Post # 1
Hello just looking to rant and possibly get some advice!
My Fiance is a non-practicing Jew, well he practices only for the high holidays. When we first started dating he made it clear to me that the woman he marries will need to be Jewish, conversion is an option. His mother converted as well. At the time I was thinking ok, we’ll talk about it when and if we get there. Low and behold, 3 years later, here I am. Engaged and starting my conversion classes!
I was not raised in a religious home, I was never baptised, never gone to church for holidays only for funerals. We plan on raising our children Jewish and my Fiance will become Kosher and we will have Shabbat every weekend. Still not sure about the not driving, cooking part but maybe one day. One thing at a time!
I know this sounds silly but I LOVE christmas. It’s never been about the religious aspect but I was the kid getting up at 4 am to go stare at the tree and presents and anxiously wake up my siblings and parents at 6 am when I couldn’t take it anymore. I have been collecting ornaments for my future children and would love to pass on the tradition to them. My Fiance says he is on the fence about celebrating it since we will be Jewish and we will need to keep it a secret from his parents! Huh?
Anyway, I guess I have many things going on but would like advice from anyone who’s been in this situation or similar? Also, going to see my Rabbi every week with my Fiance and I’m running out of questions to ask! I recently found a good question through another post about how I will ask if we can be buried in the same cemetary but other than that I’m stumped. Advice on questions to ask the Rabbi would also help!!! THANKS!
Post # 3
@octoberbaby: My aunt converted to judaism and she’s mexican. Her and her 3kids practice the religion. In fact, my cousin just became a bar mitzvah this passed saturday. They celebrate their religion and also christmas, thanksgiving and all with our family with no problem. So does her husband. They visit us for christmas and do all the traditional christmas things with us.
Post # 4
Ummm, ok. So you are doing all of these things to honor and celebrate your FI’s religious heritage and beliefs and he does what in turn for you on that front? I think it’s great that you both are going to be on the same religious page and the Jewish religion is probably one of my favorites for it’s richness and beauty in tradition….but your traditions, upbringing and memories have a place in your married life and the lives of your children…or are you just going to tell them you never celebrated anything holiday related until you met their father? C’mon, it’s a freaking tree! They’re little glass ornaments shaped like angels and elves, your man needs to man up to his Mom and tell her that in addition to the Jewish culture, we’re putting a freakin tree in the house!
Besides, aren’t we a little old to care what our parents are going to think?
Post # 5
@echolove: Her husband even speaks spanish lol. and the kids. He never stopped her from her family roots and family tradition when they got married.
Post # 6
I can kind of relate, as I am converting to Greek Orthodox, but I was raised Catholic, so its not too much of a leap. It is confusing, however, learning the rituals and customs, so I understand where you’re coming from. Because you were not practicing a religion before, though, I think you’re struggling more with the cultural aspect of it all. Being a cultural Anthropologist, I get that, too. I think maybe you need to express to your husband to be that its not a religious thing, but a cultural and traditional experience that you are sad to move away from, not a religous thing.
Best thing I can say is maybe find the things that you can do that will cultrually emphasize your Christmas memories and traditions without offending your new Jewish religious practices. 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. Totally fiction, but perhaps you could do something simliar, and then maybe compromise with a very Christmasy celebration this year and then doing little holiday things that aren’t necessarily christian-related every year after?
You can still save your ornaments and such for your children. Maybe adapt a new way to display them that isn’t very obviously in a Christmasy way—-create an art project, put them in a vase, or something of the sort. Make a new tradition that will incorporate both of your cultures?
Post # 7
I’m going through something similar. We compromised: we’ll do Chanukkah at home, but go over to my mother and fathers’ houses for Xmas. His mother wasn’t thrilled at first, but she realized later that these children are honoring both sides of their heritage and honoring their Grandparents at the same time, which is important to her. My suggestion is to introduce the idea to both of your parents early so they get used to the idea by the time the children are born. As a convert myself, I can say that it takes a while for the people around you to get used to the changes in your lifestyle. Best of luck!
Post # 8
My Mom converted to Judaism after she had all three of her children (myself included). That meant that we each converted as well. I was 11 when I went through conversion classes and my mikvah. At 13 I had my Bat Mitzvah right on time. My Mom grew up the daughter of a Baptist minister and though she converted and raised us in the Jewish faith – she and my Dad agreed to keep aspects that she loved about her faith as well. We celebrated both Christmas and Hanukkah…both Easter and Passover…etc., etc. My parents used it as an opportunity to teach us religious tolerance and even told us that how we chose to define ourselves when we turned 18 was up to us. You don’t have to be defined by one faith – just because you practice Judaism doesn’t mean you have to outlaw Christian holidays in your home! Have fun with it!
