Nice Jewish Lord: Lord Sinderby is the guy lots of ‘Downton Abbey’ fans love to hate. But he makes an important point about intermarriage.

Defending Lord Sinderby

I write in support of Lord Sinderby. Surely you’ve seen his character on “Downton Abbey”: more dour than Carson the butler, more rigid than Lord Grantham, Sinderby is a self-made Jew who is implacably opposed to his son’s marriage to a non-Jew. On the very morning of the wedding in a registry (no church or synagogue would have them), he makes it clear to his love-struck son that he doesn’t want him to marry outside the faith.

The timing of this conversation is terrible. I’ll admit that. It should have happened as soon as the son, Atticus, started fawning over his dear Rose.

But Lord Sinderby has a sincere point that can’t get lost in all the sneering.

“Our family has achieved a great deal since we came to this country. Not just for ourselves, for our people,” he begins. “We have a proud history and we’ve taken our place among the leaders of this land. And now you want to throw all that away for this little shiksa!”

Lord Sinderby’s pretensions to elegance are matched by his inelegant choice of words, I’ll grant that, too. But he goes on to remind his son that, good intentions aside, his grandchildren won’t be Jewish: “The second Lord Sinderby may be Jewish but the third will not. And soon our family will be one more British dynasty with all the same prejudices as everyone else.”

Despite the growling, I feel for the guy. He has a right to ask his son not only about love but also about obligation to family and faith. He has a right to ask his future daughter-in-law to become Jewish or at least to commit to doing her part to carry on a precious tradition.

Love conquers all in this ridiculously addicting series, and anyone standing in its way is depicted as heartless. So it is today. But if progressive Judaism is to be sustained, we need to learn how to ask uncomfortable questions, without resorting to a sneering script.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect those of the Forward.

Author

Jane Eisner

Jane Eisner

Jane Eisner, a pioneer in journalism, became editor-in-chief of the Forward in 2008, the first woman to hold the position at the influential Jewish national news organization. Under her leadership, the Forward readership has grown significantly and has won numerous regional and national awards for its original journalism, in print and online.

Your Comments

The Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. All readers can browse the comments, and all Forward subscribers can add to the conversation. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Forward requires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not and will be deleted. Egregious commenters or repeat offenders will be banned from commenting. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and the Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.

Recommend this article

Defending Lord Sinderby

Thank you!

This article has been sent!

Close