What Would You Give Up For Love? – A Personal Dilemma

You’re a BT. You’ve been frum for awhile – a very loooooooooong while. You’ve done shidduchim. But you haven’t met a compatible person. Then, you have a chance meeting with someone who is perfect in every way except one – perhaps she’s not frum or perhaps he’s not Jewish. What would you do?

More importantly, if you decided to marry this otherwise perfect person, what would you compromise on? What would you give up for love? Part of me says I’d give up everything. The other part says nothing. The first part of me is much bigger than the second. I’d say it’s 90-10 I’d chuck it all, if necessary. I’m not in this position now, but could easily be one day.

What do you think? What should I do? What would you do?



Filed under BTs

25 responses to “What Would You Give Up For Love? – A Personal Dilemma

  1. D

    Could you give us a bit more information about your particular situation? Without getting too cliche “it depends…”.

  2. I’m just preparing for the very real possibility…

  3. TM

    It’s very difficult to give up on raising Jewish children. I also think it would be challenging to give up on traditions entirely because the partner cannot “share” in their beauty or their meaning.

    I say this as a secular Jew.

  4. Anonymous

    Your kids will be goyim

  5. DK

    If you don’t know what I think by now…

    Being alone sucks. We are taught by our charedi “spiritual guides” that this is somehow normal, part of our penitence for the horrible sin of not growing up in a religious family which makes shidduchim much easier. And anyway, if we’re not married, we’re not supposed to think about sex. There you go! Yes, an Ohr Somayach rabbi actually told me that.

    You know what? You’ve tried their way (their way for us, not for themselves) for a long time, now. Why not try the more accepted way preferred by the depraved gentiles and secular Jews, and then decide which one fits you better personally?

  6. Yochanan Lavie

    It’s easy to say what you would do hypothetically. It is different when the situation arises in Real Life.

  7. chakira

    Why dont u try and find someone who is Jewish and, if not observant, at least sympathetic to traditional modes? Then you wouldnt have to totally rupture your life, and you could chill out.

  8. DK


    Many in the charedi kiruv world look at gentile and secular Jewish life as depraved, and “prove” this through selective retrieval.

  9. D

    Just concentrate on you, not some societal expectation of what you are supposed to be; regardless of what is expected by haredi, secular, MO, etc. worlds. I think very few of us posting here fit anybody’s cookie cutter very well. I know I do not. From frequenting this blog I can say with pretty good confidence what you are NOT, which is half the game in my book.

    We know you like various forms of music, poetry and other artsy forms with a decidedly Jewish tint. Isn’t that milieu in which you should be searching?

  10. Yes, exactly. And so there the prblem arises …

  11. TheSatan

    Dating or marrying someone who doesn’t share your belief system in life is usually destined for one path–continuous fighting and eventually divorce. You’ll be giving up everything for this “otherwise perfect person” and you’ll end up with nothing.

  12. TM

    I know, Kelsey, it was just so…harsh…seeing me compared to the depraved non-Jews after having made those ultimate sacrifices of my foreskin, those nasty annual shul membership dues, and those pledges to large Jewish organizations. Oh, and bagels, did I mention bagels?

  13. Jaded Topaz

    What makes you happier, true love and connection, or a bunch of trite traditions riddled with myopic myths and unexplainable contradictions. Selflessly promoted by self righteous, haughtier than than thou , sucking up to everyone and their money organizations.Judging from your site content you seem pretty well informe ……

    Lets not forget the cheesy,super value smiling rabbis handing out free looks of concern at promotional events for cosmetic purposes only.

    Did the timeless traditions,rigid rules and ban flavors of the month that the orgies are constantly promoting ,did they have such a profound side effect of euphoric hyper happiness and ecstatic ecstasy, that true love is not recognized anymore as the most important part of what gives happiness its unadulterated purity and longevity.

    I would definitely give up the trite traditions and sketchy jewish community connection(including exorbitant costs) for true love and real connection.

  14. Neo-Conservaguy

    Jaded Topaz: you’re looking for Jewish love in all the wrong places if those terrible things have been your experience. There are definitely more rational and caring approaches to traditional Judaism than what you’ve described, Barukh haShem. One doesn’t have to subscribe to the chumra-of-the-month club to be a good religious Jew, nor does one have to pay through the nose to belong to a glitzy shul. Some of my favorite davening has taken place in the living rooms of friends with a chavura minyan.

