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Would you attend a wedding between a Jew and Non-Jew?

As many of you know I am not a big blog reader, in fact I rarely read any other blogs because most of them just don’t interest me. Once in a while I wander around and check out the folks on my blogroll and other big bloggers to see what they are saying. I have been reading Abandoning Edens Blog off and on for the past few months and really enjoy her documentation of her struggle between her orthodox parents and her chosing of a non-Jewish man to marry. The back and forth between her parents and herself is quite interesting.

Just this week she wrote that her parents said they would not come to the wedding of their own daughter, because coming to the wedding would mean they acknowledge the marriage of their daughter to a non-Jew. I understand their logic and I agree and disagree at the same time. Its kind of a tossup, I know my old man would probably say the same thing if I were to wind up in the same situation- actually I think he would kill me literally before I could ever make it to the chupa or whatever they call it- wedding canopy.

Would you attend your child’s wedding if they were marrying a non-Jew? What about someone else who was of no relation to you? Do you think attending a wedding between a Jew and non-Jew condones intermarriage?

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • yitz

    i would hope that my parents would sit shiva if i ever did anything like that.

  • zach

    God put anti-semitism in the world because He loves us.

    I’m gonna go right out and get a neo-Nazi boarder. I can then tell my kids that it’s because I love them…

  • T

    Future Druggie said “The parents are at fault for not giving her enough Jewish knowledge when she was growing up. Her parents are getting what’s coming to them.”

    I believe that she was educated, and knowledgeable regarding the Jews history, traditions and customs. I think you’re missing the point.

    Instead of thinking of what a horrible things she is doing, maybe try and figure out why she “left” the religion in the first place. What turned her off so much.

  • MotherLand

    I’ve only made it about a third of the way down these posts but I find it fascinating… Pretty much everyone has a great point of view about what they would do or what AE, her parents or B should do, and I have found it a huge help as I am in a similar predicament.

    First of all I want to say mazal tov to AE and B! May they grow old together and be very happy.

    As a Jew who is getting married to an agnostic non-jew, there are many ways I can relate to AE, though I wonder if her decision would be any different if her children would not be halachically Jewish? Would many opinions here be different if the children weren’t automatically covered?

    I chose to get married to a non-Jew because I fell in love. I believe whole-heartedly that this woman is my bashert. Its been a struggle, with myself more than anyone, to go ahead with this as I am proud to be Jewish and want my children to feel the same way. Many from my community and many friends have been supportive, and happy, probably more so because I am not frum but a practicing conservative Jew. They choose to see the happiness I have been given above the struggles that may lie ahead.

    I believe G-d put my fiance and I together for a reason, I feel lucky enough to have found my bashert and in knowing many of my friends and family have not been as lucky, I dont think its a test to remain single and try to find another person who fits me perfectly and is Jewish. I believe this even more so because this amazing woman isn’t even a believer in G-d. As hard as I find that sometimes, she has amazing and incredible things to tell me and opens the world to me in another way, and there isn’t any way I could be without her. As a religious man I believe these things. I hope that we can raise a loving family that are aware of their Jewish roots and follow the advice and footsteps that we plan to set out for them, but I dont see a real reason to give this up… Let’s look at AE’s parents – Presumably they were a young and happy couple who fell in love, they raised an intelligent free-thinking woman (most certainly with a strong identification to Judaism as her father is heading towards smicha) and yet, she still wants to marry a non-Jew and isn’t tied to her Judaism in a huge way (it would seem)… So, should we not marry the one person who really lights us up? If we follow the traditional path, as AE’s parent’s have, how does that guarantee anything more for our children than not doing so? Should we carry on hopeful that someone else is to come along, or should we realize what is in front of us and grab ahold of that person and do everything we can to make it work?

    Curious to what people think… Hopefully my passionate rambles make sense 🙂

    M.

