Episode 15: Men, Women, and Intermarriage - Keren McGinity

Dr. Keren McGinity joins us for a conversation about intermarriage and gender. McGinity is the author of Still Jewish: A History of Women and Intermarriage in America and Marrying Out: Jewish Men, Intermarriage, and FatherhoodShe founded the Love & Tradition Institute and serves as Director of the Interfaith Families Jewish Engagement Program at Hebrew College[1]

(0:01 - 11:28): Dr. McGinity walks us through the evolution of Jewish intermarriage over the course of the 20th century and discusses the roles that the ideas of matrilineal and patrilineal descent have played. [2]

(11:29 - 27:23): Dr. McGinity explains that there are differences between Jewish men who intermarry and Jewish women who intermarry and elaborates on what some of those differences are. We also compare and contrast heterosexual intermarriage with same-sex intermarriage [3] and unpack frameworks of masculinity in the Jewish community and more broadly. [4]

Dr. McGinity's landmark book on the history of women and intermarriage in America.

Dr. McGinity's landmark book on the history of women and intermarriage in America.

(27:24-37:47): Next, Dr. McGinity lays out her vision for a Jewish world that is excited about its diversity across differences in gender, sexual orientation, race, and more. She also guides us through a conversation on the topics of Jewish parenting and education. [5]

(37:48-46:46): We explore the phenomenon of intermarriages where both couples are deeply immersed in their own religious tradition. To close out the episode, Dr. McGinity encourages us to move past the idea of being "pro" or "anti" intermarriage and to open ourselves up to a world of Jewish discontinuity.

[1] Dr. McGinity was recently interviewed about the Interfaith Families Jewish Engagement Program that she directs for Hebrew College. The text of the interview can be found here.

[2] Access the text of the Reconstructionist movement's 1968 decision to recognize patrilineal descent here and the Reform movement's 1983 analogous decision here

[3] We reference the concept of "heteronormativity" in our conversation about same-sex intermarriage. To learn more about what that term means, you can read this article from the Gender and Education Association.

[4] Dr. McGinity uses the phrase "all genders" during our conversation. Using the phrase "both genders" would suggest that gender is a binary -- that all people are either men or women. The more inclusive phrase "all genders" recognizes those who identify as genderqueer, transgender, intersex, and a variety of other gender expressions and identities. For a helpful set of graphics explaining these various phenomena, see this link.

[5] To learn more about four organizations that are doing work on the issue of intermarriage in the Jewish community, click the following links: Interfaith Families Jewish Engagement Program at Hebrew College, Parenting Through a Jewish Lens, InterfaithFamily, and Big Tent Judaism.