Interdating and Interfaith Marriage…What does the future hold?

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November 7, 2009 at 10:22 pm #4006

Emily01

Interfaith relationships are not always easy. My boyfriend is Jewish and I am not. His faith and culture are an integral part of his life and they have made him who he is and who I love today. I respect and admire his strong ties to his Faith. I have never been religious and I don’t practice any religion. We have been talking about the future and we both know we want to spend the rest of our lives together. The logistics of that are more difficult at times. I am willing to give up some of my own family traditions in order to support him in his faith. When we get married, it will most likely be a Jewish wedding. Our future children will be raised Jewish and we will celebrate only Jewish holidays. Coming to this decision was difficult and sometimes I do feel like I am giving up so much, not really a religion, but family traditions. Although I have never practiced a Christian religion, I have always celebrated holidays such as Christmas and Easter. As the holiday season approaches, I have started thinking more about all those little things that I will not have in the future. Things like lights on the house, a Christmas tree, and even Santa Claus. I feel sad sometimes when I think that my children won’t enjoy the same things I did when I was growing up. Some of my favorite childhood memories surround those very Christian holidays like waking up on Christmas morning and seeing a glittering Christmas tree with gifts everywhere or hunting for eggs at Easter. I do realize that my future children will have wonderful Jewish family traditions and they will feel all the same excitement and joy as I did at Christmas or Easter. But what about me? What if I change my mind 10, 15, 20 years down the road? I love my boyfriend and can’t imagine my life without him, so these are things that I am still willing to give up. It will change my life and I just hope that it will change it for the better.

Does anyone have advice about this?

November 11, 2009 at 11:54 pm #4026

DSarah

I don’t know that I have any real advise to offer you, Emily01, but maybe I can offer another point of view from the other side – I’m Jewish, and my Catholic boyfriend (he was raised Catholic, and fell out of faith just a few years ago) has agreed to raise our kids Jewish because he’d rather raise them within a faith.  For my own part, I’ve been to mass with him and his family on Christmas eve (which was rather surreal and slightly uncomfortable, I grant you), and I’m willing to celebrate Christmas in our home – from my perspective, it doesn’t need to be a religious tradition, since I myself was always told that my mother’s family (all Jews from Russia) used to have “New Years trees”… with lights, and presents, and the whole thing.  My grandmother always insisted on having one even after she’d emigrated to the US, and I loved it (extra presents!  decorations!) – and we always called it a “new years tree” rather than a “christmas tree”.  I think there’s room to adapt these traditions into our lifestyle without necessarily taking on the religious background to it… and since you seem to be attached to the tradition more than to the religion, I wonder whether this would be an option for you and your boyfriend.  

Whether it is or no, you have my respect for giving up so much.  I don’t think I would have been able to do so had my boyfriend wished to raise our children in the Catholic faith!  

October 2, 2010 at 7:03 pm #5094

Lindsey

Hi Emily 01! I just wanted to let you know that your posting on Interdating and Interfaith Marriage…What does the future hold? is literally EXACTLY my situation right now. As I read it, I could not believe that someone was thinking the exact same thing as I was. I would have written an identical entry without changing a thing!! I would love to share more about this issue with you so if you are still checking this discussion board, please email me at linzfeipel@yahoo.com. I am so interested to hear how your relationship is going now and what you have learned since this posting! Thanks so much for you post, it makes me feel like there is hope to make it work! :-)

October 11, 2010 at 11:56 pm #5107

Rebecca

You really need to go to counseling with your boyfriend because this could be a serious issue in the future.  Real love doesn’t require a person to give up anything positive in their life.  Your boyfriend knew you weren’t Jewish when he chose to begin a relationship with you.  He has no right to tell you to give up your traditions and culture.  If you, as a non-Jew, were good enough to date and be intimate with while celebrating your non-Jewish traditions then you should be good enough to marry without giving them .  
Unfortunately your children won’t be considered Jews by many in the Jewish community.  I’m not condoning that but you have to be prepared for that kind of reaction.  I have friends who were shocked, as teenagers, when they were told that they weren’t Jewish because they only had a Jewish father.  Even though they felt Jewish it still hurt them that many Jews didn’t consider them part of the tribe.  It will also be difficult to find a Rabbi to perform your wedding because you’re not Jewish.  If your boyfriend wanted to marry a woman who didn’t have a non-Jewish past he should have only dated Jewish women.  Your children deserve to celebrate your traditions and culture too!

October 17, 2010 at 1:54 am #5127

EJ

Emily01 — I recently spoke to friend who is the Jewish partner in an interfaith marriage.  Her children, now grown, were raised Jewish with only Jewish holidays celebrated in their home.  The children consider themselves to be Jewish, and are active Jews…and they feel they celebrated Christmas growing up because they experienced the holiday annually at the home of their non-Jewish grandparents.  When my friend’s kids told her this recently she was stunned, she’d never looked at their visits to her in-laws (which she to enjoyed) that way.  I’m telling you this because perhaps it’s a way for you, and your future children, to connect to some of the non-Jewish traditions you value — they could be experienced in grandma & grandpa’s home as part of grandma & grandpas holidays. 

October 19, 2010 at 5:05 am #5135

Steve

I too have been dating a jewish woman for several months now and the question of my cultural (raised Catholic, but non-practicing) will mesh in a longer relationship with her Jewish upbringing (she celebrates the holiday and the culture but is fairly secular otherwise). As far as I am concerned my only want in a future relationship (marriage, kids) is that my culture is not totally ignored.  I have no desire to raise my kids as Catholics, but I do want to participate in the secular versions of the catholic holidays (christmas, maybe easter… if only for the chocolate). I am willing to concede more for the right person (and she feels like the right person) but there are somethings I would like to continue. Anyway this seemed like a good forum I am pleased a place exists to discuss these issues in a rational manner.

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