  • halachic question

    ok i have a quasi-weird hypothetical question ;-p let us suppose, for whatever reason (love, etc.) a jewish woman of orthodox observance and a non-jewish man get together; they obviously can’t be married in the traditional/jewish sense as the man is not jewish and 2 jews are needed for a marriage to take place. now then, let us say they have children together as well (so altogether we have goy husband with jewish wife) – first, does she cover her hair (or is she not obligated to the tzniut aspect of the mitzvah because she didn’t marry a jewish man and therefore isn’t “married” in a jewish sense) and what about lighting the shabbos candles?? 2 candles now or just 1?? while the chances of an orthodox, practicing woman marrying a non-jewish man are very slim to none, what about those 2 things – yay or nay on the shabbos candles &tichel??

    • Yes to the tichel because it’s really a matter of whether she’s had intercourse or not, not whether she’s married.
      No to the candles because he’s not related to her. She’s basically just in the Torah definition of a “harlot”…

  • correction

    ok to the person saying jews are not are race, you are misinformed. of course there is conversion option but still that is rare. there is a gene for being jewish. concerning ashkenazim, they are a race in a sense of a population mutation (ie. tay-sachs). in america, where i am guessing it is where you are from, race is such a political term it is often misused and misunderstood. we jews are more than just an ethnicity and a religion. (i am by no means supporting racists by defining the term racists, nor a nazi by any means)

  • utubefan

    Motherland, I wish you only good things. You describe your situation in a very heartfelt, articulate manner. You say:

    “I hope that we can raise a loving family that are aware of their Jewish roots and follow the advice and footsteps that we plan to set out for them, but I dont see a real reason to give this up…”

    The key words in that sentence are “plan to set out for them.” I have found after being married for a while and having kids that we all set out originally on a path of our own exploration, then to find–hopefully–a path of mutual exploration with someone we perceive as a partner or good fit for the road and then the path changes again as we grow older. Our needs and priorities often shift with time and we remain–hopefully–negotiating those shifts on a new path with the same person. The path changes drastically when we have children. It is a life-altering change of epic proportion. Really no way to describe it to people–many of whom I come across on this blog because it skews younger. So now you have two changing people on a changing path parenting new people. It is so hard to plan for what will happen in this entity called marriage and family. And yet there are certain “likelies.” There are certain things that will likeley happen when we parent. Likely, our priorities shift. Likely, our kids will need structure and a clear plan, as you mention, set out by their parents to thrive. So, in an interfaith marriage or in this case with one potential parent an agnostic, the idea that you will be setting up a clear plan for these children is tough to imagine. Many of us who are married to partners with similar faith structure still struggle with the whole clear plan challenge. So, I guess I urge you to have these conversations before you marry, to dispel the notions put forth by American culture that choice is good and just loving your kids a lot is enough. Loving them is the most important thing, but being clear with them and consistent comes in a strong second. And I get your assertion that there are no guarantees as per AE’s parents. But, there are “likelies.” And, I would never tell someone with comfort to pass on a mate that they love and connect with. I also wouldn’t remain silent about the challenges ahead for a home where one is a “religious person” as you describe yourself and one is an agnostic. So, in the end this is the only Bracha/blessing I could possibly give you because it comes from the heart and it is worth more than just my wish for your personal happiness: I wish for you the joys of a committed (not necessarily Orthodox) Jewish home with the light of Jewish holidays, prayers, Shabbat in some way, Jewish education, Jewish pride, commitment to the study of the richness of Jewish history and practice passed on in a clear way to your potential children. It feels good and it feels right, especially as you get older.

  • Heimish in bp

    Amen!

  • correction- not every genetic mutation a race makes. Jews (from a demographic perspective) are both a religion and an ethnicity. An ethnicity because there is shared heritage/culture, and yes, some genetic mutations- I myself will soon hear if I have the BRCA1 mutation, a mutation common among ashkenazi jews, that my dad has.

    Honestly, I don’ know if I believe in the concept of “race” anymore; it’s a social construction, not based on genetics. Italians and Irish people used to be considered a different “race”, jews used to be considered a different ‘race’, but even though all these groups carry some genetic variation, in my professional sociological opinion, I would charectarize them as ethnicities and not races.

    I have also noticed (anecdotally) a trend among my jewish friends, whereas they feel uncomfortable putting down “white” as their race on forms and applications and usually don’t answer or put “other”.

