Post # 1
Hi there, my boyfriend and I have been together since college (almost 4.5 years now) and have lived together for almost 3 (ever since I had to move for graduate school). We’re 24, he’ll be 25 in July. Long story short, I was raised quasi-Catholic, got confirmed in college before meeting my Boyfriend or Best Friend to appease my grandfather, with whom I’m very close. My Boyfriend or Best Friend was raised quasi-Jewish–I say that because his immediate family is Reform/almost non-practicing, but ALL of his extended family on either side is Orthodox. His parents were both raised Orthodox, but for career reasons/personal preference decided not to continue the lifestyle.
I hope/think/pray (well, if i prayed) that the proposal is coming within the year, but I know the family differences have been (& continue to be) a challenge, not to mention finances. I’m so tired of being invited to or even being in weddings of our friends who’ve met, dated, got engaged, & married in less time than we’ve been together. Recently, one of his close friends proposed to his gf of 3 years and they’re getting married before the end of the year, presumably b/c her parents have the means to foot the bill. Rather than be happy for a couple who is clearly in love, I managed to sink into a 3-day depression, couldn’t leave my bed, and caused a lot of friction btw me & the Boyfriend or Best Friend. In fact, I think my reaction is part of why my Boyfriend or Best Friend wasn’t asked to be a groomsman. That couple is also interfaith (he’s Jewish too), but since there are no Orthodox ties, I guess she’s not converting.
I’ve told my Boyfriend or Best Friend for a long time now that I’m willing to convert, despite knowing it would upset my grandfather. Meanwhile, because my BF’s Orthodox grandmother is deathly ill, we’ve been together 4.5 years and she doesn’t even know I exist!! I feel like my family’s feelings about the matter are largely ignored, yet even if I convert to Reform Judaism, I still won’t be “Jewish enough” for the majority of BF’s family. Recently, I found out Boyfriend or Best Friend and his parents sort of expect me to begin the conversion process before the engagement, although I thought I’d been perfectly clear that I would only do it once he puts a ring on it. HELP!!! I love my Boyfriend or Best Friend and even his family (the few aunts, uncles, cousins who do know about me), but I can’t help but feel like despite liking me on the surface, they hate me for being a shiksa.
Post # 3
Personally, I wouldn’t convert just to please his family. I’m not religious at all, and my FI’s parents suggested I convert to Catholocisim, but it’s not going to happen.
I’m not going to convert for them because doing it for the wrong reasons, is not in the spirit of the whole process. In my eyes it was almost insulting to convert because I clearly didn’t believe what I would have to say in order to be confirmed. It just felt wrong to me.
It sounds like his family would see right through it. If it’s clear you don’t plan to actaully follow the practises it might end up making the situation worse with them, if that makes sense.
Please don’t feel pressured to convert just to please some pf his family members.
Post # 4
My mom did become Jewish to be with my dad, although he never asked her to do so – she knew it was a bigger deal for him, so she did take classes to convert and made the decision for herself in the end. Funny cause when I was growing up my mom was much more involved in my Hebrew school than my dad. Anyways, I guess you should learn about the religion before you get engaged and see if is something you want.
I am now marrying someone who isn’t Jewish, and fortunately it is a nonissuse. Neither one of us is religious, and our parents aren’t either…. If they were though, we’d still be getting married so it would be on them to come to terms with it, not us… Do what is right for you two as a couple, cause it sounds like you aren’t going to make everyone happy anyways
Post # 4
Wow, this was like reading my own diary!!!! I’m semi-not-really-practicing catholic, and my (very recent) fiance is meh-Jewish. His family is reform, so I sort of thought it wouldn’t be an issue, but a week after the engagement his mom started to prod about conversion and judaism classes. A lot.
Unlike you, I am not converting. I understand though that a lot of Jews (especially mothers) won’t see you as “Jewish enough” if you’re a convert. It’s really difficult to feel like they don’t think you’re good enough they way you are for their son.
I know this is easier said than done, but try and focus on the way you and your boyfriend feel about it, and not about the rest of his family. After all you’re not marrying them! …although they are certainly part of the package 🙂 Hopefully after a while they’ll get over it and realize what a wonderful person you are regardless of your religious affiliation.
ps-I applaud you for waiting for the ring to convert. Stick to your guns!
Post # 5
Don’t convert. Don’t do it!!! I grew up in a Catholic family, and I married a man coming from a Jewish family, so I get where you’re at.
The instant that you fall in line with “not being good enough” for one thing, you’ll get it from many other angles. What about your children? Why should your traditions no longer matter? What if you want to decorate the house for Christmas? Nope, can’t do that. You renounced every thing you USED to do, just because his family is looking down at you? No way. Don’t do it. Your Boyfriend or Best Friend got with you as you were, you absolutely should NOT change yourself. It’s not fair. What is he willing to abandon for you, and hurt his family over? Nothing? That’s not fair to you.
