Question about the origins of the taboo against interfaith marriage



Greetings. My name is Jon. I am a Humanistic Jew and the Ritual Director for Kol Shalom here in Portland, Oregon. As Humanistic Jews, we welcome interfaith marriages. Does anyone know the origins ot the Jewish taboo against interfaith marriages? It isn't Biblical, since many characters in those legends engaged in interfaith marriage. It must have begun while the Jews were in Diaspora, but when? Does anyone know? I'd like to pass this information on to the family of a Bat Mitzvah student of mine. If there is a better place in this site to post this thread, please let me know, since I am new to this forum. Thank you.
Hi Jon...welcome to CR. I'm not sure whether or not your question would properly belong in the Abrahamic Religions/Judaism section or not, but why not ? Perhaps comparative religion...i just don't know. Not many of us here dwell on formalism. When you post asking such questions you should also probably seek out the opinions of either Bananabrain or Dauer. They are our resident experts on the rituals, traditions, and history of the Jewish Faith.

Good to have you here, and it might be beneficial to us who are unfamiliar with Humanistic Judaism if you would briefly outline your beliefs and role as a community leader. Are you ordained and know...the usual stuff ?


A ritual director is not the same as a rabbi. There are many roles within a shul that can arise, different directors and committees and such, although I cannot speak for Jon as to the role of the ritual director in his shul. Jewish Humanism is indeed a newer Jewish denomination. They have their own rabbis. The founder of the movement recently passed away. Jon can probably say more but I just wanted to affirm that it's a very real Jewish movement, as is reconstructionism which went a different route with the G!d issue.


Hey Jon.

Welcome to the forum. The question would probably better go in the Judaism forum, but I will answer here. The prohibition against intermarriage has its roots in Torah, in Deut 7 where marriage is forbidden with Hittites, Girgashites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites. It's only a guess, but I'd think that intermarriage probably became more universally banned around or before the time the of the mishna when a) marriage was formalized as being between two jews and b) Jewish identity was passed from the mother while tribal identity was passed from the father. However, genetic testing has indicated intermarriage at the roots of different communities which could mean that it took place later. You might find you can get better answers from the liberal judaism mailing list which you can google. They've now got a group on livejournal.


what dauer said. personally, as the resident beardy fundamentalist (apparently) i have Views on intermarriage, but the fact is that it is a fact of life, even more so now that jews are marrying later and (it appears to me) getting more and more fussy. and clearly it has been a greater or lesser fact of life for a very long time, so i can only conclude that being raped by cossack is less likely these days, but then so is the entire nation deciding to convert at once like the khazars (see the "kuzari") and we gave up actively proselytising with the rise of christianity, although apparently many historians believe that rather a lot of the roman empire and middle east was made up of jews after the first wave of hellenisation. plus, of course, it's way too hard to convert according to halakhah these days. on the other hand the rate of assimilation in non-orthodox denominations is horribly high, which means that kids first end up not being actively jewish and end up by not being halakhically jewish, although obviously in many cases not being halakhically jewish is not necessarily an indicator of not being actively jewish in a non-orthodox context and sustaining judaism in this environment. and, of course, the haredim have huge numbers of kids, more than anyone, which means the situation has its own dynamic anyway. and syncretism isn't the way forward, either. any mention of the word "chrismukkah" will result in me foaming at the mouth.


Namasholomaste and Merry RamaHanaChriswanza BB!

And welcome to the boards Jondickman!

Thought we might as well break you in with a good BB as not to surprise you later when it occurs with all the rest of the stuff that typically goes with it...hehe...

Actually it puzzles me that he's on the computer at all right now, I must have my clocks wrong...anywho...

Interfaith marriages that I've seen have had some interesting seems if both take their religion seriously (orthodox seriously...liberal seriously not so much), it makes it near impossible....
being a catholic and never married, i have wondered how difficult it would be to consider a marriage with someone who is very involved with their faith. Clearly this hasnt ever been an issue with me but I can only suppose that Love would prevail. ( a bit of a romantic notion). In my relationships in the past, faith(religion) has never been a consideration. I was probably godless to an extent. I dont mean to offend anyone by saying Godless. I think the big fella upstairs will forgive me. (i hope). But what if you were a devout Catholic and you fell hopelessly in love with some one of any faith that was as devout as you but not catholic????? Has this happend to anyone here?
love the grey