Are Jewish Women More Likely to Marry Chinese Men?

Star of David in the stained glass windows of a temple
Is Chinese and chosen the norm? Are Jewish women more likely to marry Chinese men? (photo by Simon Cataudo)

(NOTE: I turned this short post into a fascinating full article published in Asian Jewish Life. Read it here.)

I had only met Arnold a few times, but I felt he was as familiar as the soy cafe au lait I held in my hands. He and I bonded over China one evening at the gym, and pretty soon we went from lifting weights to lifting coffee cups over at the Starbucks just down the street from me. I liked Arnold because he was this huge espresso shot of an African-American, the kind of guy who wasn’t afraid to say — or ask — anything.

“Are you Jewish?” he asked me, after I sat down.

“No, I’m not, actually. I was raised Catholic. Why do you ask?”

“Because you have a Chinese husband. You usually see Jewish women married to Chinese men.”

“Really? How would you know?”

I was so stunned, I still I can’t remember what he said. Maybe it was because he had lived in this city (which I like to think of as Jewish as Woody Allen) his whole life. Or maybe he heard it growing up.

But later, when I left Starbucks, I wondered if I really was out of the mainstream, as a shiksa with a Chinese husband,  Was it true? Were Jewish women more likely to marry Chinese men?

If you want to talk of marriage between two cultures, well, the Jews and the Chinese have tied the knot — figuratively — for a long time. Kaifeng became home to a community Sephardic Jews during the Northern Song Dynasty, and they thrived there for more than 700 years. Jews found refuge during the Holocaust in a visa-free Shanghai. For many Jews, Christmas and Chinese food go together like Beijing duck and those thin pancake wrappers. There’s even a magazine called Asian Jewish Life. You might call it, like the website devoted to this group of cross-cultural families, Chinese and Chosen.

So it’s no wonder that this study on interracial marriage among Chinese American/Japanese Americans had this to say:

…it appears that there is a propensity for our interviewees to meet and date Jews in college or in their professional fields and marry them. Eighteen percent of the Chinese and Japanese American women and men we interviewed were married to Jewish partners. Five described how they shared a cultural affinity with their Jewish spouses; most often they mentioned how both cultures valued strong family ties and educational achievement. Interviewees also described their Jewish spouses as having a sense of “ethnic tra­dition” and an immigrant legacy found lacking in non-Jewish whites they had known or dated.

I thought about Rachel DeWoskin, Anna Sophie Loewenberg, and Susan Blumberg-Kason. They’re all Jewish, and all not afraid to tell the world — through words, or video — that they love (or once loved) Chinese men. Maybe Arnold was right?

But then I thought about all of the Western women I’ve discovered across the Internet, who love Chinese men like I do. I’ve met Catholics (and lapsed Catholics, like me), Lutherans, Baptists, Buddhists, Muslims and Atheists. I’ve heard from women from Bosnia and Bulgaria to Costa Rica and New Zealand. Not everyone is white either, as Jo Kelly-Bai reminds us.

So was it just all a stereotype? Even with the evidence I found, Arnold’s conclusion seemed too simple to believe.

True or not, one thing is certain: that the community of Western women who love Chinese men — is far more diverse than Arnold ever imagined.

What do you think? Do Jewish women tend to love and marry Chinese men much more? Or is it just a stereotype?

53 Replies to “Are Jewish Women More Likely to Marry Chinese Men?”

  1. Jewish women tend to blog about things other than our love life. I know I don’t. Hell, most of my readers don’t even know I’m a woman.

    As far as I can tell, it’s not a stereotype: it’s in the most recent census. Asian women are twice as likely to marry non-Asian men. When Asian men marry a non-Asian woman, it’s usually to Jewish women. Moreover, an increasing number of Asian-American men aren’t getting married at all.

    The real question is why. I suspect it’s probably a combination of American geography, education, and career choice.

  2. White women of all stripes living in Hawaii more likely to marry Asian men, including Chinese men! But most date Chinese American or Japanese American men!

  3. “Moreover, an increasing number of Asian-American men aren’t getting married at all.”

    Many have started marrying Asian women from Asia. The rate is small although much higher than black women marrying black men from Africa…many in the latter group consider it is beneath them to marry any foreigner.

  4. I just can’t see how this is true. I mean as far as I know most practicing jews don’t eat pork…. The main thing most of my chinese friends including my boyfriend like to eat pork! like dumplings, Hui guo ruo, pork rib soup etc.

  5. I live with my boyfriend in Israel, and when he eats pork he always has a big smile on his face (especially when I cook beer pork ribs). I guess that in other countries (like U.S.) Jews are even less likely to follow religious rules. Anyway, marrying a man/woman from other religion is a more serious “crime” than eating pork, isn’t it?

