Monday, December 29, 2008

I don't even know what to think

So I decided to reach out to my dad one more time. He sent me an email about channukah and asked what was going on with me. I told him that me and B are thinking about having kids (and also getting a dog), and then wrote some heartfelt note about how I wasn't trying to make him upset with that news, and I wish we could have a relationship where we are both happy for each other, and respect each other's decisions, and that I don't not want to not have a relationship with him, but I can't go on having a relationship where I lie about everything in my life, and don't tell him important decisions. What can I say, I had just spent all of christmas with an awesome family, it was 4am, and I was feeling down on myself.

As so many people predicted, the thought of having kids must have shaken something loose in him. This is the reply he just sent me:

Hi Abandoning Eden,

We received your last e-mail and I read it carefully. It made me think. I always try to figure out what would be a "win-win" solution to various problems. What would make both parties ultimately happy? So, while I was davening in shul this morning (sometimes I get my best ideas while davening) I thought of the following possible solution for our mutual dilemma.

A win-win situation here would be one where you & B would be accepted and included in our family. Where there would no longer have to be a strain in our relationship. Where any future children you seem to be planing would be welcome and included. For us, a win would be one where you married someone within our faith. While it would be ideal for you to marry a frum man and be observant yourself, we know that that you are not at that point in life now. Yet, we are sure you understand that we take Judaism very seriously and follow God's word literally.

So here is my suggestion. Although I haven't had the pleasure of being introduced to B yet, from what you have told me, the two of you are very fond of each other and want to marry and start a family. I am sure he loves you very much and would not want to put you in a position where you have to choose between him and the whole rest of your family. So since he loves you and since you tell me that you are both agnostic and being labeled one religion or another does not mean all that much anyway, why doesn't he convert to Judaism?

Sure, I understand that a conversion for him would not be 100% sincere at this time. But, it would allow for the two of you to be included in our extended orthodox families, it would be beneficial for the religious identity of any future children and, who knows, maybe he will actually come to enjoy and appreciate our traditions and customs over time. It would also be beneficial for your siblings since it would set a good example for D and help E's chances of securing a future shidduch as well.

I would like you two to think about this for a while. If you guys would like further direction and counseling in this area I would suggest that you contact my Rabbi and friend, Rabbi XX, who is the Chabad Rabbi in XX. (About 30 years old, used to counsel college students and is very personable.) He does not know that I am suggesting this to you, but I have talked with him in the past about your situation and I am certain he would be amenable to helping out in any way he could. I believe this would involve some education/training on B's part to know what he is getting into, a private religious ceremony and dip in the mikvah pool and, when the time comes, a religious wedding ceremony (Chuppah) in addition to whatever else you both have planned, marriage-wise.


Rabbi XX can be reached at *Email and phone number removed*

I think this could be the win-win situation we all could live with. It's not a perfect solution but a workable option.

Best wishes,

Love,

Abba



So....I haven't even shared this email with B yet...he's taking a nap right now and I'd rather not wake him to talk about this.

Some immediate thoughts:
1) I told him we're atheists, not agnostics, it's interesting he said that we were agnostic as if he can't accept atheists (or it could be he doesn't know the difference)

2) I don't think this will be as easy as he thinks it will be. For instance, I know that when my ex converted, even though he had been circumsized the rabbi drew blood from his penis. I'm not sure B would be down for that. And, as I know from my friend who is converting to judaism, it takes like a year for the process to go through. We would be married before that, we're not changing the date of our wedding. We might even have a kid before the conversion goes through. So my parents are just going to not show up to our real wedding, and think it'll be ok afterwards?

3) I love the invocation of family guilt, ha. "good example for D"? D (my little brother) stopped keeping kosher before I did, and hasn't had a jewish girlfriend like...ever. I actually really like his current non jewish girlfriend and hope they end up staying together.

4) It's like a quicky shot gun wedding if I were pregnant...a quicky conversion

5) where does it stop? If we do this, will our son have to get a bris? Will he take our kids to religious services?

6) but I'm not just agnostic..I'm actually an atheist, and I actively think religion is wrong. I don't want our kids raised in the jewish community. I don't want them indoctrinated into that bullshit.

