My Judaism

Guest Post from Shorty.

(This article originally appeared here and has been updated for today’s post.)

I can’t remember exactly when I decided to become more religious. I didn’t grow up in a very religious household. My parents kept kosher at home, although treif foods were “allowed” on paper plates in our basement in front of the television.

The fact is, I never learned to integrate my Jewish high school learning into everyday adult living, and the lessons from home left me feeling confused and detached from my religion.

Two years ago, I was rushed into emergency surgery for a ruptured ulcer. Being faced with my own mortality, I realized that life was short and should be lived entirely with meaning. Self-help books didn’t have the answer I was looking for and neither did Oprah or Dr. Phil. In time, my spirituality evolved from The Secret to the Torah.

My husband of almost five years, who isn’t Jewish, and certainly not religious (When I was curious about midnight Mass a couple of years ago, I had to beg him to take me and he fell asleep!), didn’t think this would eventually be part of the marriage deal. Our wedding was a non-denominational, G-d-is-mentioned type of ceremony, and he broke a glass for a little bit of Jewish tradition just for me. We light Hanukkah candles together (on the menorah my mother-in-law gave us as a wedding gift), and have gone to a few Rosh Hashanah dinners. This was the extent of any sense of Jewishness in this household. It is safe to say that I lived a more assimilated type of Jewish life, which isn’t shocking considering my upbringing.

As I don’t have any family in Canada, this mixed-married life felt very one-sided. I felt that I “had to” celebrate the non-Jewish holidays with my in-laws. I use the term celebrate loosely, as it was more about family getting together. But we do acknowledge the holiday itself. I never celebrated my own holidays. Eventually, I suppose, I rebelled. I needed to be able to express myself as the Jewish woman that I am.

My journey to becoming Shabbat-observant started at Sukkot last year. I found out about a local Jewish organization, whose mission is to get Jewish people to do something Jewish, even if it is only a little bit. My husband and were invited to their couples sukkah party. I signed up for their class on prayer and started to daven every morning.

We also started attending the Shabbat dinners. There was something so very holy about the weekly event. I wanted in. It started with lighting some candles and turning off the phone and the computer for the day. I wanted to see if I would go through withdrawal symptoms from the lack of email and Facebook. I managed to survive. Eventually my Shabbat turned into a ritual of preparing the slow cooker, taping the fridge light, storing hot water in a thermos and refraining from using the lights or the car. In other words, my Shabbat became–Shabbat.

Every Friday night, I read the kiddush and break the hallah to share with my husband. As he stands by me, I am thankful to Hashem to have been blessed to be married to such a patient and understanding man.

My husband is amazingly supportive during Shabbat (and all Jewish rituals for that matter). Since I can’t use the electrical appliances during Shabbat, he likes to ensure my comfort by cooking for me and turning on lights. I am pretty sure Jewish law doesn’t allow this and I could choose not to eat what he prepares or to walk out of the room he so graciously illuminated for me. There is however, Shalom Bayit–the Jewish concept of “peace in the home”–to maintain in this mixed marriage, and I certainly can’t ignore his way of showing his love and support for me.

Shabbat has become pretty special for us. We play backgammon together. I read and he plays on the laptop.

We were living out in the countryside, away from a Jewish community, so Shabbat got a little lonely when my husband does decide to go out. We are often invited to spend Shabbat with Jewish friends in the city. We compromise on spending the night, and in the morning he can leave, and he comes and picks me up after Shabbat is over after sunset. We share a beautiful Shabbat dinner with friends, and he gets some “boy time” on Saturday. We have also agreed to do these sleepovers only once a month.

A mixed marriage is a lot about compromise and communication. There has to be a little bit of give and take, understanding, and of course talking about how we feel about things.

We recently sold our home to move closer to the Jewish community.  When all we did was bike and race it made sense to live near the trails.  When we started on this journey, it became clear that living in the city makes much more sense. With the help of Hashem, we sold our house and found a new place to live.

For some reason, I’m not stressed out about our decision to move as I thought I would be.  I have no idea what we got ourselves into and somehow it feels…alright.  I feel my husband’s hand in min and Hashem’s arms around us both.

hannahdayan250Shorty has been married to  her husband for five years. She is learning to integrate her Jewish faith into her daily living in a mixed marriage. Since there are no real rules, Shorty and her husband are learning as they go. Shorty also writes a blog – check it out – Shorty’s Adventures.

If you would like to submit an essay for the MY JUDAISM column, the guidelines and disclaimers are here.

