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!
We thought that it was definately wrong that your husband placed such a threat on you. what a horrible effect it must have had on you and your kids. your husband better watch his back making threats like that. -0/8-/2002
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I would like to answer the person who mention her niece marrying a boy from an intermarriage. As you read my answer at the top of this page i am also a Jewish woman from the same background. I would not say that i was raised as a Christian but i was raised as "secular" that is to say sent to a secular school in France ,where the majority of the population is christian so school vacations and activities match with x-mas, easter, all-saint-day ...)(needles to talk about numerous visits to churches in order to study about roman architecture)
Many would have said i was raised as a non-jewish person but it turned out to be that i returned to Torah at the age of 18 being supported by my dear father (may he rest in peace), now i am 35, i consider myself being a jewish orthodox woman, i married a religious man borned jewish and also baal teshuva, thank G-D whe have 3 boys we try to raise as Torah mensch send to a Jewish school. You see, one never knows what kind of good Hashem Can bring to a situation which appears very pessimistic at first sight.To me, it is no doubt that the man your niece wants to marry wishes to achieve something in judaism but he doesn't know what because he lacks of genuine jewish concepts and maybe "dugmei chaya" -living examples.It's only the beginning of a teshuva, i would suggest to give him tools such as "The real Messiah" a book written by the late Rabbi Areyh Kaplan (may he rest in peace)in case this young man has no defined idea of the main principles in judaism compared to christianism. "The real messiah" is a very precise and interesting book,easy to read for a secular person, in addition it does not mention any controversial statement about who you know such as "mamzerout" even if Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan clearly explains christianism has nothing in common with judaism and a jew should commit himself in the jewish community and mittvos.
Another tool, last but not least, is giving him kindness,smiles and good words, avoid introducing him narrow minded people that consider themselves religious because they curse goyim, say they have no neshama, criticize and make fun of other religions, and other statements such has "you should abandon your father and tell your mother to divorce him (even if halach forbids intermariage is it really necessary to recall it to non observant jews to such an extend ?) (I faced such people and they really made me cry).
Thanks to Hashem I made teshuva with good orthodox teachers, they were tolerant and cleaver enough to explain halacha in positive words and ATTITUDES.
As regards Torah and MIDOS I learnt
more from sweet people than thousands of hours of Torah class.
I am not a Cohen Gadol to give blessings, but i Really wish that is the beginning of a true Torah Life ,i Pray Hachem that everething that will occur to your niece and family is for the best. - T. E. -1/2-/2001
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My issue is with my niece. My brother who has become observant and when he was married kept a kosher home. Because of the dynamics in my brother's marriage, my niece, although Judaically identified, is not practicing. She is engage to a young man from an intermarriage. To my knowledge the young man was raised as a Christian. My father who is 89 is most disappointed in her decision, as well as other members of the family. What suggestions do you have that you can advise me? My niece and I have a very loving relationship. I have not said anything to her about this. She is 25, intellectually bright and has an extremely responsible position. I believe part of the issue is she sees herself as not very attractive and has not really dated. This young man has been a friend of hers since high school. I welcome suggestions. Thank you. -1/2-/2001
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I married a non-jewish man many years ago. Unfortunately I did not bring my children up to be Jewish - in fact I brought them up with out any religion. I regret with all my heart doing this and there is nothing that I can do to undo the damage I have done to them and to myself. I have in the last few years come back to my beloved religion and try as hard as I can to be a good Jewess - I will never get over what I did and if I had my time over again I would never have entered into a mixed marriage -1/2-/2001
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As a Jewish daughter of intermarriage I would like to talk about something very important most people forget mention when talking about the danger of intermarriage. Let me explain and forgive my English since I am not a native English speaker, I am French and live in France.
I grew up in a familly with a Jewish mother and a Roman Catholic father, I would like to underline the fact that he was very understanding when I made Teshuva, how he supported me, loved and cherished me. He was such a refined person even though he left school very early he was clever and his main asset as regards Midos was the love of his neighbour (regardless of how he behaved), he was blessed with the middah of chessed and he would not have say a word of evil talk even under torture, he was a real rightous gentile.
When he passed away 6 years ago(may he rest in peace) I realized the sadness and voidness of intermarriage: we would never be burried together (after 120 years), the halachah forbade me of mourning on the Jewish way.
My father could not stand beside me under the Chuppah when i got married, nor could he hold my sons during their Milos as a Sandak, though he loved his grandsons as the apple of his eyes.
The fact is, that the same occurs and applies to converts, indeed, when they accept the yoke of Torah. But what is confusing for children of intermarriage is that we were born Jewish with this terrible reality to face and (not the easiest) TO ACCEPT.
So if you know somebody who unfortunatly
plans to marry a non-jew please talk about the children, not only about their education or Kashrus (which I consider being crucial Mitzvos)but also about their future as grown up children of elderly parents. Love for one's parents as strong as it can be, cannot prevent some very difficult decisions.
People should think twice before building a family on the basis of intermarriage. -1/2-/2001