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Can A Catholic Girl Find Love in a Conservative Synagogue?

Dear Cyber-Rav,

I am falling in love with a Conservative Jewish man. I feel very strongly for him in a short amount of time. Would I be able to marry him and raise my children in the Jewish faith if I myself do not convert? I have mixed feelings about converting because I was raised Catholic and I don't practice. I feel that it would be unethical if I would change to a religion that I also wouldn't follow. I know for him I would keep a Kosher home and raise my children of his faith. My grandfather is Jewish on my mother's side. I have learned throughout the years Jewish customs and about the religion.

He told me that our children would never be accepted into the faith if I don't convert. Please let me know if I would have to become Jewish to raise a Jewish family.

Thank for your time.

Not Ready for Conversion

The Cyber Rav Answers:

Dear Not Ready For Conversion,

Thanks for writing. I'm sure it took a lot of courage just to send this question.

In Conservative synagogues, there are couples who are intermarried who nevertheless are raising their children as Jewish. The non-Jewish partner generally does not become a member of the synagogue, but is welcomed to just about all events, religious and non-religious, that the synagogue has to offer. For these non-Jews, I believe that they see me as their rabbi. And I, in turn, feel like they are my congregants and treat them as such. I am not alone in this feeling. I know that many of my colleagues feel the same way. We may not all be Jewish, but we are all God's children, and Judaism is a tradition that has something for everybody and that has been true since its inception.

Conservative communities are interested in families, even interfaith families, choosing Judaism for the religion of their children. But of course, a family unit is strengthened by the parents sharing the same religious convictions.

Toward that end, it sounds like you are ready to make a number of significant concessions in terms of religion, including raising children who are Jewish and keeping kosher. But at this time, how could anyone expect you to make a decision about conversion? You know so little about the Jewish faith. My suggestion is that you get involved in a course of study that would allow you to learn more about Judaism. Start reading some good books like Brad Artson's "It's a Mitzvah" or Joseph Telushkin's "Jewish Literacy." These books will introduce you to what it means to be a Jew. You just may find out that Judaism is a tradition that you like and that you could practice. On the one hand, I totally agree with you why convert to a tradition that you will ignore? On the other hand, why assume now that Judaism would be just another tradition that you would ignore? Maybe it's the religion that you have always been looking for.

It takes about 9-12 months to convert to Judaism. It is generally a rich learning experience that people enjoy. Good luck to you. If I can be of further help, "e" me a question.

The CyberRav

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