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Frequently Asked Questions and Answers

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< Q21.9.4 TOC Q21.10.2 >

Question 21.10.1:
Growing Older: My child wants to start dating? How do I ensure proper behavior?


Well, the "Dr. Laura" answer is for the child to wait until he or she is ready for marriage before serious dating can begin. Certainly, it's within the parents' right to be strict -- more than that, it is their responsibility. Regardless of what "all the other kids are doing", if you're serious about ensuring proper behavior, don't allow boys and girls to be alone together. They have no "right to privacy" in an era when teen pregnancies happen even to the smart kids (and even to the Jewish kids), and if they are living in your home, you can create and enforce standards you feel are morally appropriate. All of this may sound a little on the tough side, but to any sensible parent, it will seem like a small price to pay for knowing who your kids are with and who they're doing it with until they are old enough to be trusted.

For those in the Conservative movement, the Rabbinical Assembly Commision on Sexuality has published "This Is My Beloved: This Is My Friend: A Rabbinic Letter on Intimate Relations". This booklet instructs laypeople in Jewish tradition's views of all areas of human sexuality, including dating and marriage. It is available from the United Synagogue Book Service ( More specifically, one of the members of that commission, Rabbi Michael Gold, wrote "Does God Belong in the Bedroom?" (JPS), which includes a chapter on this topic. He identifies sex keys that parents can provide their children with that will help them grow into responsible Jewish adults. These keys, briefly stated are: self-esteem; a positive body image; accurate knowledge about sexuality; Jewish values; a sense of holiness, and proper role models.

The question that most Jewish parents ask today is how to deal with a teenage child who wants to date a non-Jew. Rabbi Alan Silverstein has dealt with the uneasy questions surrounding interfaith dating in "It All Begins with a Date: Jewish Concerns about Intermarriage" and "Preserving Jewishness in Your Family After Intermarriage Has Occurred". [Jason Aronson Inc. 1995] Written on behalf of the Conservative Movement's Leadership Council, these books offer a comprehensive guide for anyone struggling with interdating and intermarriage, from teenagers to parents to interfaith couples wondering how to raise their children. Rabbi Silverstein's own perspective on interfaith dating is that every date must be treated as a potential mate: "If you are committed to living in the US, you don't date a Scandinavian exchange student bent on returning home." With great ease, he segues from a hard line on prevention to the hard realities facing an intermarried couple. "The Conservative Movement's approach offers a combination of compassion and principle, one that teaches the ideal but deals with the reality." "It All Begins with a Date" offers a preventive approach to inter-dating and intermarriage and includes a section on raising children to value Judaism. "Preserving Jewishness in Your Family" understands that when intermarriage does occur, a new set of issues arises that requires equally careful examination, discussion and resolution. More information is available at

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

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