Living in America: The Jewish Experience

The Jew and the Gentile


From an article in the Sun (a New York City newspaper) dated January 9, 1910.



Effect of Americanization in New York.


Views of Christian  Ministers and Jewish Rabbis. 

Are the two races being brought closer together in other ways than in business and social relations?-- A discussion of the idea of “The Melting Pot” in actual life—Some of the Rabbis emphatic in their opposition to marriages of persons of different faiths—Their objections both social and religious—Christians who agree with them—Amalgamation of the races that is going on in New York.

“Are the Jew and gentile nearer together to-day or are they further apart? Is intermarriage between them more prevalent?”

These questions have become especially of present interest here in New York, which city, it has been said, the advanced Jew looks upon now as the Promised Land rather than Palestine. They have been laid before many of the leading Christian ministers and Jewish rabbis of New York. The Answers given to them are printed below.


On the topic thus presented the Rev. Dr. Edward Octavus Flagg, LL. D. of 113 East Ninety-fifth street, who has retired from active work in the Episcopal ministry and is now in his eighty-fourth year, speaks with conviction and enthusiasm. Dr. Flagg was associated many years with Dr. Huntington in Grace Church and in addition has built up several churches in New York. During his long life, fifty or more years of which have been spent in active pulpit service here in New York, he has had unusual opportunity to watch the progress made not only in commercial and social life but in religious movements as well. Regarding intermarriage between Jews and Christians in the United States Dr. Flagg says:

“The probability of such intermarriage is predicated from instances of the same which have heretofore occurred. In the Southern States this has been much the case. Many Christian family names have declared the fact, as well as many conversions from Judaism. The intermingling names such as Myers, Solomon, Emmanuel and others characterizing the descendants of Abraham have been grafted upon the family tree of the Christian.

“Many high officials have been raised to office, enjoying great consideration. This is true with regard to the Carolinas and Georgia. One of the most popular chief magistrates in Savannah was a Mr. Myer. The Jew being so favorably received by the inhabitants of Dixie shows a confidence and familiarity arising from family associations.

“The contract of trade brings the Christian into very close relationship with the Israelite. He meets him in the office, in the exchange, at the lunch counter, in the cars and the hotel. On the thoroughfare and everywhere is he suggestive of and associated with negotiation in its multiform aspects. Thus perforce is projected social relationship, the private encounter and the outcropping of the hymeneal estate.

“Financial interests must intertwine bands if not hearts. The needful, if not always the truly profitable, will seek glittering prizes in this plutocratic country which will not be frowned down by the most powerful social ostracism. Inasmuch as all seek their own from necessity as well as greed, the thrift of the Jew can be no common bait for female venture in launching forth upon the uncertain tide of matrimony.

“A large number of Jews have embraced modernism and have become more or less lukewarm as to the tenets of their faith. The mountain of creedal objection through the enlargement and enlightenment of the age would seem thus cast into the depths of the sea. That liberalism which seems to be affecting all sects is influencing the intelligence of a race logically believing in and immersed in the progress of our advanced era. The homogeneity of the human family is becoming more and more the fruit of our ripened experience. Intermarriage must enter largely into its share of such a fruitage.

“In several instances I have married Jews with Christians with the happiest results and would be pleased to repeat such ceremony as occasion might occur. It is remarked that the excellence of the American character, the enterprise, beauty of feature, is due to intermarriage of all nations and the Jew will contribute no insignificant portion to the international combination.


“Favoring intermarriage the time seems not far off when the middle wall of partition between Jew and gentile spoken of by St. Paul to the Ephesians will be broken down: all divisions, creedal and ethnical, will be no hindrance to the united land. It is to be hoped as all rivers run to the ocean and are lost in its saline unity so may the overflooding of a varied immigration cause all preconceptions and prejudices to subside in the savor of American unity based upon its matchless Constitution. May be not pray for although we may not at once reach so blessed a climax?

“Cupid seems to be no respecter of persons. He makes his onslaught upon his affections in proportion to the number of opportunities within his reach. If large the field of Israelitish representatives, in proportion will he exercise his power over weak human nature. The contagion of example of those who override prejudice will so widen his arena that barriers will constantly be removed, so that in time fashion will surmount all scruple to intermarriage.

“Evolution at the present day is working wonders. It is fast setting aside a foolish public opinion, so that what was once deemed utopian, custom’s edicts so adamantine, have become as evanescent as the early dew or the play of a sunbeam. It is to be trusted that common sense will be allowed its legitimate province and that natural laws will outride those that are fictitious. A remarkable leniency has of late been manifested toward the Israelite, and evolution seems to be accomplishing what no other agency would ever effect. Evolution has been doing its slow but sure work, and intermarriage will exist when the inexorable law of false social discrimination is relegated to the tomb of the Capulets.

“The substance of religion is fast taking the place of its shadows. As the chrysalis, the temporary house of the grub, becomes useless when the insect flies forth exposing its beautiful hues to the eye, so will the mere form and depositum of religion appear as a thing of naught in the presence of the rich unfoldings of the divine principle, that which is combined in the two great commandments, love to God and love to our neighbor. In matrimony people will not then be chasing a will o’ the wisp, a chimera, a mirage, but will make choice of companionship for life as wisdom alone suggests.

