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A Famous Jew Intermarries, and Nobody Notices

You haven’t heard much about Mark Zuckerberg’s nuptials

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Priscilla Chan and Mark Zuckerberg at their wedding over the weekend.(Facebook/AP)

And lo, in the month of Jewish American and Asian-Pacific American Heritages both, it came to pass that famous Jew Mark Zuckerberg married his longtime girlfriend Priscilla Chan, who is not Jewish, and then a great miracle (if you ask some) happened: nobody rang the intermarriage bells.

Allison Kaplan Sommer noted that the non-news is itself news. “And so we’ve reached the stage where, in many cases, actual disappointment over intermarriage has drastically diminished,” she writes, “because the expectation that non-Orthodox American Jews will actively prefer and seek out fellow Jews as life partners doesn’t exist.”

I don’t have much to add to that. I’m a little bit surprised it has not been a bigger deal, but then again, it was something that barely registered with me. I do wonder whether it wouldn’t almost be a bigger deal if Zuckerberg were marrying, say, a fifth-generation WASP rather than an Asian-American with some family still in China. There may also be a whiff of “well, Asians are the new Jews” thing to it, particularly given that they met at an AEPi party at Harvard.

It’s Complicated: Zuckerberg, Chan, and Intermarriage Among Jews [Haaretz Routine Emergencies]
Earlier: Jewish, Asian-Pacific American Heritage Months

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Just because someone is simultaneously a Jew and an entrepreneur and a billionaire doesn’t mean that there’s a cause/effect linkage of any of these characteristics. I don’t think anyone would suggest that Z was/is a poster child for Jewish identity, so who cares who he marries?

jmm64 says:

     With the growing demographic trend of Orthodox Jews having more children and retaining most of their children within the Orthodox community and with the lower birth rate of non-Orthodox Jews and higher rate of intermarriage and assimilation among non-Orthodox Jews, it’s not difficult to predict the Jewish future in America– more and more Orthodox Jews, fewer Conservative and Reform Jews or a de facto merger between the two movements, and more and more unaffiliated Jews not having a remote connection to, or interest in, Israel or Judaism. We are shrinking as a Jewish community in America.

    rocky2345 says:

     Quite right. Besides, MZ describes himself as an atheist on Wikipedia, not as Jewish.

    The rapidly growing ultra Orthodox community (Hasidics) is on the whole rather poor. The Reichmanns of Toronto are an exception. New Square, NY (Hasidic community north of New York City) has a poverty rate of over 80% according to a 2009 census survey. Secular education is not valued in the Hasidic world. In a generation or two, the few surviving Jews with good secular educations may write of the Jews: “We live like Puerto Ricans but vote like Episcopalians”, turning the late Milton Himmelfarb’s aphorism on its head. In 2008, over 90% of those who voted in New Square and Kiryas Joel, NY (also Hasidic) voted for John McCain.

Jojo Lolo says:

You should have read the talkbacks on Israeli Hebrew sites. Most of them reacted to the intermarriage wih shame and outrage. Most Israelis oppose intermarriage which is funny because intermarriage in Israel is obviously not a problem – assimilation in Israel is usually in the Jewish majority, not the other way. There is a small number of Jewish women marrying Muslim Arabs (a few dozen a year contrary to the “30,000 women” spread by some haredi groups), but that’s on the fringe. Most intermarriage in Israel are between a secular Israeli and a foreigner.

    melklein says:

    All the more reason to foster non-Orthodox Jewish social interaction like Cafe Olam in Philly.

rocky2345 says:

I did mention the marriage in a posting earlier this week but it is not a big deal. Intermarriage is very common in the US and has been for many years.  

I take exception with the statement that the expectation that non-Orthodox American Jewis seek out and marry fellow Jews doesn’t exist.  I think that many American Jews have that expectation but also realize that there is a good chance of intermarriage.  Many American Jews of the current generation are marrying within the faith. 

being that their children won’t be Jewish, his marriage holds little significance to the Jewish community.

