Soc.Culture.Jewish Newsgroups
Frequently Asked Questions and Answers

[SCJ FAQ Logo]
< Q10.11 TOC Q10.13 >

Question 10.12:
I've heard that Jewish parents consider an intermarried child as "dead". Is this true?


There are many believe that Judaism teaches that the family must consider as dead (and as a result, perform appropriate mourning practices such as sitting "shiva") for a child who marries a non-Jew. However, it is not clear the anyone does this. It is definitely not halacha (Jewish law), nor is it widespread enough to be a custom.

This "legend" arose because, until recently, those who had interfaith marriages often abandoned Judaism, becoming apostate Jews. The custom of sitting shiva for apostates seems to be based on a misunderstanding of a passage in the Or Zarua (13th cent), which stated that Rabbenu Gershom (11th cent) sat shiva for his son, who had become a Christian. My understanding is that Rabbenu Gershom sat shiva when his son died, despite the fact that he had apostasized, not when the son became a Christian. The halakhic discussion of this point, which starts in the Or Zarua, goes back and forth on whether or not we follow that practice, but, there is no suggestion that we should sit shiva when someone leaves Judaism.

The FAQ is a collection of documents that is an attempt to answer questions that are continually asked on the soc.culture.jewish family of newsgroups. It was written by cooperating laypeople from the various Judaic movements. You should not make any assumption as to accuracy and/or authoritativeness of the answers provided herein. In all cases, it is always best to consult a competent authority--your local rabbi is a good place to start.

[Got Questions?]Hopefully, the FAQ will provide the answer to your questions. If it doesn't, please drop Email to The FAQ maintainer will endeavor to direct your query to an appropriate individual that can answer it. If you would like to be part of the group to which the maintainer directs questions, please drop a note to the FAQ maintainer at

[Prev ?]
[Sect Index]
[Next ?]
[Prev Sect]
[Global Index]
[Next Sect]
  [Reading Lists]  

© (c) 1993-2004 Daniel P. Faigin <>