“The celebrated Garrick when acting was very much annoyed by the cry of a child. Stepping forward he derisively exclaimed: ‘If the play does not stop the child cannot go on.’ Setting aside all frills and shibboleths of dead letter ordinances as to intermarriage the reverse was a significance: ‘If the child does not stop the play cannot go on.’ ‘In Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth anything, nor uncircumcision availeth anything, but a new creature.’”


Rabbi Isaac. S. Moses, beloved of the large congregation of Ahawath Chesed Shaar Hashomayim, whose synagogue is in Lexington avenue, spoke interestingly of the near association of the Jew and the gentile. Dr. Moses when in deep discussion does not surround himself with a clerical atmosphere, yet he has made Jewish theology his life study and preaches with equal effect in both English and German. A member of the Central Conference of American Rabbis, he does not presume, he insists, to point out deficiencies and shortcomings of the Jewish religion, but as one of a body of rabbis convened for the purpose of discussing theories, ventilating problems, providing liturgical and educational literature in keeping with the taste and temple, he has given much time and effort to the cause. He is a great fighter for the right in any question or issue, and as some one has already said of him, “He is a modern rabbi plus the zeal and knowledge of the ancient rabbis.”

“You wish to have an expression from me upon the present existing attitude of the Jew and gentile? You wish my views of Jewry with relation to Christianity?” he asked.

“Well, well!” he said, upon receiving an affirmative answer, “Those are questions, are they not? Perhaps I stand alone in some of my arguments, but you appreciate that history, law, tradition, all these fundamentally stand back of the Jew: he has reasons for being a Jew. When he is asked to give up there things he is asked to give up his inherited creed, the only religion he has ever knwon.

“Some of us, however, are not so orthodox as the strict followers of ancient and biblical Jewry. We are in step with progress and many times we must advocate a theory within keeping with the age. And now,” he added with a twinkle of merriment in his eye, “a body of orthodox rabbis may threaten to excommunicate the wicked rabbis of the central conference.

“Do I think there is still racial prejudice? I would not call it racial. That means less to-day than it did in historical times.” Then, after a moment’s thought, Dr. Moses spoke as follows:

“Is the millennium near at hand? For some sanguine natures the pace of progress is too slow. Why are nations hostile? Why do classes war and individuals wrangle? Why to religions differ and churches quarrel?

“Have we not all one Father? Has not one God created us all? Away then with the distinctions, divisions and differences! Let there be one religion, one race, one nationality! Flee vice! Vanish crime! Begone selfishness! Brutal passion cease! Come, O Love, unite all human beings into a harmless and helpful band of brothers and sisters!

“Pity that harsh reality mars this beautiful picture. So long as human beings are composed of flesh and blood and some other ingredients they will love and hate, attract and repel, yield and resist, in response to deeper motives than those born out of a rosy visions of enthusiasts.

“Rivers and mountains are not artificial lines of division. The lines of race, nation and religion are equally natural demarcations. Exceptional characters overleap these natural limitations, forecasting the ultimate result of human civilization.

“In the meantime men must strive to tone down the sharp lines of separation by appreciating the good in every other race and religion.”

“And your views on intermarriage, Dr. Moses?”

“Do I approve of mixed marriages? In principle decidedly not. But meanwhile what are the young men and young maidens of diverse religious origins doing when they are determined to take each other for better or worse? They will listen neither to the Schulchan Aruch nor to finely spun arguments. They will marry with or without a rabbi’s blessing.

“In fact it is not a question of approval or disapproval; that is the privilege of the parents. It is a question of saving what can be saved of Jewish affiliation.

“If ever the rabbi has an opportunity to give careful advice upon the mixed marriage it is when in the perplexity of their souls two people come to him, one a son or daughter of Israel, the other a daughter or son of a different faith, and ask him to sanctify with his blessing their covenant love. Then must he in the name of the God of Israel try to attract the non-Jewish party and unfold the simplicity and purity of our doctrine. That failing” – Dr. Moses dropped his shoulders with a deep sigh— “that failing, I would not like to stand against the union of two young hearts where love reigned supreme or mar that sacred tie of kinship.”


The Right Rev. David H. Greer, Bishop of the Episcopal diocese of New York, sat with finger tips of both hands touching each other in studious attitude as the questions were presented to him. Then he answered with a bit of pleasantry:

“On the one point I believe if two people want to get married—in this case a Jew and a gentile—that maybe we had better leave it to them to decide the question. Don’t you think so? It would appear that if two people had arrived at this common mind and had agreed to accept each other for better or for worse it should be left to them without ministerial interference.

“Would it not be safer to encourage their future happiness rather than discourage it?” he continued. “From my platform I preach charity, good will, forbearance, faith and human kindness. In one or all of these people can generally find solace.

“Therefore if in the present near association of the two people the Jew and gentile must marry and do, it is distinctly not toward churches and the ministry they must look for the solving of this important and vital question, to my mind, but to themselves.

