Sunday, 12 October 2014

1945: Britain's chief rabbi effectively bans mixed marriage

I have repeatedly emphasized the fact that the Jews should serve as an example to every race, for they created a racial law for themselves—the law of Moses, which says, "If you come into a foreign land you shall not take unto yourself foreign women." And that, Gentlemen, is of tremendous importance in judging the Nuremberg Laws. These laws of the Jews were taken as a model for these laws. 
- Julius Streicher, International Military Tribunal, April 26, 1946, IMT v.12, p.315.

The infamous Nuremberg Law for the Protection of German Blood and German Honour—which banned marriage and sexual relations between Germans and Jews—was officially overturned on on September 20, 1945 (Allied Control Council's Law No. 1, Article 1, Part k.), but only a few months earlier Joseph Hertz, the Hungarian-born Chief Rabbi of the British Empire had, in the words of the London newspaper The European Jewish Observer, issued "what virtually amounts to a ban on inter-marriage between Jews and Christians".
The Chief Rabbi and the London Beth Din (Jewish Court), the highest authority on Jewish Law in the British Empire, promulgated new laws which prohibited Mohels from circumcising boys whose mothers were non-Jews; barred male Jews with non-Jewish wives from joining a synagogue (meaning he barred synagogues from allowing such individuals to join), although if they were already members of a synagogue they were permitted to remain, but were henceforth barred from holding a position of responsibility or influence within that synagogue.
Following is the Chief Rabbi's pronouncement in full and the aforementioned article in The European Jewish Observer:


Rosh Chodesh Nisan 5705 [March 15, 1945]

Intermarriage is unfortunately increasing. Formerly a Jew who married an unconverted non-Jewess was looked upon by his fellow Jews as a renegade, and he, too, considered himself as such. No one classed the children of such a union as Jews, and the parents had no part or function in Jewish life. But to-day few seem to realize the confusion in family life, the chaos in regard to burial, and other lamentable complications that such a union brings in its train. Even more disturbing is the fact, recently brought to our notice, that men who have married out of the Faith have in some places a hand in the control of congregational affairs. This is clearly intolerable.
Therefore, the Chief Rabbi and his Beth Din issue the following Pronouncement: 
i. The children of a non-Jewish mother who has not been previously received into the Jewish Faith by a recognized rabbinical authority are non-Jews in every respect. In regard to a male child of such a union, circumcision alone does not alter his religious status which is still that of his mother. Accordingly, a Mohel shall not perform circumcision in such a case, so that simple folks be not led to believe that merely by that act the child becomes Jewish.
ii. A Jew who is married to a non-Jewish woman that has not been duly admitted into the Jewish Faith is not thereby debarred from joining Jews in prayer, nor is he to be denied Jewish burial (though it cannot be granted to his non-Jewish wife and children). Such a Jew, however, shall not henceforth be eligible to membership in a congregation. If he acquired membership prior to the date of promulgation of this Pronouncement, that membership stands; but he shall not be given office. One whose wife and children are not part of the Jewish community shall have no voice or influence in the direct or indirect administration of the religious life of that community.

In the days of old, when men who had intermarried held positions of power in Jewry, and Ezra the Scribe resolved to take strong action in regard to the evil, the following was the response of the people to his appeal:

'Arise; for the matter belongeth unto thee, and we are with thee: be of good courage, and do it'. (Ezra, x, 4).

(Signed) H. H. Hertz
Harris M. Lazarus
I. Abramsky
I. Grunfeld
DAYANIM [= judges]
Moshe Davis, “Mixed Marriage in Western Jewry: Historical Background to the Jewish Response,” Jewish Journal of Sociology, Vol. 10, no. 2, December 1968, p. 215.

The European Jewish Observer (section of The City and East London Observer), Friday, April 13, 1945, p. 4.

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