Can a Non-Jewish Spouse “Step Away” From Jewish Fears?

 << I’m lucky that I could step away from it if I wanted to. It’s no secret that Jews are still subject to racial prejudices and abuse – something that will never be directed at me – only to the people I love.>>

  “Mummy…MUMMY…I’m Jewish!”  My four-year-old daughter has just returned from nursery and is prancing around the kitchen looking for something to do, expertly avoiding her younger brother, who is trying to get her to ‘read’ him a story.

  “Yes darling. You are.”

  “And my brother’s Jewish.  And Daddy’s Jewish.  And you’re Jewish.” 

  “No, I’m not Jewish.  Daddy is, but I’m not.” 

10 comments on “Can a Non-Jewish Spouse “Step Away” From Jewish Fears?

  1. Confused on

    I was enjoying the read until the end. All of this love in your heart and respect for Jewish heritage but you wouldn’t dare call yourself a Jew? This was harsh. I don’t really understand the point of this article. How convenient that you leave yourself an out and can remain your independent non-Jew when you want to. You don’t address why you chose not to convert and really leave the reader confused.

  2. Daniellarobin on

    First, I want to say this was a very interesting article. I am Jewish but I have written and thought a lot about intermarriage. But I never looked at it from this angle. I never saw it as a problem. Or maybe problem is not the right word. Issue? Factor? Whatever the word is, I never thought about if the person I love who loves me would think about my persecution or rather maybe I thought it would be his own. Willingly, because after all I am not many things but when someone is in trouble, someone I love, or someone is hurting I feel the pain. Or rather partake in it, even if it is not targeted at me. But again, it never crossed my mind. But it is interesting takeaway in all of this. But I did lose you at the end. Currently, I am in a relationship with someone who says he would never convert. But there is a reason and I understand. I think we were all left in the murky waters with this. But never calling yourself a Jew does seem harsh. I can’t seem to feel if you are happy you can step out of it? Or if you are sad for your family? It almost seemed like if you needed to you would step out? I just needed a little more, because you had me for a lot.

  3. Larry on



    (Found in the apartment of a Jewish Rabbi in Manchester, England,



    The Book of Joshua describes little more than a genocidal campaign against the unsuspecting inhabitants of Canaan. The Canaanites never attacked the Israelites, never enslaved the Israelites, and aren’t described as ever having done anything to warrant mistreatment of any sort. Their only crime was living in the wrong place at the wrong time — land promised to the Israelites by God at the time when God decided to make good on that promise.


    It’s impossible to know the moral or mental disposition of the Israelites and in fact the text doesn’t really delve into their psychology at all; the length and breadth of their roles consists of obeying or disobeying Yahweh. It is thus to Yahweh that we turn to understand the genocidal actions of the Israelites. Through much of the relevant text only Yahweh is presented as being truly active and, as one might expect, all of the impetus for genocide indeed comes from Yahweh.

    Already in Exodus, Yahweh promises that the Canaanites would “melt away” and that he would drive away the Canaanites when the Israelites arrive. By Deuteronomy, Yahweh says:

    And when the Lord thy God shall deliver them before thee; thou shalt smite them, and utterly destroy them; thou shalt make no covenant with them, nor shew mercy unto them: Neither shalt thou make marriages with them; thy daughter thou shalt not give unto his son, nor his daughter shalt thou take unto thy son.

    (Deuteronomy 7:2-3)

    Similar instructions appear in subsequent texts and they are clear that not only are the Israelites to make total war on the inhabitants, but they are also prohibited from entering into any sort of peace treaty with any group. There is to be no mercy for anyone, only death.

    The Israelites got some practice in this by making war against the Midianites:

    And they warred against the Midianites, as the Lord commanded Moses; and they slew all the males. …And the children of Israel took all the women of Midian captives, and their little ones, and took the spoil of all their cattle, and all their flocks, and all their goods. …

    And Moses said unto them…Now therefore kill every male among the little ones,
    and kill every woman that hath known man by lying with him. But all the women
    children, that have not known a man by lying with him, keep alive for yourselves.