“Would you officiate at this kind of ceremony, Dr. Greer; that is in a so-called mixed marriage?” he was asked.

“Yes,” he replied after some deliberation, for it was apparent that though at first the direct question had amused him a trifle, he was thinking deeply. “Yes, I would. I use the Episcopal marriage service. If the two contracting parties fully understand its significance I would marry them.”


The Rev. Dr. Charles H. Parkhurst of Madison Square Presbyterian Church in summing up the situation said:

“I think there is less sense of racial distinction now than at any other time. As the representatives of the two races have been more and more closely thrown together in business, in school and in society each has come to recognize the other as being human.

“That being so it would seem likely that not only business and social relations will be contracted by the Christian and Jew but matrimonial as well. Nor do I see how, with this present day close relation, there can help be marriages between the Jew and gentile.”

“Would you refuse, Dr. Parkhurst, to marry a Jew and gentile should they come before you for that purpose?” he was asked.

“Indeed I should not,” he replied quickly and emphatically. “There might be many extenuating circumstances surrounding such a union irrespective of religious and racial belief, and I have nothing against performing a ceremony for Jew and gentile. Prejudice should not stand in the way of a happy marriage, and if there cannot be a conversion to a united or common faith I should not hesitate to marry them.

“A united faith would be better for all parties without doubt, but as much as the Jew and gentile are thrown together at the present time, particularly among the youth, it is only natural that marriages will take place, and I do not see why, if such a marriage must be, it may not be happy.

“The Christian you will undoubtedly find is less orthodox and more sanguine in his leaning toward the Jew than in the opposite case. The Jews have been, I think, more disposed to put themselves apart from the gentile than the gentiles have the Jews.”

“Do you think that the Jew and gentile are then nearer together to-day in religious belief?”

“That they are nearer together than ever in religion is my belief; that is to say the points of identity in faith are more emphasized than formerly.”


Rabbi Samuel Schulman of Temple Beth-El, at Fifth avenue and Seventy-sixth street, which synagogue many of the wealthiest Hebrews of the city attend, is inclined to be much more orthodox in his view of the subject than some of his colleagues, holding that once a Jew always a Jew in matter of national element, of tradition, of history, and he believes in preserving these possessions. Dr. Schulman in his interview makes a point of the fact that because of the Jewish synagogue having always received converts and made proselytes there is no absolute purity in the Jewish race to-day. With regard to the mixed marriage Dr. Schulman said:

“The synagogue is opposed to mixed marriages. By a mixed marriage we understand a marriage between a son or daughter of Israel and a person who has not accepted the Jewish religion.

“This has been the law and practice of Judaism for the last 2,000 years. The synagogue has no objection to the gentile on racial grounds. Any gentile who becomes converted to Judaism is immediately regarded as a member of the household of Israel.

“The synagogue has only a religious interest in the questions of mixed marriage. It has no objection to non-Jewish blood. Those who interpret the synagogue’s refusal to solemnize a mixed marriage as the desire to maintain in purity the blood of the Jewish race simply refuse to recognize the historical facts.

“The synagogue has always received converts and made proselytes: therefore there is no absolute purity in the Jewish race to-day.

“The synagogue recognizes the fact that Jew and gentile, if they desire, may go to a civil Magistrate and be married, but the synagogue cannot give Jewish marriage to a Jew and non-Jew because it cannot consecrate a union that will lead to a divided home, in which children will naturally be led away toward the religion of the dominant parent, and which union must tend to disintegrate Judaism.

“The ideal marriage, according to the teaching of Judaism, is a perfect union between two hearts. Where two persons belong to different religions, that is, differ in the holiest interests of life, there is always a sword overhanging such unions and threatening to divide.

“If persons contemplating such a step are indifferent to religion altogether they must not seek a rabbi to lend himself to an empty function. They should go to a representative of the State to legalize their union.

“A rabbi as a representative of Judaism cannot consistently solemnize a mixed union. The synagogue contemplates homes in which the God of Israel is worshipped with undivided allegiance.

“To sum it all up, the synagogue welcomes any person of whatever race or inherited creed to come and accept its pure teachings and to ally himself or herself to Israel, the witness in the world to God’s unity.

“When they so come and are converted they become Israelites and marriage can take place between them and other Israelites in accordance with the teachings of the synagogue.

“It is purely a religious question and not a racial question.”


The Rev. Dr. William R. Richards of the Brick Presbyterian Church at Fifth avenue and Thirty-seventh street said:

“I would express the opinion that in many ways the Jew and Christian have been drawing nearer each other in American society, that they very heartily cooperate in many forms of philanthropic effort.

“To a Christian the religion of the Jews commands the highest veneration, since our own religion, as we believe, has grown out of the faith of their people.

“The Christian Church welcomes, of course, into its membership any member of the Hebrew race who has accepted our belief with reference to the Messiah of Hebrew prophecy. We, however, recognize and respect the conscientious conviction of those among the Jews who are not yet able to agree with us in this matter.