Luckily I did not feel this pressure, but there was a subtle hint that I wasn’t “good enough” before I was even introduced to his family, because I wasn’t Jewish. I’m still not, but I am loved and accepted, and I am happily married.
Post # 6
I am Jewish and my Fiance is Catholic (grew-up Catholic but now does not practice it at all). My parents are somewhere between conservative & orthodox and have always pressured me to “marry someone Jewish.” I always wanted to and I assumed I would, but now my opinion of it all has changed. My Fiance converting was always a very open discussion between us and he was willing to do it for me as he knew how important it was. After we got engaged, we began taking conversion classes. My Fiance found it interesting but wasn’t completely drawn to the religion and did not feel like it was “him.” A few days before he was actually going to convert, my whole opinion about it changed. I did not want the guilt the rest of my life that he only converted for me, as that is NOT the right reason to do it. Although he ultimately decided not to convert, he is still just as “Jewish” as I am, without the official title. We have Shabbat dinner in our home every Friday, attend services for all the high holidays, and keep semi-kosher. We don’t necessarily believe in everything the Torah says, but we enjoy the culture of Judaism. None of this would have changed if he had decided to convert or not. My parents were very upset when we told him he would not be converting as apparently the official title of “Jew” is important to them. Most of my Jewish friends do not practice at all, and that is what pissed me off about what my parents thought. My Fiance could have easily gone through the motions and converted, and then decided he did not want to celebrate Shabbat or do anything. Instead, he is not converting, but is still participating in the religion as much as I am.
Post # 7
You shouldn’t convert just to have “approval” of the family.
His orthodox family will not accept you has a Jew if you don’t have an orthodox conversion, so don’t even worry yourself about them!
It would be nice to look into some Judaism 101 type intro classes and take them together. You may find that the faith grows on you then if you decide to pursue your conversion it will be for the right reasons.
As long as you’re looking at the reform movement, your children will be considered Jewish whether you convert or not. In conservative and orthodox sects your kids are only considered Jewish if the mother is jewish or has a valid conversion in one of these movements.
I also applaud you for not taking the steps to convert BEFORE you are engaged! I have a friend in your situation. She began the steps towards an Orthodox conversion and her bf broke up with her after she had been studying for nearly two years!!!!!
I also have a friend who converted for marriage, sadly her husband passed away early in their marriage. They had a daughter and were of course raising her Jewish. Fast forward 4 years and she remarried a catholic and is now raising her daughter catholic…..however she still has Jewish grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins……the whole thing is a big mess with one very confused little girl!
In these situations there is no “right” answer…..I hope you guys figure out what works for you. 🙂
Post # 8
Thanks for all the input, ladies! It definitely helps to know that there are plenty of others in (or who have been in) similar predicaments. I feel open to converting for a few reasons–not feeling connected to Catholicism anymore (in part due to my liberal views), wanting to simplify things when kids come into play, and some of the Jewish traditions seem more meaningful and beautiful than anything I grew up with. But, I also don’t want to “just do it for the family,” since I don’t think it matters one way or another to my Boyfriend or Best Friend.
It doesn’t seem to matter to his parents all that much—but I think it would if I were vehemently against the idea of converting and raising Jewish kids one day. I think the most painful part about it for me is that my Boyfriend or Best Friend just recently told his closest aunt that he’s planning to propose and, by appearances alone, she was happy for us, thinks I’m lovely and good for him, but wishes I had a Jewish mother. Meanwhile, her oldest daughter is getting married next month and had told me how they were planning to “sneak me into” the wedding, so that BF’s grandparents wouldn’t find out. All talk. We all know actions speak louder than words, so when the invite came in the mail, it just read “Mr. Boyfriend or Best Friend.” No “Mr. Boyfriend or Best Friend and Ms. Pretzelchic,” no “Mr. Boyfriend or Best Friend and Guest.” Needless to say, I was upset and he was pissed too and isn’t even sure if he’s going. But, in the end, I’m sure he will. His aunt has explained her reasoning to his dad (her brother) and while it’s sound, they either should not have told me I was invited in the first place, or at least should have called to explain directly! Am I right?! So frustrating that our 4.5 year relationship means less to them simply because my mother isn’t Jewish!!
Post # 9
I had an orthodox conversion. If you’d like to talk to someone from a converts perspective, feel free to inbox me. :-). I came to Judaism on own my own and converting is the best decision I ever made. For me it just makes perfect sense and the traditions truly are beautiful.
My fiancÃ© is reform and I feel like we are in an interfaith relationship at times!!!!! I’ll just say I’m working on him!! Lol
No matter what you decide, you should talk to your Boyfriend or Best Friend about “manning up” and claiming you as the love of his life!!!! I’m pissed about it just reading it! If that means certain family members disown him, then sobeit! You’ve been together far too long to be tip- toeing around the subject!
