đHgeocities.com/candlemaker_kaprov/chapter09.htmlgeocities.com/candlemaker_kaprov/chapter09.htmldelayedx-zŐJ˙˙˙˙˙˙˙˙˙˙˙˙˙˙˙˙˙˙˙˙ȠꢀBOKtext/html@ÜŚŃç€B˙˙˙˙b‰.HSun, 24 Aug 2008 15:55:29 GMTąMozilla/4.5 (compatible; HTTrack 3.0x; Windows 98)en, *-zŐJ€B The B'nai Khaim in America
Chapter 9 - Intermarriage 

      And Rebecca said to Isaak, I am weary of my life because of 
      the daughters of Heth; if Jacob take a wife from the 
      daughters of Heth, such as these ... What good will life do 
      me? (Genesis XXVII:46). 

   "Don't put that man in your book," tearfully pleaded an old 
immigrant mother, whose immigrant son had divorced his 
Jewish wife to marry an American gentile. "He is not a B'nai Khaim. 
He stopped being a B'nai Khaim when he married that 
shiksa. "
   The first of the mishpokkah to marry a gentile was a young 
woman who came here in 1912 to marry a Greek Orthodox 
Russian youth with whom she was in love and who preceded 
her to America by a year. For some years they lived in Canada. 
Since they died before our study began we have no further 
information about them, except that their son lives in the 
United States, is married to a Jewess and is bringing up his 
children in "no religion." 
   The 109 married B'nai Khaim, whose observance and 
non­observance of Jewish rites and rituals have been detailed in the 
preceding chapters, reported ten gentile spouses among them. In 
this total of eleven interfaith marriages, including the case cited 
above, eight were males and three females. Three of the males 
were first-generation, and five were second-generation B'nai Khaim. 
Of the three females, one was first-generation, and 
two were second-generation B'nai Khaim. The ratio of 
approximately three males to one female who marry outside 
their Jewish faith seems to be in line with the national norm. Of 
285 intermarriages in Iowa in 1959, we are told, 76 per cent 
involved Jewish men, and 24 per cent Jewish women. (See note #1) 
Apparently, Jewish males are more aggressive than their sisters in 
seeking gentile mates. Or, perhaps, gentile girls are more prone 
to seek out Jewish men as mates than gentile boys to seek out 
Jewish maidens for their mates. Or Jewish females are more 
resistant to marrying goyim. Or, again, the males are more 
broadly exposed to association with gentile girls, in offices, in 
factories, than Jewish girls with gentile young men. Or all of 
these things in various combinations. 
   Of the three foreign-born B'nai Khaim males who married 
gentiles, two did so after divorcing Jewish wives. (See note #2) In the case of 
one of these second marriages no children were involved. In the 
case of the other, three children were born of the second 
marriage, and all three have been raised as Christians. This B'nai Khaim 
had three children by his first, the Jewish, wife. Two of 
these, a son and a daughter, married Catholics. The daughter 
had two children who are being brought up in the Unitarian Church 
which their parents joined in a compromise "to-give the 
children a religion." 
   The third of our foreign-born males who married gentiles is 
one of our "12" who came here before age 8. The girl he 
married is a Lutheran by birth and upbringing. She adopted 
Judaism and is raising her children as Jews. In one other case 
the gentile wife adopted Judaism, but is raising her children in 
"humanism." In a third case the Catholic wife did not convert 
to Judaism, but is raising her children as Jews. 
    The remaining three, two males and one female, are all 
second-generation B'nai Khaim, and are rearing their children in 
"no religion." In sum:

   Of the nine couples of mixed marriages, where raising 
children was involved: 
        2 raised them as Jews 
        2 as Christians 
        1 in "humanism" 
        4 in "no religion"

