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I understand that Judaism does not permit inter-marriage, and also that some people do it anyway, particularly if the Jew in the marriage is not religious. What problems can arise for the people in such a marriage? (Assume the Jew is not religious.)

How are such couples treated by the Jewish community? And what would be the effect on the children of such a marriage? (I know that if the mother is Jewish the child is too, regardless of who the father is.)

PS - I'm asking these questions very humbly and hope I don't start any debate/flame war/ etc.

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This is probably not what you are looking for, but this book explains the incompatibilites pretty well. –  Michoel Oct 19 '12 at 3:17
Also, Askmoses has a bunch of questions on the topic. (And I thought I should write, in case you didn't notice, that answers from this site are not foolproof; see FAQ) –  b a Oct 19 '12 at 3:50
makerofthings7, welcome to Mi Yodeya! I do believe your sincerity in asking this question. However, I question if this is really in scope or constructive. Jewish tradition does not endorse intermarriage and as such does not discuss ways of "reaching common spiritual ground", so I question to what extent answers will be "supported by facts, references etc.". Additionally, your question "What incompatibilities should I be prepared for?" would seem to be out of scope because we are experts in Judaism, not in other beliefs and can't be expected to comment about them (cf. our meta post about... –  Double AA Oct 19 '12 at 4:59
Thanks for the revisions @MonicaCellio, looks fine to me –  makerofthings7 Oct 19 '12 at 16:38
You should also ask this on christianity.se –  Shredder Oct 19 '12 at 21:56
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1 Answer

A few things to consider:

  1. People's attitudes toward religion can change over a lifetime. She's not religious now; that could change, especially when children arrive on the scene. You're currently ok with marrying someone not of your religion; what happens if you find yourself becoming more evangelical in the future? (I'm not trying to assume or offend; I'm just raising possibilities. My own religious observance was rather different 20 years ago from today.)

  2. How religious are her, and your, parents? Especially when there are grandkids, that can get tricky.

  3. If she decides to become more involved in the Jewish community later (more likely with kids -- do you see a theme?), the reaction to your marriage will depend a great deal on the particular community. Your children will always be Jewish so no worries there, but in many communities she will be seen as a sinning Jew. This doesn't mean people would be outright rude to her, but it could be socially awkward.

  4. Even secular Jews often end up wanting their kids to go to Hebrew school and/or religious school, if not for the religion than for the cultural connection. This will put her, and you if you want, into contact with the community.

  5. Since the kids are Jewish, even if not in an observant home, you'd be handicapping them later if you don't give them a Jewish education. But your own religion may cause you to have different feelings on that.

I realize this must sound pretty negative. You asked about possible pitfalls and I'm trying to address that in a general manner, not knowing anything about you in particular. If this is a practical matter for you, then the two of you should, together, seek spiritual counsel from representatives of both of your traditions.

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