    (Numbers 31:7-18)

    So were the young virgin girls lucky that they weren’t slaughtered like the rest of their people, or were they unlucky that they were essentially taken as sex slaves to be used to satiate the lusts of the soldiers who slaughtered their fathers, mothers, brothers, and older sisters?

    The Book of Joshua makes it clear that the Israelites get to the murderous work of genocide and become quite efficient at it:

    And all the cities of those kings, and all the kings of them, did Joshua take, and smote them with the edge of the sword, and he utterly destroyed them, as Moses the servant of the Lord commanded. …every man they smote with the edge of the sword, until they had destroyed them, neither left they any to breathe. As the Lord commanded Moses his servant, so did Moses command Joshua, and so did Joshua; he left nothing undone of all that the Lord commanded Moses.

    (Joshua 11:12-15)

    Raphael Lemkin argues in Axis Rule in Occupied Europe that one of the distinguishing features of genocide is not simply mass killing, which happens frequently in war, but the goal-oriented mass killing that is designed to destroy or culture or society with the purpose of replacing it entirely. This is definitely what we see happening in Joshua: the Israelites kill all the people in order to destroy their culture then move in to take over their fields, vineyards, cities, and lands.


    To be fair to the Israelites, it should be noted that they may have been operating from more than a little fear. Given their experience of what Yahweh did to their enemies, did they really want to become Yahweh’s enemies too? Probably not — and Yahweh certainly made threats about what would happen if they Israelites didn’t do as they were told:

    But if ye will not drive out the inhabitants of the land from before you; then it shall come to pass, that those which ye let remain of them shall be pricks in your eyes, and thorns in your sides, and shall vex you in the land wherein ye dwell. Moreover it shall come to pass, that I shall do unto you, as I thought to do unto them. (Numbers

    This is of course not the only threat issued to the Israelites, but it is the one which most closely associates Yahweh’s actions against the Canaanites with possible action against them: if they don’t follow orders to commit genocide, Yahweh might decide to cause a bit of genocide against them instead.

    This doesn’t entirely let the Israelites of the hook for their actions, but insofar as their guilt is mitigated at all, it’s magnified many times over for Yahweh. Not only did Yahweh order genocide to be committed and not only did he actively assist to ensure that genocide was committed, but he threatened his thugs that if they didn’t blindly obey their murderous orders then he’d do the same to them later on.

    And even that’s not the worst…


    Committing genocide against the indigenous people of Canaan was made easier by the fact that they were willing to fight for their ancestral homes. It’s easier to slaughter people who are trying to kill you, even if you’re the one who started the
    fight. Had the Canaanites tried to welcome the newcomers and pursue peaceful
    treaties, genocide might have been harder. Even the most fanatical religious zealot has a harder time slaughtering unarmed, peaceful people.

    Apparently Yahweh thought of this and took steps to ensure that nothing like this would interfere with his plans:

    There was not a city that made peace with the children of Israel, save the Hivites the inhabitants of Gibeon: all other they took in battle. For it was of the Lord to harden their hearts, that they should come against Israel in battle, that he might destroy them utterly, and that they might have no favor, but that he might destroy them, as the Lord commanded Moses. (Joshua 11:19-20)

    So Yahweh “hardened” the hearts of the Canaanites to guarantee that they would “come against Israel in battle.” Had he not done that, some of the Canaanites might have chosen a more peaceful solution and the Israelites might have been tempted to befriend them. Instead, they slaughtered everyone.

    Where else have we seen this? Not long before, Yahweh did the same thing with the pharaoh in Egypt: every time the pharaoh was about to let the Israelites god, Yahweh hardened his heart to ensure that he would say “no” and keep them a while longer as slaves. This guaranteed that Yahweh would get to kill all the firstborn sons of all the Egyptians as a show of psychopathic power.

    This is thus a persistent pattern for Yahweh:
    order one group of humans to harm a second group of humans, then take away the
    free will of the second ground and force them to act in a way that ensures
    conflict can occur. This sounds remarkably like a child torturing small animals
    and we all know what happens to kids like that.

