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    Can mixed marriages work? – Ask the Rabbi

    Q. I know you are against mixed marriages, but do mixed marriages really not work?

    A. Some do, some don’t, but a mixed marriage can encounter special strains.

    It is not only that Judaism is weakened when a Jew marries out of the faith but the marriage itself can be more fragile. Marital stability is more likely when a couple have the same religious and cultural commitment.

    Even if religion means nothing to them, mindsets and attitudes which arise out of their background can create tensions. In moments of stress there is sometimes an almost total inability to understand where the other is coming from.

    There are additional problems caused for the children of mixed marriages. Who are they? Where do they belong? How do they negotiate the differences between two cultures, two ways of life, two sets of commitments?

    70% of children from mixed Jewish/non-Jewish marriages are not brought up to regard themselves as Jews.

    The more mixed marriages there are, the less Jews there will be, and that imposes additional pressures on the Jews who remain.

    Obviously the majority of Jews believe Judaism is a great asset for them and for the world, and we should all be doing everything we can to ensure that the Jewish way, the Jewish idea, and the Jewish heritage will not come under threat.

    There are some who argue that we should be breaking down the barriers between human groups and cultures. In reply, Lord Jakobovits wrote, “What we place before the world is not an effort to divide brother from brother. Certain things we share in common with everybody, and other things are unique to our people, to our community, and to the family.

    “It is only through this diversity of existence, without breaking down all barriers, but retaining distinctions and expecting different faiths to make their separate contributions to the overall enrichment of human society, that we can ultimately reach the goal of what we understand by the brotherhood of man.”

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