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article imageIntermarriage: Jewish fear factor when a Jew marries a non-Jew

By Kev Hedges     Feb 7, 2014 in World
Media reports of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's son Yair dating a Norwegian girl, Sandra Leikanger wouldn't normally raise too much concern in any nation. But in Israel it has raised an old issue of great concern.
Miss Leikanger is not Jewish and when the Norwegian media reported the Prime Minister's son and his college classmate were dating, it led to some in Israel to be outraged. Judaism has never been a religion that has tried to convert or preach others to follow its faith. In fact quite the opposite, because when a Jew marries a non-Jew or assimilates into another culture, it raises concerns in Israel and among the Jewish communities that its way of life, its heritage and Jewish traditions are under threat, possibly irreversibly.
Israel is relatively small, as are its numbers of true Jewish people, relatively speaking. But Jewish law is a religion that is passed down through the mother, so if a male Jew marries a non-Jewish woman, the children would not be regarded as true Jews. Therefore any traditions that Jews have kept for centuries, would be slowly eroded forever.
Many Jews who have long since left Israel and settled in other nations are regularly marrying non-Jews, more than half of the diaspora in fact. The fear in Israel from organizations like Lehava and Ultra-Orthodox Jews is that the Jewish race could die out if intermarriage increases, according to Erica Chernofsky in Jerusalem.
Israel, like much of the world today, has become a much smaller place and although the Arabs and the Jews rarely get married to one another, some Jews are marrying or having relationships with a number of foreign contractors, workers and non-Jewish residents that have settled in Israel.
In San Francisco, Jewish community leader, Rabbi Rick Jacobs, states intermarriage is an "inevitable result of life in an open society." However, there is still firm opposition from Jewish newspapers based in the US.
Although some Jews believe that today a large percentage grow up fully assimilated and comfortable in a secular society and environment. Others, like Prime Minister Netanyahu's brother-in-law, Hagai Ben-Artzi, spoke out on the affair of his nephew, warning him that if he doesn't give up his relationship with Leikanger, it would be as though he "is spitting on the graves of his grandparents."
More about Jewish, Israeli marriage, Wedding, Orthodox jews, Lehava
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