A non-profit organization to provide information and forum for discussion to young adults of ALL faiths
In general, Jews are permitted to marry any adherent of a monotheistic religion (like Christianity and Islam), as long as any children of the marriage would be brought up as Jewish. Modern Conservative Judaism, which does not sanction intermarriage, but encourages acceptance of the non-Jewish spouse within the family, hoping that such acceptance will lead to the spouse's conversion to Judaism. Rabbis from the denominations of the more popular forms of modern Judaism (Reform, Progressive-Reconstructionist, and Liberal), are generally willing to officiate at interfaith marriages; they do, though, still try to persuade intermarried couples to raise their children as Jews. Unfortunately, many Jewish youths do not bring this issue up till late in the child birth stage and naive Hindu spouse gets caught by surprise.
In the USA between 1996 and 2001, nearly half (47%) of marriages involving Jews were intermarriages with non-Jewish partners. The possibility that this might lead to the gradual dying out of Judaism and is regarded by most Jewish leaders as precipitating a crisis; some religious conservatives now even speak metaphorically of intermarriage as a silent holocaust.
No mainstream Jewish leaders think you can be raised in both religions. If so, the most critical question a Dharmic (Sikh, Jain, Hindu or Buddhist) considering relationships with a Jew should be if Bris/Bar Mitzvah/Bat Mitzvah of children is expected to announce children by your marriage as Jews.
"There is my covenant, which you shall keep, between me and you and your descendants after you: Every male among you shall be circumcised," God commands Abraham (Genesis 17:11), the Jewish patriarch. "Any uncircumcised male who is not circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin shall be cut off from his people; he has broken my covenant." Some Jews believe that if a baby is not circumcised by Bris ceremony, something negative would happen to the boy.
There is no clear major scientific merit to circumcision. American Academy of Pediatrics has not endorsed routine circumcision as beneficial to a male child. Further, there is no major medical issue noted or heard of for a billion plus of uncircumcised Hindus around the World. To have foreskin on the penis is not a birth defect to be surgically corrected, rather the foreskin has abundant nerve endings designed to increase sexual sensation. Be sure to keep in mind that the painful procedure of circumcision done to a child is (1) done without his consent, (2) is a violation of his human right, and (3) may have negative psychological and emotional consequences. It is clear that it is not the scientific merit, but religious belief that plays a major role in the decision to cut or not to cut.
The Ten Commandments state, "I am the Lord your God. You shall have no other gods before me. You shall not make for yourself an idol, whether in the form of anything that is in heaven above, or that is on the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I the Lord your God am a jealous God… punishing children for the inequity of parents, to the third and fourth generations of those who reject me."
Both Jews and Hindus believe that there is only one ultimate Supreme Reality. However unlike Hindus, Jews are forbidden to express the same God in different forms. The fact that many Gods and Goddesses are worshipped by Hindus is erroneously considered to be polytheistic idol worship by many who do not understand the true nature of Hinduism.
If a Dharmic is considering a lifelong relationship with a Jew, it would be wise to know what kind of interpretations of scriptures your intended spouse has learned during his/her life time and believes in. First, ask what does the “God” means to him or her? Is the LORD your God who talked to Abraham, Israel and Moses also later gave messages through Jesus and talked to Muhammad? Are Hindu Goddess Lakshmi and Lord Krishna incarnations of the same LORD God of Israel? Further, during Hindu wedding ceremony, the Hindu priest will invoke many Gods from heaven and earth, are you going to be okay to be part of such a wedding? Are you okay if you have to enter Hindu, Jain, Sikh and Buddhist temples, or take prasad (offerings from God), or be a part of other Hindu rituals (idols worship) at my parent's or our home? Is the jealous LORD your God not going to be angry at you?
The dating time talk of “tolerance” and “open mindedness” are not measurable characteristics, and could change with the wind. The decision has to be made based on some measureable events. Here are some pointers for Dharmics considering relationships with a Jew to help make an informed decision.
Q? Do you have to sign a Ketubah prenuptial and endorse the Ten Commandments?
Q? Do your children have to have Bar or Bat Mitzvah label to announce the child as a Jew?
Q? Name is everything, as it reflects the tradition and culture the parents are proud of, and, would like the child to follow. Are children going to have Dharmic first name and your current last name?
Q? Do you have to live at a driving distance from a synagogue so your children could attend a Jewish day care and family have benefit of Jewish education? Are you planning to celebrate all Jewish holidays? Are you planning to spend equal time and efforts to celebrate Hindu festivals and visit temples too?
Q? Lisa Miller of Newsweek (July 8, 2010) has estimated the cost of being a Jewish to be up to $110,000 per year. Are you planning to spend exact same dollars for Hindu causes?
Q? In case of a child’s death in your family; will he/she get a Jewish burial or the Hindu cremation final rites?
As you could see from above, for many points there is only one possible way. If an explanation is given that it is a matter of faith, an interfaith couple will have to decide whose faith will rule the married life. If a Hindu youth really wants to see a "true color" of the intended Jewish spouse, adamantly decline the Bris circumcision for a child and watch the reactions.
Every human being is God’s “chosen” person. It is hoped that today's youths considering interfaith relationship understand that some of the religious commandments are not to be taken literally. Further, that there is absolutely one God; however one should have liberty to express the God in whatever form and ways one desires. Pluralism is the only way for couples considering interfaith marriage with equality.
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