Converting to Judaism rant..

posted 5 years ago in Interfaith
Post # 32
Member
2840 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: May 2013

@octoberbaby:  if your FI is a non practicing Jew, he might change his mind about being so observant (kosher and Shabbat) if he has never been kosher before and he might lighten up on you. What does he do about Christmas right now?

Post # 33
Member
8007 posts
Bumble Beekeeper
  • Wedding: July 2013 - UK

@honeybeelove:  “Totally off hand (and a bit silly, but relevant) in a Sex and the City episode Charlotte deals with the same thing (realizing she couldnt have a christmas tree, etc).  She resolved her issue by having one last big Christmas celebration with getting a beautiful tree, etc.”

This was my first thought…

My second thought was this… do you remember in the final episode where she and Harry get the news that they have been approved to adopt a baby?

There is a CHRISTMAS TREE right in the background!

And now OP: to be honest, Christmas isn’t really a religious festival any more. It’s more like a “winter festival of greed and gluttony”. Most of the symbols, such as the tree, are pagan anyway, and the red and white clothed Santa is a Coke trademark.

To be honest, I see more sense in your wanting to celebrate it as a secular festival than I do in some “Christians” spending a fortune on presents and stuffing themselves with food… but neglecting to go to church. As so many do.

Some people will probably take offence at that last comment. But I will not back down. So there.

Post # 34
Member
635 posts
Busy bee

Santa Claus bringing gifts is actually an ancient Teutonic tradition, and unrelated to the Christian faith. (Saint Nicholas, while a wonderful and giving man, is not Sinter Klaas and it is frankly a horrible disservice to his works to slap his name on the image and history of a pagan figure.)

Jeremiah 10:2-4 specificaly itentifies the yule tree as a pagan practice, so you don’t have to worry about your “Christmas tree” being particularly Christian there either.


In fact, in a celebration of European heritage, you can also enjoy: Caroling, stockings hung by the fire, a yule log, feasting, exchanging presents, wreaths, candles, strung lights of any kind, and honestly probably everything you find yourself fond of in the “Christmas Season” without touching one single tradition that has roots in the Christian faith. Just about the only things you’re going to need to exclude are mangers, reading the Bible, and attending mass.


Your husband needs to consider what he is really opposing here. Is it everything that Christianity has appropriated (sometimes even practices that the Bible specifically lists as pagan or ungodly.) Or is it every tradition that is not jewish in nature. Chocolates on Valentine’s Day banned? The tooth fairy? Festivities in celebration of Independance Day?

Post # 35
Member
1467 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: August 2014

@octoberbaby:  What a sticky situation…

I come from an interfaith family, I’m Jewish. My mom was Christian so we always celebrated Chirstmas, until my mom decided to convert to Judaism when I was 15 years old and my parents TOOK AWAY CHRISTMAS!!! What a horrible thing to do to a kid. Anyhow, the kids rebelled. We got the fake tree out of the attic, pur it up, and decorated it and everything, including with our great-grandparents’ heriloom ornaments.

I will be quite honest, I am a DEVOUT Jew. There are very few people I know my age who practice the traditions so much. At the same time, I am very open-minded. My FI is not Jewish, not really religious at all, and I am really happy about it because I get to have Christmas again!!!! And I would never ask him to convert. I did let him know from the get-go that I want to raise my kids Jewish. I have seen families “let the kids choose” but what happens is the kids end up with no religious tradition, or worse, torn between their two parents’ traditions, feeling guilty for choosing one parent over the other, and having a double identity crisis where they do and don’t believe in Jesus… So I commend you for committing to having Jewish children!

I do agree… You’re FI is so worried about what his parents think? Is he really doing these things because his heart is in it or is it about keeping his parents’ approval? This may be an important discussion to have. You have even go all torah on him about it, because it says in the torah that a man leaves his parents and clings to his wife (a.k.a. wife is higher on the totem pole than parents!!! within reason of course)  It seems like there are some inappropriate boundaries here. A wedding is a time of transition, the ceremony marking a new set of boundaries. You can set these boundaries in your ceremony. Is it just you and FI? Then non parents under the chuppah. Do you want your parents to always be sticking their noses into your life? Then include them in the chuppah. This may be a good discussion to have with rabbi and FI. REALLY I think you should bring up this issue to FI, and if it is not resolved it is definitely something you can talk about with the rabbi!

