Post # 1
I recently got engaged to my wonderful boyfriend of over 4 years– he is jewish, I was raised presbyterian but I wouldn’t really consider myself anything right now/ am not strongly religious. He was raised fairly conservatively but is more lax about things now (he was kosher until he was 20, still is in front of his parents, etc.). We’ve celebrated many holidays together by this point, but I’ve never gone back with him for any of the big jewish holidays. This year he wanted me to go back with him for Rosh but it seems like a lot… we haven’t fully discussed the whole religion thing to the full extent so I’d rather have that conversation first (plus, my girlfriends are coming here that weekend to celebrate the engagement with me– of course he told me he wanted me to go home with him after they booked their flights– oy vey (haha)).
I’m sure we’ll discuss it soon but he has always said it was important to him that I convert… I don’t think he is looking to be super religious with our kids but he wants them to be raised jewish. I am sort of torn. Since I am not super religious I’m okay with the converting thing because its clearly important to him, but I don’t know if im super “excited” about it if that makes sense. I agree with some of the other posts on this forum about christmas being really hard to give up… I have the best memories associated with it from being younger (and even now!) and it makes me sad that our kids wont get those christmas mornings. I still want to go home every year and open gifts and sing and drink egg nog! It would kill me to give that up.
A few questions for those who have been in similar scenarios– first, what exactly is involved with converting? Is it like sex and the city where you get denied three times by a rabbi first? How long does it take (wondering when to start the process)? How do you find a good program/rabbi for conversion? Also, has anyone figured out a good way to incorporate christmas into a jewish household (so minus the whole religious aspect I guess)?
I’m open to any and all advice!! Thanks much!
Post # 3
- Wedding: November 2013 - St. Augustine Beach, FL
@305Bride: A good idea is to find a local Conservative or Reform synagogue where you can take classes and learn about it. They will guide you through conversion should you choose to. I highly recommend sitting down with your fiance to discuss what expectations he has for holidays and other religious aspects of your marriage other than conversion and how you each want to raise your kids. He may be okay with celebrating the secular aspects of Christmas like decorating a tree and opening presents so it may not even be an issue. Also discuss what might happen if you chose not to convert.
Post # 4
@305Bride: I don’t know anything about converting since FI is reform, but I mentioned to our rabbi that while I like our future kids being raised Jewish, I don’t want to give us Christmas or Easter stuff. I’m not religious but I enjoy holiday decorating. Our rabbi’s response was “you certainly don’t have to give that up! Tis the season!” Every year we attend Passover dinner, enjoy Rosh Hashanah, light candles for Hannukah (if we can find the menorah), I put up poinsettas and mini Christmas trees, and we eat Easter cake (it’s a Russian orthodox thing). It’s like double the holidays!
Post # 5
Thanks for the advice!! We definitely just have to have a it down and talk through all these issues officially. Good thear that other people are open to incorporating holiday traditions from other religions even after converting– Totally agree with the double the holidays thing, that is a great way of looking at it!
Post # 6
There is a class you take before converting — it’s usually 16 or 18 sessions and it covers all the basics about the faith, traditions, observance, etc. Reach out to your local reform judaism synagogue or google other resources about conversion. I’d suggest taking the class first before deciding whether you want to convert. For example, my sister-in-law took the class, even though she had decided not to convert, simply because she thought it was important to have this knowledge and understanding of her fiance’s background, and particularly since she and my brother had decided to raise their children Jewish.
On that note, your children can always convert to Judaism (quite easily if done before they turn 13), so you can still raise your children Jewish (send them to religious school, observe Jewish traditions in your home, and even have them convert), regardless of whether you decide to convert yourself. In my view, you shouldn’t convert just to please your fiance — it’s still possible to have a Jewish home and children without converting — so only do it if you want to, for the right reasons.
Also, if you don’t convert, you can still share your non-Jewish traditions with your Jewish children (like Christmas and Easter), by explaining that they are traditions that are yours since you are not Jewish. Or, if it’s easier, you can celebrate those holidays at your parents’ home in the same manner. (That’s how my brother’s family does it — the kids know that they are Jewish, but they celebrate Christmas and Easter with their maternal grandparents since their mom and grandparents are not.) I think it’s a little trickier, and more confusing for the kids, for you to celebrate Christmas in your own home if you have, in fact, converted.
I would definitely advise that you and your fiance discuss this and reach resolution before you get married to avoid any conflict down the road. Best wishes whichever path you decide to pursue!