August 16, 2007
Some boo the Hindu that you do so well—others, not so much
Your response to interdating
(Page 3 - Previous Page)"Big deal," she replied, leaning over in her wheelchair. "In the old days, you were all nerds. Nerds married nerds, and now they all have little nerds."
Today's emphasis on beauty, personality and finances is what is hampering Jewish-to-Jewish marriages. Funny thing: Gentile women don't seem to find a shortage of Jewish men.
Martin A. Brower
Corona del Mar
Bravo to Rob Eshman for his article. There are countless fabulous women out there who are accomplishing great feats in the workplace, traveling, living full rich lives and hoping to find a Jewish husband.
I was one of those women. I worked in the Jewish community and asked colleagues, "Who do you know for me?" I went to Friday Night Live and attended lectures at Skirball, UJ and Federation. I dated Jewish men on Jdate, Match.com and Matchmaker that fit my profile.
At 37, I was introduced to someone who I almost refused to meet because he was not Jewish. But we fell instantly in love. Three years later, we are married with a baby girl. Our daughter has a mezuzah in her doorway, her baby naming certificate on the wall and we plan to send her to Jewish preschool.
The childless 40-year-old women are seeing that "there aren't enough marriageable Jewish men out there." But some of the other "94 percent of potential males" are extraordinary, too.
Rob Eshman hoped we would all meet an NJB, but he would rather see us pushing our strollers proudly into temple.
Name withheld by request
I strongly agree with Rob Eshman's view that single Jews desiring marriage should interdate, rather than remain alone. But I would go further. We should actively encourage every Jew to promote the virtues of Jewish civilization to potential Jews by Choice, via discussion, interdating and intermarriage.
As a people, we will not survive the demographic bomb of low reproduction rates if we do not evolve toward a concept of Judaism as a welcoming culture, with much to offer others: a history of resistance to oppression, spellbindingly beautiful holidays and a practical ethical system.
We have suffered too long from an in-group mentality that we are about rules, status and food, instead of universal values. It is time to bring people in, rather than push them away.
Rob Eshman's condemnation that all rabbis are to blame for Jewish women who remain unmarried and childless (insisting that they only marry Jewish men) is too sweeping. Reform rabbis have for decades welcomed intermarried couples into our congregations, encouraged their partner to convert and accepted their children into our religious schools.
We have l'hatchilah (at the outset) encouraged Jewish dating, while b'diavad (after the fact) welcomed those individuals who have married outside the faith. The subtle message we have been able to give our congregants is that we will not give up on them, regardless of whom they marry.
However, even subtle encouraging of interdating for older women is not going to magically find them partners. The solution lies in establishing an Internet interdating service.
The non-Jewish daters would indicate their degree of willingness to raise Jewish children, have a Jewish home and participate in the life of the Jewish community. They would also indicate their level of attachment to a particular religion.
Prospective Jewish mates cruising the site would look for high levels of willingness and low levels of attachment, in addition to other factors (nonsmoker, kashrut level, children, etc.).
Rabbi Jeffrey A. Marx
Santa Monica Synagogue
I would like to applaud Rob Eshman for showing the courage to propose a controversial and novel solution to the problems faced by single Jewish women in their late 30s and 40s. The established Jewish community asks them to sacrifice their happiness and their last childbearing years at the altar of endogamy, as if their loneliness is worth the price of Jewish purity.
If the Jewish community were to value these women's needs more than its own self-imposed boundaries, we would very likely see an increase in the number of Jewish children in Los Angeles.
It's all the more remarkable, too, that you note the prevalence of this phenomenon in a city that is home to more than half a million Jews. What must these women's prospects be like in smaller communities?
One last point: The authors of the 1997 Jewish population survey of greater Los Angeles subtly foretold the future plight of these "Hindu widows." Ten years ago, they found that there were 3 percent more women than men in the 30-49 age group. These women, who are now in their 40s and 50s, are suffering from a demographic crunch that has been a long time in the making.
Online Managing Editor
I have often been impressed by Rob Eshman's honesty, courage and common sense. Most recently, these qualities were exhibited in his column about single Jewish women waiting endlessly for a Jewish male. He makes his points brilliantly and thoughtfully and explained a concept that's quite strange for a secular Jew like myself, who figured that my kids are Jewish because I am, so what difference does the father's religion make?
My two daughters know perfectly well that it's me, their mom, who makes them Jewish, regardless of their father's affiliation or birth. And thus, what's the deal about Jewish women dating or marrying non-Jewish men?
The kids are Jewish, period, no matter how they are raised or who the father is. And mom can ensure a Jewish experience for the kids if she wants to- lots of those 100 percent Jewish couples leave all the religious school driving to the mom anyhow.
It's nice to marry within the tribe if it enhances a couple's happiness and commitment, but it's not necessary. Ask all the intermarried Jewish folks; we know there are plenty of them.