   A familiar fact which emerges from even this small sample 
should be noted: namely, the tendency of the rate of inter­marriage 
to rise as we move from the first to the second, and as 
we will shortly see, to the third generation. The four foreign­born 
B'nai Khaim who married gentiles constituted 4.3 per cent 
of the 93 that came here. The seven native-born constituted 
11.3 per cent of the 62 second-generation B'nai Khaim. (See note #3)
   The ten per cent rate of intermarriage reported for the B'nai Khaim 
is apparently the norm for second-generation Jews in America. 
The rate runs higher in small towns and in rural areas than in 
the larger cities. (See note #4) In the small towns and in the rural 
areas the diverse ethnic groups live in closer association with 
one another than in the big cities where different ethnic groups 
tend to congregate in separate sections, at least through much 
of the second generation. 
   There were no third-generation married B'nai Khaim when 
we conducted our survey. But we have indirect evidence that 
seems to show that our third generation will follow a trend in 
rate of intermarriage similar to that of the Washington 
third-generation Jews. This indirect evidence is the religion in 
which they were being raised. We asked their parents: 
   In what, if any, religion are you or will you be bringing up 
your children? The answers from all married B'nai Khaim, 
foreign- and native-born, and including the ten of mixed marriages, 
follow (Table 8): 
   Are the B'nai Khaim disappearing as Jews? Of the 105 
families who responded to the question of the religious training 
of their children, as many as 85 said they did or would bring 
them up in one or another Jewish denomination-Orthodox, 
Conservative, or Reform. Eight families would give their 
children only peripheral training in Jewishness- "secular," 
"cultural," "non-observing"; eleven would give them no religious 
training of any kind, and one family is raising its children 
as Unitarians. Thus, 20 of the 105, or nearly 20 percent, are 
placing their children outside traditional Judaism. 	' 
   Out of these 20, as many as 15 are second-generation B'nai Khaim, 
and the religious training they project is for their 
children; that is, for the third-generation B'nai Khaim. We do 
not know how many third-generation children of these 20, or 
even the 15, will marry gentiles. But we do know they are not 
getting the training in Jewishness that should precondition them 
to staying within the fold. We come back to this point again 
in Chapter 13. 
   We addressed ourselves to 210 parents in our population 
and asked these direct questions: 
      1. Would you object if (a) your son; (b) you daughter 
         wished to marry a non-Jew? Why? 
      2. If the answer is yes, would you still object if the 
         intended in-law were to adopt Judaism? Why? 

   The "yes" and "no" answers are listed in Table 9 below. The 
"Why's" are analyzed later.

   What strikes us first in Table 9 is the fact that as many as 
60 of the 210 parents, nearly 30 per cent, would not object 
to their children marrying non-Jews. These 60 include 
foreign-born as well as "native" B'nai Khaim, expectedly, in 
smaller proportion for the foreign-born. Nearly 40 per cent of 
those who objected in the first place would withdraw their 
objections if the intended gentile in-law were to adopt Judaism. 
Note also that parents do and do not object equally to inter­marriage 
of sons and daughters. Popularly, it is believed that 
Jews are more likely to object to a daughter's proposal to marry 
a goy than to a son's intention to marry a shiksa.
   The phenomenon of the shift away from orthodoxy as we 
move from the first- to second-generation Jews, rules here as it 
does in the other religious observances. Of the first-generation 
B'nai Khaim males 25 per cent said they would not object to 
their children's marrying goyim. Of the second generation 45 
per cent said they would not object. Consistent with their 
conservative bent in the matter of observing Jewish religious 
customs, B'nai Khaim females were more strongly opposed to 
the intermarriage of their children than were the males, as the 
following summary shows.

   Of the first-generation males:     75 per cent would object 
                                      25 per cent would not object 

   Of the second-generation males:    55 per cent would object 
                                      45 per cent would not object
   Of the first-generation females:   80 per cent would object 
                                      20 per cent would not object
   Of the second-generation females:  74 per cent would object 
                                      26 per cent would not object 

   Twenty-six per cent of second-generation female B'nai Khaim 
would not object to intermarriage of their children, against 45 
per cent for the second-generation males. Stated the other way 
around, 55 per cent of native-born males would object to the 
intermarriage of their children; of the native-born females 74 
per cent would object.
   It should be noted that this shift in attitude toward marrying 
non-Jews between the older and younger generation of B'nai Khaim 
has a parallel in the shift over time in the attitude of 
white Christians in the general population toward marrying 
Jews. In 1950, a sampling study showed 57 per cent of white 
Christians said "I should definitely not marry a Jew." In 1962 a 
similar sampling study recorded only 37 per cent as giving 
this answer. Again, in 1950 22 per cent had said "it would 
make no difference to me." By 1962 the percentage had risen 
to 30. (See note #5) These liberalized attitudes of the two populations are 
undoubtedly also mutually liberalizing. 
   For the third generation, 22 boys and 17 girls, we have the 
following information. We asked them: 

                      Would You Marry a Non-Jew? 