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  1. Lady Lock and Load says:

    “I am thankful to Hashem to have been blessed to be married to such a patient and understanding man.” UGH! If he doesn’t convert, get rid of him. What good is it to keep shabbat when she is married to a goy? Very nauseatingly hypocritical, in my opinion. Get with the program, lady!

    • ilanadavita says:

      Not a very nice thing to say I am afraid. People (even non-Jews) are not disposable stuff that you can get rid off.
      For some reason Shorty married him before becoming observant. He is supportive which is good.
      Besides if they do have children they’ll be Jewish.

      • Lady Lock and Load says:

        Jewish but very confused! I have experience in this, trust me. She can’t have the best in both worlds. Kind of having your cake and eating it too!

        • Vicki says:

          I’m the product of a mixed marriage. Jewish as can be, and happy that I have a lot of diversity in my family. Married a Jew. Just because my dad’s not Jewish doesn’t mean that I “can’t have my cake and eat it, too.” Very black and white way to look at things.

          • Lady Lock and Load says:

            Yes, you married a jew but she didn’t! Do you know how many kids from mixed marriages ended up with Non-Jews? Heck, even Jewish kids end up marrying non Jews. This is a very sensitive topic for me.

          • Vicki says:

            Marrying a non-Jew isn’t the end of the world. It certainly wasn’t for my mom, or my aunt, or any of the other members of my family who intermarried but still raised strong Jewish families.

            What’s worse? A Jew who intermarries and as a result tries harder to instill Jewish cultural and religious life in his/her children or two Jews who marry and are indifferent to anything Jewish?

            The OP states that she’s become religious and raising the children as Jews with her husband’s support.

            I suggest that it’s time to stop looking at non-Jews as somehow “contaminating Judaism” and more as equal partners.

            It’s a sensitive topic for me as well. Mainly because I’ve been intimidated by some Jewish communities into thinking I was somehow worse than “full-on Jews,” in spite of the fact that I speak modern Hebrew and devoted most of my college spare time to Israel activism.

            What’s most interesting is that in my college Hillel, our Hillel president, the president after her, and me, the Israel chair, were all results of mixed marriages and most often the most active Jews on campus. Stop putting people into boxes.

    • hadassahsabo says:

      I think she is very brave, keeping shabbat when it could be so much easier not too. One has to start their journey somewhere, and i believe we need to encourage rather than push away. Her husband may one day decide to convert and he might not, but telling her to get rid of him just sends the wrong message.

      • Lady Lock and Load says:

        I think she is raising her kids (if she has any) as confused as she was raised, even worse!

        • gemfit says:

          And I think your judgemental attitude is exactly the wrong way to look at things. I’m sorry to say, but this all-or-nothing attitude is exactly why people don’t feel some Jewish communities are at all inclusive.

          • Mark says:

            Like any community, Jewish communities aren’t “all inclusive” and as the name implies include Jews and exclude non-Jews. Otherwise it would simply be called “the community”! Also, by definition, it’s “all or nothing” – either you’re a Jew or you’re not a Jew, there’s no in between.

            But I agree that judgmental attitudes rarely add much of anything positive to the world.

  2. ilanadavita says:

    Thank you Haddassah for starting this “series”. I’ll add the link to my modest weekly review on my blog. In fact I had already linked to another post of yours!

  3. Rebecca says:

    Lady Lock and Load: I hope you remember your writings when you make your amends next Yom Kippur, for I feel they fit into the category of repentence. What is hurtful to you, do not do to another person…let us learn in order to teach, let us learn in order to do. When you close your eyes and light Shabbat candles tonight, I hope that you will see your typed words and maybe realize the poison you typed to someone you don’t even know, a Jewish woman, and make amends on Sat. night on here. While she does not fit your definition of a Jew, she is still Jewish, from bith. If you do not see the bias, I will pray that the poster does not take them to heart and continues to love her Judiasm and her husband.

    • Lady Lock and Load says:

      Love her husband the goy, right! You want your kids to marry goyim? I do not. Thereby I stand what I say, in pure honesty. If we want our kids to marry Jews, we have to be very clear on this…that it is unacceptable. Hadassah is showing love and tolerance for this, for example. Her kids may someday read this blog and say, hey, ma saw nothing wrong so maybe this will work for me! G-d Forbid such a thing should happen! My kids know very clearly how I stand on this, and yes, for me it is black or white. sorry guys, but this is the way I feel.

      • hadassahsabo says:

        Lady LnL – Just because i show love and tolerance to others, no matter what their choices, doesn’t mean that my kids will think it is ok. I teach my children the right way for us, but I also teach them that judging others for their choices is God’s domain, and we have to be respectful of all others even if their choices don’t mesh with our lifestyle.