  6. You might be onto something there. I know a lot of Jewish (not necessarily religious though) men have a preference for Asian girls.

    Actually, there are some Jewish people who actually look a little Asian. For example, Joseph Gordon-Levitt could be half or even full Asian based on his appearance, but his background is Jewish.

    I’m Irish Catholic with sallow skin, very dark eyes and hair, had a preference for Chinese and Korean men ever since I can remember, and people have commented that I could be mistaken for an Israeli girl were it not for my surname~

    1. Thanks for the comments!

      @M, I didn’t mean to suggest that Jewish women in relationships w/ Chinese men would want to share it more than the rest of us — just that these Jewish women I thought about happened to be some of the most prominent voices out there on the subject. Sorry if I wasn’t clear in my post.

      @Sarah, you would be right about the pork, except as Crystal says, some Jews don’t always follow this rule. See also the article I linked to on why Jews like eating Chinese food for Christmas — which explains this. For example:

      Additionally, argued Gaye Tuchman and Harry G. Levine in a 1992 academic paper titled “Safe Treyf,” Chinese food featured the sort of unkosher dishes you could take home to your mother, or at least eat in front of her. For one thing, there is no mixing of dairy and meat, for the simple reason that there is no dairy. (Think about it!) Of course, there is trayf aplenty, chiefly pork and shellfish. But it is always either chopped and minced and served in the middle of innocuous vegetables all covered in a common sauce, or it is wrapped up in wontons and egg rolls—where you can’t see it. Goodman notes that the purveyors of Chinese restaurants eventually picked up on this: “They would advertise wonton soup as chicken soup with kreplach,” he told me.

    2. Personally, I don’t see “what’s new” here eh? Jewish women taking Asian men as Husbands (Japanese, Chinese, Koreans, Viets) & h****, even Arabs (Iranians, Persians.

  7. I love this posting!! Thanks so much for the mention!!! I went to hear Amy Chua speak a couple weeks ago and even she mentioned this marital dynamic, but not specially Jewish women and Asian men–just Jews and Asians. These days more than 70% of Jews marry non-Jews, and since many people in China still don’t follow a religion, there are probably fewer religious issues in a Jewish-Chinese household than in a Jewish-other religion household (although I’ve had experience with both and my Catholic husband is great about letting me raise our kids Jewish). It’s great to think about these issues–just as Amy Chua has done with the issue of education!

  8. Great post and really great comments to follow. Very interesting theory. While I understand the sensitivity to stereotyping, there is a clear connection between Jews and Chinese. Just look at the growing demand for Judaic Studies programs throughout China and the quality of the scholarship in the field. There is a long history of Jews in China: from Kaifeng to Harbin to Shanghai to Tientsin… There is a real affinity.

  9. I don’t know the actual numbers, so therefore, I cannot say anything about trends, but at least in my personal experience there seems to be a tendency for Jewish woman/Asian male couples.

    I went to a fairly prestigious university in the States, and I think more than 80% of the Chinese-American male friends who are not dating other Asian females are dating Jewish-American women. In fact, almost every white female/asian male couple I know today are of this category. Keep in mind, however, that in my university, Chinese-Americans and Jewish-Americans made up 10-20% of the student population each, so there is a selection bias there.

    However, I am going by precetion here, and I don’t know the actual numbers, so therefore, cannot make a definitive statement about the trend. I can say, however, that from a cultural perspective, there are quite a few similarities.

    As a Chinese-American guy, I can say that most the American girls I have dated have been Jewish, but I don’t know if this is because of the high proportion of Jews in my high school and then in my college or there is some more “fundamental” tendency here. That being said, I have been to passover seders since I was 12, attended more bar/bot mitzvahs than I can count, can make very good matzah ball soup and potato latka, and have defn. had a good time clubbing and beaching in Tel Aviv :). My friends joke that I have a tendency of attracting “Jewish girls who speak Chinese”…. which, where I went to college, there are actually quite a few of them so… go figure!

  10. Really? The Jews here in Atlanta tend to be dating only within their circle. Perhaps my perception is wrong but I’ve never met a Jew that married outside his or her own circle here in Atlanta. And because of my work, I do meet a good number of them.

  11. Hmm — that is odd… the town I grew up was mostly Jewish-Asian (comprising 60% of my high school). Most of the parents of my friends in high school were investment bankers, hedge fund managers, corporate execs, doctors, lawyers, etc…. which explained the high percentage of Jews and Asians… so the intermarried Jewish-Asian families in our town was very high… esp the young families.