  15. “Some of my favorite davening has taken place in the living rooms of friends with a chavura minyan.” – Neo-Conservaguy

    Oh, AMEN to that!

    My (granted extremely limited) experience with non-Jews (as a Jew) has been that if Judaism is an important part of your life it will be nearly impossible to carry out a serious relationship with a non-Jew.


    My experience has been that religion, especially the Jewish religion is more than just where do you go to worship and on what day but more of a spiritual language. Our souls speak Hebrew. A non-Jew’s soul is going to express itself in another way that will be foreign and jarring in manyways to your sensibilities.

    Then there is having to explain everything and teh fact that they will not be able to share in many meaningful experiences with you, or they will do so grudgingly in a way that may build up resentment on their end.

    Jewish men I have dated have told me that non-Jewish women are NOT as willing to convert for a man as they may have been in the past.

    For me, it is an important part of a relationship to be able to spend Shabbes together in a traditionally Jewish way. If the man has no concept of Shabbes then this is a VERY important experience that we cannot share. I don’t know about others but I personally can’t give up Shabbes. This does not mean that I keep 100% of teh strictures of Shabbes, but I must at least go to shul, have a meal, some together time (preferrably without TV, no bars/clubbing, etc.). This cuts out many secular Jews, but I think I am flexibel enough that it lets in many types of Jews.

    Dating atheists (especially of Christian background) does not work because they either have no respect for ANY religion (but especially non-Christian religions) and will view your adherence to Jewish tradition as meaningless superstition and may “teasingly” call you all kinds of reactionary (ESPECIALLY if you are dealing with Europeans). In the United States, there is (almost, say 95% of the time) no such thing as a real atheist. American “atheists” are people who grew up with some religious tradition that they are backing away for “philosophical” reasons (usually come to during adolescence) along the lines that they don’t want to be told what to do by old men. The minute marriage, children and family get involved religion will get involved too.

    I don’t know if they still show this at anti-intermarriage talks but there was an episode of the TV show “Thirtsomething” where the main couple (where the husband was Jewish and the wife wasn’t) and the baby was a boy. The husband insisted on a bris and th wife grudgingly went along, causing tension in their marriage. Imagine this going on over and over again every year during December when trying tod ecide whose holiday to celebrate and why. I peronally want NO Christmas anything in my house. Period. What mainstream American Christian (or “atheist/agnostic” of Christian background however nominal) would agree to that? Christmas is most non-Jews’ favorite holiday. I know it certainly was MY favorite holiday when I was Episcopalian.

    I think the key for ALL Jews is to be more open-minded about marrying Jews of different levels of observance, say, within a given range that you can find tolerable. I have few non-negotiables in my observance of Judaism but those non-negotiables are pretty solid. Within general Shabbat and Chag observance I can deal. If I had to I could even give up kashrut ovservance in the home though it would be VERY painful (as the smell of bacon frying literally makes me nauseous, for instance. But most of all I have Orthodox friend who would never be able to eat in my house again, putting distance between us). It would be a little harder but I would most likely be happier with a guy who insisted on full (though liberal) kashrut observance in the home (i.e., no Badatz fanatics).

    I have, in fact, seen Orthdox men have nice relationships with women who were a little less observant once they decided to open their minds.

    Lastly, in Israel, I had a neighbor who had married very late and was having her first child at something like 48 (with the help of fertility drugs and daily nurse visits). She was religious and insisted on marrying a religious man. Fair enough, not teh strictest of requirements (though I don’t know HOW religious she wanted the guy to be). She met a nice secular guy who asked her out on a date but she bagged at the last minute in large part it seems because well, he wasn’t religious anyway. Well, 20 years passed and no husband and she met teh secular guy again (after he had married someone else, had and raised kids and then divorced) and married him. Now she was finally married and having a baby – BUT she and teh husband had this compromise where they had dinner together Friday nights and afterwards he would quietly watch TV in the living room. This is how all Jews should be. My sense is that most Jews who are of marrying age are younger and more stubborn and demanding of their hypothetical future partners. Ideals and all of that. With this couple, age seemed to make them more openminded and accepting of compromise for the sake of a greater happiness.