      • Audrey says:

        Lady Lock and Load, I am a practising catholic married to a jewish man for 23 yrs. Have 3 children who went through conversion, to Judaism who definitely know their identity. To read your comments make me so sad, I will think of you in my prayers this w-end at church.

        • hadassahsabo says:

          Audrey – what were the challenges in bringing up children in a two faith household?

          • Audrey says:

            First of all Hadassah thank you so much for posting this topic. All I have to say is that He goes by many names but there is only 1 G-D. All I ever wanted for my children was that they would believe in Him. I truly feel they have the best of both worlds. They all have had a Jewish education and are very aware of their identity. Their grandparents are Holocaust survivors who accepted me into their family and noone has ever looked back.As for my family when we are altogether let’s just say it is a Mishpuka, and I am so proud of it.

  4. Rebecca says:

    Lady: My son died at 31, 5 years ago, of a heart attack. I would give anything to have him alive and well. If marrying a non Jew would bring him back, yes I would be fine with it. I know this is not what u r talking about, but when anyone talks about my “kids” I can’t help but bring Jason up. I will not change your mind and that is ok. What I would like to see happen is that you are not so insulting to posters on here. This is not my blog and I have nothing to do with it other than ask you for tolerance, which I don’t see happening. Your way is your way but, dear Lady, it is NOT the only way.

  5. shorty says:

    Ok Goy marrying Jew here.

    Let’s get things straight.

    I married someone who isn’t Jewish. Both my parents are Jewish. They tried to raise me Jewish. Only it was very conflicting. we ate pork and celebrated Pesach until we were out of matzah (usually by day 6). So needless to say, i didn’t see the big deal.

    When i decided to become religious, my husband stayed and supported me. When we decided to have kids (gasp) and G-d willing we will one day, we AGREED that this will be a Jewish household not a mixed one. He even agreed (and followed through) with giving away all the non Jewish holiday decorations. We gave them to a low income family. My husband said we did a Mitzvah.

    My husband may or may not convert i don’t know. I won’t push it. I’m not saying we have all the answers. But you know what, i know plenty of fully Jewish couples who are neither religious and are certainly not having things any easier in their relationships.

    Marriage is work mixed or not.

    Lady LnL you may not like it. That’s really your own problem. My decision is between Hashem and me. If he didn’t want me to be with this man, when we nearly got divorced, we wouldn’t have stayed together. In fact, this man by all reason and logic should have run away screaming when he saw his wife becoming Frum.

    He wants his own Kippahs and thinks the clips are the coolest things ever. this is not a man who is tolerating. This is a man living in a Jewish home and is happy doing so.

    I asked the Rebbetzin about all this. She said that there is supportive and then there is my husband. She’s never seen anyone like him. She told me that i shouldn’t feel like i should leave him. The Rabbi (orthodox!!) welcomes him into services and into his home.

    So while some people don’t agree, others believe that supporting our journey they are more likely to keep US in the community and OUR children.

    The fact is, there are many of US intermarried types out there. Judging us, telling us to divorce is not going to win us over.

    Fortunately for me, I’m comfortable with myself, my marriage and the community who weolcomes me and my husband with open arms.

    Good Shabbos!

  6. batya from NJ says:

    LLL, i agree with the others. it’s not easy to just dispose of one’s spouse who one married b/f they began their journey towards observance. i agree with hadassah & the others that what Shorty has done is most impressive & should be applauded & not ridiculed (e.g. get rid of him, he’s a goy). there is a process to coming closer to observance & your attitude hopefully will not turn Shorty away from judaism as it is very narrow-minded. perhaps down the road her husband will decide to convert but maybe not. what should be encouraged is Shorty (who was born a jew) to come closer to judaism & time will tell what her husband will decide & how their marriage will turn out down the road. it is not an easy process esp when she clearly loves & respects her husband to simply force him to convert or leave him. nowadays, with so many marriages that are unhappy, it is a blessing for her to have a good man & hopefully they will be able to work thru their differences in due time. support from others in what will help them & not narrow-mindness!