“With reference to the question of intermarriage between those holding these two faiths I quite agree with what I suppose to be the conviction of most of the Jewish leaders, that it is unfortunate for two persons differing in so vital a matter as that of religious belief to be united in so close and vital a relation as marriage.”


Said Rabbi H. Pereira Mendes, president of the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of the United States and Canada and minister of the Spanish and Portuguese Congregation, the oldest in the United States and dating from 1656, now located at Central Park West and Seventieth street:

“If by mixed marriage you mean a marriage between a Christian and a Jew I must, in order to answer your questions intelligently, understand what you mean by the word Jew. If you mean a man who has Jewish parentage but who himself does not observe the Jewish religion and does not trouble himself about the Jewish creed, that is one thing. I think the word ‘thing’ fits him well. If you mean a man who has Jewish parentage and who respects his religion even if he cannot perform its duties and who believes in those Jewish ideas and ideals which separate Judaism from Christianity, that is quite another kind of Jew. If you mean by the word Jew a man of Jewish parentage who does observe all the duties and who does cherish all ideas and ideals of his religion, that is being a Jew honestly, honorable and truthfully.

“If a Christian marries a Jew of the first kind referred to there is little to say. That kid of Jew is invertebrate and I suppose some people can live happily with even a jellyfish. But no self-respecting Christian who is a Christian by belief and in practice and not merely a Christian by accident of birth can be happy if married to an invertebrate. No self-respecting Christian woman can respect a husband who calls himself a Jew but who lives like a Christian, who has nothing in his home, nothing in his life to show that he is Jewish, who alienates himself from the synagogue and avoids Jewish circles.

“The Jew or Christian who believes in the religion in which he has been born or educated, who lives his life in accordance with its customs or who accepts its distinguishing doctrines cannot live a happy married life if married to one of another faith than his own. Conversely the conscientious Christian cannot live a happy married life if the Jewish husband or wife insists upon observing Jewish customs and the requirements of the Jewish religion.

“These customs and requirements are interwoven with the daily life of the Jew who lives up to his religion, for every morning he recites the Shemang, which declares that the Lord is one and the only God. If the Christian spouse believes that Jesus is also a God here is a clash. Furthermore the members of both families look askance at each other. There cannot be any real, loyal, wholehearted commingling of the families by those members who are loyal to the religion in which they are born and which they profess.

“The next question is ‘Are the Jews and the gentiles nearer together to-day?’


“That Jews and gentiles are nearer together to-day is true. A great number of Christians now know that it was the Romans and not the Jews who put Jesus to death, and therefore have no feeling against the Jews on that account. A great number of Christains know that the Jews in all countries to-day are descended not from the Jews who were in Jerusalem when Pontius Pilate, the Roman, arrested Jesus and executed him as a leader of incipient rebellion, but are descended from those Jews who lived in other parts of Palestine, or who lived in south Europe or in north Africa, and even in far off Spain in that fateful month of that fateful year. They could no more have heard of Jesus and the Greeks (not Jews) who cried ‘Crucify Him!’ than we in New York to-day can hear of what happens in Timbuctu or Kamchatka, where neither steam nor electricity can reach.

“Christians and Jews are nearer together to-day because better minds of both understand that religion is a matter between man and his God. This keeps us separate in home life, but it draws us together in political or commercial life.

“As to the question, ‘Do we feel it a calamity if a Jew is converted into the Christian faith?’ So few Jews are converted out of conviction that it is hardly necessary to answer. Jews are converted as a rule ‘for revenue only.’

“Sometimes a Jew goes through the form of conversion in order to get married. Or a Christian does the same. It is a feigned conversion and the truth comes out sooner or later. In my own experience of thirty-five years I find that intermarriages have not turned out happily. Sometimes Jewish men have married Christian girls off color and the Christian girl goes through the form of conversion. Sometimes good Christian girls have married bad Jewish men and have been made Jewesses.

“The man may fancy himself in love with her, but in a few years there is anything but happiness between them. Either they separate or they live ‘nominally together,’ perhaps in the same house, but with their hearts far apart. The painful part is that their friends look down upon them. A marriage which means unhappiness is a calamity.

“The next question is, ‘Will the synagogue accept into the Jewish faith a convert of different race or inherited religion?’ Yes, certainly, provided the convert is sincere.


“‘Would the welfare or commonweal of the country be better if there was a closer association of Jew and gentile?’ This is a serious question. For the political and commercial purposes of the commonwealth Jews and gentiles are one. In social life they are different and in religious life they are very different. I believe that every citizen should have a religious education and should have religious convictions.

“If a man is only a nominal Jew or Christian and has no real belief in God as the Being to whom he is personally, directly responsible, he is a menace to the commonwealth. Morality without a belief in God is theoretic. History has a thousand times demonstrated this and has shown that morality without the consciousness of personal responsibility to God is a failure. There were many ethical culturists in Greece and Rome when both were most rotten. You cannot be conscious of your responsibility to God if you call yourself a Jew and do not life a Jewish life that is Jewish because loyal to Jewish law and its presentation of God’s will. A Jew or Christian untrue to his God may well be untrue to his country. How can a commonwealth be well or better off with such invertebrates?

