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Dating Dilemmas

For many young Jews entering the dating world, especially those living in areas without a large Jewish population, they end up wrestling with issues of continuity long before they’re ready to pop the question. If Judaism is important to them, do they date only Jews, or do they date anyone and try to maintain Judaism in an interfaith home?

On the blog Jewschool.com, these are the questions raised by an author going by the name Renaissanceboy. He writes:

Ultimately, this is the struggle of being a modernized Jew; how do you maintain the practice of a religion while simultaneously subscribing to ideas of universal religious equality? They’re not mutually exclusive by any means, but you can’t just sit back and expect them to coexist. You have to self-define and expand your boundaries constantly.

He’s right, and while the road for an interfaith relationship might be difficult at times, it’s certainly one that many have successfully traversed before. But one of the folks who commented on Renaissanceboy’s blog post, Rachel Barenblat, thought the questions he posed didn’t get to the heart of the matter. The fact that he wrote this blog shows that Judaism is important, so she had a different approach:

The real question may be: how (my emphasis) important is Judaism in your daily life? If it’s a part of your life, then it’s a natural thing for you to bring to your dating life, your partnership and marriage, your childrearing — everything that you do — and anyone with whom you would partner will know that about you from the get-go.

She makes a great point. If Judaism is part of what defines your core identity, it won’t matter who you marry because they will understand what the future holds. Therefore intermarriage isn’t the end of the Jewish line; not “doing Jewish” is what leads to a loss of Jewish identity. Just look at the number of unaffiliated Jews who came from a home with two Jewish parents. We have survived for thousands of years – and through millions of intermarriages – because of our ability to adapt and our desire to pass on Jewish ritual and belief. Asking these kinds of questions early shows a level of dedication to Judaism, and that’s the most important factor of all.



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