  12. Very interesting post. I actually never noticed the trend for Jewish and Asian relationships until I heard it referenced in The Social Network. Even then, it seemed like it was one-way. It would make a lot of sense if the two cultures are more compatible when it comes to family value and preservation of culture–two very important parts of life in a lot of Asian families.

    Thanks for posting! I learn something new every day.

  13. “The Jews here in Atlanta tend to be dating only within their circle.”

    So do most white people especially the descendants of slave owners! Nothing new there!

  14. Up to now, I thought the Jewish people are very close-knit and would only marry someone from their community. I did’nt know that there are many Jewish-Chinese couplings. But maybe there are some resaons why they may make good matches. Both the Chinese and Jewish people, like you said, hold education and family as important. But I not too sure about kosher or what Malays here call halal food. How do Jewish and Chinese couples cope with this?

    1. This is a great discussion, and thanks to everyone for chiming in — I’m learning so much from the responses!

      @ordinary malaysian, see the link I referenced earlier in the comments regarding why Jews like eating Chinese food, which gives some perspective on this issue.

      If anyone else has a better explanation for ordinary malaysian, feel free to jump right in!

  15. Sufei’s Sexy Beijing videos are so funny but I didn’t realise that Jewish/Asian pairings were so common, I thought it would be the other way around. The video where her dad returns to Shanghai is particularly interesting.

    I’ve noticed that the more recent videos have taken a different turn and are including different topics now. So, do you have any gossip Jocelyn?! Has she married a Sexy Beijing-er on the sly? I’m still waiting for a ‘Sexy Speed Dating’ update here…

  16. My cousin is married to a Jewish woman. She is a decent person. She was willing to go through our traditions as well, like burning incense, decorating with red and other images, giving out red pockets, etc. My cousin and his wife has a photography business and their clients are pretty diverse. They get to do weddings, bat mitzvahs, engagement parties, etc.

    I think most of the Chinese-Jewish pairings I know are not that religious. A few may have some issues with the pork thing, but most are ok. Most of these couples clicked with each other like any other ordinary couple; common interests, physical attraction, etc.

  17. Part of the reason might be because Jews are disproportionately likely to come to China in the first place – about half of the non-Asian foreigners I know here are Jewish, so it makes sense that there are more Chinese-Jewish couples.

    Judging from some of the previous replies, though, perhaps the cause and effect is the other way round?

  18. Jocelyn, thanks for your response. Friend, thanks for giving some insights as to how some Chinese-Jewish couples cope with the issue of kosher food. Here in Malaysia, a non-muslim who marries a muslim must by law convert to Islam, so the “solution” is really a legislated one.

  19. I have a Jewish-American aunt, and I have to say there isn’t a more heterogenous family than her’s. My uncle is a high-ranking police officer in Taiwan, and is a straight-up “Blue Sky, White Sun, Red Earth” KMT Chinese. She’s non-observant, can’t speak a word of Hebrew, and is largely indistinguishable from other Americans of Western ancestry, save for her near-perfect Mandarin and profound understanding of Chinese customs & norms. Her daughter is very much like her father, who sees herself as a deep-blue Chinese. But her son is a religious Jew, having made several trips to Israel already. I wouldn’t be surprised if he volunteers for the IDF.

  20. I only know one Jewish woman-Chinese man couple. The rest of the women I know who are married to Chinese men have very diverse heritage and religious views.

  21. I think there are a lot of similarities between the Jews and the Chinese, respect for intellect, education, family and culture. Known to be smart and driven for success. Both are ancient peoples who have been misunderstood by other races but not by each other. They are in general a lot deeper and more sophisticated, so they click easier.

  22. Timur, what you said about Jewish and Chinese people can also be said about any race. It’s about individuals, not about race or religion…. Just sayin’…

  23. Sonja:But you cannot deny the historic experiences of the Jews and the Chinese in the last two centuries.. the experiences and similarities of surviviing in a hostile environment (an emmigrant mentality that they have to prove themselves to survive.). During the WWII, the Jews were defamed to say the least, but the Chinese did not buy that. Scholars in China were held in geat esteme for different reasons, so does Jewish rabbi. These are the factors they click quick easier. Other races take a longer time to click. That is all. But once you click, human beings are basically the same.