“As for the question concerning the purity of the Jewish race, what do we mean by the expression the Jewish race? As Du Maurier observed, there are very few Christians of eminence who have not in them a drop of the precious fluid. Therefore if by race you mean blood, then it is difficult to answer the question as to the purity of the Jewish race, for I believe many Christians, eminent and not eminent, have Jewish blood.

“The Jews have lived for over 3,000 years, have spread all over the world, and it would be very strange if they had not intermarried and become merged with the general population. Their descendants are of the Jewish race in the sense that they have Jewish blood in them, but they are not of pure Jewish race. On the other hand there are Jews, hundreds of thousands of them, who have never intermarried and who have maintained purity of Jewish blood.

“As for the question, ‘Will there ever be a time for free intermarriage?’ I think yes; when the Christians become Jews and Jewesses and become thus more loyal to the Jesus who declared that not one jot or tittle of the law or prophets should be altered. Jesus kept the Jewish Sabbath, and if he came on earth to-day would absolutely and resolutely forbid the Sunday Sabbath as an insult to His God, even though it was meant as an honor to Himself. I say if Christians would follow Jesus more and Paul less they would hasten the time when we would all be one. We will all be one when ‘all nations whom God hath made shall bow down to Him alone,’ when all nations will recognize the truth of God’s word, that He is our Saviour and there is none else, that He is the one God and there is none besides Him.

“Intermarriage is a mistake, a menace. It means too often children who are nonthingarians. Marriage is not a private affair. It is a State affair, for every marriage should mean a home, and every home is a unit of the State. In every home there should be a recognized religion if the inmates are to be sound and good citizens.”


The Rev. Dr. Robert Stuart MacArthur, pastor of Calvary Baptist Church in West Fifty-seventh street, was another minister who spoke interestingly upon a store of material gathered at first hand. Fostering the democratic idea that races should not sit in ignorance of each other because of tradition, creed, suppression of individual or whatever the dividing factor may be, Dr. MacArthur maintains that true religion after all tends more than anything else to remove class prejudice and racial bigotries and exalts essential humanity without respect to its accidental conditions. He refers to the tower of Babel for the confusion of tongues and races, then to the Pentecost of biblical times as the harmonizing of all peoples. Dr. MacArthur says:

“Is amalgamation between widely separated races desirable? Is the mixture and blending of different races conducive to the highest forms of civilization? Is miscegenation to be encouraged?

“Mr. Macauley tells us that early in the fourteenth century the amalgamation of the races was all but complete. Was that a desirable condition? We know that since the abolition of American slavery the intimate relation between the whites and blacks is now practically impossible. There was then an intermixture of dialects as truly as a commingling of blood.

“So far as the most intimate forms of association are concerned the two races are surely drifting apart in the United States. Is this condition of separation to be commended? These are thoroughly living questions. They touch life at its most vital points.

“It is interesting to notice the early biblical references to the separation of races by the introduction of different modes of speech. From the record given in Genesis xi. 1-9, it is clear that the primitive fathers of mankind long wandered about without fixed abodes; it is equally clear that they finally settled in the land of Shinar, where they organized permanent dwelling places. Thus far they remained together, speaking virtually the same language.

“In the land of Shinar they proceeded to use the bitumen which abounded in the country for making bricks and cement, and thus they built a city and a tower. The ancient record informs us that there was a divine interference with this plan, and that the language of the builders was so confounded that they could no longer understand one another. They were therefore obliged to discontinue the building of the city, and they were scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth. The name of the place where this confusion of tongues occurred became Babel, a word meaning confusion. Interesting historic and linguistic questions arise at many points in this narrative.

“Christian students love to think of Pentecost as the antidote to Babel. At Pentecost the people heard the preachers in the various languages which were the mother tongues of the hearers. The confusion originating in Babel resulted in harmony finally at Pentecost.

“True religion evermore tends to remove class prejudices and racial bigotries. Religion exalts essential humanity, irrespective of its accidental conditions. The same tendency results from business necessities. Great commercial enterprises are to-day breaking down the caste systems of India. Railways have performed heroic and beneficent service in the same direction.

“Railways are harbingers of unified communities in obedience to the demand of modern enterprise. Our public schools in the United States are the mightiest single force in destroying the barriers of race prejudice and religious bigotry.

“Intermarriage within certain racial limitations is commendable. At his very moment we are having evidences of the growth of a new American type of humanity. Those scientifically competent to pronounce judgment declare that marked changes in the shape of the head and in the contour of the face are already observable in the new American type. Doubtless the bleeding of bloods found in the Anglo-Saxon race is a tremendously important element of its power.

“The Anglo-Saxon in Great Britain is the product of many bloods, languages and civilizations. Great Britain is the master of many lands and the mistress of all the seas, partly because of the strain of Viking blood now in British veins. This blending of bloods has been a vivific force of enormous value in the development of British civilization and in the extension of British colonization.

“But there are limitations to the races which may helpfully blend. We now enter upon the practical and the delicate and so the difficult elements in this discussion. Many forces must be considered in determining the wisdom or unwisdom of unlimited miscegenation.

