Rabbis frequently debate whether to press for the conversion of Gentile spouses or to embrace them—at least for the introductory period—without demanding that they form a more rigorous connection to Judaism. The whole discussion spills over into the concern for Jewish survival and how to preserve the Jewish people when intermarriage has become almost normative in America.
Our perspective on Jewish survival is that it is dependant on a relationship with the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. In fact, we think that it is God’s desire for Jews and Gentiles to be connected with him in a trust relationship. Ethnic survival for the Jewish nation is guaranteed only by the covenant faithfulness of Abraham’s God.
“And I will establish My covenant between Me and you and your descendants after you throughout your generations for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and to your descendants after you” (Genesis 17:7 NASB).
Participation in God’s covenant faithfulness to Israel was always through faith in the God of Israel. It was the same method for Gentiles, like Rahab, Ruth and Uriah.3 They had the same faith in the God of Israel as did faithful Jews like Joshua, Boaz and King David.4
So the survival of Israel was guaranteed on the good name of the Lord God. Participation in the covenant blessings was not established by membership in a religion. It was founded upon a trusting relationship in the faithful God of the covenant. That same relationship is open to Jews and Gentiles now.
Today, we hear stories from Jews and Gentiles who share an identical trust in the God of Israel. These are Jewish-Gentile couples that have found spiritual harmony. That is possible when both share a like-minded faith in the One True God through His anointed redeemer, Y’shua (Jesus).
Jewish survival is guaranteed on the basis of God’s reputation. He staked that promise on keeping His covenant to Abraham. It is fulfilled in the lives of Jewish individuals through a wonderful tradition of faith in God.
An outward expression of that faith, on the part of Jewish parents, is expressed in the circumcision of male Jewish children. However, there are many ways to demonstrate practical faith in God through rituals and meaning-filled traditions. Some of these traditions can help connect Jewish heritage with faith in God and the Messiah.
A new book is available on the subject of preserving identity through cultural expressions: Comfortably Jewish; Practical Ways to Enjoy Your Family Heritage, written by Garrett R. Smith, has just been published by Purple Pomegranate Productions.
Garrett and his wife, Nici, are both children of Jewish-Gentile couples. They both are Jews who love the God of Israel through His messiah Y’shua. They are raising their own children to share their Jewish identity and their messianic faith. You can purchase a copy of Garrett’s new book here. If you live in New England, or would like to contact Garrett about his suggestions for interfaith living, you can find information on his website at http://www.celebratelife.us/.
For more information about how to find spiritual harmony in a Jewish-Gentile relationship, feel free to contact me.
- Lois Goldrich, “Let Them Pray,” New Jersey Jewish Standard (28 January 2010): http://www.jstandard.com/content/item/let_them_pray/11758
- Bryan Schwartzman, “Intermarriage: No Laughing Matter,” Jewish Exponent (21 January 2010): http://www.jewishexponent.com/article/20468/
- Joshua 6:25, book of Ruth, 2 Samuel 11:11
- Hebrews 11:11-40