Article Discussion: How to Talk to Your Kids about Interfaith Dating For Those Marri

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This topic has 3 voices, contains 3 replies, and was last updated by  Debbie B. 1688 days ago.

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April 10, 2009 at 4:14 pm #1479

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Click here to read the article: How to Talk to Your Kids about Interfaith Dating For Those Marri

January 12, 2010 at 2:25 am #4209

Kay

We are not Jewish. But our daughter has been dating a wonderful young man who is Jewish for the last 17 months. From the beginning we embraced his Judaism as we embraced him and told him that we had nothing but the highest regard for a faith-tradition that had nurtured such a remarkable person. We made it clear that we loved him exactly as he was and had no expectation or requirement for change in order to be acceptable to us. Sadly, these sentiments have not been reciprocated. And we have faced both “exclusion” and “discrimination.” It’s odd to me that his parents have not made a greater effort to include our daughter. As a “gentile” in the painful position of looking from the outside in, I wish Jewish parents WOULD forbid interfaith dating if they cannot face the possibility of welcoming a foreigner into their hearts, not to mention their spiritual lives. Our daughter is an accomplished and caring individual who should be regarded as a prize by the parents of anyone she dates. She sincerely loves this young man but constantly struggles with the rejection and disappointment she feels from his parents.

January 15, 2010 at 10:12 am #4219

kay

Looking for a response for help in understanding. Would like to start a dialogue. No need to worry– don’t offend easily. In fact, we still adore the boyfriend’s parents even though we don’t understand their fear (?). 

January 15, 2010 at 4:34 pm #4220

Debbie B.

Have the couple discussed the issue of children and religious identity? If your daughter would be fully willing to bring up any children as Jews (requiring formal child conversion if affiliated with Conservative Judaism), then the boyfriend’s parents might be a little more accepting. If you are not a member of a minority group you may not understand the Jewish fear of assimilation and loss of not only religion, but culture and peoplehood. I would guess that is the main issue. As a parent of a teenager, I have worried about this myself (see my Interfaith Family article “Do As I Say, Not As I Do”).

But there are other issues such as the fact that there is no religiously valid “Jewish” marriage of a Jew to a non-Jew.  Mixed faith weddings performed by rabbis are not legal Jewish marriages even if it has many Jewish rituals. When I married my Jewish husband, we had a beautiful hand-made custom document with wording much like a traditional Ketubah (Jewish marriage agreement), a flower-covered arch that hinted at the concept of a “huppah” (a traditional marriage canopy), my husband wore a kippah (even though he does so only when engaged in Jewish activities), and he stomped on a glass. But it was still a civil marriage. So after I converted (almost 22 years later), we had another small legal Jewish wedding with a legal ketubah, a real huppah, all the proper blessings, and even another ring.

I’ve always found it amusing that the traditional blessings for a bris (circumcision) mention marriage under a huppah. It seems funny to think of the 8-day old baby as a groom. But that underscores how important the family is in Judaism. And it is a clue to the loss that Jewish parents feel when their child marries someone who is not Jewish.

Your daughter’s boyfriend’s parents are not reacting to your daughter as a person, but only to what marriage to her as a non-Jew would mean for their son and their grandchildren. That’s why they don’t seem to care that your daughter is a wonderful person. I think your daughter and her boyfriend need to give serious thought to the kind of home they would want to make together. They need to be careful not to think that “love conquers all” and they may have to face some difficult decisions. Then they need to share these decisions with the boyfriend’s parents. It is nice that you would like to help in this situation. But I think that only if the boyfriend’s parents can come to an understanding with their son and your daughter will they be ready to develop a relationship with you as the future in-laws.

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