“Let me say at the outset in discussing this point that I am, I believe, free from racial prejudice so far as it is possible to be. The races in their various spheres have their appropriate duties and functions. Indeed I have officiated on several occasions at the marriage of American women to Chinese men. So far as I was able to trace the results they were for the most part unfortunate. Thus the sphere of my observation has been reasonable wide.


“But now we come to the point of our discussion: Shall Christians and Jews intermarry? This is a practical question in our city and country at this hour.

“The Hebrews form a large and important part of our population. New York city probably has 1,000,000 Hebrews at this moment. While many of them are poor and socially unimportant many others fill a large place in the commercial, social, intellectual and religious world. Intermarriages between Hebrews and Christians are inevitable.

“Zangwill’s play ‘The Melting Pot’ has in it elements of great value. It is both historic and prophetic. I would have no formal barrier, legal or religious, to marriages between Hebrews and Christians. This matter must be left to the law of common sense and unselfish love.

“For my Hebrew brethren I have great admiration. Their place in civilization and religion is unique. To them we are indebted for the Bible in all its parts. With possibly one exception all the books of the New Testament were written by Hebrews. Jesus Christ was Hebrew after the flesh.

“The social ostracism and religious persecution inflicted by so-called Christians upon Hebrews has revealed the spirit of Satan and not of Christ; but while so affirming I doubt the wisdom of encouraging marriages between Jews and gentiles. There are inherent racial differences which have been accentuated by thousands of years of training, unpardonable prejudice and religious instruction.

“We cannot forget these differences of race, education and religion. When racial distinctions are emphasized by religious convictions the danger of intermarriage is the greater. There ought to be the most careful consideration of all these facts before the marriage ceremony is performed. If there is a due recognition of these facts and this recognition is accompanied by sanctified common sense and by unselfish love, then let the marriage occur; otherwise such marriages are very unwise.

“The fact is that marriage should not be entered into in any case thoughtlessly or unadvisedly, but soberly, reverently and in the fear and love of God. There would be fewer painful divorces if there were fewer unwise marriages.

“Many men and women mate with as little thought as if they were birds of the air. Clergymen should be very slow to officiate at marriages which are manifestly unwise. We should magnify the marriage relation, giving it all the sacredness imparted to it by the holy scripture, by the direct teaching of Jesus Christ and by God the Father.

“The frequency of divorce in our day is a reproach to American civilization, to our religion and to humanity itself. Unwise marriages are largely responsible for these abominable divorce trials whose reports pollute our newspapers, degrade our homes and partly dehumanize our civilization.”


By the older and more orthodox rabbis of New York Rabbi J. L. Magnes of Temple Emanu-El, at Fifth avenue and Forty-third street, is looked upon as a young reformer and his utterances from the Emanu-El pulpit are listened to with interest. Of pleasing appearance and speech, Rabbi Magnes probably appears younger than he is, for he looks to be in the early ‘30s.

“As a rule,” said Dr. Magnes, with a doubtful smile, “I am not a friend to interviews, for by them sometimes one is misinterpreted, but in this case I find the subjects under discussion are those which frequently occupy us with no little thought, for these are questions apparent about us every day and cannot altogether be disregarded.

“I feel that the Jew and Christian are nearer together to-day than ever before. The racial prejudices are less evident, particularly here in New York. But all this is due to what I call Americanization—that citizenship to which a man is attracted just because this nation was conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created free and equal.

“There is hardly an American citizen who does not love this land, its history, its heroes, its literature, its institutions and its ideals of freedom and equality.

“For some, however, the process of Americanization goes still further. They would demand of a prospective American that in order to be completely American he abandon his traditional religion. This view is perhaps more widespread than we imagine. In the United States we find this view implied in legislation and in court decisions that are based on the assumption that this is a Christian country.

“But fortunately America grants to every American complete religious liberty and affirms the proposition that in the sight of God every man is created free and equal. Every American is free to view life, the world, his God, as his training and his beliefs dictate. No man need give up a jot or title of his inherited religion.

“We Jews in particular have good reason to take this lesson to heart. With us nationality and religion are so inextricably interwoven that it would be dangerous, particularly from the point of view of our religion, to allow the cultivation of our Jewish nationality to fall into neglect or dispute.

“Our religion has its national elements of race, of language, of history, of law and custom and tradition. For the Jew there cannot, I think, be a permanent Jewish religion without Jewish nationality, nor can there be, I think, a permanent Jewish nationality without Jewish religion.”


A few weeks ago Dr. Magnes preached a sermon from his pulpit upon Zangwill’s play “The Melting Pot,” and to this he refers.

“The play,” he says, “purports to describe to us the melting process through which the children of every nationality are becoming Americans.

“There is no denying that under the influence of this enthusiasm for America the disintegrating process of the melting pot is taking place in large measure. That it is not fortunately taking place altogether is the point which vitiates the author’s argument. Yet how familiar the cry of Americanization is to us Jews and how frequently Americanization means just what Mr. Zangwill has the courage to say it means, dejudaization!

