There are a few things in life I love. The sport of rowing my dog, my boyfriend, and Judaism. The latter two are where things get tricky.
I myself am the product of an interfaith marriage. My family, obviously, could not care less whether I marry a Jew because, as religious beliefs go, we’re a mixed bag. For whatever reason, even with extremely unobservant parents, Judaism has always resonated with me. The thing is, I always felt like a hanger-on. Like an outsider. A lot of my Jewish friends didn’t consider me to be “really Jewish” but I felt too Jewish to not be authentic. With my hair, and the last name Rosenberg it seems like a ridiculous question.
What this has led to in my twenties, is me spending a lot of time devoted to trying to get find a religious community in the Boston, where I’ve lived since college. This isn’t easy. I spend a lot of time playing catch-up, since what a lot of kids learned as kindergarteners, I’m just starting to learn now. See, I want to embrace Judaism as much as I can in my adult life. I want to follow the Torah and raise my (future) kids in the kind of religious tradition and community that I was always hanging around the outside of as a kid, too afraid to actually walk into a temple. But now I have a different road block. Many more observant folks seem to think that these goals are incompatible with a serious relationship with a non-Jew. Coming from the background that I do, questioning my commitment or “credentials” really gets my Jewish/Sicilian temper going. But when faced with a choice of inclusion in a traditional Jewish community and commitment to my relationship, I’m unable to err on the side of the Rabbis. As much as I want my future children to have everything I didn’t (isn’t that the definition of parenthood?) I could never leave my boyfriend for his religious beliefs. G-d tells us to be kind and just to all, not just other Jews. It feels very unjust to leave someone over that. The second option, of course, is conversion. But I could never ask someone to convert. If he decided he wanted to, truly wanted to, because he believed and felt that it was the right thing to do, that would be one thing. It would make me the happiest girl in the world. But I don’t see that happening and I would never want him to feel he had to do something he didn’t believe in. Frankly, I don’t feel like either of those options are very Jewish. We don’t force our beliefs on anyone and we don’t, or at least shouldn’t, consider non-Jews unworthy of our time, compassion, and yes, love. With Rosh Hashanah just concluded, I’m praying and hoping in spite of 26 years of evidence to the contrary,that this year, 5779, will be the year that the religion I love stops breaking my heart.