Jewish Journal


September 25, 2009

From Bubbe and Zayde: Marry a gentile, lose your inheritance



This. Is. Rich.

Although Erla Feinberg’s final act might have disappointed most of her grandchildren, it carried out her late husband’s dying wish in a way that held up in court.

In a unanimous decision, the Illinois Supreme Court this week ruled that Max Feinberg and his wife could legally disinherit any grandchildren who married outside the Jewish faith as long as the method of doing so did not encourage divorce.

“Although those plans might be offensive to individual family members or to outside observers, Max and Erla were free to distribute their bounty as they saw fit and to favor grandchildren of whose life choices they approved,” Justice Rita Garman wrote.

The origins of the case date to when Max Feinberg, a Chicago dentist, discovered that a grandson was taking a Gentile to the junior prom at Niles West High School. Besides communicating his strong feelings about religious loyalty to his grandson, Feinberg wrote those feelings into his will in a section that some family members have dubbed the “Jewish clause.”

I’m taking contracts next semester, and you better believe I’m counting on this story being added to our textbook.

I wonder if the will uses a big-tent approach to define Jews. Obviously, I’d be out. But what about a half-Jew? A secular Jew? A JewBu?

More from my friend Manya Brachear and her colleague, whose name I didn’t catch, here. Please lay off the Jew jokes in the comment section.

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