Is It Racist to Want a Jewish Spouse?

by Aaron Moss

Question: I was explaining to a non-Jewish work colleague that I only date Jewish men, because I would not marry a non-Jew. He accused me of being racist. I was caught on the spot and had nothing to say. How would you respond to this accusation?

Answer: If insisting that you will only date Jews makes you racist, does insisting that you will only date men make you sexist? You are certainly discriminating, but is this discrimination bad?

You are not talking about what type of person you want to work with, or whom you would prefer to sit next to on a train. You are talking about whom you want to marry. Are you expected not to discriminate about whom you marry, the same way you are expected not to discriminate when reading a job application?

There are plenty of wonderful women out there, but they can’t father your children. And there are plenty of wonderful non-Jewish men out there, but they can’t give you a Jewish family. You want a family, so you seek a man; you want a Jewish family, so you seek a Jewish man. There is nothing offensive about that.

And there is no racial issue here. Jewishness is neither a race nor a religion. It is a soul identity. The man you marry can be a European Jew or an Oriental Jew, a black Jew or a white Jew. He can be a Jew by birth or a Jew by choice. But if you want a Jewish family, he’s got to be a he, and he’s got to be a Hebrew.

This article has been reprinted with permission from The Judaism Website – chabad.org.

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  1. leebarzel says

    Comment from Hannah Lee:

    During college, I told my parents about my “interesting” teaching assistant from Africa and my father threatened me, “Don’t you ever invite him home!”  I wasn’t even romantically involved.  That’s prejudice and racism.

    When my 22-year-old daughter asked what kind of person we wanted her to marry, we replied that we wanted her to find someone who was kind and respectful to her, her values, and her family.  That could mean an Orthodox Jew, as we maintain an observant home.  But, it could also mean a non-Jew or a secular Jew, but someone who would understand and respect her past and her future.  This not the same as wanting her to marry a Jew for social, cultural, or genetic reasons.

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