  7. Rebecca says:

    Thank you Hadassah. Yes, our loss is terrible. The pain is constant, daily. I have little tolerance for anyone who asks what I would do if my child/children did such and such. Children do not always conform to parents wishes. I wonder what kind of family Lady is raising when she spouts such venom. What will she do when one of her children/grandchildren do find and love someone not frum. It could happen unless she keeps her family locked up in a closet. There are other people who interact within the Orthodox communities. Are all Drs. Jewish, all mail personnel, etc. Will she sit shiva for one of her family if they “stray”? Having sat shiva for a child and knowing the pain I deal with every day, seeing Jason’s friends marry, have children, live, live, live… will she walk away from what G-d created between her and her husband? Maybe one of her children has already left the fold and that is what she is talking about when she say she knows…No one knows until one walks in the same shoes. Regardless of what you believe, what you preach… what you want. We do the best we can and then the rest, in my belief system, is in G-d’s hands.

    • Chanief says:

      Rebecca I too am sorry for your loss. I can’t even begin to imagine how painful losing your son is. I also appreciate your beautiful and eloquent words, you make some very valid points.

  8. Hashem brings people down their own paths. I converted and my husband chose not to. We raised our son Jewishly and have a Jewish home. I davened and asked everyone I knew, every kallah I met, to daven that my husband would convert. And guess what. Right before his heart transplant in March, he decided it is time. Hashem’s time line for my husband may not coincide with mine. I accept that. But I believe that we are bashert so for whatever reason, Hashem has brought us together and whatever plan He has…it will be perfect.

  9. Shorty- I think you have found a good man. He respects your choices and encourages you. I have two sons with disabilities and while I would like them to marry in the faith my most important concern is that they marry someone who loves and respects them for who they are. That this person will stand by them and help them through their lives. I am sorry that it took their issues for me to become a better person in that regard. I also remember when I got married and my in-laws were just so awful to me. The family therapist tried to explain it away because he thought I wasn’t Jewish.WHen he found out I was his attitude toward my in-laws turned to one of dissdain. But I ask why would it have been all right for them to be mean to me if I wasn’t Jewish. Intolerance is so decidely unJewish. Luckily the majority of Jews in the world understand that tolerance and Judaism go hand in hand. That in today’s world Judaism is a choice no matter who your parents happen to be.Good luck to you shorty. Happy new home and Happy new life :)

  10. I appreciate this kind of reflective writing on personal religious experience. I find it very enlightening to read or hear other people’s reflections on their own religiosity and how they make religious practice work in their lives. I was raised in a very secular home, and I find that these kinds of essays help me understand, on a personal level, how and why others make their own choices about their religious practice.

    Dear Lady Lock and Load, I’m goy. Like A LOT goy. So goy, I’m not even Christian. Your comments about marrying a goy and mixed marriages are really really offensive… offensive as in, if I said I didn’t want to marry a Jew, I might be perceived as anti-Semitic – but it’s ok when you show such prejudice? No. It’s not. Lack of tolerance for other people and for intermarriage is exactly the kind of intolerance that dominated 1st century Alexandria, Medieval Europe and Germany in the 1930s.

    Please be be aware of what you say and how you say it. Your prejudicial intolerance is hurtful and certainly not what your G-d would appreciate. If there’s only one, then we goy are His children, too.

  11. tila says:

    What is most inportant is that her husband is accomadating and not judging her every action. If they chose to live this way, and do so until the ends of their lives without a fight, kudos. There are too many marriages where no one can agree, even if they share the same religious beliefs.

  12. batya from NJ says:

    livia-i completely understand & feel badly for you that you were so offended by LLL’s words as they were so insensitive & reflected much rigidity on her part. i personally am an orthodox jewish woman who was raised orthodox my whole life & has always known that i would marry a jewish man but not b/c of racist & bigoted reasons. I grew up in a very traditionally orthodox jewish home (my dad’s a rabbi)& i always knew that i would marry someone of a similar background who would raise children in a similar way to the way that we had both been raised. i should mention that orthodox/traditional jews are not offended if a non-jew says that they don’t want to marry them b/c “marrying jewish” is something that most traditional (& even many non-traditional jews) want for their children in order to continue our jewish heritage which has been around for a long time. i personally am hoping that all of my children will want to marry other (preferably orthodox) jews as well as that is the way that they have been raised & it is very important to my husband, myself & our families. please understand that we do our utmost to be very respectful to non-jews despite the fact that we do oppose intermarriage. however, regarding Shorty who had already married a non-jewish man (b/c she had been raised in a very secular & assimiliated home) but has recently come to embrace her jewish heritage together with her non-jewish & very understanding husband, she (& he) should be commended by the jewish community & her husband should NOT be shunned away as LLL has unkindly suggested. i think we all must try to be respectful in how we communicate with each others as it is so important.