  4. Larry on


    Moses aka Jews PLAGIARIZED the 10 Commandments from the 42 Principles of Maat, the Egyptian goddess of Truth. Aaron offered Human Sacrifices to Moloch aka The Golden Calf, on Mount Sinai (Exodus 32).
    3000 Israelites were put to the sword for this (Exodus 32:22-27). YHWH was the first Anti-Semite (Exodus 32:7-10). See 1 Kings 11:1-13; Amos 5:25-27;. In the Babylonian Jewish Talmud, Sanhedrin 64 a-b, you will find instructions for Jews on how to offer Human Sacrifices to Moloch, without being guilty. The trick is to get someone else to do the HOLOCAUST:


    Babylonian Talmud, Tractate Sanhedrin 64a

    Soncino 1961 Edition, page 437

    Following the Mishnah is a discussion among the sages. One of the Talmud Sages, Rabbi Ashi, comments as follows:

    GEMARA. R. Ashi propounded: What if one caused his blind or sleeping son to pass through, (3) or if he caused his grandson by his son or daughter to pass through? — One at least of these you may solve. For it has been taught: [Any men … that giveth any of his seed unto Molech; he shall he put to death … And I will set my face against that man, and will cut him off

    from among his people;] because he hath given of his seed unto Molech. Why is this stated? — Because it is said, there shall not be found among you any one that maketh his son or his daughter to pass through the fire. From this I know it only of his son or daughter. Whence do I know that it applies to his son’s son or daughter’s son too? From the verse, [And if the people of the land do any ways hide their eyes from the man] when he giveth of his seed unto Molech [and kill him not: Then I will … cut him off.]

    — Babylonian Talmud, Tractate Sanhedrin 64b

    Soncino 1961 Edition, page 439

    Rabbi Dr. Freedman, one of the translators of the Soncino Tractate Sanhedrin, clarifies the passage. In a footnote, Rabbi Dr. Freedman confirms that the Talmud Sages use “seed” to denote living children, in the same sense as the Biblical translators understand the term in the above
    Biblical quotes. In this footnote, Rabbi Dr. Freedman paraphrases the question from Rabbi Ashi:

    3. Is ‘thou shalt not cause to pass’ applicable only to a son who can naturally
    pass through himself, but not to a blind or sleeping son, who must be led or
    carried, or does it apply to all?

    Rabbi Dr. Freedman

    Other footnotes within the same context clarify the fine point of distinction
    being drawn in the Mishnah and subsequent debates among the sages:

    5. Lev. XVIII, 21. This proves that the offence consists of two parts; (I) formal delivery to the priests, and (2) causing the seed to pass through the fire.

    Rabbi Dr. Freedman (2)

    5. As two separate offences, proving that giving one’s seed to Molech is not
    idolatry. The differences [sic] is, that if one sacrificed to Molech, or caused
    his son to pass through the fire to some other deity, he is not punished.

    Rabbi Dr. Freedman (3)

    Following the Mishnah, Sanhedrin 64a and 64b contain a rousing debate between the Sages concerning:

    * the circumstances under which worshipping an idol is idolatry,

    * which idols may be worshipped without indulging in idolatry,

    * which parts of child sacrifice in what combination are punishable, and

    * how children may be sacrificed without violating Leviticus.

  5. Larry on


    The official unabridged Soncino Edition of the Talmud published in 1935 was “Translated into English with Notes, Glossary and Indices” by such eminent Talmudic scholars as Rabbi Dr. I. Epstein, Rabbi Dr. Samuel Daiches, Rabbi Dr. Israel W. Slotki, M.A., Litt.D., The Reverend Dr. A. Cohen, M.A.’, Ph.D., Maurice Simon, M.A., and the Very Reverend The Chief Rabbi Dr. J.H. Hertz wrote the “Foreword” for the Soncino Edition of the Talmud. The Very Reverend Rabbi Hertz was at the time the Chief Rabbi of England.