“This dejudaizing is conducted also under the shield and inspiration of other lofty ideas. The Jew is asked to give up his ideality in the name of brotherhood and progress. Now it is a fact that in this country, as throughout the world, men are ready to understand one another and to give up many of the hatreds and jealousies of the past. Men are willing to recognize the things that unite them as well as those that separate them.

“In this country it is not strange to hear the call to unity among the differing Christian denominations. The historical dogmas that divided them are losing their meaning. Now in this disintegrating movement of the times many Jews too have found their place.

“’Give up the past,’ they say to their people, ‘in the name of the future. Give up your distinctions, your peculiarities, your race, your individual outlook upon life, and become like your neighbors, Americans in the complete sense of the word.’ Many Jews have been among the first, for example, to set the seal of their approval upon the new religion of the twentieth century American as expounded lately by President Eliot of Harvard. Reformed Judaism, many say, may accept this new religion without much protest, for its basic principle is service to man, and it rejects as worthless the distinctions that have historically and authoritively held men apart.”


“And how about the mixed marriage, Dr. Magnes?” he was asked.

“While I know that such marriages to take place I could not perform a ceremony where there was a difference of religion. Personally I know of cases where such marriages have turned out to be most happy, for where there is an instance where two people live apart from each other it is a matter left largely to their own judgment if they marry, and they do generally in most cases.”

“You are called a reformist, are you not, Dr. Magnes?”

“I am,” he replied good naturedly.

“Then it is fair to suppose you might have broad and liberal views on the question of intermarriage?”

“I don’t know whether you would consider me broad or narrow,” he answered with a smile, “but I have very fixed and decided views. Some rabbis have, I believe, performed such ceremonies.”

Very recently Dr. Magnes made the following utterance from his pulpit:

“The suggestion has been made, and in this I fully concur, that a central meeting place for the accredited leaders of our various races, nationalities and religions be established, so that there the problems affecting each in particular and the community in general may be discussed.”

Rabbi Magnes preaches at the Temple Emanu-El on Saturdays and Rabbi Silverman on Sundays.


The Rev. Dr. Wallace MacMullen, pastor of Madison Avenue Methodist Episcopal Church at Madison avenue and Sixtieth street, thinks this is a subject that a minister should use considerable gray matter in discussing. Both as pastor of a large congregation and an earnest worker in mission and settlement work on the East Side, where there is ample opportunity to mingle with all creeds and races, Dr. MacCullen knows from experience that New York is struggling with many religious problems as well as social questions with regard to the Jew and Christian. But, attuned to the thought of the majority of the Christian clergy, he thinks the full possibilities of the association have not been reached.

On both sides there has been a lack of religious interest, possibly due to the great and nerve racking rush of the city and responsibility of business and social relation. It is up to the ministers now, he thinks, to draw the unchurched back into the fold, the shifters and indifferent ones into a regular place of worship, and it has been an uphill job. Both church and synagogue have been deserted for worldly things. One of the great rabbis said lately in an interview: “There is not a single Jew in Fifth avenue who will observe his Sabbath!”

And so with his Christian brother, “Does he not prefer to spend his Sunday nights at grand opera rather than hear some able divine preach the faith of his forefathers?” Dr. MacMullen suggests.

“It is a broad question,” said Dr. MacMullen, “and a delicate question; but it is a fact that in this city, where there are several cities within one great city, the Jew and gentile are merging into a better understanding of each other. To comprehend this more clearly you must have worked among both peoples.

“I find this, that in working among the Jews in missions to considerable extent, which we do, it is not a difficult thing to teach humanity. I mean by this that we have Jewish families in touch with our work, Jewish children come to our Sunday schools and Jewish mothers to our mothers’ meeting, but we never emphasize Jewish religion differences; we prefer not to. We merely present the Christian religion as we know it without making any comparisons or entering into any defense.

“As for intermarriage,” continued Dr. MacMullen, “I don’t see why any pastor should refuse to marry any one who had accepted the vows. Our marriage ceremony is similar to the Episcopal, with some changes. Jews and Christians do marry and will in a much larger percentage in the future than now. Intermarriage, as a matter of fact, has been the cause of many conversions to Christianity. On the other hand, where if unfortunately religious differences cannot be bridged it must remain a matter for the judgment of the contracting parties.

“I would not refuse to marry a Jew and gentile,” said Dr. MacMullen in conclusion.


Rabbi Stephen S. Wise occupies an unusual place in New York. A little over two years ago he organized the Free Synagogue at Amsterdam avenue and Eighty-first street, where he has given up entirely the Friday and Saturday services, the days of worship traditionally and historically set apart as Hebrew days of worship and has adopted the Christian idea of preaching on Sunday and instructing his Bible classes in the English Bible.

For the Jew who went out of his synagogue and never associated himself with another place of worship stands in the position of a new leader. He is eager, persistent, courageous and was indefatigable in his search for a gospel advocating unity of mankind. In the face of criticism from the orthodox rabbis he applies his doctrines wherever there is reality of faith and is the most radical of all rabbis in reform movements. His deliveries are more in the form of lectures than preachments.