7) It's hilarious that he says he 'thought of this while he was davening this morning' when I know for a fact he has mentioned something like this to my brother several times in the past.

8) While B would probably have no problem with it, it would very much upset both his mother and his grandmother.

9) B has said in the past that he would convert if I wanted him to. But how could I ask him to do something like that just to make my family happy, after all the shit my family has put me and us through? So he just converts, and my family accepts me, and all is forgotten and forgiven? By them? But what about me? How could I ever forgive them for forcing me to do this so that I can have their love? Is that even love? Doesn't seem like it.

This isn't a win-win solution. This is a them-winning and me-capitulating solution.

57 comments:

  1. facts are facts even if you dont accept themDecember 29, 2008 at 10:04 PM

    sorry to break it to you but, no-one is smart enough to be a real atheist. And if you are an atheist why would you celebrate x-mas?

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  2. you have to be smart to be a real atheist? Why's that?

    And I celebrate christmas cause it's a fun holiday where I get together with family members. We don't do any religious rituals.

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  3. Interesting story.

    Although I haven't had the pleasure of being introduced to Brett yet, from what you have told me, the two of you are very fond of each other and want to marry and start a family.

    Your father's tone has changed, for the better. We'll see if he can keep up the nice.

    So since he loves you and since you tell me that you are both agnostic and being labeled one religion or another does not mean all that much anyway, why doesn't he convert to Judaism?

    I don't think it will be quite that simple!

    My suggestion in any case is that you consider it. I'm not suggesting that you do it. I'm suggesting that you think about the pros and cons.

    It might also be a good excuse to introduce B to your parents. It seems your father has come to terms with your belief issues. That's good! He may be willing to meet with B in the hope of bringing you two closer to Judaism.

    5) where does it stop? If we do this, will our son have to get a bris? Will he take our kids to religious services?

    I think the bris will be highly recommended. Unfortunately, most Jews put penis-cutting at the very top of their agenda :( Although plenty of Reform Jews don't believe in it anymore.

    Overall, I don't think you'll be a good candidate for a halakhic (Ortho) conversion. However, it's possible that you and B could actually get a Reform conversion or something along those lines. Worth talking to this Chabad rabbi about.

    I wouldn't even bring it up but Eden you seem to still have some connection to Judaism after all the pain it's caused you, so if you want to this could be a time to explore stuff like humanistic Judaism, etc. Perhaps it's just the family that connects you, perhaps it's more than that. Who knows. Anyways, conversions are not the worst idea in the world if it brings peace to you and your parents.

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  4. 1) Maybe he doesn't know the difference between atheist and agnostic?

    2) he is trying to figure out a way for him to be comfortable with your life style and your life choices and he doesn't want to miss out on the fun of grandchildren.

    3) why does all this bother you? And do you still reach out to him? If his attitude continues to bother you then you really have to face the fact that either 1) you have to cut off all contact with your folks or 2) you have to live with this torture or 3) this behavior on your part is indicative of something much deeper then can be solved by getting random and sometimes anonymous advice on a blog.

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  5. I am totally baffled by what your father is suggesting. Jews don't proselytize and the Orthodox are at least supposed to NOT convert for marriage. And conversions are getting harder and harder to obtained, and even these can get retroactively annulled if the convert is found to be non-observant. Which means, you would have to commit, along with B, to living a fully Orthodox Jewish life. That's not a win win, you're right.

    And if you're Ortho father wants him to get an R or C conversion I'm amazed that he'd consider cne valid.

    Even then, an R or C conversion is no mean feat. They're time consuming to do, often taking a year to 18 months to complete.

    Also, I'm the person who messaged you on LJ after you posted in a community, asking if this was your blog. I've been a reader here for months. Sorry if I freaked you out.

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  6. "This isn't a win-win solution. This is a them-winning and me-capitulating solution."

    How badly do you want to continue seeing these issues in terms of enemies on the battlefield instead of an opportunity to have a real relationship with your parents again? Plainly it's your choice.

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  7. How badly do you want to continue seeing these issues in terms of enemies on the battlefield instead of an opportunity to have a real relationship with your parents again? Plainly it's your choice.

    Do what they want is a choice, certainly.

    Of course, AE's parents could choose to abandon Orthodox Judaism (or Judaism entirely). By your logic, plainly, it's their choice.