Liadi says:

To be Jewish is to be part of a people, an ethnic group. DNA studies affirm that there is such a thing as a “Jewish people”.  Judaism is a religion; the religion of the Jewish people. A person is born into a people, but has a choice as to the religion. Therefore a person can be a Jewish atheist. Though perhaps a minority, there are many Jewish atheists; I’m one such, and know others.

malcolm951 says:

her ancestors might be jewish Chinese jews just made aliyah in Israel have been in china over 1300 years

philipmann says:

 The orthodox,as far as  I`ve heard,haven`t said anything because nobody expected anything from Zuckerberg.  He even takes away any Jewish pronounciation of his name, so  (shrug).

   And, Rocky 2345. That`s three times in as many issues that you`ve  quoted that statistic about Skver and Curious Yoel. As they say inJapan. Enough already.

Jan Shrek says:

I suspect there’s been no comment because most Jews wish to dissociate themselves from the likes of MZ.

Well it matters to me. I am a reform Jew in my 60’s (old school huh?)  Believe me when I hear about intermarriage my heart skips a beat.  The world is changing, no one cares about what seniors think.  MZ was with her 9 years so it was no great shock.  Don’t reply to me “what if your own child intermarries?”  I don’t like it.  There is intermarriage in my family and I am not comfortable at certain times  He may consider himself and atheist but his DNA is JEWISH, his family is Jewish and neo nazi’s consider him Jewish, and look at his punim!  THERE ARE PLENTY OF JEWISH ATHEISTS,  so what, the culture you grow up with as a child cannot be forgotten,  remember your Zada at the Passover table who took so long and you and your cousins were being naughty?  Take that out of your memory bank!!!!!!!!!!!!!

MishkaDenk says:

Contacts with China may prove more than iuseful n the coming years…..its the way Jews have survived throughout the centuries!

Zuckerburg told it a million times that he is an ATHIEST — How can a DNA be Jewish — DNA has no religion as such — Family may be Jewish but he is not — Why we do have to dance on the tune of Jewishness of Zuckerberg only because he is rich and famous.
We the Jews are are dying breed — in 4000 years we are not more than 16 Million and the figures speak for themselves — Young kids are leaving Judaism in droves and nobody almost nobody wants to become a Jew, Jewish kids are marrying non Jews and their kids usually opts for other religions as they feel more comfortable and secure in many ways and also it is easy going with Christianity, Buddhism or Islam  – so maybe 25-50 years we will be down to a few hundred thousand.

    well that’s just great!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Jojo Lolo says:

    Jews are not a religion but a people. And the Israeli Jews demography is excellent. Young Israelis are more religious and having more children than their parents. So in 25-50 years, we will be still many millions.

      Jews are a people in the way that Americans are a people, it’s not about DNA. When can we stop all of this tribalism and accept that we are all ONE people on this beautiful blue ball floating in space…no matter your religious (or non-religious) beliefs. Building bigger and bigger walls to define ourselves as different is counter productive. ☪☮e✡is✞

        Jojo Lolo says:

        Where did I speak about DNA ? But are you for real ? “We are all one people”, you seriously believe in that non-sense stupidity ? Sorry for you. The world is going to be very harsh for you when you grow up.

    groups33 says:

    you have it wrong. We Jews are getting stronger and in Israel and some other communities are thriving.

    Those who robbed kids like zucerburg of Jewish identity and Jewish education doomed them to assimilation and inter marriage.

    We have survived and outlived very many different and varied calamaties. We will survive the sad assimilation of Mark Zukerburg

Just let him marry her as he wishes.

I noticed and it breaks my heart.  Non-Jewish women are actively chasing (and catching) our men – the fact that these asian women come to Jewish fraternity parties in droves is just one example. I actually confronted a handsome member of my (reform) synagogue who was there with his half-Korean daughter and asked why he didn’t marry a Jewish woman, considering he obviously has a connection to the religion.  I reminded him that I will want a great Jewish guy one day to marry my beautiful Jewish daughter.  I think we need to make an active attempt to bring Jewish singles back to the tribe.

    mahatmacoatmabag says:

    Nina, no doubt your daughter is too young for me, but if you ever get a divorce & are in Ramat Gan, look me up !

      simonmd341 says:

      If you substituted white for Jew in anything you just said you would sound like David Duke. Its disgusting.

        mahatmacoatmabag says:

        simonmd341, my guess is you are what is known as Member of the Tribe of Trembling Israelites, ie those cowardly weasel Jews who kowtow to the goyim. I am a Jew & a Zionist , a citizen of Israel , ex-IDF soldier & do not share your fear of what the goyim will think of me. your introducing” the Jews are the new Nazis” mantra of the despised & hated Commiewood Jews , exposes you as weasel on the fringes of decent society. Next time you see a comment I make, made to somebody else, kindly scroll past it , or in your case crawl past it !