  24. Hey Timur,
    I never attempted to deny what happened to the Jews and the Chinese. In fact I think that the deniers are lunatics. So, you’re kind of putting words in my mouth here… All I am saying is that all the nations in the world are just as intelligent, and many nations other the Jews and the Chinese have suffered a huge deal. Some are extremely poor and cannot shine in the world of academics and business because they’re barely surviving, but that doesn’t make them any less intelligent. Africa, South America, Southeast Asia…. plenty of brilliant people there, but a lot of them are living in debilitating poverty. I am not sure about the economic status of all the Jews around the world (or their level of education), but I know for a fact that there are a lot of extremely poor and barely literate Chinese people. Education is the privilege of those who get to eat every day. Those illiterate Chinese people are just as smart and have the same potential as those Chinese folks living in better economic conditions and going to Universities.
    My point is that all human nations and races have the same potential. But it’s sure hard to excel in school when you’re 6 and have to spend 15 hours a day digging through other people’s trash and looking for something to eat. A lot of potential Nobel Prize winners are doing that right now because they were born into poverty. No one should be forced to chose between two nations and the rest of the world. I consider all people on the planet my family, however cheesy that sounds, and I won’t give up on any of them. It is circumstances that allow us to become academically successful, play musical instruments, etc. You can have the biggest IQ in the world, and supernatural artistic talent, but if you’re born into a war zone, or you’re kidnapped and trafficked, or you’re simply born into a world where you only have food every 4-5 days…. you’re lucky if you ever see a school building. On the other hand, you can be a perfectly average human being, born into circumstances that allow you to finish a high-ranking University and make lots of money. That was my point. Sorry for the huge comment 😛 I wrote a blog post about this topic a while ago, please stop by:

  25. Sonja: You are deviating from the topics why I think the Jews click with the Chinese because of historic experinces. For the Jews always have universal education, living in urban areas made that easier. For the Chinese, not blood ot wealth, national examininatons determine whether you can advance in society. Many important figures in Chinese society came from the poor class..Mao for instance. The common people though toiled in labor can access to historic records, makes them aware of the wisdom and experience of the past(statecraft). The Jews gave the world law and religions and intellectual life. The Chinese gave the fundations of the modern society(credit banking on printed paper, gun powder …read/search BBC on China). So in their misunderstood by others, they knew who they were.

  26. I have to admit, there are a lot of similarities in Jewish and Chinese families–especially when it comes to force feeding family and friends. Unfortunately, I don’t know much about Jewish women with Chinese men; all the Jewish women I knew in China were married before they arrived.

  27. In the Jewish tradition, the woman carries out the family tradition, unlike the Chinese. So unless she does not mind not being Jewish and raise the family that way, the Chinese husband has to convert to Juidasim by undergoing circumcision as an adult.

  28. This just in: my half-Jewish cousin signed up for the IDF auxilliary. Having grown up in Taiwan, with a largely non-observant Jewish American mother, I don’t understand where did he get this passion for Israel. Aunt wanted to stop him, to no avail.

  29. It is about survival. As China rises in power, politically and economically, you shall see more and more Jews (White/European Jews) marrying Chinese people.
    They did the same thing by settling in Europe/North America, when these places had wealth/power and now that this ship (western world) is sinking, the Jews are shrewdly looking for the next ‘host’.

  30. Jack your kinda ****cked in the head man, there is a sense of survival but that doesn’t make Jews parasites shrewdly looking for the next host… If anything Jews often make the area they move to better because they value education and people who are educated don’t say stupid things and think b4 they post shit on the internet. But jewish girls on the most part are pretty cool, being an American Chinese I’ve always liked dating jewish girls… but honestly especially in the east coast they’re a little too liberal and emotionally immature. Israeli girls on the other hand wow… perfect… sexy accent, great body and a strong mind oh and they all have had military training.

  31. I kinda agree with bananna man that “Israeli girls on the other hand wow… perfect… sexy accent, great body and a strong mind oh and they all have had military training”.
    Jews tend to be smart people. They do make an area they move to better.

  32. I think there is something true to this. Even among AM/WF depictions in media, the WF has been from a Jewish background.

    For example, the premier AM/WF couple in popular American culture’s TV today is Glenn and Maggie on AMC’s The Walking Dead. The WF actress in pair is Laruen Cohan, Jewish.

    The Ukranian-born Vera Farmiga was in the AM/WF movie, Never Forever.

    There was a screenwriter named Sara Israel who tried to sell a spec script in Hollywood for a TV show where one of the main WF characters (stated in the script as a gorgeous blonde – her words in the actual script) is in love with her AF friend’s Chinese-American brother.

    Joanna Angel and Kelly Divine are both Jewish pornstars who often work with the only legit male Asian pornstar, Keni Styles.

    So yes, the Jewish ladies seem to be helping out the Asian Guys in this regard moreso than other non-Asian women it seems.

    By the way, please check out my AM/WF book, “RICE ON WHITE” if you have an Amazon Kindle. I’m always supporting AM/WF!

