Twisted Will

Not long ago, some in the Jewish community were calling for a return of the “taboo” against intermarriage. Their thinking went something like this: if parents (and rabbis, and communal leaders) spoke more about how much they want our young people to marry other Jews, the intermarriage rate would go down. Well, one clever—and wealthy—dentist in Chicago went a step further by adding a financial incentive to encourage his offspring to only marry other Jews. According to the Chicago Tribune:

Can a monetary prize be used to bind a family to its ancestral faith? …In his will, Feinberg expressed his wish to disinherit any descendant “who married outside the Jewish faith.”

Unfortunately for the late Max Feinberg, in this case it appears that money is as equally ineffective as social taboos in conquering love. The family of the late dentist is currently embroiled in some very ugly—yet legally interesting—litigation, to the point where his daughter is trying to have her own children declared legally deceased in order to collect their money! The punch line? “Of the couple’s five grandchildren, four married gentiles.”


  1. this idea of offering incentives to ensure in-marriage is nothing new. there are parents who pay for subscriptions to JDate or memberships to JCC’s so their kids will be surrounded by Jews. don’t get me wrong, the idea is certainly appreciated since young Jews (or young people of any background whose parents believe it is important to marry within their own group) are more concerned with simply surviving in this terrible economy than anything else. it shows that their parents care about them and are willing to help in any way they can. however, it also comes off slightly as bribery by implying that financial assistance can be taken away if the kids don’t date or marry other Jews. offering financial incentives to prevent intermarriage doesn’t always work, as the article states that four of the five Feinberg grandchildren are intermarried (the fifth married a Jew).

    it’s one thing to convey the importance or preference of in-marriage. it’s another to bribe to ensure it and to threaten if it doesn’t happen.

    Comment by h. — August 25, 2008 @ 5:53 pm

  2. Come on, Paul. “Twisted Will”? That’s the best you could do? How about “Free Will(y)”? Or “Will and Graceless”? Or Willford Brintermarriagely” (after Wilford Brimley, Grape Nuts spokesman who might have understood that inmarriage was “the right thing to do”)?

    LOL weird crazy? ROTFL

    (If you delete this, we’re through! THROUGH, I tell you!!!)

    Comment by EV — August 26, 2008 @ 4:38 pm

  3. It’s Quaker Oats not Grape Nuts, but thanks so much for weighing in on this timely and important issues, EV.

    Comment by Paul Golin — August 26, 2008 @ 5:02 pm

  4. You’re assuming that Fineberg put these stipulations in his will to ‘persuade’ his children to marry Jewish. He may very well have but the stipulations in to make sure his money would only go the his Jewish descendants, and not to any Gentile ones.

    Comment by Dave — August 31, 2008 @ 1:59 pm

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