Mark Zuckerberg Is Not In Love With A Stereotype


I’m afraid that the Jewish world is about to blow it again with interfaith couples and families, as happened just two months ago with negative reactions to the wedding of Chelsea Clinton and Marc Mezvinsky. This time, it’s about Mark Zuckerberg, the creator of Facebook.

Apparently the soon-to-be-released movie, The Social Network, written by Aaron Sorkin, suggests that Zuckerberg created Facebook so he could meet non-Jewish girls. This according to a piece by Danielle Berrin in the Huffington Post yesterday, Mark Zuckerberg Created Facebook To Get Non-Jewish Girls, that is disturbing on many levels.

Berrin writes that the movie assumes that “for some Jewish men, and perhaps Mark Zuckerberg, being a Jewish woman is a turn-off.” Apparently there is a scene in the movie where Zuckerberg and his friends are looking at a group of Asian women dancing and one comments that Jewish guys connect with Asian girls because they are not Jewish.

I don’t deny that there are stereotypes in culture of Jewish women. As Berrin says, young Jewish women are depicted as Jewish American Princesses and adult Jewish women are depicted as the Overbearing Jewish Mother. To her credit, Berrin says that these stereotypes “obviously, are egregiously unfair.”

But Berrin offends when she suggests that it is not “pure fiction” when Sorkin suggests that in Zuckerberg’s eyes “one of the best things about being an Asian woman is that she isn’t a Jewish woman” on the basis of the fact that Zuckerberg is in a serious relationship with Priscilla Chan, a Chinese-American medical student, whom he started dating in college. She also ends her piece by saying that Jewish women aren’t the problem, the problem is that Jewish men like Zuckerberg are hanging out with the wrong ones.

The notion that Mark Zuckerberg is in love with Priscilla Chan because she is not Jewish, and that he wouldn’t be with her if he had hung out with the “right” Jewish women, is, with all respect, ridiculous. And offensive.

Do you know anyone who is in love with a stereotype as opposed to a real person? Do you know anyone who fell in love with a person because he or she was a stereotype – or was not a person who fit some negative stereotype?

There’s no explaining why Mark Zuckerberg or anyone else is in love with who they are in love with. But I’m pretty confident that people don’t fall in love based on whether a person they are attracted to fits one stereotype or doesn’t fit another.

Berrin offends for another reason: She says a profile of Zuckerberg in the New Yorker gave “the Jewish world yet another reason to fret over the its future by suggesting Zuckerberg is on the road to intermarriage.” Can I ask why that is a reason for the Jewish world to fret? This is the same kind of backward thinking that recently led Jewish leaders to declare the wedding of Chelsea Clinton and Marc Mezvinsky  “not a Jewish event.”

It’s too bad that this movie, judging from Berrin’s comments, is probably going to generate many more comments complaining that Jewish men aren’t interested in Jewish women and are on the road to intermarriage. It would be a lot smarter if the Jewish reaction to Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan would be a great big “mazel tov, welcome to our community.”

About Ed Case

Ed Case is Founder of InterfaithFamily and works at IFF Headquarters in Newton, MA.

5 thoughts on “Mark Zuckerberg Is Not In Love With A Stereotype”

  • Well, I have known people who seem to seek out dates based solely on stereotypes: blondes, or Asians, or thin or muscular people. My aunt once talked about how some men in college who seemed attracted to her only because she was Chinese. They would ask her to wear Chinese dresses or kept asking her questions about her cultural background. Needless to say though, those relationships did not go far.

    But it is unfortunate that so many Jews think that if a Jew marries a non-Jew it must mean that the Jew doesn’t like other Jews. Most Jews I know who intermarried did date other Jews and weren’t only dating non-Jews when they met their spouse. Some intermarried Jews never dated a non-Jew before they dated the one they ended up marrying.

    I have a Jewish friend who just got married this fall to a non-Jewish woman. It is certainly not the case that he doesn’t like Jews. All his close friends (both male and female) from high school 30 years ago (including my husband) are Jewish. I know he spent many years going to synagogue services (even though he is really not very religious) and Jewish singles events in search of a woman to marry. When I met many of his local friends at his wedding, almost all of them were Jewish, including a couple of Jewish ex-girlfriends. Those Jewish women were “right” enough to maintain their friendships with my friend, just not quite right for marriage. (The two women had gone on to marry other Jewish men.

    Needless to say, I find it highly offensive that articles like the one mentioned imply that my husband might have married me just because I am Asian and I was not Jewish at that time. On the contrary, I doubt he would have married me if I had shown no interest in Judaism and we might have married sooner if I had been Jewish when we met.

    Not only is it unpleasant to read snide comments about particular intermarried couples, but such reactions can hardly be expected to increase in-marriage among Jews. I wish these loud critics would instead put their efforts into Jewish education and social opportunities for young Jews which are much more likely to have the desired effect.

    It’s because of the persistent negative reports that are not just anti-intermarriage, but more hurtfully against all intermarried people, that this IFF website is such a needed resource.

  • Obviously, the piece is written to make a marked point – whether or not liked or necessarily the reason in this case, it does in fact exists.  I was born, raised and still reside in NYC and know a fair share of Jewish men who refuse to date Jewish women, and vice versa.  Everyone is looking for some angle on Zuckerberg now with the film’s release.  And really, who’s to say when he was younger that creating FB wasn’t a way to meet girls – he’s a guy with hormones.

    I think folks can be just a bit too sensitive; take the piece for what it’s worth.  Whether or not it applies to Zuckerberg, that there are folks with this view should raise a flag for the community at large to figure out how to get around such views.  That’s why I’d just like to see everyone not place so much of an emphasis on these matters at the beginning; you never know when you are just dating someone where it’ll go.  There’s a lot to be said about chemistry.  But if a relationship develops and both individuals aren’t Jewish, then it can be dealt with at that point.  I’m so ready to move on; until someone down here can show proof that he or she is God, no one is in a position to judge anyone for whom they date or are attracted to (that’s between the person and God alone).

  • Danielle Berrin speaks the truth.  For some it’s difficult to hear and that is why there is such strong reactions.  The Jewish community can’t survive without Jewish women and unfortunately a lot of Jewish men don’t care.

  • I married beyond my (Jewish) faith. But, this was not due to some negative stereotype but, actual life experience. I was rebuffed by many Jewish girls at youth group functions and in Sunday school in the neighboring community where we attended Temple. Living with my Mom in a majority Christian town I was in more daily contact with Christian girls. The Jewish girls were in the other town and were not all that interested when they learned I lived “there”. When I met Jewish girls at social functions beyond our “home” Temple it was often the case that we were too far apart to continue dating. So, for a variety of reasons I dated exclusively Christian girls. With my pre-teen/teen experiences behind me I moved South.

    My Dad always urged me to seek out more Jewish experiences. When I did this I found an older congregation with no 20 something programming. The overwhelming message I was receiving was

    “please join us for Shabbat and the High Holidays but, we have no social programming for you”

    . So, I continued to date Christian girls. There was one Jewish girl I dated briefly in my 20’s but, for interpersonal reasons I broke up with her.

    I met the woman who is now my Wife (a Christian) through work. We just celebrated 11 years of marriage this year and I wouldn’t have it any other way. It’s not about stereotypes. It’s about who loves you for who you are.

  • Rob makes my point exactly.  Most liberal secular Jewish men don’t care about having a Jewish family.  Rob has a Christian wife and Christian children without any connection to Judaism.  I’m happy for him.  He doesn’t care about Judaism and we also shouldn’t care about his non-existant Jewish identity.  Jewish women are the backbone of the Jewish community not the men.

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