    Everyone ends up picking the terms on which they have relationships (even with family). When those terms conflict, the end result is no relationship.

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  8. And on a much less extreme note than chosing to leave Orthodox Judaism, AE's parents could certainly say:

    "This is our daughter and her husband to be. While we don't agree with her decision to leave Judaism or marry outside the Jewish people, we love her and of course they are part of our family."

    But, you'll note, they don't.

    What they want, bluntly, is face saving. They want to be able to pretend that she never left Orthodox practice, that her husband is Jewish, and that nothing went wrong. They want to put a false front up for their social circle, and to my eyes, it seems that what other people in the Orthodox community will think is what really matters to them.

    I actually had more respect for them when I thought they were doing this out of a deep religious belief. But if they were doing that, then they wouldn't be proposing a sham conversion to make things "look proper".

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  9. Dave,

    You can see her father's offer in as cynical a view as you like but I see it as a man who's realizing that he's on the brink of losing his daughter and (yet-to-be) grandchildren in the face of religious decrees he believes are of the highest authority. The fact that he appears willing to accept her and her husband even with a 'sham' conversion means that he's compromising on his religious ideology for the sake of his family.

    As I see it, her parents are the ones trying to meet her halfway and AE is the one adhering most firmly to her newfound secular ideology despite the consequences it will have to her relationship with her parents. Does she care more about keeping religion at arm's length and not giving into her parents or more about the relationship she could have? It's her choice.

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  10. I've been saying for months that this blog will not solve the enormously deep issues AE has with her family, but I never get a response.

    If AE really wanted to solve these problems, she would get herself to a therapist and solve these issues like a grownup. And now that you have babies on the brain, I think it's even more imperative to sort this out with a competent counselor.

    I agree with Orthoprax, her parents (or her father) is trying to reach out somehow.

    And AE, your declarations of being against organized religion are bogus, because you've said a number of times that you would want you kids to have some concept of their Jewish heritage. And if you were a true atheist, you wouldn't find anything connected (even vaguely) to religion to be "fun". You would be deeply offended by the "fun" holiday's origins.

    As for being smart enough to be an atheist, that's a reference to being smart enough to be absolutely sure, 100% sure there is not any possibility there is a God. (that's the literal meaning). From an intellectual honesty standpoint, it's safer to be an agnostic.

    Also, how could your parents be so clueless about your brother's dating habits?

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  11. If your father is honestly religious, he should not propose that someone convert although he does not believe in it.

    So what he proposes would perhaps be a win/win solution for your family, but a loose/loose situation for religion.

    I am shocked that someone who, to a certain degree, has orthodox rabbinic functions, should make a proposition like this. To me, it sound like treason to the faith.

    You can send him this blog contribution.

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  12. Validity of sham conversions:

    In a sense, you could go for it without a problem: a sham conversion is not valid, so you could do it just to please your parents, knowing quite well that it has no validity. You do not believe in this whole system, so you do not really have a problem with it.

    It's enough that B thinks, when he goes to mikve: I don't want to convert, I'm just doing it to please Mister AE's father.

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  13. I agree with all your concerns AE. I would go further but Dave basically said everything I was going to. He's attempting to strong-arm you and, worse yet, B into a situation that decries and betrays your personal beliefs.

    And I love how in his e-mail he states this:

    "For us, a win would be one where you married someone within our FAITH."

    Yea, like it's about "faith". Come on, who is he kidding? If B's last name was Goldberg, yet he burned the Torah for fun, your father would have met and somewhat welcomed him as your husband. This is about overt tribalism and your father's unwillingness to live outside his Jewish bubble.

    If I was in B's situation, I'd throw up a middle finger and tell your bigoted father to shove his BS religion you know where.

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  14. Where does it stop?
    Nowhere short of being fully observant.

    If your father wants B to convert with Chabad, I suppose they would want you both to become observant. And I suppose that they would like to see it before they would let B convert.

    By the way: from what I heard, you would have to separate during the whole conversion process till you are married with Chuppa&Kiddushin.

    So you are right: if you go into a conversion by his standards, it would be unconditionnal surrender on your side.

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  15. PS: I would answer on a tone of moral outrage:

    I am shocked that you want B to convert without being honest. This is a treason of everything you believe in.

