They joyfully worship together.

Meanwhile, _I_ hope again to wed someone who will keep kosher and Shabbos with me, rather than your telling me who to wed.
November 17, 2015
Arranged marriages
The benefit of arranged marriages is that someone who knows each of you well, and who has witnessed how many couples worked out, has the judgement to foresee, better than someone besotted by chemistry, whether this relationship will stand the test of time. I wish there WERE more matchmakers, as it is difficult, on one's own, to find a good mate. And by the way, those who use matchmakers can reject any number of matches until they find someone who appeals to them. There is no race for popularity. There is no humiliation if one is rejected by the other.
Unless we live in New York or in Israel, it takes a great deal of effort to find a fellow-Jew. World-wide, we are about one percent of the population, but outside of such Jewish centers, we are about one tenth of one percent, or less. Thus we naturally meet about 1000 gentiles and maybe one Jew. What are the odds that this one Jew is THE one? If we were exposed to 500 of each, we would easily find a beloved Jewish soul mate.
November 17, 2015
Eternal Nation
We are not an endangered species. We have survived the Egyptians, the Babylonians, the Greeks, the Romans, the Spanish Inquisition, the Crusaders, the pogroms, the Holocaust, and everything in between, including the constant wars in Israel by nations whose charters call for our total destruction. And we will continue to survive and outlive them all. But we do not want to see any of our people lost through intermarriage.
November 12, 2015

If that is the case then you all should just have arranged marriages. Since for the sake of survival, you're not willing to accept your child and who the person they want to love. Traditionally, Jewish marriages were arranged marriages, so why did that end? For the save of survival (since your an endangered species) it makes all the sense in the world.
Commerce Twp
November 12, 2015
You wrote that I cannot see things any other way but my own.

I cannot see things any other way but the Torah way. We Jews had the great and unique experience of standing at Mt. Sinai and witnessing the Divine revelation. G-d spoke to all of us directly, three million men, women and children witnessed the event, and we all heard Him say, "I am the L-rd your G-d Who took you out of the land of Egypt to be your G-d", etc.

No other religion even claimed to have had national Divine revelation. Private individuals said they did but there were never any witnesses. Judaism was started by G-d Himself, in all His glory, in front of the entire nation. What we witnessed that day, 3,330 years ago, is in our genes and national memory to this day. We were completely connected into the Divine on an absolutely exalted level. You call this "one- dimensional"? We were way above any dimensions. MEL, you were also there, the souls of all of us were. Relax. Think. Connect in.
November 12, 2015
What about marriage later in life when children are no longer a factor?
If the couple is past childbearing age, shouldn't the issue be mute?
November 12, 2015
not shunning the non-Jew
Mel, I don't think that Jews shun the non-Jew who married the Jew. It's actually the Jew who married out who might is shunned. Because that intermarried Jew has been disloyal to his people and his ancestors, and mostly to G-d, who forbade him to do this. So maybe this is something that not-Jews have to consider before taking such a drastic step.

I think you should read or reread the above article and your questions will be answered. Rav Tzvi asks "So what is so terrible about us wanting to survive?" So being that survival is an issue, how accepting do you expect us to be toward those who threaten our survival?
November 8, 2015
Did you ever stop to think how you would feel if your child was mistreated by their in laws? All I hear is you blaming the victim because it's not in line with what you want. Guess what, what you want isn't important. It's your child's life to live not yours. Would it be nice if they did things that you wanted them to do as adults?absolutely! However, they have the choice to choose what they want for themselves not what you want for them. You have the choice to either accept it and love them regardless or be miserable and ruin their marriage and happiness for them. You sound like the most self serving individual who cares about no one's feelings other than your own. If you love your child and children you wouldn't be so selfish