Published May-15-08
Ask Rabbi Dan
by Rabbi Dan S. Wiko PhD
  Issue: 9.05
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I have heard that Orthodox Jews, must sit shiva for any of their children who marry out of the faith. Is this true, and if so, how can a parent be required to do such a thing against their own child.....consider them dead?

Many Orthodox Jews do sit shiva for a child who marries out but it is not, to my understanding, mandatory that they do so.

As far as I am concerned, any parent who would consider their living child dead, violates far more Torah Laws than did the child in his/her choice of a mate. Hashem gave that child both life and free will. Ostensibly, that free will was to lead that child-person on a Torah path. However, free will is just that and allows for walking off the path and either returning to it or not at some later date. Wishing for or considering "deathing" anyone is, by my standards, an absolute sin against the creator.

Interfaith marriage is a very common practice these days which I attribute to a lack of adherence on the part of the parents. Telling a child to go to Hebrew School, synagogue, marry Jewish is, of course, all well and good. However, all those instructions become meaningless when the parents don't practice what they preach...3 days of shul a year and a nice family get-together called a seder with tons of food and zero spirituality hardly sets an example for children to follow.

Furthermore, with the divorce rate reaching closer and closer to the marriage rate, many parents have little, if any, problem "dating" a non-Jew. The message to the child, then, becomes, it's no big deal to violate our religious laws. That being the case, it is totally hypocritical for a parent to object to any violation of Jewish law.

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