    The world’s leading authorities on the Talmud confirm that the official
    unabridged Soncino Edition of the Talmud translated into English follows
    the original texts with great exactness. It is almost a word-for-word
    translation of the original texts. In his famous classic “The History of the Talmud,” Michael Rodkinson, the leading authority on the Talmud, in collaboration with the celebrated Reverend Dr. Isaac M. Wise states:

    “THE TALMUD IS ONE OF THE WONDERS OF THE WORLD. During the twenty centuries of its existence…IT SURVIVED IN ITS ENTIRETY, and not only has the power of its foes FAILED TO DESTROY EVEN A SINGLE LINE, but it has not even been able materially to weaken its influence for any length of time. IT STILL DOMINATES THE MINDS OF A WHOLE PEOPLE, WHO VENERATE ITS CONTENTS AS DIVINE TRUTH..

    SANHEDRIN, 55b-55a: “What is meant by this? –
    Rab said: Pederasty with a child below nine years of age is not deemed as
    pederasty with a child above that. Samuel said: Pederasty with a child below
    three years is not treated as with a child above that (2) What is the basis
    of their dispute? – Rab maintains that only he who is able to engage in sexual intercourse, may, as the passive subject of pederasty throw guilt (upon the actual offender); whilst he who is unable to engage in sexual intercourse cannot be a passive subject of pederasty (in that respect) (3). But Samuel maintains: Scriptures writes, (And thou shalt not lie with mankind) as with the lyings of a woman (4). It has been taught in accordance with Rab: Pederasty at the age of nine years and a day; (55a) (he) who commits bestiality, whether naturally or unnaturally: or a woman who causes herself to be bestiality abused, whether naturally or unnaturally, is liable to punishment (5).”

    This “divine truth” which “a whole people venerate” of which “not a single letter of it is missing” and today “is flourishing to such a degree as cannot be found in its history” is illustrated by the additional verbatim quotations which

    SANHEDRIN, 55b: “A maiden three years and a day may be acquired in marriage by coition, and if her deceased husband’s brother cohabits with her, she becomes his. The penalty of adultery may be incurred through her; (if a niddah) she defiles him who has connection with her, so that he in turn defiles that upon which he lies, as a garment which has lain upon (a person afflicted with gonorrhea).”

    (footnotes) “(2) His wife derives no pleasure from this, and hence there is no cleaving. (3) A variant reading of this passage is: Is there anything permitted to a Jew which is forbidden to a heathen. Unnatural connection is permitted to a Jew. (4) By taking the two in conjunction, the latter as illustrating the former, we learn that the guilt of violating the injunction `to his wife but not to his neighbor’s wife’ is incurred only for natural but not for unnatural intercourse.”

    SANHEDRIN, 69b “Our rabbis taught: If a woman sported lewdly with her
    young son (a minor), and he committed the first stage of cohabitation with her, -Beth Shammai says, he thereby renders her unfit for the priesthood (1). Beth Hillel declares her fit…All agree that the connection of a boy nine years and a day is a real connection; whilst that of one less than eight years is not
    (2); their dispute refers only to one who is eight years old.

    KETHUBOTH, 11a-11b. “Rabba said, It means (5) this: When a grown
    up man has intercourse with a little girl it is nothing, for when the girl is
    less than this (6), it is as if one puts the finger in the eye (7), but when a
    small boy has intercourse with a grown up woman, he makes her as `a girl who is injured by a piece of wood’ “.

    (footnotes) “(5). Lit., `says’. (6) Lit., `here’, that is, less than three years old. (7) Tears come to the eyes again and again, so does virginity come back to the little girl under three years.”

    KETHUBOTH, 11a-11b. “Rab Judah said that Rab said: A small boy who has intercourse with a grown up woman makes her (as though she were )
    injured by a piece of wood (1). Although the intercourse of a small boy is
    not regarded as a sexual act, nevertheless the woman is injured by it as by a
    piece of wood.”

