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.
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.