Post # 9
Are you sure converting is the right thing for you? Has being with your Fiance led you to love the faith or are you converting simply to get married? How are you going to raise your children as Jews yet celebrate the birth and resurrection of Christ in your home? These are the very things you are denouncing when you become a Jew by Choice.
I’m not judging and I LOVE the Christian holiday season as well, but I take it all in without bringing into my home. I love Christmas lights in the neighborhood. I enjoy Christmas bazars to see all the decorated trees. I go the the city’s Christmas parade and I have no problem going into friends homes for parties and gift exchanges… however, at the end of the day I’m a Jew.
I too am a convert. I spend Christmas day with my parents in their home. If Christmas happens to fall over Channukah then we open gifts as a family. If it doesn’t, I give gifts to my parents and I feel great joy in watching them open them.
As for the ornaments you have collected for your future children, if they are not religious pieces perhaps you could display them in the home elsewhere. Christmas bulbs look beautiful in clear vases and glass dishes.
If you were going to be an interfaith family I could see why maintaining christmas in your home would be important to you. But as a convert, celebrating christian holidays in your home really doesn’t make any sense (sorry ).
I know it will be a huge transition, but you will get through it! PM me if you have any questions. I hope this didn’t come off harsh… just some things to think about.
Post # 10
@kallahinbaltimore: +1. I was trying to think of a way to phrase my opinion without sounding offensive; you did it better than I ever could. Thank you.
@octoberbaby: This would be a great topic to discuss with your rabbi. He or she can listen to your concerns and talk you through the process. You might be able to compromise, as kallahinbaltimore and I do, by spending Christmas with your parents. However, if you are raising your children as Jewish, you shouldn’t celebrate Christmas in your own home.
Post # 11
Conversion or not, he needs to be willing to compromise here, you cannot do all the giving. I know many Jewish people that fully honor their religion, yet still celebrate Christmas at least a little bit. Be it just having the tree, or everything. Your parents are going to expect to be able to see their grandkids on christmas, give them christmas presents, etc. Your Fiance needs to be open to that and respect it.
Post # 12
@octoberbaby: Before you marry him I think you need to have a little chat. If you’re totally ok with converting then do it… but if he isn’t willing to bend on something like letting your kids have a tree and open up some presents, I don’t see a happy future.
You’re doing all this for him, and he can’t do one little thing for you? Be careful because you might start resenting him before you even have kids.
Post # 13
I think if you want to celebrate both you definitely should. Or if you just like aspects of Christmas, you should be able to do those. Such as decorations, etc. Sorry but most Christmas tree ornaments and peppermint sticks and Santas don’t really have anything to do with Christianity or Jesus purely on their own.
Post # 14
@kallahinbaltimore: “If you were going to be an interfaith family I could see why maintaining christmas in your home would be important to you. But as a convert, celebrating christian holidays in your home really doesn’t make any sense (sorry ).”
YES, this. It’s one thing to have an interfaith home and celebrate multiple religious holidays. But if you’re converting…Yes, Christmas is secular to a lot of people, but it’s still a Christian holiday, which is why Jews don’t celebrate it. Or rahter, we do in our own way: eating Chinese food and going to the movies 😉
As for other posts saying he should be compromising with you…yes, he should if you’re having an interfaith family. But if you’re converting, you don’t pick and choose the same way you do if you’re interfaith.
ETA: it also might depend on if you’re converting to Orthodox, Conservative, Reform, etc…I grew up going to a Conservative synagogue but have been going to Reform services for the past few years–the Reform mantra would be more about following what’s meaningful to you, but I still don’t think Christmas would fall into that. It’d be an absolute no-no for Orthodox.
Post # 15
Religion isn’t a compromise. You don’t compromise your faith in your belief in your God. That’s kind of where the line has to be drawn. If you’re CHOOSING to be a Jew, then you need to do it all the way, or it seems like you’re just going to be a Jew so you can marry the man.
Read and take in all that @KallahinBaltimore has to say.
Post # 16
@octoberbaby: My partner’s aunt is Jewish and her husband is Irish Catholic- they celebrate and participate in both traditions.
In fact, she has Hanukkah parties and a Christmas party too- it’s beautiful to celebrate both traditions especially as someone that is not Jewish- I LOVE experiencing this ancient tradition (her daughter’s wedding was such blast !). She has a Christmas tree and Hannukah candles; she celebrates the Jewish New Year and has St. Patrick’s Day feast. This list can go on ;p
I say, diversify your children in both traditions and I also say, and I agree what was said, you are too old to care what your parents think.
You are going to marry and start your own family, that is beautiful and too important to allow a 3rd party ruin that.