Brett Baylis says:

Ms. Cohen,you say that about Zuckerberg’s marrying an Asian American woman,but suppose he’d wed a hot BLACK lass? Would you be so serene about his choice?Plus,would you date or marry a handsome black lad?Just asking!!!!

Priscilla Chans culture is bigger and older or at least as important as  Mark Zuckerberg’s nobody seems to notice that.

dizhar says:

It takes two to tango.  It may not be all his fault.  Also speaking from my dating experience – usually  a woman picks the partner with whom she wants to be with. The guys are usually just in it for the ride. Chan found him early and I am sure that she will be a loving and caring wife, if he is rich or poor.  

So Mazl Mazl Mark. I hope that I will be as lucky in love as you. 

dizhar says:

It takes two to tango.  It may not be all his fault.  Also speaking from my dating experience – usually  a woman picks the partner with whom she wants to be with. The guys are usually just in it for the ride. Chan found him early and I am sure that she will be a loving and caring wife, if he is rich or poor.  

So Mazl Mazl Mark. I hope that I will be as lucky in love as you. 

If it had been a female marrying a non-Jew, that would have stirred outrage. Who was the chick that Leonardo DiCaprio was planning to wed? Bar Refeli? Or something like that. Ortho-Jews were pleading with her not to marry him and to marry one of her own kind. This is just another example of the ownership and objectification of women.

cinnamona says:

i’ve owned and objectified plenty of women in my time. thing is, so very few have been jewish. not because i boycott jewish women for being jews but quite frankly my dears they have not floated my boat, or however otherwise you charming americans might put it.

be it looks, or attitude, or both, just not attractive. i remember once after many months, …

mahatmacoatmabag says:

mazel tov to the happy couple & prey that the S.E.C. doesn’t come after you for Stock Price Manipulation before you have a chance to have kids. May I suggest you seek a plea bargain, admit guilt , do community service & pay a fine & then retire into obscurity. ( no I did not buy Facebook stock – I figured out all on myself that it was Worthless ! )

Jack Burton says:

Jews are the #1 advocates of race mixing in the nations that host Jews, this to me is sweet sweet irony to the judeo-marxist multicultural cancer.

Thank you

    mahatmacoatmabag says:

    SS Stormtrooper Jackboot Burton ranted ” the judeo-marxist multicultural cancer ”
    listen Jackboot , it would be my pleasure to toss you over the border fence of the gaza strip. FYI – you can not be a Jew & a Marxist at the same time. We Jews believe in God, marxists do not & therefore are not Jews, since marxism is a seperate religion in which belief in God is replaced by belief in which ever Deity leads the Party , thus Lenin, Stalin, Mao, Castro & Uncles Kim il jong & Ho Chi minh where all gods . When a Jew becomes a commie he is deemed as having left Judaism & is like every other MFSOB who becomes a commie – a godless atheist & not a Jew, Christian or whatever – Capiche !

Great and it will refresh the gene pool.  You can be Jewish without all that religious mambo jumbo and I am sure that at heart he he will remain Jewish.

C A says:

I mentioned it in passed and was accused of bigotry.

    mahatmacoatmabag says:

    Hi Charlie, nice to see you again, haven’t seen you on the JP or on the DT blog lately.
    all the best, your pal & fellow Zionist Troublemaker – mahatmacoatmabag

thejewishmiracleOwordpressOcom says:

It matters to many people, but what do you expect from a Reform atheist Jew?

He, like many other Jews, are totally unaffiliated with Judaism or Israel. Nobody says anything because it’s not surprising and nothing could have been done to stop him anyway.

If a Jew from a religious community inter-married, everyone in the community would care.

concerner says:

The different between Jew and non-Jew is their different last name. Big deal!

katyladygolfer says:

You people with your outrage…so funny!

Socius says:

It sickens me to hear comments like the ones posted below. Your religion doesn’t define you. Your race doesn’t define you. You and your actions define whatever group you associate yourself with. But that’s it.