    (footnotes) “(1) Although the intercourse of a small boy is not regarded as a sexual act, nevertheless the woman is injured by it as by a piece of wood.”

    ABODAH ZARAH, 36b-37a. “R. Naham b. Isaac said: They decreed in
    connection with a heathen child that it would cause defilement by seminal
    emission (2) so that an Israelite child should not become accustomed to commit pederasty with it…From what age does a heathen child cause defilement by seminal emission? From the age of nine years and one day. (37a) for inasmuch as he is then capable of the sexual act he likewise defiles by emission. Rabina said: It is therefore to be concluded that a heathen girl
    (communicates defilement) from the age of three years and one day, for inasmuch as she is then capable of the sexual act she likewise defiles by a flux.

    SOTAH, 26b. “R. Papa said: It excludes an animal, because there
    is not adultery in connection with an animal (4). Raba of Parazika (5) asked R. Ashi, Whence is the statement which the Rabbis made that there is no adultery in connection with an animal? Because it is written, Thou shalt not bring the hire of a harlot or the wages of a dog etc.; (6) and it has been taught: The hire of a dog (7) and the wages of a harlot (8) are permissible, as it is said,
    Even both of these (9) – the two (specified texts are abominations) but not
    four (10)…As lying with mankind. (12) But, said Raba, it excludes the
    case where he warned her against contact of the bodies (13). Abaye said to him,
    That is merely an obscene act (and not adultery), and did the All-Merciful
    prohibit (a wife to her husband) for an obscene act?”

    Of the “sacred” Talmudic teachings of the “Sages,” preserved since 500 A.D. and taught more widely today than ever before in Talmud-Torah schools in the U.S.A., perhaps nothing better illustrates “fools” with “reprobate minds” than the teaching in the Talmud book of Yebamoth that spittle on the top of the bed curtain proves that a wife has been guilty of adultery, as only lying down face upwards could she have spit up on it. Spitting several feet straight up! The Talmud states: “When a peddler leaves a house and the woman within is fastening her sinnar [breech-cloth] … . If spittle is found on the
    upper part of the curtained bed she must, said Rabbi, go.”

    “Even if there were no witnesses that misconduct took place.”

    Further footnote:

    “Only the woman lying face upwards could have spat on the spot.
    Intercourse may, there fore, be suspected.”



  6. Trovin on

    Interesting. This reminds me of another article I read several years ago (before Trayvon Martin) by the white mother of an African-American teen. The mother lectured her son not to wear hoodies because, she told him, white people think black boys are scary enough as it is. Or George Eliot showing her “sympathy” for the Jewish condition by having Daniel Deronda’s mother arrange for him to be raised a Christian – but then, that was 1876.

    To my mind, there’s something a bit off (by which I don’t mean inauthentic) when a mother perceives her own child as being subject to such broad-brush prejudice, having never experienced its effects herself. As a Jewish girl who attended public schools (U.S. version), I was sometimes “misunderstood” and sometimes worse. But being misunderstood is part of the human condition, and the awareness that our Jewish-ness sets us apart becomes a source of pride and strength, leading to greater resilience and sense of personal responsibility. Sometimes I was even able to change those “preconceptions and false ideas about Jews in general.” Of course, prejudice sucks. But growing up with a Jewish identity has been a great privilege for me, as I hope it will be for the author’s children.

  7. Marjorie on

    This is an interesting post: I am also not raised Jewish and married to a Jewish man, and raising our daughter Jewish. I, however, do place myself in the category of “still choosing Judaism.” This makes more sense to me because of the many ways in which we are a Jewish family ( including rituals, participation in synagogal life, and miscellaneous Jewish cultural activities). Judaism infuses my life and I am grateful for the lessons of Torah and Jewish community. But, until I officially convert (if I convert), I am still choosing Judaism and enjoying all of what that means for us as a Jewish family.
    PS. My 5 year old also made a similar comment, and I did correct her to say that I was not Jewish (that my parents were not Jewish). But I said that we were still a Jewish family and that maybe some day, I would be Jewish too, like her and her father.

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