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Trend Alert

Intermarried couples inspire kind of offensive colloquialism

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Recent newlyweds Rachel Weisz and Daniel Craig, in 2004.(Bowers/Getty Images)

Coverage of a new report released by the Metropolitan Chicago Jewish Community has spawned what is possibly the summer’s best condescension-laced intra-Jew term yet: Intermarrieds. The report, which tastefully referred to these mystery pairings as interfaith couples, was itself about trends in the Jewish community, so it’s no surprise that it would spawn its own trendy nomenclature.

We think this term is a shoo-in for entry into the Oxford English Dictionary, particularly if that esteemed institution was willing to take ‘OMG’ under its proverbial wing. And an “oh my god” situation this surely is. There is even evidence that this term is being embraced and reappropriated by the intermarried community, as racially and ethnically charged terms often are. The website, which calls itself an “online resource” for intermarried couples and children of intermarriage, represents this shift toward taking agency over the term—though it being a product of the Messianic Jewish Theological Institute and all, it really only opens up a whole new can of labeling woes.

Like a cultural scourge, this creeping demographic has—wait, what?—been raising their children with stronger Jewish values, thereby contributing to the Jewish community’s increasing numbers, which is the main thrust of the report. The intra-marrieds declined to comment about it—insular much? No word yet from the frums on this developing terminology, and we all basically agree it’s of little consequence to those damn seculars.

Jewish Identity of Intermarrieds in Chicago and their Kids Up [Jewish Journal]
The 2010 Metropolitan Chicago Jewish Community Study [Jewish Data Bank]

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Why the picture of Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump? You do know that Trump converted – Orthodox no less (though that shouldn’t matter here). This is not an instance of the intermarrieds that MCJC discusses in the report. And it’s actually offensive to Jewish converts.

Jim’s right. You shoulda done Chelsea Clinton & Marc Mezvinsky.

You had me until Messianic. To each their own, but it’s pushing a particular way, not helping interfaith couples find their way.

My own feeling is that we need to find a new approach to interfaith marriage in Judaism. Slamming the doors in the faces of interfaith couples only turns more Jews away. This is the generation of interfaith couples and families. It’s time to find a way to be welcoming and accept whatever efforts those families make to keep Judaism and Jewish practice.

Full disclaimer that I’m married interfaith, and I don’t think my husband would have so fully supported my ever growing Jewish practice if he had been subjected to what so many couples go through when we got married. He’s only ever personally experienced a Judaism that really accepts his presence and appreciates his support of my faith.

masortiman says:

Ive heard the term intermarrieds as a noun for years – how is this new?

masortiman says:

I would never slam the door on anyone, cause slamming doors is rude. We have interfaith couples in my Conservative synagogue. They are welcome to participate, but we don’t change halacha for them.

I would take issue with this being the “generation of the intermarrieds” AFAICT the majority of intermarried families (this of course excludes Jews by Choice) are relatively marginal in their Jewish commitments, practice, ties to Israel, etc. The numbers of the non-Orthodox intramarried may be shrinking, but their level of commitment is increasing (if only because only the committed intramarry, at least outside NY). The non-Orthodox Jewish community is bifurcating, and views of the Jewish community that ignore that tend misread what is going on.

Oh — got to agree. If Trump converted, we shouldn’t be considering them “intermarried.” She’s Jewish.

Abbi says:

Gah, this post is a complete nightmare! We get it, you don’t like religious people. But why do you have to bulldoze facts, internet and language trends and Jewish demographic reports in order to drive home just how much you hate them?

I did a search on the report. The term does not appear once and there is nothing really condescending about the report- it’s a straightforward demographic breakdown, with a few paragraphs summarizing the stats. So, according to you post, the “coverage” somehow spawned this nefarious term that’s sweeping the Jewish community, a large chunk of which doesn’t seem to care about intermarried couples in the first place. Do you read your work before you hit publish? Does anyone else?

So, your main objection seems to be that the Jewish Journal, an obscure Jewish website, used the term in his headline and once in the first graph. Because we all know, journalists only try to shorten headlines and vary referencing terminology for obviously condescending reasons, even if there is nothing obliquely condescending about either the report or the article about the report. You clearly have superior analytical skills to read between the lines of these benign-seeming sources.

And to top it off, you use a Messianic website and a picture of a converted Jewish couple to “rest your case” of this sweeping trend? Really?

The sixth result for a google search of the term is a Zoroastrian site. Seriously, this was a total reach. Try again. No term-spawning here. Just regular headline editors doing there job of shortening headlines.

Those are some seriously bleak survey results. Synagogue affiliation at 36%; Hanukah more popular than Shabbat; Passover with barely a fighting chance. Troubling for the Midwest’s largest city.

masortiman says:

“Hanukah more popular than Shabbat;”

You haven’t been paying attention the last 70 years, have you?

M. Brukhes says:

I have cousins from Brooklyn who are intermarried in a classic “Bridget Loves Bernie” mold: he’s Jewish (as am I, hard though that might be to believe given this venue…) and she’s Irish Catholic. Their children, all my age/adults now, were raised in an environment with shifting emphases but in the final analysis as “nothing.” I always regretted this growing up parallel to them, but the other night we all went out to dinner (at a kosher restaurant) and I enjoyed their company terrifically, as I always do. And I realize finally that the cousins who are my age, the products of their parents intermarriage, aren’t in fact “nothing.” They are “Brooklynites,” a complex and sophisticated amalgam of Jewish, Irish, Italian, Black, hipster sensibilities. It’s its own thing: not a belief system–but of course there are millions of Jews around the world who lack a belief system–but definitely a culture of its own devising (as all culture inevitably is). I don’t feel bad about them or bad for them anymore: they’ve got their own groove going on and I’m happy to learn from their example.

As someone who tracks and writes about interfaith family issues fulltime at, I am completely mystified by this post. There is no trend. Even if it were a trend, the respectable Chicago report had nothing to do with it. Even if it were a trend, I do not understand what is so offensive about shortening the term in headlines. We should refer to “intermarried couples” rather than “intermarrieds”? Like we should refer to “Jewish people” rather than “Jews”?? Huh? Then the Messianics get dragged in because they use the term for their website (completely unrelated to the Chicago report). Hmmm, their blog on that website was last updated in 2009: not a very hot trend there. Finally, some kind of insider shot taken at religious Jews. Again, all very puzzling.

naturale says:

Jews are marrying non-Jews? Hold the presses!
As noted above, there’s nothing new here and in fact, Butnick seems to be mistaking sarcasm for insight. The word she meant to use (perhaps her editor’s fault) is “intramarried”, which pops up later in the article. Every segment of the community recognized this trend and is trying to address it, even the ModOx. Anyone who interacts with the broad Jewish community knows intermarrieds who are thoughtful, interesting and an asset to our community.

Devorah W says:

Don’t care what they’re called as long as their children are raised Jewish.

Ivanka Trump is not Jewish says:

Ivanka is not a Jew and neither is her daughter. She had a quickie fraudulent “conversion” just to marry Jared Kushner. She’s not kosher, doesn’t observe the Sabbath and dresses like a stripper. The whole thing was a sham and an insult to all real Orthodox converts. There’s nothing Orthodox about Ivanka.
The children of intermarriage aren’t Jewish, they are gentiles. That’s a fact.

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Intermarried couples inspire kind of offensive colloquialism

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