  13. Batya,

    I certainly understand and respect the drive to make a life with someone who shares your faith & values, but the claim of “tradition” has been used far too long to justify bigotry (racism, sexism, homophobia and anti-Semitism). While I don’t want to begrude anyone’s right to marry someone with whom they are compatible, I resent, reject and am offended by Jews who judge and decry intermarriage just as much as I resent, reject and am offended by Christians who judge and decry intermarriage. My issue is not that someone who is Orthodox or Pagan or Muslim or whatever would want to marry someone who shares their faith, but that anyone would judge or reject someone who fell in love with someone of another faith.

    I repeat, that kind of intolerance led to pograms in 1st century Alexandria, forced conversion and torture in Medieval Europe and genocide in Nazi Germany. I wouldn’t stand for that kind of intolerance towards Jews, and I won’t stand for it towards goyim either. Tradition should not be permitted to excuse bigotry of any kind.

  14. batya from NJ says:

    livia-one thing about jews is that we are not out to convert ppl (as the christian had or as the muslims would like to do). as traditional jews we believe that we should be able to practice our religion without persecution. we respect & tolerate other ppl who practice their religions. i respectfully disagree with you the that jewish ppl who want their children to marry other jews are similar to anti-semitic ppl who wanted to destroy the jews &/or force them to convert. we do not want to destroy or cause harm in any way to ppl of other religions & cultures. everyone should be free to practice their own religion in the way they choose based on their upbringing or other life choices. the fact that i & most other orthodox jews want our children to marry other jews & continue to practice traditional judaism with spouses of the jewish faith does not cause anyone harm. we would never forced anyone to convert to judaism or cause them to be systematically annihilated simply because they are non-jews but that was what was done to our ppl for centuries & THAT is pure senseless hate on the part of ppl. who want everyone to be like themselves. as i said, orthodox jews specifically discourage ppl from joining the religion unless they show that they really really want to join our nation despite all the many laws of the Torah that we are to observe. we are not out to missionize other religions to join with us & therefore i don’t think you can compare the 2. i understand though that our position is difficult for you to understand but i have tried to point out some differences between the anti-semites over the years & our point of view.

  15. I understand that most forms of Judaism are not interested in missionizing, and I do understand that most people would like to marry someone of similar faith and have their children continue to follow the faith of their parents. I think that’s totally fine. I don’t think that is, in and of itself a problem.

    When that desire to “keep the faith” becomes so strong that one (or a group) would ostracize an interfaith couple, or a family would ostracize a child for taking on a different faith tradition, **that’s** when it become dangerously intolerant. The danger can be demonstrated among Jews by groups who reject members who marry someone of a different type of Judaism, who marry Christians or Muslims and who punish these couples with stone throwing, beatings, rape or murder. I think we’d both agree that this is extreme, and probably not a common reaction, but it happens. Jewish intolerance is no better than any other kind of intolerance (although I certainly don’t mean that Jews or Judaism are/is inherently intolerant).

    I will maintain my position that tradition of any kind is not a valid excuse for bigotry of any kind – which is not the same thing as saying that traditions are inherently bigoted.

    (And I do appreciate the discussion)

    • hadassahsabo says:

      as Batya says below, we do not condone any kind of violence against those who choose to marry outside of the faith. Judaism is not and never has been about violence. The Judaism that I know is peaceful and caring. Yes there are people that would ostracize these couples, but there are plenty that won’t.

      one of the reasons we are so strong against intermarriage is nothing to do wit bigotry. its preservation of our people. we have been a nation for thousands of years and have stayed a people because of marrying within the faith. this isn’t bigotry.

  16. batya from NJ says:

    livia-it is a very complex issue & therefore difficult to explain to someone who is not jewish & was not raised with traditional jewish values. however, it is very challenging for traditional parents when their child who was raised orthodox abandons the faith/rejects the religion, or intermarries. i hope to never experience it first-hand myself as it would be very difficult for me (& for most other orthodox parents) to deal with, i will admit. you see, we generally sacrafice a lot to give our children a strong jewish education by sending them to private jewish schools where they learn the intracacies of jewish law & practice. of course, there are “bad apples” among our chlidren’s teachers (which sometimes include rabbis) that sometimes turn our children off of judaism b/c of their narrow-mindedness & it is very sad when that happens. sometimes orthodox kids will be turned off of the religion b/c of hypocrisy they have observed or because of some kind of abuse-be it sexual, emotional or physical. it is so challenging when children abandon the ways of their parents even if they have good reasons to do so. like i said i hope i will never have to deal with these issues although there are no guarantees in life & our kids will choose their own path & it will probably be somewhat different then ours (they may choose to be more or less religious than us) but as someone else said previously, it is all in G-d’s hands. we must deal with whatever comes our way & try to love our children & accept them despite their choices in life which may differ from our own. this is especially challenging for parents who raised their children to be traditionally orthodox.

