Still Jewish!

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There’s an interesting article in the Summer 2005 edition of Lilith Magazine called “Still Jewish! Jewish Women in Interfaith Marriages” by Jeri Zeder, which you can see as a PDF file here. The article is about a fascinating doctoral study of intermarried Jewish women of all ages by Keren McGinity of Brown University. The study “is the first gendered history of intermarriage and the first historical, exclusive look at American Jewish women who intermarried during the Twentieth Century. McGinity interviewed 42 Boston-area women of Ashkenazi descent from Reform, Conservative, and Orthodox backgrounds, whose first, second, or third marriages were to non-Jewish men they married between 1938 and 2000; the oldest woman was 92 at the time of her interview.” The study found that, among other things, “intermarried Jewish women are defining for themselves what a Jewish family is—and those definitions, while they may not please some, feel authentically Jewish for the people who are creating them.”


  1. Thanks for this article; it was exactly what I needed to read. I’m a non-religious Jew who married a (non-religious) non-Jew four years ago. My conservative Jewish education made me feel that through my marriage, I had broken the link and therefore had caused (to quote the article) “an unmitigated disaster of Hitlerian proportions.” However, I noticed recently that I’m indeed “still Jewish”. Now that we’re trying to have a baby, I feel empowered that I can experience meaningful Jewish traditions and values with my family. This article really helped to affirm this for me.

    Comment by Mayalanda — October 12, 2005 @ 1:33 pm

  2. I live in London, England.I hadn’t heard of Karen McGinitys’ work or indeed herself till a year ago when I came across her on google.My mother,95 and undergoing severe memory loss, married into Irish catholic McGinity family. She had bee a Cohen. She never saw or had contact with her family again. My fathers’ father also married a Jewish woman who converted to catholicism and the name McGinity. It is an extraordinary study of loss and I am presently tackling it;the affects of it on myself through Family Constellations. So much loss!

    Comment by Terence J McGinity — November 18, 2007 @ 4:15 am

  3. How many times have I seen NON-intermarried Jews “redefine Judaism,” only to wake & find their own children extremely far from their new definition. Not only far, but uninterested at best.
    Statistically, children of intermarriage have only at 25% chance at marrying a Jew, so even though intermarrieds may feel Jewish, but there is a 75% chance that they’ve personally destroyed future Jewish generations. The real question may be “so what?”
    Who says that Jews need to exist any more than, say, Greeks?
    Why is Jewish existence important?
    Intermarriage & forced genocide are not the same thing if there is no reason for Jews to exist.
    Should a Jew really only marry a Jew because of a Passover seder or lox & bagels?
    But I can’t help noticing wandering Jews wondering if their Jewishness isn’t something a LOT greater than being a Greek or something else.
    I see these “foreign” Jews in Jerusalem all of the time because the “WHY” of “why be Jewish” is maddening to them.
    Here is Vanessa Hidary stating it so painfully:

    I also see grandchildren of intermarried Jews SUFFERING with their attempts to paste together what their grandparent shattered, NOT that the grandparent was to blame!!! And they have a sorrow to having been denied a meaningful Jewishness.
    If there is a G-d, then He put these last generations in positions of intermarriage, maybe so fragmented Jews will rise to the occasion of being Jewish, though this is happening only in very small numbers. If there is NO G-d, then why would anyone care about Jewishness, to have a passover seder commemorating an Exodus that was not G-d-driven? To repent for mistakes made against a G-d that doesn’t exist? To celebrate a sabbath that doesn’t remind us that G-d created the world & we should be creators like Him, loving & giving to others? To sit in a breezy sukkah that commemorates an Exodus that was NOT G-d-driven, but freakily we SNUCK out of Egypt in a multitude of conincidences & somehow survived in a harsh desert for 40 years & then conquered 7 nations…& set up a moral system that has touched every civilization on this planet? And for those who DO want to forget their Jewishness, there are these people on the planet w/us called anti-Semites who CAN’T forget what WE may want to forget.
    Is this all too contrived? Does it happen w/ANY OTHER people???
    If it’s ONLY HAPPENING TO US JEWS, even in Mumbai, even in YEMEN & it’s NOT HAPPENING TO THE GREEKS…then maybe…it’s true that we ARE CHOSEN for something? By Someone who wrote us a love letter that so many of us have yet to read???

    Comment by Ra'anan — April 14, 2009 @ 5:19 am

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