I was the one who adamantly declared that I would never marry out.Not because my parents were against it; they didn’t need to tell me because my traditional Jewish upbringing and day-school education were my safeguards.
I was sitting firmly in the driver’s seat with mine, so much so that I became the leader of a Zionist youth movement, and started to mix with an idealistic new crowd. Things were getting serious, but I was ignoring the ramifications, because, you remember, I was not going to marry out.In the Talmud, Rabbi Hillel warns us that we should be careful not to judge another person until we have stood in their place. Related Article: Why Not Intermarry The Heartthrob One night I went to a party for friends who had just returned from a year in Israel. So, unbelievably, on the first date we spoke about him converting. Soon I realized that I couldn’t practically hide it from my parents any longer.It was an inspiring night full of memories and promise for the future. And, if that wasn’t enough for my ego, he was a commercial pilot. Related Article: Chicken Soup with Chopsticks A Night to Remember We set a date to meet. The Fifth Commandment The confession took place at a restaurant.As we gathered round looking at photos, I pretended not to notice the attractive guy sitting next to me. I convinced myself it would be a completely harmless evening that would chalk up a point for my flirting skills. We revved up the night with a ride on his motorbike. I simply let my parents know that I was dating a non-Jew, but not to worry.I don’t remember making conversation, but apparently I must have mumbled something, since the next morning the host of the party told me that Mr. As I was catching my breath, she casually mentioned, “Oh, I told him you don’t date non-Jews, and he’s fine with that. He really liked you.” This was a delicate situation, to say the least. Then we talked, and laughed, and talked and laughed some more. They should know me well enough to know that I wasn’t going to marry him. Not because we were in a public place, but because they were smart enough to think before they spoke.
Here I was, being pursued by a bona fide heartthrob with absolutely no strings attached. Dinner ended awkwardly, amidst the forlorn clinking of cutlery toying with barely eaten food. I had not seen him shed a tear since his mother passed away, over a decade before.
The next day, I delivered my father his traditional Sunday breakfast in bed. Later, in the kitchen, I baked cakes with my mother. And it was vitally important that my future husband feel the same. Related Article: Get Me to the Church on Time The Breakup It wasn’t so difficult after that.
“You should know,” she suddenly said, “we won’t be rude to him if you bring him here. I guess I never thought that far,” he admitted, somewhat ashamed. “Look, if, as you say, you are definitely not going to marry the guy, then why on earth would you keep dating him? A short, tense phone call ended what would have been the mistake of a lifetime.
But don’t expect us to be anything other than civil. For the first time ever, I had stumped my brilliant lawyer father. If it’s so hard for you to end it now, think how difficult it will be later, since there will be a time when it will end, according to you. Jewish day school, Jewish friends, a traditional Jewish home. For the first time in my life, I consciously thought about, and decided, who I was, what I wanted to be, and what was truly important. I never saw or spoke to him again, although I cried for days.
It’s just too hard.” I wanted so much to honor my parents. Seeking Legal Counsel The next day I found myself in the car with my father. There we sat for a good few minutes, lost in our separate worlds. ” “Because it’s important that we preserve our unique heritage.” he replied, surprised by this basic question coming from me. “Yes, but what’s so special about our heritage, I mean, why is it SO important that there be Jews in the world? “Because we are supposed to be a light among the nations,” he stressed, wondering where this was going. “So, Dad, if our heritage is so special, and we have to be a light among the nations, and my entire future depends on it, why do I eat Mc Donalds, and why on earth don't we keep Shabbat?! Why would an intelligent girl do that to herself, or worse, to the person she says she cares about?! My heart was heavy with respect for my parents and the desire to please them. Why had it been so fundamentally clear to me that I would marry a Jew? There had been no challenge, no threat, no temptation. But now my exclusive Jewish education and traditional upbringing was on trial. I don’t really know why, but I think it had something to do with my soul. If we want the Jewish People to survive, we need to care about all these things, more than we care about ourselves. All the private Jewish day schooling, extra-curricular activities, tutoring, youth groups, social events, community get-togethers, online newsletters, dating clubs and support groups have a gargantuan uphill battle and built-in disadvantage when faced with the masses of Jews that grow up in homes void of any practical Jewish expression.
I, in my bubble of optimistic self-gratification, and my father – mourning the potential loss of future generations. I felt the weight of my Jewish identity on my fragile shoulders. This is an event that took place almost two decades ago, but looking at today’s frightening assimilation statistics, it could have happened yesterday. Getting Back to Basics How do we practically go about nurturing a caring relationship with our Jewishness? Jewish educational institutions and community groups are the necessary lifelines that extend from our homes to our collective future.