    I do not adhere to halakha, but I still have enough respect for jewish religion not to talk B into a sham conversion.

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  16. You could even go further and serve him some pseudo-mystic Bullshit:
    "Now I know why the majority of your children have gone Off the derech. Because you yourself do not believe in the whole thing...
    I am really shocked at the undecent proposal you made in your last mail...
    I decided not to adhere to MO standards anymore, but at least, I am honest enough not to go for a mickey mouse conversion.

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  17. PS: and tell him to do thourough soulsearching because it is not normal that someone should have such heretic ideas during davening.

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  18. I'm not Jewish (for the record I am apostolic) but in my mind the whole point of conversion should be turning yourself toward God, not other people. What your dad is suggesting is the height of hypocrisy and won't fool anyone. Orthodox Judaism is way too strict and unforgiving (from what I have seen of it) to accept such a conversion as truly valid. Besides, you don't strike me at all as the type of person who would consent to lying about themselves for the rest of their life.

    I'm sure your parents are far more terrified about the shidduch prospects for your religious brother, who they feel will probably be the one to pay for your "sins" as far as the community is concerned (the way Jane and Lizzy were concerned in Pride and Prejudice after Lydia ran off). I don't agree with that particular concept at all, but from what I have seen, Orthodox people do.

    Homeschool Mom

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  19. Oh yea and I love how he makes demands concerning your wedding. Now all of a sudden, he wants you to marry w/ all the BS religious garbage. He not only demands that your formerly Catholic, now atheist husband undergoes a sham conversion, but then attempts to dictate the type of wedding YOU will have (not surprisingly according to HIS beliefs).

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  20. The fact that he appears willing to accept her and her husband even with a 'sham' conversion means that he's compromising on his religious ideology for the sake of his family.

    By any Orthodox standards, what he is proposing is not a valid conversion. Even if you allow for conversion for the sake of marriage, no Orthodox Bais Din is going to accept as valid a conversion by someone who has no intention at the time of conversion of observing the Mitzvahs.

    Since AE's father knows this, he would know that the marriage would be an intermarriage regardless.

    So, if AE's father is willing to accept an intermarriage, there is no reason for this tomfoolery, except to provide a "beard" for his social circle. The comment, "and help E's chances of securing a future shidduch as well." is very revealing here.

    This is all about what his community will think.

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  21. Dave- I completely agree this is about saving face, that's why it seems kinda like a shotgun wedding to me. But i'm not ashamed.

    As someone pointed out somewhere else, I wrote to my dad saying I wanted a relationship based on honesty, and not lying about what was really going on. HE responded by asking me to lie to a rabbi, to my family, and to everyone in my community by going forward with a sham conversion so that he can save face in his community.

    Shoshi- I agree he is already trying to change our wedding plans, get us to do an orthodox wedding. It's like at this point, I would get married under a chuppah, but there is no way I would ever go through with an orthodox wedding ceremony, as planning an orthodox wedding with my ex fiance is really what finally pushed me completely OTD in the first place! There is just no way.

    Abbi- I agree with you that I have deeper problems with my family. That's one of the reasons I am so cynical about this solution my dad proposes. So B converts and suddenly everything is ok between the two of us? Maybe in his mind, but I still have problems with him that go way beyond just the situation with B.

    I may have said in the past that I would want my kids to have jewish ceremonies and stuff, but as I get closer to actually having kids, I really don't see that happening. I don't celebrate any jewish holidays now other than rosh hashana, and many of them are for the reasons you describe- as i learn more about them I realize that they are incompatible with my belief system.

    It may be safer to be an agnostic, but they are two very different things. An agnostic believes there is a god but that no religion has got it right. An atheist believes that there probably (or definitely, but I'm in the probably camp) no god.

    And my parents have remained clueless about my brother because he doesn't tell them about girls he is dating, and my parents practice careful denial if they ever accidentally do find out something.

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  22. Candy Man-
    That part about not having the pleasure to meet him is either sarcastic or delusional, cause I've tried to introduce B to my dad any number of times, and my dad has refused every time.

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  23. Dave,

    "This is all about what his community will think."

    I think that's probably part of it but you're being shortsighted to call it the only reason he's proposing it. I think he genuinely doesn't want to lose his daughter and grandchildren and is willing to compromise on his religion for them.