  17. batya from NJ says:

    livia, one more point i MUST add is that even if jewish ppl oppose their child’s marriage to a non-jew i have NEVER heard of a situation where the family has raped, beaten, murdered, throwed stones at the intermarried couple. i don’t know where you heard of that so please clarify that statement. typically, parents of intermarried couples will sit shiva for them which means to observe a week of mourning as though they are dead which certainly sounds very un-politically correct but that is the practice as difficult to understand as it may be. it is not fair to embellish on the reactions that parents have by saying that they would commit all sort of atrocities b/c that is SIMPLY not true. i have heard of rapes & murders among the muslims when a family member strays & the family feels that an “honor killing” is in order but it is not the practice in judaism.

    • Vicki says:

      Sitting shiva for intermarriage is a cruel psychological type of exclusion, which, although I can understand from the point of frustration and devastation that your child is possibly going away from the community, is, to me, an untenable and mortifying practice that, while it is most definitely not rape, beating, etc, is horrible and, in my mind, disrespectful to families that sit shiva for real death.

  18. batya from NJ says:

    vicki, you are correct it is so sad for parents who end up sitting shiva for a child who intermarries. it is truly heartbreaking but for those families, the pain they feel b/c of their child who has intermarried is equivalent to the pain they would feel if that child has died as it causes unbelievable grief for them.

    i personally do not know any orthodox or traditionally observant ppl. whose children have intermarried & subsequently have sat shiva but i do know that it does happen. however, i don’t think the purpose is to be cruel to the child but rather b/c the pain is so strong & devastating for the family.

    • hadassahsabo says:

      i know of several families where the child has married a person of another faith. None of these families sat shiva. were they hurting? yes. but as far as I see it, a child is a child for life. I pray that my children all marry within the faith, and take the path that i wish for them. i know, however, that things happen. I would like to think that I would love my child and still have a relationship with him no matter what he chose to do with his life. (so long as it were legal). I pray I never have to put this to the test.

      • Mark says:

        I also know a family that has one child that married a non-Jew. They didn’t sit shiva. There definitely was a period of exclusion due to the shock of the action, but that eventually thawed after the shock wore off. Finally, after a few years, the spouse converted to Judaism. They are now a Jewish family and are raising their children as Jews.

        I think, and know, that in this particular case, it was better that they didn’t sit shiva and make that “statement of finality” and instead retained a decent quality relationship with their straying child. And this statement is quite surprising coming from me, usually a rather strong “fundamentalist” when it comes to intermarriage.

        Shabbat Shalom all!

        • hadassahsabo says:

          Mark – you are full of surprises! sitting shiva to me closes all doors for that child to be chozer b’tshuvah, to return to his religion. this case of which you speak, such an action could have prevented this child from ever returning to his/her roots.

      • Lady Lock and Load says:

        If G-d forbid the kid intermarries, would you accept your daughter in law? Let’s say you have other children who are not married yet, they see that you are accepting of the new daughter in law, would that influence your decision? My sister intermarried and it broke my father’s heart. When my other sister (who is not religious) saw my father’s reaction, she decided to only date Jews even though she was older. And yes, she did marry a Jew finally. She says it was only because my father took it so bad and she wanted to have a good relationship with my parents and have them in her life.
        It is very hard hadassah. When someone gets married they want their spouse to be included even if they aren’t Jews because the spouse is a big part of their life. They love him and want him to feel included. Would you include and have a relationship with a non Jewish daughter in law because your son would say I want you to accept her or else I won’t have anything to do with you mother? By the way… My Rabbi here told me that when I make chasunahs I will not be able to invite her (my sister’s) non Jewish husband to the weddings. It’s not gonna be easy. Rabbi said it has to be very clear that intermarriage is unacceptable and I have kids that are not married.

        • hadassahsabo says:

          i am not in that situation – i cannot say what i would or would not do. i would like to think that i would have an open mind and an open heart to whoever my children brought home. i say, again, that i hope not to be tested in that way.

          • Lady Lock and Load says:

            It is not about being openminded and open hearted. My sister’s husband is a nice guy but it’s about Halacha. We have lost more Jews to intermarriage that the holocaust because of this kind of attitude. I think you really can’t understand this at this point in your life as your kids are young and not dating. You would be devastated if chas v’shalom your son brought home a non Jew and it is important for them to know that. I sincerely doubt that you would be open hearted and accept this, as Judiasm means so much to you, as I see in your writings. You accept one non Jewish daughter inlaw, what is to stop your other sons from taking the same route? None of this open heart and open mind gobbly gook for me! I will do what my Rov tells me to do.