Said a Jew the other day who has shifted somewhat from the old teachings: “I get up Sunday morning and walk across the park to hear Dr. Wise. He is the only one I have found who teaches me to be a good American without wholly forgetting I am a Jew.”

Rabbi Wise believes, he says, “that members of all denominations should get together and concern themselves less with the golden streets in New Jerusalem and more with the clean streets of New York.

“It has always been impossible for the Church and synagogue to stand together, because my people believe they are the chosen people of God. I do not believe that my people are the chosen people of God.

“The greatest service of the Jew is that he survives to tell the story of the struggle for freedom. The story of what the Jew has done for freedom is told in this book, the Bible. Of the inscription on the old Liberty Bell at Philadelphia, words from the Third Book of the Covenant of Moses: ‘And he shall proclaim liberty throughout the land.’ I have often thought that this was a prophetic of the part the Jew was to play in building up the Commonwealth and preserving her liberties.

“Freedom is the very essence of the religious heritage of the Jew. I no doubt have scandalized some good friends by exclaiming, ‘Better freedom without Judaism than Judaism without freedom!’

“Fortunately we do not have to make such a choice. We are loyal to Israel and free in Israel.”


Upon the subject of intermarriage Dr. Wise said:

“Intermarriage is desirable, it is sometimes urged, because it will tend to lessen prejudice against the Jew. But that is only another way of saying that the one way in which to eliminate prejudice against the Jew is to eliminate the Jew. To hold that intermarriage is to be desired in so far as it promotes good will and interracial solidarity is to counsel peace through surrender.

“It is worthy of serious consideration that very frequently as a result of intermarriage the Jew is lost to the religion of Israel and the Christian is lost to Christianity, so that it may be said that usually Israel and Christendom are equally the losers through intermarriage. From the Christian point of view intermarriage should be deplored, for intermarriage spells, as I believe it does, the passing of the Jew. It is of utmost consequence to the world of Israel persist, and it were a loss to the world, as I see it, if through intermarriage or through any other cause Israel should cease to be.

“If intermarriage between Jew and Christian at this time were widespread and general the end would be the extinction of the Jewish people. Here absorption were disappearance and assimilation but extinction. Only he may believe in the desirability of intermarriage who holds that the passing of the Jew is a consummation devoutly to be wished.

“The intermarriage of Jew and Christian is not so much a solution of the Jewish question as the dissolution of the Jewish people. We are a minority people everywhere and intermarriage were the precursor of Israel’s absorption by and disappearance among the majority.

“The answer to the question of intermarriage depends in turn upon the answer to the still more elementary question, Is Israel worth saving? Ought Israel to survive? Our militant and uncompromising “Yes!’ in answer to these questions may be inexplicable to those who think of Judaism as of a semi-obsolete racial tradition or as of a burdensome personal heritage. To the loyal son of Israel his faith is soul of his soul, life of his life. If the Jew is to live and not to die, if he is to survive and not to perish, if he is to persist and not to disappear, then intermarriage must be resisted.

“The opposition of the Jew to intermarriage is, it cannot be made too clear, not based on any pride of blood or sense of superiority, but merely on the instinct of self-preservation. Coupled with this instinct of self-preservation are deep reverence and unfeigned good will toward Christendom. It is the ‘call of the blood’ that deters Israel from the disloyalty of intermarriage and the surrender of such absorption in so far as the Jew feels that universal intermarriage would speedily presage the doom of Israel as an historical factor.

“In one sense it may almost be said that Israel’s attitude toward intermarriage rests upon the pride of principle, the pride of reluctance to surrender to a civilization, fiendishly hostile at worst, and all but intolerably tolerant at the best. In the question of intermarriage there is not bound up the question of race superiority, but there is involved the question of race continuity. For intermarriage means the passing of Israel and the passing of Israel means not only the blotting out of a word force for righteousness in the past but the destruction of what we believe to be unspent potencies for good throughout future generations.”


The Rev. Dr. Charles E. Jefferson of Broadway Tabernacle (Congregationalist) at Broadway and Fifty-third street, which more strangers in New York over Sunday are said to attend than any other church, remarked that he had not penetrated into the subject yet in his pulpit, but that from observation and investigation into the progression of the Jew as a business man, politician and teacher much material could be gathered that would indicate that the Jew and his brother, the gentile, were very closely identified. If the Jew could not get across the border into the Christian faith it could be longer concealed that in commercial and social interests he had made good, and that the two people were hurrying on side by side toward some common goal. “You have only to see with your eyes how things really are.”

Without either knowing what the other has to say upon the subject it was found that Dr. Jefferson quite agreed with Bishop Greer in sentiment with respect to intermarriage.

“Let them decide that for themselves,” said Dr. Jefferson. “That is their business and not the minister’s. It seems so to me, anyway. If a Christian girl wants to marry a Jew, or vice versa, it is likely that they have come to some common understanding before they approach the minister for the marriage ceremony, or they should have,” he added with a smile. “All we can do is to endeavor to give helpful advice. It is they who must live together.”

“Would you perform the ceremony?”

“I would,” he replied.

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