    I find it remarkable that other commentators on this site are so eager to shove that fact in his face in order to drive AE and her parents even further apart. But whatever, some people I guess have their own issues to work out.

    Folks, this is a family, not a stupid blog debate between the epic forces of religion and secularism. Put things in perspective.

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  24. Compromise would be saying things like:

    "Please dress to our community standards when you and B (and your eventual children) come visit."

    Or, "Please don't bring treif into the house."

    Or, "Here are the hechsher's we use. Can you have double sealed food under those for us along with paper plates and plastic tableware when we come visit you."

    Compromise involves finding ways for both parties to get along.

    I could even see, "Please don't correct people who think B is Jewish" as a reasonable request.

    But staging an elaborate sham? The only purpose in that that I can see is saving face. Because AE's father knows it is a sham -- he is the one orchestrating it. If he is willing to accept intermarriage, he doesn't need the faked conversion. But he wants it to put a false front on the situation for his peers.

    I don't like dishonesty to begin with; forcing family into elaborate deceptions for the sake of what someone else will think? Perhaps AE's father needs a better dictionary, I think he has emes and sheker confused.

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  25. Wow, I logged in last night and you were talking about cruises - now back to your father and his version of realiy. I can't deal with this right now. I'll think about it later. But, my first inclination is don't change any of your plans (your wedding date, your dress) because of your father's change of heart.

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  26. Orthoprax.
    There are to possibilities
    1) either he tries to fool judaism by proposing a sham conversion
    or
    2) he tries to fool AE by saying he wants a sham conversion, but he really wants a true one.

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  27. MOB- (ha your initials spell mob!)- there is no way i am changing the wedding plans at this point. We've already sent out save the date things to all the guests, and people have been booking flights and hotels and such. I already have the dress. Just no way.

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  28. I mean, for peace's sake, AE could phone up the rabbi he told her and present the situation honestly: My father told me that you were ready to convert B despite the fact that he is an atheist. Is this true? And if the rabbi is honest, he would have to say no. And then AE could say: I tried everything you proposed, but it did not work...

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  29. I have a few points & I'll try to make them succinctly:

    Don't trade a warm relationship with B's family (that might be ruined if you push B to convert) for a lukewarm (at best) relationship with your folks.

    Also, deespite the fact that B has offered to convert, he might end up resenting you if ou insist on it, even if he doesn't feel that way now. It could harm your good relationship.

    Lastly, if you are willing to compromise for your parents approval, you can make some moves like saying you'll join a reform synagogue and give the kids some Jewish identity. Send them info on the many interfaith couples who, while perhaps atheistic, have raised kids with at least Jewish identities. Explain to them that while you're not willing to make B convert, you are both willing to integrate some level of Judaism into your lives, (albeit in a nonbelieving manner.)

    One final question, though - B would never qualify for an Orthodox conversion, (or even a Conservative one, I don't think), so I'm not sure what your dad is suggesting. Would a Reform conversion really allow your folks to save face with relatives, which seems to be their main concern?

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  30. An agnostic believes there is a god but that no religion has got it right.

    I've always understood the definition of agnosticism as simply being uncertainty about God's existence, with organized religion being outside the equation.

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  31. Maybe you should table the discussion of this with your dad till after you're married. You can write your dad back and say that you will give some thought to what he is saying, but right now you are not willing to change your present marriage plans, but that you will keep his ideas in mind.

    Meanwhile, why should your dad be the only one be consulting Rabbinic authorities, so the only voice of official religion in this discussion is coming from your dad? You can meet with a Reconstructionist or Reform rabbi, explain exactly what your situation is, and ask for his or her advice! Not that you feel you need any rabbi's advice, but it'll give you ammunition in your "negotiations" with your parents. And you never know - you may hear some good advice. Contact me by email if you want the name of someone like that to speak to in your city, or simply do a search online.

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  32. I can't wait until the baby(ies) arrive and see B's perfectly nice family start talking about their "fun" religion.

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  33. Hey AE,

    I regularly read your blog, and was really hopeful in the first paragraph or so that your dad was actually coming around. I was very sorry that didn’t turn out to be the case.

