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If a close attachment does develop, even if neither person is particularly religious, shared Jewish customs and values can help form a solid foundation in building a lasting relationship.This common bond is one of the benefits of Jews dating and marrying each another.

By Ellen Baskin Being Jewish in America means different things to different people in different places.

Jewishness is often felt as an identification with an ethnic and cultural group as much as with a religious faith.

Then add to the mix the difference between growing up Jewish in a big city like New York, Chicago or Los Angeles and being raised in a small town.

Urbanites can take for granted the 24/7 availability of Jewish food, theater, educational and cultural organizations and houses of worship.

(Israel has the largest.) For a number of reasons – some practical, others emotional – there was a lot of pressure in the years that followed for Jewish children to only date and marry other Jews.

At the same time, after years of discrimination, Jews were finally being included in mainstream American life, which has led to a more blended population … When I was growing up in Queens, one of the suburban boroughs of New York City, the neighborhood was very ethnic and predominantly Jewish.

Without doing any complicated math, it’s easy to understand why the Jewish community encourages dating and marrying within the faith or conversion of a prospective spouse to Judaism. These and other similar issues may come up when Jews date non-Jews, and it’s important to address them sooner rather than later down the relationship road.

When Jews date non-Jews, in many ways it can seem no different than any new relationship.

Orthodox Jews follow religious laws most strictly – for example, eating a kosher diet and strictly observing the Jewish Sabbath (Saturday) – and would be less likely to date Reform or Conservative Jews, who are more flexible about their level of religious practice.

When I’ve dated Jewish men, sometimes there’s an immediate feeling of familiarity, even if we’ve just met.

Marrying within the religion also ensures the continuance of the Jewish people, since their children will naturally be Jewish.

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