Look at brilliant minds such as Albert Einstein who grew up in a non-practicing Jewish family, then decided to try out Judaism for a year or two, and finally decided that Judaism is not for him. Does the level of respect he deserves diminish in your view because he denounced Judaism?

People need to understand that religion is meant to be personal. And thinking “Asians are stealing your Jewish men” is an idea that truly disgusts me. She is making him as happy as he is making her. That is why they are getting married. And he doesn’t belong to you. His purpose in life isn’t to advance what some people may view as the goals of Judaism. He is a person. He has a right to happiness. And he is the one who gets to choose how he accomplishes those goals.

I can’t believe the prevalence of racism in a group who themselves are so often subjected to racism and discrimination

    SusieQ666 says:

    I can’t agree with you more. Why do so many of my fellow Jews forget to practice the ethics we were taught as children? And what one person does with her or his “choices” in life is no one’s business but their own. Religion has no place in the public square. It is a personal issue; perhaps one of the most personal aspects of a person’s life. I think this whole “uproar” is not in anyone’s best interests. I wish nothing but happiness to Mr. Zuckerberg and his new wife. Why is everyone trying to “rain on their parade?”

Arnold Handelman says:

Firstly, the bride is quite an accomplished professional, a doctor. Secondly, I think it’s good for Jews to intermarry when the kids will be brought up Jewish. It reduces inbreeding, with the consequent “Jewish diseases”. It refreshes the gene pool.
My theory is that when Jews marry Gentiles, generally the Jews pick spouses who are very intelligent, talented,  and/or successful. Then, if the kids are brought up as Jews, the tribe improves. 

SusieQ666 says:

Personally, as someone married to a non-Jewish (and wonderful!) man, I agree that these sorts of things have almost become “non-issues” today in the US, and probably also in Canada, and beyond. Perhaps it was my “strict” Reform (yes, I know many who would find that a real oxymoron) upbringing, where I was taught comparative religion in addition to the rich history and laws of Judaism. (I was also taught the relevancy/non-relevancy of the many “laws” and what I’d call “strictures” of Orthodoxy.) We were observant. We went to temple on Friday nights with our parents, who founded our congregation 65 years ago this year with a circle of just 10 families, that grew as the general and Jewish population expanded into “our valley” NE of Los Angeles. The motivation behind my parents’ actions was clear: They wanted their three daughters to have a solid Reform education, just as they had had.
Beyond that, I have to say that my oldest sister married two Jewish men, and had two kids who really never had much of a Jewish education other than sharing in our large family-and-friends seders at Passover time. My second sister married non-Jewish guy, had one daughter who married a non-Jewish guy, and is now a “newly-single” mom who is raising their two young daughters as Reform Jews, with a bit of “Buddhist ethics” thrown in.

My parents were always “accepting” of our choices in mates, as long as they were caring, kind, educated and of course, in agreement that they would be open to our family’s faith and of course, participation in all our “observances” whether solemn or “frivilous”.

Our rabbi and congregation welcome interfaith couples and I think that is what the future of Judaism is going to look like: Interfaith couples (in addition to Jews-by-choice) who have made the decision to rear their children as Jews. Because of this shift in demographics (e.g. our congregation’s president is an attorney who worked a number of years in China, where he met his wife. When he returned to California to practice here, they had two children who are now grown, both of whom were B’nai Mitzvah (not sure of the plural here) and as college students, are active in Jewish activities and so forth.

We are a people who, like Joseph’s coat, come in many colors! I’ve no idea what kind of a background Mark Zuckerberg had growing up, but who knows? When and if they decide to start a family, it is of course their decision on what to do.

As for me, I’ve made my decision.

samsenseone says:

Contrary to Orthodox dogma, intermarriage brings new insights, attitudes and vibrancy to being Jewish. It does not threaten being Jewish. If anything, it improves and strengthens it.   

Estere says:

At the rate that those asians are aggressivly snatching our Jewish men, within one generation they will wipe out the whole Jewish people.  That is a filthy shame to alloww those asians who are the ugliest and least feminine of all women to destroy the beautiful God chosen people.

 I hope you all pay greatest respect to  Black Women for knowing their place to not steal your men.  Where as those asians, ugliest of all women are extremely FRESH to bluntly and publically organized themselves to attack those wonderfull kind  Jewish people for the worst destruction in human history.


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A Famous Jew Intermarries, and Nobody Notices

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