    It seems like a lot of things have been covered here, but what your dad said about you being agnostic and not caring about one religion or another is reminiscent of a discussion I had with my mother so I wanted to share a thought about it.
    Several years after I told my (MO, non-observant) family I was an atheist, my mother made some comment about me being too apathetic to care about religion, and hence why I was an atheist. She really thought that being an atheist equates to not caring enough about religion to put in the necessary thought and effort to undertake the rituals and beliefs. Considering the painful struggle and significant thought I had put into it all (and the consequences of being alienated from my family and friends), I was pretty shocked that she perceived atheism to be about apathy.
    So I think that your dad thinks similarly (and probably thinks atheism and agnostism are interchangeable terms). So he may genuinely think that he's only asking you to put effort into an area you no longer care about and he perceives B to not have thought about, rather than actually asking you to change your identities. So it might be worthwhile to be very clear that you and B do have these very strong, well thought out beliefs, that they shape your values and how you find meaning in the world, and that he needs to understand he is actually asking you to submit your values for his.
    (hardly a compromise!)

    Cheers (and have a great new year!)
    Kat

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  34. "So he may genuinely think that he's only asking you to put effort into an area you no longer care about and he perceives B to not have thought about, rather than actually asking you to change your identities"

    Kat, excellent point.

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  35. Dont fall for it! It sounds like trickery to me.

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  36. To take a different viewpoint from the above comments....

    Doesn't Chabad like to make non-practicing Jews do just one ritual like shake the lulav or light shabbat candles precisely because it is a starting point and you have to start somewhere? Perhaps your Dad feels like if B would just TRY then perhaps he'll like it and continue.

    Not that I agree that is the right thing to do in this case but maybe that is his reasoning behind suggesting he go through the motions even though he doesn't believe.

    The problem with faith is that it requires a leap. You can't think your way there. If you don't believe, you don't believe. Dressing you head to toe and making you not touch your husband for 2 weeks of the month won't change that!

    If I were you I'd stop reaching out. If you don't see eye to eye now, you certainly won't when they are criticizing how you raise your children. Why invite comments you don't want to hear? Live your life and thank them for giving it to you. That is all. No need to write to him and ask anything.

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  37. Ah yes. Go through the magic ritual, even if you don't believe in it and then all will be well.
    Sounds a bit hypocritical to me, although I am sure he is just trying to reconcile his love for you with his faith.
    Too bad you can't have one without the other.

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  38. I also don't think a sham conversion will make anything better, it'll just make things worse. But you can point out to your father that your kids will be halachically Jewish anyway due to matrilineal descent, (according to his beliefs at any rate), which might and also make the effort to give your kids some kind of cultural Jewish identity.

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  39. AE, I wish I knew you because I am going through something very similar but am far less brave. My boyfriend is not Jewish and I am for the most part secular after growing up in a part-ultra-orthodox part-MO home. (I did light Chanukah candles three times on my own Chanukah for the sake of tradition). I can't think of a better solution than to break away even though I feel terribly because I know how much it hurts my mom not to have a good relationship with me. But I know that to my mom having a good relationship with me means having a relationship with an Orthodox daughter, where she can talk about Yom Tov, Shabbos, tehilim groups, and shiur. She understandably doesn't want to talk about where I spent Christmas. I find it impossible to call her because either we have a conversation that deeply upsets her or I spend the whole conversation dodging questions or telling white lies. I can imagine that is pretty much your situation with your parents. It just seems too painful and pointless to seek acceptance that will never be given.

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  40. Dave,

    "But staging an elaborate sham? The only purpose in that that I can see is saving face."

    Ok, then think a little harder. Maybe he realizes that B isn't going to be observant but wants to at least have the potential for a Jewish marriage he can accept? The point is not to be fake and tell people that B's a convert since he could simply lie about it for the same money.


    Shoshi,

    He does want a real conversion - that much is obvious. But he's willing to accept something not quite kosher for the sake of things already discussed.

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  41. Orthoprax:
    But that's exactely my problem. Orthodoxy says: Or you become orthodox after converting, or you just leave it, since it makes no sense to bring someone to transgress commandments he would not have if he did not convert.

    Now if AE'e father (who is "almost a Rabbi") wants B to convert, being well aware that AE and B do not want to be religious-orthodox, this means that he puts a stumbling block in front of a blind person. So he should not do it. I'm sorry.