  • AE:

    “it’s a social construction, not based on genetics”

    for some reason i think you mentioned at some point that you are in academia? anyway, there is a literature that explores how jews in previous generations were conceived (and conceived of themsevles) in a racial context. i.e., were they white or something else.

    “I have also noticed (anecdotally) a trend among my jewish friends, whereas they feel uncomfortable putting down “white” as their race on forms and applications and usually don’t answer or put “other”.”

    for me at least its not a matter of being unsure of what “race” i am. it is simply that things don’t always end up well for us when our enemies can identify us with ease.

  • ANON:

    “I suggest you re-read Rambam’s yud gimmel ikkarim (13 Principles of Faith). Particularly number twelve. Or perhaps take a look at the teitch of shemone esray”

    where do the rambam or shemone esre reflect a belief in its “imminent arrival”?

    HEIMISH:

    “HESH!!! GET A BIGGER SERVER!!!!!!!!!!!!!”

    i agree 100%
    (now we know that moshiach really is imminent)

    EX-WIFE OF BT:

    “God put anti-semitism in the world because He loves us”

    a) he told you this?
    b) do you think child abuse is acceptable as a pedagogical tool?

    HALACHIK QUESTION:

    “2 candles now or just 1?”

    there is a mahloket over how many candles must be lit. some say 2 are required (ke-neged shamor ve-zakhor) and it has nothing to do with marital status.

    CORRECTION:

    “they are a race in a sense of a population mutation (ie. tay-sachs).”

    so then there is more than one jewish race? that tay sachs mutation in eastern european jews. (also note that there there are other mutations that cause tay sachs in equal or almost equal percentages in french canadians, louisiana cajun, amish and irish.)

  • jess

    WOW hesh,

    in all your blogging years, this one made me want to comment…….i’m not normally a comment type of person or i would comment on all your posts. it’s great that you’ve become famous and all and don’t pick up your ‘jess man’ messages. listen life is busy man.

    on one hand, i agree with the fact that it’s a bit ‘cruel’ if you wrote this post without contacting this eden chick.

    on the other hand, i agree with the fact that you approached it through another blogger

    on another hand, maybe i am biased, or too NON judgemental now at this point in my life

    on yet another hand, this is what i think about love/marriage/intermarriage/judging/jews/jews who judge/non jews who judge/ not attending a friend’s event/not telling a close friend when something great happens to you…..bla bla bla

    when an experience that you were not seeking at all seeks you out, and you know it is special…..it is so hard to turn away because it is something coming into your life for a reason.

    maybe yes, you placed yourself in those environments, and if you are in a certain place, certain experiences will occur. and vice versa.

    but life hands us true connections so rarely and in such a glimpse like fashion, you either jump or step back.

    having had some rough times, as everyone has, I choose to jump a lot.

    whether this means that i get less jewish guys who are interested, because i look like their sister, cousin, uncle baruch, niece etc…it’s hard, brutally hard to turn away a really gorgeous, smart, interesting, INTERESTED, non jewish guy.

    that’s just my opinion…..but then again i do fit into the Im yirtzeh hashem by you category. so please all I ask is for others to relax, and just live. I feel the animosity in these posts

  • genetic diseases are evidence of inbreeding, not of race. nomadic inbreeding, in many cases. very, very unfortunately.

  • aa

    true, however, tay-sachs is a disease specific to only the ashkenaz population. hence, the mutation ated (randomly) on this population (race)

  • aa

    true, however, tay-sachs is a disease specific to only the ashkenaz population. hence, the mutation acted (randomly) on this population (race)

  • if population equaled race, each united state would have its own race (that could be argued). As of two years ago, in NYC, pregnant Jewish women’s babies were tested for about 37 different genetic diseases common to Jewish populations worldwide. we’re not a race, and I am not a scientist. whoever wrote the comment about not checking off white on census durveys and stuff is right, though. but you know why I don’t feel like white fits me?
    1. I have lots of freckles, year round. I would check freckled, if it were an option.
    2. men in white sheets who wish to do me and my family harm because we’re us make it very clear that I am not white. And behaving like that, I wouldn’t want to be included in that category.

  • shocked!!

