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iLove's avatar

Why is it important for your SO to convert to Judaism?

Asked by iLove (2339points) December 3rd, 2010

A friend of mine is recently engaged. His fiancee is Jewish, and is adamant that he convert and give up his Christian traditions. This is not the first time I have heard of a relationship where one person is requiring the other to change their religion in order to get married.

It seems as if this request is prevalent in the Jewish faith. I’m just curious as to why this is such an important ritual for couples where one is not Jewish.

Has this happened to you? Did it improve your relationship, or cause issues? Does this occur more frequently in the Jewish faith?

and I am not asking HOW to convert, I am asking why it is of such importance

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11 Answers

LostInParadise's avatar

In the case of Judaism, at least part of the reason comes from being a minority religion and a long history of anti-semitism.

tigress3681's avatar

You know, I feel pressure from my rather devout Baptist family member to marry a Christian man. I am sure they wouldn’t disown me if I chose to marry something else but there would be tension if my SO were Buddhist or something else. Especially if it was obvious due to clothing or jewelery choice or if they were highly vocal about being something else. I have come to understand that this is merely my family wanting me to be involved with someone who can be supportive and helpful in my faith, rather than someone who may make me question my faith. Of course it is not solely about helping me, I am certain there is a certain amount of it intended to help themselves in some way by knowing that their grandchild is following what they believe is the right path.

I would assume that Jewish people are much the same, although specifically I couldn’t be sure.

Neizvestnaya's avatar

Many Jews feel Christians are practicing a religion with Jewish roots so the Christians might as well go in for the whole nine yards. It’s not happened to me but when I lived with Jews then the feeling was one of wanting me, the person they loved and considered part of their family to come into the whole of their ‘community’ which was religious but also social.

Qingu's avatar

I certainly don’t think this is unique or disproportionate to Jews.

But Jews do it for delusional reasons just like every other religious person does it. Depending on the branch, the Jewish fiance may simply want to avoid having a mixed-religion household (which is sort of understandable in theory), or they may want to ensure that their offspring belong fully magical Chosen Tribe.

Somewhat related: when my (divorced) mom was about to remarry, my stepdad’s insane Hasidic sister would not recognize the new marriage until my mom went through a humiliating Jewish ritual with my dad. My dad, her ex-husband, had to come in front of witnesses and walk around a table three times or some shit, and say “I divorce you.” I still can’t believe they actually did it.

marinelife's avatar

I don’t know, but I think it is unfortunate when it happens to anyone of any faith.

Nullo's avatar

Religion in general is the sort of thing that’s better in groups. You do not need the marital drama that can arise from differing faiths.
Maybe she should convert to Messianic Judaism or somesuch.

janbb's avatar

I never pressured my husband, an atheist, to convert to Judaism. Nor did my son pressure his wife. I don’t think you can make a blanket statement. There may at times be some pressure on non-Jjewish women to convert because Judaism is matrilineal so the child of a converted Jewish woman would be legally a Jew whereas the child of a Jewish man not married to a Jew would not (would have to convert.)

occ's avatar

Some people/families/communities care more about this than others. In some Jewish denominations, a child is considered Jewish if they have at least one Jewish parent, and in other denominations the mother must be Jewish. There are very high rates of interfaith marriage in the Jewish community now. I think people are primarily concerned that the children be raised as members of the Jewish community, and this is considered to be easier in households where both parents identify as Jews.

I know many interfaith couples who have been able to raise their children with jewish traditions, so it is certainly possible to create a family with meaningful cultural and relgious Jewish traditions when both parents are not Jewish. But there are some cases where a person wants to raise his or her family wholly immersed in religious and cultural traditions and feels that it is meaningful for their spouse to join that tradition.

deni's avatar

Seems like the wrong reason to change faiths, or in some cases, join a faith for the first time. I would be irritated if my boyfriend, who is Jewish, pressured me into changing. Thankfully he doesn’t care and doesn’t “practice” much himself. I’m all about Jewish things and celebrating the holidays with him (I’m now obsessed with matzah (?) ball soup) but converting is not something I’d do on my own and it isn’t now either.

FeldBum's avatar

I think there is a fear among Orthodox Jews that intermarriage will lead to the destruction of the Jewish faith, since the belief is that the children of those marriages will have little connection to Judaism. There is also further pressure on non-Jewish women to convert, as Orthodox Jews will only consider the children of a Jewish woman officially Jewish.

That said, attitudes are changing. Interfaith wedding ceremonies are becoming more common. You can get an Interfaith Ketubah, or Jewish wedding document (see http://www.newworldjudaica.com/products-page/texts). I just attended a wedding that had vows and a ketubah, with a Rabbi and a Minister under the Chupah, and it was beautiful. Check out some stories at http://wedding.theknot.com/real-weddings/interfaith-weddings.aspx.

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