Coming Out of the Intermarriage Closet

“If people discovered I was about to intermarry, I’d surely be exposed as a Jewish fraud…. I was evasive when the subject of my husband arose and kept quiet when I heard intermarriage blamed for all that ails American Jewry.”

That’s how Julie Wiener — one of the most prolific journalists in the anglo-Jewish press over the last decade — describes her own experiences as an intermarried Jewish professional, in a powerful column in this week’s New York Jewish Week called “Coming Out As Intermarried.”

I was personally thrilled to see in print that “in many ways the situation of intermarrieds in the organized Jewish community is similar to that of gays and lesbians in society at large.” I’ve long said that intermarriage is the most closeted issue among Jewish communal professionals, even more so than homosexuality. It’s one of the reasons why we brought it up on our Jewish Outreach Professionals Log-In Network (JOPLIN) Email Listserve a few months back, and Julie Wiener’s article is a direct result of the conversation that was generated:

On a listserve discussion this summer for Jewish professionals, several people — from federations, campus Hillels, JCCs and Reform temples across the country — said they are married to gentiles.

We’re glad that this issue is beginning to see the light of day, and we hope the JOPLIN Listserve will continue to serve as a forum for such frank and open conversations. (If you are a Jewish communal professional or lay leader not yet on the listserve and would like to be, please email me and I’ll sign you right up! Thanks.)


  1. it’s sad how someone can have a sparkling resume and excellent work experience, but none of that seems to matter if it is discovered that they are interdating or intermarried. the organizations and companies should be more focused on what qualifications and credentials the potential candidate possesses, not what religious background (or lackthereof) their partner is. most intermarried Jews are inspired by their non-Jewish partner to work in the Jewish community, which shows that intermarriage does not necessarily signify abandonment of the Jewish people.

    Comment by heather — September 18, 2006 @ 2:09 pm

  2. The sad thing is that, for each intermarried Jew who gets active in the Jewish community, I would bet that there are many times more who would have been active but didn’t want to put up with the judgement and condemnation. We have chased away significant amounts of people who could have made a difference because of an inability to change, as well as a good deal of ethnocentrism.

    Comment by Eric — September 19, 2006 @ 4:13 pm

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