Just wondering… what Jewish tradition/movement are you converting under? 

Also, I have realized that if I want to be buried with my future husband it will obviously not be in a Jewish cemetary, but I am ok with that. I would like to find a nice interfaith cemetary or something like that. 

Finally, I think you should be allowed to celebrate Christmas. It is a cultural tradition, very much an American tradition. It is your heritage, and your children should have access to their complete heritage and the complexity of their identity. Although I celebrated Christmas as a child, my parents always told me I was 100% Jewish and I understood that. FI might be worried that your kids will think their half-Jewish, half-Christian (a lot of kids think that, but that’s because their parents were not honest and upfront with them). You can explain this to your FI. Be firm. You have made so many sacrifices for him; he can do this for you. You have an identity too, and it is unfair for him to expect you to give it all up. And you can even tell him a Jew told you this. He can read my post! 

Also, I really hope that you are doing this for the right reasons. Obviously you love this guy if you would go to all this trouble for him. I hope that Judaism has a place in your life. I hope that you are able to define your own Judaism. Every Jew thinks differently about Judaism, and you and your husband will likely have disagreements about it. There are so many contradictions in the text that can lead to extensive discussion about traditions, laws, etc. The discussion is open. And sometimes, even, the text is wrong, as we see in modern day society, where, for example, women now have equal rights. So do not be afraid to question the answers and take the time to shape your own Jewish identity as you take part in conversion, get married, and beyond. 

Seriously, if you need ANYTHING AT ALL, feel free to message me! I know a lot about Judaism, interfaith families, conversion, etc. I grew up with a lot of these elements in my life, I’ve been teaching Hebrew and Judaica to bar and bat mitzvah students for nine years, and I am experiencing an interfaith relationship right now. If you have any question at all feel free to message me, I’d love to help you however I can. This is one of my favorite topics. I almost decided to become a rabbi when I was still figuring my life out!

Post # 36
Member
10 posts
Newbee
  • Wedding: November 1992

If celebrating Christmas with your family is an option, that might meet everyone’s needs.Does your future husband keep kosher and observe Shabbat now? If not, maybe you should talk about what it means to him. Why would he change his life so radically after marriage? 

Often, Jews see celebrating Christmas as rejecting their heritage. 

As a Jewish woman married to a gentile I can tell you my feelings changed over time. At one time I was totally opposed to the tree, but the first year we wouldn’t be with his family for Christmas, I decided I needed to be more open. 

So his feelings may change, but you shouldn’t count on that. 

Best wishes for a happy marriage. 

 

 

 

Post # 37
Member
7644 posts
Bumble Beekeeper
  • Wedding: October 2013

first, his radical change to want to become kosher and shomer shabbos seems puzzling when wanting to marry a non-jew. did he want to do this before? you said he has been non-practiciting all his life.

when you convert to judaism, you are becoming jewish and plan to have a jewish home.

you can celebrate christmas with your family at their home.  but it would be confusing to the children to celebrate both.  and you can’t say we are celebrating christmas because it’s mommy’s holiday, when you have converted and it is no longer your holiday.

before my FI, i was dating a non-practicing catholic.  somewhere in the begining of the relationship, i mentioned that i would only raise my children jewish.  he agreed that if we got to that point, the children would be jewish (he wouldn’t convert).  i was ok with that.  as things got more serious, he wanted a christmas tree and the children to be baptized.  i told him baptism meant that they kids accept JC as their savior and that is not what jews believe in.  and we could celebrate christmas with his family but not in our house.  we argued for a year about this before i finally left him.  (there were other issues besides religion).

 

Post # 38
Member
1237 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: May 2015

I can definitely relate to your struggles with this, as it sounds very similar to my situation. I would do as others have suggested and speak to your rabbi about it. I think it’s difficult for a lot of people to truly understand unless they themselves have dealt with it. I definitely don’t agree with one PP’s comparison of Christmas to Halloween. Though many of us celebrate Christmas in a very secular manner, for a lot of Jews, it still represents Christ. I have learned from discussing the topic with my own FMIL, that many Jewish parents fear their children comparing the customs associated with Christmas with the Jewish holiday at the same time of the year. Like I said, it’s something I’ve been struggling with in my own relationship and journey, and I’d love to talk more with you over PM if you wish. Good luck! Smile

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