    I was just looking on the net for some “rules” for Jews attending an interfaith wedding and I found this site so stopped to have a little read. I have just been reading through the above comments and I am totally shocked by people’s reactions to inter faith marriages (Jews and non Jews). I myself am not Jewish but am marrying a Jew and some of his family will not attend the wedding even though it’s purely a civil ceremony with no religious element to it at all!!

    I would never disown or shun a family member for marrying someone of a different religion. I personally believe attitudes like this are what causes many of the wars in the world. I feel as long as your chosen partner treats you with respect, love etc it should not matter what religion they are and I think it’s a total disgrace in this day and age people are shunned for marrying outside of their faith. This really makes my blood boil. Live and let live is my motto

    • And it is people like you, marrying Jews, who are destroying Judaism.
      Intermarriage has “killed” more Jews than the Holocaust.

  • While I don’t disagree with you, shocked, I also feel there’s nothing wrong with wanting to share one’s religious beliefs in common with one’s spouse. Please don’t let your blood boil too much. There are people in every group of religious adherents with whom one might disagree. Good thing you’re not marrying any of them. 🙂

  • Avi

    I’m not one to usually post, but while searching for something completely unrelated, I happened upon this site.
    There was a story a few years back in the New York Times written by a Jew who married a Gentile. A picture was taken for an event of some sort, and his wife (the gentile) had been edited out of the picture. This well known Jew, whose name escapes me, wrote a scathing letter to the Times. In it, he used every controversial piece of information in the Talmud, and distorted them for his less knowledgable readers, in a fashion that would leave most peoples mouths bitter.
    One point I heard in response was as follows. If there were to be a cancer fund-raising event and a picture were to be taken, and in that picture someone was smoking, or there was a well known smoker present, wouldn’t they edit the picture? of course they would! Why? Because it goes against everything they stand for!
    Not intermarrying is one of the tenets of our belief. For someone who doesn’t have a Jewish background will of course find it ridiculous. Or in the situation you are in AE, with knowledge of Judaism yet not agreeing with it, maybe you also find it ridiculous, maybe not. But that doesn’t change the fact.
    It’s against what we believe. I haven’t read all the comments so I hope I haven’t written what dozens of other have already, but what you will be doing, almost brought my mothers to tears over the phone when I mentioned your story. I’ll admit, it didn’t do that to me, but my appreciation for this has been weakened through constant contact with Gentiles.
    Of course you love him and care for him immensely, and couldn’t imagine life without him, but that doesn’t change anything for your parents. They can’t see themselves, or you, allowing a smoker into a picture of a cancer research fundraiser.
    I’m too tired to continue tonight, so I think I’ll wait for some feedback and see what everyone thinks. All the best!

  • utubefan

    To Shocked,

    “Live and let live is my motto”

    Does that motto include letting committed, observant Jews “live” too? It’s kind of a double standard when people who aren’t actively committed to a religiously observant lifestyle (whether Christian, Moslem, Jewish or other) do not “tolerate” people who are. If people are physically hurt by a religious observance, then Houston we have a problem, but if your feelings are hurt, then that may not necessarily be cause for alarm or “shock.” That said, many of us on here were honest about not being sure of what we would do. The choice is tough because the commitment to the tenets of our faith are strong.
    That’s ok in your “live and let live” world, right?

  • This unfortunately happened to relatives, Rabbi said we were NOT allowed to participate, even though the guy had a “fake/conservative” conversion. Guy now claims he’s Jewish when asked, but they live their life as regular Texans, eating double cheese burgers, watching football on Shabbos.

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  • Ok, whoever brought up the issue about race; why is that even being brought up? Maybe it’s a latent concern of that person — because I really don’t see how it applies to intermarriage at all. A Jew is a Jew is a Jew. Concerns over what race a Jew is are unfounded. If they live their life in accordance to Torah, that should be your main concern.

    I wish AE much happiness with her husband to be. I pray that her future children (G-d willing) will not have a tainted view of Judaism and be able to connect with Am Yisrael in some way.

  • HMMM

    I’m looking for a heter to go to my brother’s marriage to a non-Jewish girl. Any suggestions?

    • Baruch

      I’m in the same boat, and am reaching out to some modern orthadox rabbi’s in the new york area. I will let you know if I have any luck with this.

