Jewish Families in
(university of minnesota)
The parents who see their children marry are, in my judgment, nobler leaders than the Deweys who return from the Philippines, and the Roosevelts who return from Santiago. The Jews differ from all. We possess no land to guard, and have no territory to acquire.
All that we must guard is that our children should remain Jews, and all that we must acquire for our nation is more members of the Jewish community.
The Jew who has raised Jewish children and lived to see them perpetuate the Jewish nation—that one has accomplished for the Jewish people as much as the hero who gains another space of territory for his government.
A Jewish wedding day is a Jewish national holiday. 1
In 1903, John Paley's Yiddish-language call-to-arms concerning marriage appeared in translation on the English-language page of the Jewish Daily News, a popular, politically conservative Yiddish daily. Paley clearly wanted the young American adult readers of the newspaper to understand that Jewish life depended on Jewish marriage. Neither a socialist nor a Zionist, the author thought that the future was secure in the hands of Jews who married one another. He need not have worried. In 1921, in one of the largest studies of interethnic marriage undertaken in the United States, Julius Drachsler discovered that in New York between 1908 and 1912, little more than three percent of New York's second-generation Russian (mostly East European) Jews intermarried. The actual number of intermarriages was exceptionally small, and by contrast with other European ethnics, hardly significant. 2 American-born, as well as immigrant Jews, continued to marry one another with a consistency unmatched by any other European ethnic group. Intermarriage for Jews rarely meant the marriage of Jew and Gentile; more often it described the marriages between East European and Central European Jews. 3
At the same time, young American Jews did not understand marriage exclusively as a hero's task aimed at “perpetuating the Jewish nation. ” More often than not, marriage facilitated their escape from their parents' Old World ideas and their foreign neighborhood to what they hoped was an unambiguously American life. In her 1961 memoir about her life as an immigrant, Fanny Edelman recounted her primary motive for leaving Europe as gaining freedom from her father's tyrannical control over who she would marry. His choice of husbands for her older sisters, which showed no
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Publication information: Book title: Coping with Life and Death: Jewish Families in the Twentieth Century. Contributors: Peter Y. Medding - Editor. Publisher: Oxford University Press. Place of publication: New York. Publication year: 1998. Page number: 27.
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