Singles: The Debate

I would like to offer a new spin on intermarriage. Some of us are choosing to marry non-Jews, not to escape our Jewishness but because it is our last chance to bear Jewish children and perpetuate a faith and people we love more than anything else.
January 29, 1998

Wedding Goblet by Max Kohler the Younger, Breslau, 1752. SilverGilt. Photo from “Jewish Art,”1995.

She Says

On Jewish Men

By Anonymous

I would like to offer a new spin on intermarriage. Some of us arechoosing to marry non-Jews, not to escape our Jewishness but becauseit is our last chance to bear Jewish children and perpetuate a faithand people we love more than anything else.

Who are we? Jewish women, mainly in our late 30s, who, after yearsof Jewish singles events and rejection by Jewish men, have given upon ever finding a “nice Jewish boy.”

With our biological clocks loudly ticking, finding a nicenon-Jewish man who moves us and is willing to have Jewish childrenstarts looking good. After 20 years of dating and being faced withlooking into middle age alone and childless, who could blame us?

You do…every time you publish or deliver anti-intermarriagemessages. For someone who has a passionate Jewish identity and wantsnothing more than to create a Jewish family, these words aregut-wrenching.

No one has tried harder to find Jewish husbands than we have. Myentire adult life has been devoted to the Jewish community. I wastotally immersed in a Jewish singles group for years and am now thehead of a successful Jewish organization. I was recently chosen for aprestigious Jewish fellowship program because I am thought to be “oneof the future Jewish leaders of my community.” So don’t tell me “Idon’t care” or that I am “disenfranchised” or “uneducated.” Quite thecontrary. I just can’t find a decent, stable Jewish man who likes meas more than a friend.

I am no slouch or social outcast. It is not just my mother whothinks I am beautiful, kind, smart and socially adept. Sadly, it isnon-Jewish men, not my intended Jewish mates, who find me exotic,attractive and stimulating.

Ask me about all the times I have come home from a blind date orJewish singles event feeling totally dejected and depressed. I havehad Jewish men confide in me that they haven’t dated a Jewish womanin 10 years; in fact, they don’t even like Jewish women — like I amgoing to be sympathetic!

My hobby now is to count the Asian women sitting with their Jewishhusbands in the sanctuary during High Holy Day services. It used tojust be the “blond shiksa goddesses” they went after.

Several years ago, I was invited to the wedding of two Jewishfriends. The groom had 12 groomsmen, all Jewish. Not one was marriedto a Jewish woman. I sat at the singles table with all my unattached,beautiful Jewish girlfriends.

This is not my imagination. It is my reality, and it stuns. I amsure many will write in and say how angry I am. Well, they are right.I am furious. This isn’t the way it was supposed to be.

So I say, be careful whom you criticize. We have been hurt enough.The problem is more complex than meets the eye. Do you know why myReform rabbi stopped performing intermarriages? He could not face allthe lovely Jewish women coming in for counseling, crying because theycould not find Jewish husbands. Add that to your list of why somerabbis do and some don’t.

Before you blame us for the demise of the Jewish community throughour rampant intermarriage, ask yourselves what went wrong in yourgeneration — in two-Jewish-parent households — that your sonsreject their counterparts in such large numbers?

He Says

On Jewish Women

By David Scher

I have some idea how Anonymous feels, but her vicious, thinlyveiled attack on Jewish men, which she tried to pass off as herjustification for intermarriage, is inexcusable.

Implicit in everything she wrote is the idea, “I’ve doneeverything right; why haven’t you guys?”

Writing this will not make me popular. I will be seen as aninconsiderate lout who avoids Jewish women just because they areJewish women. In short, I’ll be viewed as just the kind of jerk shehas labeled personally responsible for her perceived decline ofJudaism. I’ll take that risk — and sign my name.

Now before you get this image of an Armani-undershirted,microbrew-swilling mama’s boy who thinks that no woman is good enoughfor him, allow me to briefly introduce myself. I am 39 and have neverbeen married. Yes, it surprised me too. I am not incrediblysuccessful, but I have been self-supporting since college. I own anice home on a lake outside of Atlanta, with a small boat to playaround with on the weekends. Money has been plentiful enough for meto cultivate a taste for wines and travel, though not a whole lot ofeither. Regular exercise for the past 15 years helps keep my 6-foot-2frame in good shape. As with Anonymous, not only my mother thinks I’mgood-looking. (I guess, now, you think I’m conceited too!)

I have belonged to a large Reform congregation for 14 years andhave been active for the past six or seven. This involves going toservices every Saturday, attending educational workshops, being asupervisor at our homeless shelter, singing in the choir, and actingas a lay cantor at least once a month.

I have tried to date Jewish women. It is not difficult. There isan army of yentas out there, just waiting for the chance to trot meout to any Jewish woman they know. After a “relationship” with aPentecostal Christian, I put the word out that I would take on allcomers. Fat, ugly, stupid, I didn’t care. If she knew the Shema, Iwanted to meet her.

Boy, did I get dates! There was the 4-10 drug addict/alcoholicwho, at 30, was still living off her father. Then there was the 5-10buck-toothed beauty who asked me if everything came out OK when Ireturned from the restroom. There was the Jewish teacher I liked, butshe dumped me for the lawyer she was seeing at the same time.

All of these dates, however, did have one thing in common: Theyall felt like a job interview. Each woman would grill me nonstop tosee if I fit her profile of a Semitic stud who could help her createa nice Jewish family. The question was not, “Do I like him?” but,”Will he do?” One woman’s interrogation was so complete that I askedif I could just fax her a resumé.

Yet, even with all the cross-examinations, one question has neverbeen asked: “Do you like my dress?” In contrast, non-Jewish girlsalways ask if I like their clothes, hair, etc. They don’t want tomeasure me, but to please me.

The most common reaction I get when a “nice Jewish girl” realizesthat I am not interested in her is surprise. What can I mean by that?I passed all the tests! She echoes Anonymous’ plaintive cry: “Thisisn’t the way it’s supposed to be!”

It is amazing that women such as Anonymous can continue to whineabout us guys doing things the wrong way. What kind of arrogantostrich can watch birds of her feather flock elsewhere for well over10 years and not even think that she might be singing the wrongmating song?

What I see and hear from married guys is scary. They feelancillary. They whine that their wives don’t understand or appreciatethem. What they don’t realize is that most Jewish wives don’t care ifthey understand their husbands. According to our tribe, it is not thewife’s job to appreciate the husband; it is the husband’s job toappreciate the great job the wife is doing raising her Jewish familyand ensuring their social status. It is a tough job being a goodJewish matriarch (mind you, I’m not suggesting that it isn’t); thereis no time to care for a man who should be able to care for himself.He should be on time for all social events she plans and change tieswhenever she decides.

I do not want a Jewish marriage like the ones I see around me.Like Anonymous, I want to have a family and rear my children Jewish.Anyone I marry will have to be God-loving and spiritual. Now, maybe,you can see why I’m still single. No Jewish girl has ever looked atme as more than a potential sire provider, and no spiritual non-Jewcould help me raise our children Jewish.

I hope that Anonymous finds what she is looking for. I hope I dotoo, but I know that they are not the same things.

Both sides of the debate are reprinted by permission of ReformJudaism magazine, published by the Union of American HebrewCongregations.


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