  16. You’re a very smart woman, Treif …

  17. “You’re a very smart woman, Treif …’ – Shmarya

    Thank you. I try my best.

    I also wanted to add that dating non-Jews is an ENTIRELY different ballgame in Israel. In Israel you can date and even marry non-Jews with more confidence that your children will be Jewish and see themselves as Jews even if the kids are Halachically non-Jewish(unless you married a Muslim and lived in or close to an Arab community – or a very mixed city like Haifa, Ramle or even Jerusalem). Given all teh non-Jewish Russians that have entered Israel under teh Law of Return thsi is happening more often (though those guys often were identified as Jews in Russia and got a “surprise” when they made aliyah).

    Here in the US dating and marrying non-Jews is WAY more dangerous, especially in places that aren’t large Jewish meccas like New York.

  18. Isa

    Most Christians and even Muslims for that matter automatically BELIEVE such things as “Moses received the Ten Commandments on Mount Sinai.
    Do secular Jews BELIEVE this things?
    Believers are similiar though from different religions.
    I would rather let others fill in the rest

  19. My problem is your phrasing. You say that you would “give it all up.” If you think that you would be giving something up, than the person is not right for you. If you meet someone with whom you can compromise, regardless of their religious (or not) standing, I’d say go for it, but if you meet someone who is terrific in every other way, but cannot compromise in that area, it would be pretty tough.

  20. Also, to address Treifalicious’ point, in Israel it is logistically more difficult to marry a non-Jew. There is no “civil marriage” so you have to leave the country and go somewhere like Cyprus to actually marry someone of another religion.

  21. “in Israel it is logistically more difficult to marry a non-Jew. There is no “civil marriage” so you have to leave the country and go somewhere like Cyprus to actually marry someone of another religion.” – Annie

    True. As I never got close to marying a non-Jew in Israel I didn’t think so hard about that.

    There are many perfectly halachic Jews with no halachic restrictions (say, a Kohen and a divorcee) who marry in Cyprus because the Rabbinate won’t let them and some who marry in Cyprus because they HATE the Orthodox hegemoney that much. I was seriously considering being one of those who marries in Cyprus because from what I know of the Orthodox ketuba it is a bad deal for women, and as one cannot change a ketuba (as you can in teh US) my only choice would be to marry outside of Israel.

    But yeah, teh lack of civil marriage in Israel is a problem that needs to be remedied – but that is another post on thie very blog, in fact.

  22. Yochanan Lavie

    A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of small minds- Ralph Waldo Emerson

    Like Shmarya, and others on this site, I am conflicted yet traditional. I know all the traditional arguments against intermarriage, and I even agree with them intellectually. However, I have been in love with a non-Jewish woman for over 20 years. I did not date her- we are friends. I didn’t plan it, and tried to “get over” it, but no one understands me like she does- relgious differences and all. We share the same interests, laugh at the same jokes, and have a wonderful (if complicated) relationship. I know there are many great Jewish women out there, but they are not her. And they are not for me.

    Frummies: don’t excoriate me(look it up). I have internally heard all that already. I know I am a hypocrite and a sinner but as Milton observed, the mind can in itself make a hell of heaven, and a heaven of hell.

  23. Zayin Gadol

    See that post for a food for thought.

    From my experience, if you have a good relationship and harmonious marriage you already have 90 of the world in you hand. All the other issues in life, money, sickness etc are much easier to handle when you have an eizer.

    Cultural familiarity is over valuated. You really do not have to have the same hashkafa or even the same religion, you just need to have each other.

    When you are married, most of your interaction is about children, money, work school etc.

    You are not going to discuss the writings of the HaRaAYaH with your wife (even chardal does not.

  24. a fool speaks his soul

    i’m an old coot. a secular jew, who lived among the orthodox. my age give me a lot of perspective. if you find a woman that you can be happy with, it is the gift of all gifts.

    if she is willing to convert, to become a jew,my experience has shown me that she could become very religious. i have seen this.

    if she respects your religious principals &
    will abide by them, you have to be an idiot to not accept this woman.

    someone at your side, who supports you, is
    such a very precious gift, that it would make you one of the most fortunate men on earth.


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