    He should accept that AE's transgressions by marrying a non-jew is less than AE's and B's compiled transgressions if B converts and they both live a non orthodox life after it.

    At best, B's conversion would not be recognised, wich means that we are back to the start, but with a safek that B might be jewish because the conversion might be valid all the same. Who needs it???

    That's why I say: it might seem like a win-win proposal to "reunite the family", but it is a loose-loose proposal for the religion he believes in. So why does he do it?
    That's why I cannot understand AE's father's proposal from an orthodox point of view.

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  42. Ok, then think a little harder. Maybe he realizes that B isn't going to be observant but wants to at least have the potential for a Jewish marriage he can accept?

    How? How does a false conversion make it a Jewish marriage he can accept?

    The point is not to be fake and tell people that B's a convert since he could simply lie about it for the same money.

    You seriously don't see the difference? Telling people that B converted when B didn't is an obvious lie that would be easily revealed.

    Having B go through a quickie sham conversion gives a cover; enough truth in there to make the story hold together. After all, everyone else can be dan l'kof zechus and not dig.

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  43. ...or he secretly hopes that they will become orthodox all the same, as anonymous put it, and in this case he is trying to fool AE and B...

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  44. Bottom line:

    If B really could come to like Orthodox judaism and AE would still agree to be with him if he is an orthodox jew, a conversion would be possible and would be a better solution than marriage to an "unconverted" B.

    In all other cases not.

    So that's the question B and AE should ask themselves.

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  45. "That's why I say: it might seem like a win-win proposal to "reunite the family", but it is a loose-loose proposal for the religion he believes in. So why does he do it?"

    So when he put his religion before his family then people on this blog didn't like him. Now that he's putting his family before his religion, still people don't like him.


    Dave,

    "How? How does a false conversion make it a Jewish marriage he can accept?"

    You say it's false, I don't think AE's father would agree. Would he think it kosher? No. But he'd see it more like a work in progress.

    "You seriously don't see the difference? Telling people that B converted when B didn't is an obvious lie that would be easily revealed."

    I don't think it's so easy, but I see your point. My point is that her father wouldn't consider it a 'sham' per se.

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  46. So when he put his religion before his family then people on this blog didn't like him. Now that he's putting his family before his religion, still people don't like him.

    I don't think he's putting his family before his religion. I think he's putting his standing in the community before his religion.

    And that is decidedly not laudable.

    My point is that her father wouldn't consider it a 'sham' per se.

    Perhaps you can explain this to me.

    A conversion for the sake of marriage. Often considered forbidden, but allowable by some, so we'll let that slide.

    But a "conversion" by someone who doesn't believe in God, certainly doesn't believe in Torah m'Sinai, and has no intention of following Jewish law (much less the Orthodox version thereof).

    Please, let me know of any living Orthodox rabbi who is willing to publically state that that is a valid conversion.

    Now, I'm assuming that AE's father is not a stupid man. I am assuming that he is not ignorant of Orthodox beliefs on conversion. So, why should I believe that he would believe that this would be anything other than a "beard" for intermarriage?

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  47. They're narrow minded. It's not about you. It's them. And he means what he says. I realize things in meditation, he realizes them in his whatever you called it. The difference is I'm open-minded, and he would sever off his own arm (he doesn't actually want to lose his daughter) rather than fail his Jewish commission. Pity them. Hate them. But you can't change them.

    It's your choice if you feel you need to fight them out of principle. But I'm telling you they're not doing this to antagonize you. And yeah they sucked to you- but you turned out cooler for it at least. Unfortunately, it's the shitty stuff in life that makes us extra awesome.

    You'll never capitulate to them. But you get to choose how much you want them in your life, or how much it hurts you to feel like their love is conditional.

    Of course they're wrong. Of course you're right. The only question is do you want them in your life or not. I wish they were loving too. But I guess I value family regardless. How can we expect them to change if we can't too. If we can't rise above it too... I don't know, my upbringing was so different it's hard to actually imagine, so don't let me be to bold in this. It would hurt growing up in your family in a way it's hard for me to imagine. I want you to have your family in your life, ideally. But I don't want it to be at your cost. It's a decision only you can make. But I think it takes love and respect for you to convert and I think Brett values you that much. I think he would want your family in your lives and your kids. I think he'd feel badly if you lost them because of him, even if they do suck. Am I pressuring you again. Don't let me pressure you. It's got to be what's in YOUR heart. Meditate on it ;D
    XOXOXOXOXOXOXO Good Luck!

