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Karen's Story

It gives me mixed emotions to write this story.

In a recent Dvar Torah (Lifeline, Vayishlach), Rabbi Yaakov Menken described a father talking of his daughter's predicament in a marriage. I thought he was writing about me, because, lo and behold, the exact same thing happened to me. Except, in my case my ex-husband threatened to teach Christian beliefs to my son if I ever left him. During the marriage, after his religious revolution, he erred on being not too dominating with his new religion.

It is very important to understand that the only reason I agreed to marry my ex-husband was that he promised, before we got married, that he would allow me to raise our children as Jews (in all meanings of the word). He agreed.

Well, fast forward to the custody battle. Religion became an issue. He participated in the circumcision of my son and understood the religion. These facts are very important, because the judge in my court case ruled based on these facts (and especially on the verbal promise) that my son's father was not to take him to any of his religious activities, to a church, prayer group, teach his religion, etc. He also is to serve no pork or shellfish to my son (and when my son is older, no meat and milk). I wasn't able to enforce the kosher meat or house rule. At least, he is not to say anything bad about Judaism to my son, but is to support my son's Judaism by not insulting it and allowing my son to practice it. He can only explain to my son his religious beliefs but not enforce them upon my son. This is an extremely favorable ruling, which others may need to know about.

However, I have learned my lesson. Judaism is my priority (I must not have had it high on the list, since I married a non-Jew -- I realize that now). Now that I am meeting people again, I will only meet Jewish men, all others are out of the picture completely. I feel I have saved my son's life. He goes to the JCC and we attend children's Shabbat services. And we are Jews inside and out. I always have been my whole life. To me it is who I am, what I do, how I think. I am so proud to be Jewish.

I thank you for reading this note. I got a lot out of Rabbi Menken's message and totally agree that we must marry within our culture and religion, Judaism. I hope you do too.

Thank you, Rabbi Menken, for your words, and Good Luck with touching others out there on the web!



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