I personally disapprove of interfaith marriages, but since that is not the topic of this thread I won’t get into my reasoning…..regardless of what you decide to do, if you are the woman he wants to be with he needs to claim you to his ENTIRE family!!!
Post # 10
I sympathise with you. My D was dating a Jew for more than a year. He came from a conservative family, though he doesn’t go to synagogue unless he was home with his family and only during the High Holidays. She was however, accepted into his family…….went to his brother’s Orthodox wedding, met his family etc. Finally, I think they came to the conclusion that marriage woudn’t work out if she didn’t convert and she could not give up our Christian traditions.
However in your case, it’s different because you are willing to convert. A lot of orthodox people don’t even consider converts as Jewish so there’s nothing you can do to be “one of them”. If your Bf doesn’t stand up to his family, you know where you will stand with him…….always after his family.
Post # 11
I woudn’t convert. Religion is a very personal thing, and you really have to feel it and be committed to it; don’t do it to please the family or to simplify things. Esp. since you say that his family still won’t consider you Jewish enough even if you convert.
It’s up to you, but just think long and hard about why you would do it, and might you ever regret it?
Post # 12
Sorry you’re going through this. I can understand from both perspectives. I’m Jewish and my fiance is Korean. These are both very exclusive cultures. We are so lucky that we come from fairly progressive parents – his parents (his mom now – his dad passed away a few months ago) and family accept and love me for who I am and my parents and family accept and love him for who he is. In my case, the issue is made a bit less complicated by the fact that our children will be Jewish because their mother is Jewish. But in general, we’re very excited to raise our future children with a strong Korean and Jewish identity. To further simplify things, Fiance doesn’t come from a religious background. So we are not having debates about menorahs and christmas trees, or easter bunnies or whatever else might come with a mixed religion marriage.
Conversion is complicated and you really arent allowed to try to coerce someone to convert to Judaism (the opposite actually – you are technically supposed to deny someone 3 times if they ask for help converting, and then after the 3rd time, if they still want to convert, they have to find their own way….but thats getting very knitpicky as far as jewish law goes). Judaism is not just a religion, but a bloodline, so no, even if you do convert, you will not be part of the bloodline. But if you convert for yourself, and not for marriage that won’t matter. Once someone has converted to Judaism, you aren’t allowed to bring up the fact that they are a convert at all. However, if you do choose to convert for yourself, but you have a reform conversion, and his family is conservadox, then no, that probably won’t be good enough for them. As Jews, we are very concerned about assimilation (esp since millions of us were wiped out not that long ago), and its important to see it from the older generation’s perspective.
But if you do not feel any connection to Judaism, please don’t convert for marriage. It won’t do anyone any good and you’ll probably be miserable. Plus, you will have lost your connection to things that are meaningful to you and that you grew up with (as one poster pointed out, Christmas trees and Easter bunnies will no longer be part of your life…). But if your Boyfriend or Best Friend is committed to raising his children Jewish regardless, you should think about that before marrying him, as he most likely will not be comfortable with christmas trees and easter bunnies or church services. Which is can be a huge issue in a marriage. Definitely something to work out as far as what the expectations are before comitting to a life together.
Post # 13
You should only convert if the Jewish faith speaks to you. Because his family wants you to is NOT the reason to convert.
SO’s Jewish. His family is all Jewish. I know he and his family would prefer if I were Jewish. But I have received absolutely 0 pressure to convert. Nobody should be pressuring you to convert. It seems hypocritical for them to do so when he and his immediate family barely practice Judaism at all. Also, converting to Judaism is a lot of work. It’s unfair for them to ask you to do this just to please them.
Post # 15
@pretzelchic: honestly-you need to figure out what you want–because it seems like you don’t care one way or the other if you convert-but you’re using it like a carrot to entice a ring out of your boyfriend
If you are curious about converting to judaism I suggest you learn more about it to see if it’s for you–ultimately this is your life and your decision to make–not your grandma’s, not your bf’s family’s
Post # 16
Speaking from experience, converting to Judaism is hard. I mean, really really hard. It was the best thing to ever happen to me, but I came to Judaism of my own accord and wanted to be Jewish more than anything — and it was still incredibly hard, stressful, and sometimes heartbreaking. It changes your entire life and will take a minimum of a year (if you go the Reform route, which undeniably, will not be enough for most Orthodox Jews including the ones in your BF’s family). I really can’t see anyone finishing the process who doesn’t have their heart into it. Not to mention, most rabbis, even the more liberal ones, will not let you convert just for marriage. I would absolutely not convert if the only reason you want to is for marriage — it’s a long, strenuous process that likely won’t make your situation easier.
Best of luck to you.