  33. Ah, why be PC?

    Asian men haven’t been raised to have the sort of athletic, sportsy masculinity American women crave. This helps them net-for-net with jobs, because they get into good colleges, but then many American women don’t go for them.

    OK, but which group of women will put up with a nice guy because he’s smart? You got it, Jewish women. Besides, the Jewish men are off chasing Chinese women.

    By the way, this is changing as Asian men assimilate and become the sort of boorish bros the women around them crave. But that’s explanation for the pattern. 😉

  34. Yes, being tall, good looking ,masculine and muscular can help you attract hot women. It’s easier. It’s also true that even you have a good job without being masculine or good looking, women won’t go for you . Women want or like the feelings on being secured and having things in common like ( sports,activities etc). Women want man to give sweet compliments and show more affections toward them. What do I know right? Maybe I’m just a skinny , weak ass in real life. I was skinny when I was young. I have broken ankles from basketball due to attacking the rim and above the rim on every jump and injuries from bodybuilding. Injuries all over my body but I’ve learned to heal my injuries. I’m stronger than ever.. My advice : don’t give up.

  35. This is kinda of real. I live in Canada and I am seeing a Jewish girl. I am an immigrant myself, most of my exs can not accept my thrifty lifestyle and save money to buy properties type of financial goal. Not try to stereotype here, only my current gf can accept my value.

    Of course it’s out there. I am telling ya… the only people think it’s weird are those rednecks in my town who still buy into super old stereotypes. I agree both of us are not religious. She is into Taiji and I am into watching Bloomberg and read Wall St Journal.. so win win.

  36. @Grace, I see this too. There is this bachelor society of unmarried Asian males. Even my current boyfriend, who is Chinese, eventually fessed up to me that his past desire had been finding an Asian woman to marry and all. But for whatever reasons (from observation competition for them is indeed fierce) he never found her. Hey, I’m a Puerto Rican woman and am the best thing for him! From around where I live, Jewish men aren’t prejudiced. Although, some do have a predilection for the women of East Asia and/or Central Asia. I say to the naysayers, if you saw these women, you wouldn’t blame them for desiring them. Because the women are beautiful to say the least. Just as important, they are smart too and have core family values. Things many men, not only Jewish men, look for in a marriage partner.

  37. An intersting set of observations. As a Chinese born Australian citizen, I have not come into much contact with Jewish women unless I head off to a bakery that is approximately 10 minutes commute from the train station where they serve delicious sweet morsels. The bakery is owned by a Jewish or perhaps a Swiss Jewish family and the women seem reasonably friendly and offer me help in selecting the delightful treats- there is so much that I could just about go there every day!! Whenever I pop by, I buy my stuff and have a good chat with the women in there often requesting Jewish festive treats and enquiring about synagouges and Jewish holidays. All very interesting.

    From my own experience, Jewish women- married or not- seem to be quite interesting to talk to about anything. Compare this to a Slovenian woman with a PhD in plant science who works at my former university and would constantly heckle me if I moved into my massive mansion or estate once I get wealthy. Personally, it is beomcing very tiresome constating wanting to see her. Often I have to admit she is quite boring & sterile married to a European- Soanish husband in fact- and I still obsess over her from time to time even though she has a kid. I would really care less. Maybe that is why I am unable to find common ground with her…anyways….

    Also, Jewish men seem to be reasonably helpful with provding some form of assistance given asking an Anglo- European person the same question seems like an absolute burden to them.

    As a result of history- think WW2, the Holocaust- a terrible tragedy, I have much more sympathy for Jewish people comapred to Anglo-Europeans.

    Here’s hoping I can find myself a lovely Jewish woman who can take care of me one day 🙂

  38. forgive my rudeness,here are some facts:
    during the world war II,some jewish groups have once supported the japanese’s invasion of China
    in 2001,The isreali military broken the deal with chinese military,it’s about saling EWR aircraft.And chinese military lost 600 million dollars.

  39. Here is a fact during WW2: Jews were saved by China during that time because you didn’t need a visa in order to enter Shanghai. Hiltor was trying to track down and kill all Jews.

  40. well, (during WWII)japanese took control of shanghai which means this city is open to all those who can provide directly or indirectly resource to them.
    before that,those jews who were driven away from russia even plan to establish a region on the basis of the land in the northwest of china(After japanese’s successful invasion.
    in fact,if all chinese people know some facts,there won’t be so called chinese――jew friendship.

  41. This is true! Okay, at least for me. I have not sought but have found myself in a sort of disproportionately high number of relationships with Jewish women…. I was very attracted to each of them as well.

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