          • batya from NJ says:

            LLL, i’m SURE that hadassah’s boys’ would know that bringing home a non-jewish wife would not be an acceptable choice even though she tries to be open-minded to other people like shorty who is married to a non-jew & others. like hadassah said earlier, her boys will learn from her what is acceptable for them but not to be judgmental of others who may be intermarried for whatever reason. it is only Hashem who should be the Judge & not mere mortals as it says (i forget where-maybe pirkei avos) “al tadun es chavercha ad she’tagiah limkomo”-don’t judge another person until you are in his place. again, it is only for Hashem to do judge others…

          • Lady Lock and Load says:

            Batya…again, I must say that you never know what life brings. Do you have personal experience in this area? So easy for you guys to write about being open minded and excepting when you have no experience in this and are clueless what this entails and what the halochos are about it. So easy to say I’m “judgemental” when you have never met me. You don’t even know my name! Aren’t you the one who is “judgemental”?

          • hadassahsabo says:

            pls see comment #26

    • Rebecca says:

      Batya wrote that the pain of a child intermarrying is so terrible for the family. I pray that families do not know the pain of losing their child from death. There is no comparison. I know an orthodox woman who’s son left the being orthodox. They have 6 children and she talked about what “went wrong”. As has been said over and over here, we raise our children and hope for the best but again I must say… losing a child to another branch of Judiasm to me does not touch actually never seeing those bright eyes again, hearing his laugh, kissing his stubble on his cheek.

      • hadassahsabo says:

        you are right, there is no comparison. however there is still pain. I am sure it pales next to the pain of the death of a child. We all want our children to grow up in a certain way and follow the same codes and values – it is a disappointment went they don’t.

        But you are right, it cannot possibly compare to the loss that you have suffered.

      • batya from NJ says:

        rebecca, i am so sorry for your horrible loss b/c the death of a child is so devastating as it is totally against the laws of nature. i did, however, want to mention 2 things. 1-after speaking with my husband today about the issue of sitting shiva for a child who marries a non-jew, he was of the opinion that it is generally NOT done nowadays in the mainstream orthodox communities & if it is done, it is only in the more insular Hasidic communities. he said that in Europe years ago, it was much more of a common practice.
        2-also rebecca, in your post above, you write that losing a child to another branch of orthodoxy cannot be compared to the death of a child which of course is true but that wasn’t the issue that we were discussing the other day with the shiva situation. no family would EVER sit shiva b/c a child left orthodoxy for another branch of judaism. the only time that it would have ever occurred was when a child completely left the faith & married a non-jew which as i said above, according to my DH does not generally happen nowadays.
        again, my heart goes out to you on the horrible, tragic, & untimely loss of your dear son.

  19. batya from NJ says:

    amen hadassah & i wish the same for myself that i will never be tested in that way with my children. just curious though about the families you knew. were they orthodox or not b/c i have distant non-observant relatives whose kids had intermarried against the parents wishes & they did not sit shiva but they were also not traditionally observant.

  20. shorty says:

    Great discussion

    I know the general rule of not intermarrying, and I understand it. NOW. not when i was younger. I didn’t get it. I didn’t get it, because i wasn’t living in a Jewish way.

    Why do i get it now? Because my husband has all but converted really. He is a non Jew living in a Jewish household. If he wasn’t willing to be “less Christian” i honestly don’t know if it would work all that well. I have been blessed with someone very special.

    I did my research. Interfaith is very tricky. Its very hard to live a blended version of faith. It would be very confusing to a child to believe in Hashem and celebrate X-mas. Some families manage it, but from what i read, they live far less Jewish and far more Christian in reality.

    So to eliminate that question “what religion are the kids?” its definitely simpler to be both Jewish. OR is it? With so many alternatives and people hungry for a little spirituality…and don’t forget we really like letting the kids decide when they are “old enough”.