    I just want the cards to be perfect for you too! It's such a special day, I want to make it as awesome as possible!

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  48. Dave,

    "Now, I'm assuming that AE's father is not a stupid man. I am assuming that he is not ignorant of Orthodox beliefs on conversion. So, why should I believe that he would believe that this would be anything other than a "beard" for intermarriage?"

    He cannot accept B or his relationship with his daughter in the current situation for religious reasons. But with B being Jewish by some standards - or even with just the potential for becoming fully converted in the future - he can accept the situation as a foundation to build on rather than being totally hopeless.

    The point is that he's willing to accept B when B is in some ambiguity rather than being starkly non-Jewish. This is a compromise on his religious ideals which detests ambiguity and obviously would prefer they break up.

    I don't know why you think it's his standing in the community that is driving his offer more than simply his desire to have a relationship with his daughter and grandchildren. I wonder how well known it is that two of his children are OTD?

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  49. i dont think this has anything to do with face saving or his standing in the community, he's a parent, your his child, this is a painful situation - he's grasping at straws.
    first of all issues of conversion are not as clear cut as everyone is making them sound, theres a lot of grey area..
    secondly, i think hes more concerned about having a relationship with you and about his future grandkids than he is about your fiance's religious beliefs. he's worried his grandkids will get baptised, hes afraid they wont relate to their jewish family, hes afraid your non jewish husband will steer you away from them, hes scared you will convert... he may not say it, but i have no doubt that all these thoughts have crossed his mind.
    i think this is his attempt to reach out to you and try to find a peaceful resolution to this situation. he opened the discussion, if you really want a relationship with him, take his "win-win" and come back with your own "win-win". this is your opportunity for a discussion. ask him to meet you and B for coffee, tell him what you feel you could compromise on and what you cant. call the rabbi he suggested and be honest about how you feel and see what he says, then go back to your dad and tell him.
    i think you have a choice, you can either dismiss his request because it's an absolute lose-lose for you, or you can take it as a starting point and see where it can lead to.

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  50. This doesn't make any sense because no orthodox rabbi will convert anyone unless they are planning to live an orthodox lifestyle. Certainly not outside Israel. I don't get what the big deal is in your case anyway as your children will be halakhically Jewish.

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  51. I agree with mook and moom (the two comments directly above me).

    Try not to cut your family ties, AE. It's a harsh world out there, and family is a great group of people to have behind you...On the other hand, there's no reason to capitulate. There must be some middle ground for you to find.

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  52. People should ask for what they want.

    Since he is asking for a sham conversion, I am assuming he has a reason for that. But the reasons I see (and again, that comment about "E's shidduch" is telling) look to my eyes to be more about him and what people think of him than about them.

    If AE's father wants to make sure that his grandchildren aren't baptized, he should ask for that.

    Ironically, I think you can make a good case that the sham conversion would make it more likely any grandchildren would be baptized, not less. After all, a precedent would have been set. If they can have a sham conversion to make AE's father happy, they would be hypocrites to refuse a sham baptism to make B's mother happy.

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  53. After thinking it over, I came to the conclusion that your father's mail is really a - not yet unconditionnal - surrender on his side. You won. He saw that he is not stronger...

    But I still see no way out...

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  54. ...but he has not yet lost the habit of "dictating terms" as though he was still the authority.

    So do not listen to the "authority" part of what he says.

    Try to hear "Win-win" and make a counter-proposal...

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  55. "Try to hear "Win-win" and make a counter-proposal..."

    Why should she make any proposal towards reconciliation? Does she have any interest in having this relationship? Her other post suggests not!

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  56. Let me get this straight.

    Her mother pretends her fiance does not exist, and refuses to talk about him or even acknowledge him.

    Her father has refused every opportunity to meet the man, but now thinks that if B converts to a religion he doesn't believe in, that might make him tolerable.

    And you think AE is the problem here?

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