       The answers: 
              Boys:  6 "yes;" 1 "maybe;" 1 "possibly yes" =        8
                    11 "no;" 2 "probably no" 		  =       13 
	             1 "not decided" 	                  =        1
             Girls: 3 "yes" 		                  =        3
		   13 "no" 		                  =       13
		    1 "uncertain" 	                  =        1
   The eight "yesses" for the boys amount to 37 per cent of 
their total; the six "yesses" amount to not quite 30 per cent. 
The three sure "yesses" for the girls amount to scarcely 18 per 
cent of their total. Once more we see the diverse trends between 
male and female B'nai Khaim in the degree of their adherence 
to Jewish custom. 
   We tested the reasonableness of these projections by a case­
to-case correlation. The parents of the eight boys who would 
marry non-Jews had said they would not object to such marriage. 
The parents of the one boy who was not decided had said 
they would object. The parents of two of the three girls who 
would marry non-Jews had said they would not object. The 
parents of the third girl said they would object. It should be 
added that the parents of only two of the boys and of only one 
of the girls had themselves married gentiles. One who said he 
objected to intermarriage is married to a Catholic who did not 
convert to Judaism but is raising her children as Jews. 
   All this would seem to challenge the notion of popular 
psychology that children frequently marry outside their 
parental mores in rebellion against their parents. An unmarried 
B'nai Khaim social worker explained that she would not marry 
a non-Jew because "I have no need to hurt my parents."
   In our case the children were clearly not in opposition to 
their parents. All but one of them came from homes where 
there was no objection to such marriages. A native-born wife of 
a foreign-born B'nai Khaim whose son married a gentile girl 
wrote: "Although we are non-observers I would have preferred 
our son marry a Jewish girl. But since we brought him up without 
religious bias and since we approved of the girl as a fine 
individual I could not object to her as a gentile." 
   The reasons which B'nai Khaim parents gave for objecting to 
their children's marrying non-Jews clustered around three broad 
considerations. One was grounded in the religious taboo against 
intermarriage; the second was based on the alleged difficulties in 
marital adjustment; the third, on the barrier to social adjustment, 
especially for the children. "My religion forbids" sums up 
the religious objections. "It won't work-it never works out" 
characterizes the second set of reasons. It is hard enough for 
couples both raised in the same religion to adjust to a common 
life in marriage, many of the respondents argued; how much 
more difficult to adjust when partners are of different religions. 
Too many such marriages seem to fail; "could only end in 
grief," one rationalized. And finally: "Difficult for children of 
mixed marriages to adjust socially." They may find themselves 
rejected by both church and synagogue playmates. 
   The objections were more realistic when based on the religious 
taboo. "I want my grandchildren to be raised as Jews." 
"Marrying a gentile means the children will be lost to Judaism." 
"Too few of us left," one of the gentile-born spouses who 
adopted Judaism gave as her reason against intermarriage. 
   Some of those who would object even if the prospective 
gentile mate were to adopt Judaism did so on the ground that 
the convert may not be sincere in the conversion. The gentiles 
convert in order to get Jewish mates, and not out of genuine 
feeling for Judaism. Besides, they argued, "once a goy, always a 
goy." "Religion comes from the heart. You have to be born 
with it. You cannot adopt it." "In the end the Jewish race will 
lose out." 
   On the other hand, there were the few who would no longer 
object if the gentile converted. "Many converts make fine 
Jews." The only condition, one counseled, was that the convert 
should not be anti-Semitic. The marriage is now uninhibited, 
"free of religious conflict" and the children can be raised within 
the fold. "No fault if born a gentile." Furthermore, "if Judaism 
accepts conversion, I also do." 
   Then there were the B.'nai Khaim who would not object in 
any case. "Why should I?" said one. "It is the children's life, 
not ours"; "they should know their minds"; "only character 
count"; "probably would not like it, but would not object 
because not heeded anyway." Still others: "I would object to a 
convert," not the marriage. "Would not want my child to adopt 
Catholicism or orthodox Judaism." In any case, "What they do 
as adults is their business." "It is a personal matter, assuming 
   In the end: "What right have I to object?" 

Notes to Chapter 9:

(1) See note #1, Chapter 5.
(2) I know of only four more divorces among the 148 B'nai Khaim 
    families. This amounts to a rate of four per cent. In the country-at-large 
    the divorce rate is close to 25 per cent.
(3) In the Washington, D.C. count, the rates were: 
        1st generation   1.7 per cent 
        2nd generation  10.5 per cent 
        3rd generation  20.6 per cent 

(4) See American Jewish Year Book 1963, p. 16 ff. for a Washington, D.C. 
    study of 1956 on this subject. For New York, Baltimore, Philadelphia 
    and Chicago the rate is given as 11.7 per cent. For the State of Iowa (study 
    in 1960) rates in the period 1953-59 are shown to have run from three to 
    five times as high.
(5) Charles Herbert Stember and others: Jews in the Mind of America. 
    Basic Books, Inc., 1966, pp. 104-06

CandleMaker Kaprov
E-Mail: CandleMaker_Kaprov@Yahoo.com

Main page