    THe point is there is no simple answer, whether you are both Jewish, or only one is…

  21. AshleyRoz says:

    I’m a product of intermarriage… two generations later. My paternal grandfather is Jewish, and Jewish only in that he reluctantly admits it and then quickly points out that he “gave up organized religion a long time ago.” For some strange reason even though I grew up in a largely secular household with Christian leanings (only in that we celebrated x-mas) I was always inexplicably attracted to Judaism. Even in elementary school I did all I could to go to holiday services with my Jewish friends and even joined a traditionally Jewish sorority in college. After giving up on Judaism for a while because I was dating a Christian for a few years a mere 6 months later I found my husband. A secular Jew from the former USSR who knew about as much about Judaism from a religious standpoint as an Amazonian tribal person. We got married 9 months after we met and are now starting our trek towards religious observance and I am working towards an Orthodox conversion, God willing.

    Now please, tell me what wrong my husband and I have done. I can tell you one thing… every woman he dated before me was a gentile and he was 32 when he met me. So in terms of him maintaining his Jewishness and having Jewish children, I’m the best thing that could have happened to him, considering his history. Not considering the fact that he is the only person in his generation of his family who has a Jewish household… the rest of them married practicing Catholics and protestants.

    For people like my husband, that kind of judgmental attitude is what initially turned him off from the community when he first moved here from Russia as a teenager. It’s also one of the many things that turned his parents off from having a religious life in America.

    • hadassahsabo says:

      Ashley, kudos to you for standing up for yourself and your awesome journey. You should be so proud of how far you have come already.

  22. AshleyRoz says:

    Haha the funny (or not so funny) part was that when I told my husband’s family I was converting recently, his father told me that if I became orthodox they’d make me shave my head and wear a wig. So I’ve had to stick up for myself from BOTH sides!

    • hadassahsabo says:

      oh my goodness!! if shaving the head was a necessary part of the whole hair covering thing, less women would cover. it’s only some chassidic sects….

    • batya from NJ says:

      ashley, you can inform your in-laws who probably have many misconceptions about orthodox judaism that most orthodox women do NOT shave their head even if they may wear wigs. the only women who do shave their heads are women who belong to certain hasidic sects but mainstream orthodox women do not shave their heads. just wanted to give you the heads up (literally-lol)!!!

  23. Dave says:

    @Shorty – your “adventure” and search for Hashem and your roots is very moving. You are fortunate to have such a wonderful and supportive spouse who is supporting you on your journey. You guys will figure this out together. I’m impressed.

    @ Lady Lock and Load – I think you could use a bit of a lesson on the tolerance that Jews have for those who are finding the “drech hayashar” or the just path.

    I would recommend that you read stories of the great Hassidic Master, R’ Levi of Berditchev, which might give you a foundation. Your comments have caused a rather large Chillul Hashem here and as a frum Jew are a disappointment.

  24. SR says:

    Wow, Shorty, I think it is so beautiful when people are honest and deep thinking and make hard changes in thier life and choose growth and spirituality rather than the societal ‘norm’or what’s easy. The world today can be very easy – choosing to become an observant Jew is not one of those easy choices. As some of the comments here demonstrate – you have to constantly defend yourself to family members and outsiders while deal with your own personal spiritual struggle and growth. It takes strength and depth. You should be Blessed to go from strength to strength.

    Interstingly, I do not think that from a Jewish Halachic (law) standpoint, a Jewish woman is even doing anything halachically wrong by living with a non-Jew. She is not commanded to get married and procreate the way men are commanded to. Marriage and children are a choice for Jewish women and her children are automatically Jewish regardless of who the father is. Maybe some others better versed in Halacha can correct me. Regardless of the halacha, IMHO,you are not doing anything wrong – the point of Orthodoxy is to always be going up in terms of learning and committment. Looks like that’s the direction Shorty is going. Good luck!

  25. batya from NJ says:

    hey, it’s me again & i just wanted to add that i consulted with my dad tonight who is an orthodox rabbi about the shiva question i had, & he too agreed with my DH that nowadays typically that is not the practice b/c these days we want to keep the door open for the couple to return to the faith & not be cut off from the Jewish nation. i was relieved to hear that the drastic measure of sitting shiva is generally not commonplace nowadays. i mentioned it earlier b/c i erroneously thought it was but i stand corrected & i felt obligated to mention in here. i will add that i am always impressed with ppl. who decide to become observant jews when they did not grow up that way b/c as SR mentioned earlier it is not an easy way of life to choose with all it’s laws & stringencies & therefore it is most impressive to me! all the power to all of you!!

  26. hadassahsabo says:

    Lady LnL and Batya NJ – let’s leave it here. You both have your opinions, and believe steadfastly how you believe. You can agree to disagree and we can move on. thank you.

  27. Mottel says:

    A per the Ba’alas HaBlog’s request I’m sharing the following link:

  28. mekubal says:

    I linked this thread on my own blog. Just an FYI.

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