Dear Matchmaker Rabbi:
I’ve been dating this very gorgeous and dedicated guy I’ll call Joshua for about a year, but he isn’t Jewish. I like him a lot, but I’m not sure if I should continue seeing him since I know I want to marry someone Jewish.
Recently he asked me if it would be better if he was Jewish. I said “Yes” in a matter-of-fact manner. He took it very badly. I was hoping maybe he would consider conversion, but he feels like I should love him for who he is. When I first met him as counselors at a Jewish summer camp, I had assumed he was Jewish — I mean a guy named Joshua from Maryland at JCC camp, come on! Who would have thought!? Now what do I do!?!
— Feeling conflicted
The fact you say you think you should break up with Joshua because he isn’t Jewish, but then also say you have been dating him for an entire year, makes me wonder if this is the real reason you are considering a break up.
If marrying someone Jewish really is a “deal breaker” criteria for you, why did you begin the relationship to begin with? Did you not know how important it was for you? Or has it become more important over time? Or is there maybe something else lacking in the relationship that you don’t want to admit to yourself?
Of course only you can answer those questions. If the only issue really is the fact he isn’t Jewish, and this really is a “deal breaker” issue for you, then you should definitely break up. To do otherwise would be to waste your time and even worse to waste his — since you are essentially stringing him along in a relationship you know you will never commit to!
The issue isn’t whether you “should” love him the way he is, because the issue isn’t about love at all. It’s about whether you have compatable lifestyles and a shared vision of what your life together would look like.
If, however, his non-Jewishness is not a deal breaker for you — if it is something you could accept under certain circumstances — then you need to have an open conversation about what those circumstances are. Would it be him agreeing to have a Jewish household? Or his willingness to go with you to synagogue? Or would he need to actually love Judaism in order for you to feel like you have a supportive life partner?
Many people don’t realize it, but even two Jews can have disputes over things like this, depending on the two people involved!
Try to figure out what is really going on for you and what the issues really are. The most important thing is to be honest, with both yourself and him. It will be less painful to end things now — if they need to end — then one, five or ten years down the road.
— The Matchmaker Rabbi
Joysa Winter, aka The Matchmaker Rabbi, knows all about how hard it is to find lasting love. It took her 17 years to find Mr. Not Wrong! In that time, she tried just about every singles site, dating club and Matzah Ball known to humanity. Now in her fourth year of rabbinical school and the mother of 1.5 kids, nothing brings her greater joy than officiating a wedding. She is finishing a book on her dating adventures called Chasing Cupid, Tales of Dating Disaster in Jewish Suburbia. You can follow her on Twitter at @wanderinghebrew.
While I agree it seems a case of false advertising, you clearly understand the parameters of the decision:
The guy you are really into isn’t Jewish, and you want to marry a Jew.
Would you stay with him if he converted?
If yes, ask him to convert.
If no, leave without delay.
That’s all there’s to it.
I don’t know why they would hire a non-J person in a Jewish camp, seriously. If I pay the higher fee for a Jewish camp, it’s because I want my kids to be exposed to Jewish values and interaction models.