  • Baruch

    When the holy temple was destroyed the Rabbi’s began to formalize much of what we think of as Halacha to deal with the exile. Think about the first generation after the temple sitting around having a Pessach Seder. The older generation who witnessed Pessach at the temple in its glory would probably have had the same abhorred reaction to a mincha service as you are having to this person marrying a non-jew. They would say that you are not real Jews and you are not even practicing Judaism.

    The point is that Judaism has evolved over time and continues to evolve. No single rabbi or opinion is truth. Only Hashem is truth and no one knows what Hashem wants, and if you say you know than you are a false prophet. Anger, Fear, Depression are all the tools of the Yetza Hara, and indicative of a Ghetto mentality.

    We are not in the Ghetto, and just as with the destruction of the Temple, we are facing a turning point in the exile. Non-jews for the first time in history want to marry and are accepting and loving of Jews. It’s important to love all Jews, and non Jews as well. It was the Zelots that brought the destruction because of their Ghetto mentality and fear. Don’t make the same mistake.

    This poor girl found someone she loves and can be light to the world without being furm, and should have the support of her parents, friends and fellow Jews. We will not rebuild the temple through fear of the other, only through self reflection and fear of Hashem. We all have our own road to take, and only Hashem knows what is right for each of us.

    I have nothing but Love for all of you.

  • Julie

    I recently found this discussion, and I have to say, it literally made me cry. You see, I’m one of those dreadful non-Jews who married a Jew anyway. I did not do so to destroy a race or religion, or because I’d like my children to be confused, or because I’m trying to piss anyone off. I married him because I loved him. We met when we were 16 and have been together ever since. He was raised in a conservative shul and attending Jewish day school and camp; despite this, as a teenager he realized that he simply didn’t believe in any organized religion. Then he met me… and years and years later, we married.

    His Orthodox relatives would not attend the wedding. It didn’t bother me all that much, seeing as how I’ve never met them, but after reading all of these responses, I feel the need to bring it all back up.

    I am simply disgusted that you all would treat me, my family, and my future children this way. What were we to do? Never accidentally meet and fall in love? Sorry, it happened. Move on. Now, I can absolutely see that someone might worry about the decline in the number of Jews, but the way to combat this is NOT to ignore, hate, or refuse to interact with diverse families. Quite the opposite, in fact. We plan on teaching our children about Judaism because it is a part of our family. Our children will make the decision when theyare able how religious or observant they will be.

    I just wish there was some way for me to communicate the anguish that is felt by those of us who do not intend to hurt, and actually work very hard to implement Judaism into our lives. There is nothing more I can do to please you, I know this, but I’m begging of you to be more accpeting. Have your religion. Practice how you want… but embrace us. We are here, and we aren’t going anywhere, and my marriage is certainly not killing Judaism moreso than your refusal to accept my family. Instead of growing up with relatives who are Orthodox and who our children could learn from, they will instead be shunned… and yet, I’m still the horrible one for marrying a Jew.

    And to the poster who said that all non-Jews despise Jews… you have issues. It’s vile that you would say such a thing and ignore all of the good, positive things that Jews and non-Jews have done together in the world. At this point, I wish I believed in God so that I could pray, because honestly, with as much hate and bile shown in these comments, how can we as a HUMAN race survive? So sad and so sick about this.

    • Your children are NOT Jewish and if they want to be, they will have to convert orthodox. It’s a hard life for a child, growing up confused like that. It’s terribly unfair to the child and I speak from experience because I AM one of those children and I resent what my parents did to me in not marrying within the faith.

      • Dave

        You do realize that had your parents married “within the faith” *you* wouldn’t exist at all, right?

    • Julie, I am very sorry that you are hurt. I agree with your sentiments. However I will say that Judaism as an institution is not very helpful in dealing with situations where a child is born of a non-Jewish* woman (*-accourding to Orthodox standards) and wishes to become more religious. They need to convert…and even then, the process can be convaluted and difficult.

      As a fellow human being, my best advice to you is to align yourself and your family with a community that is welcoming of you. If your husband’s Jewish family is not welcoming, then they need to be kept at a distance. Your priority is YOUR home and YOUR family. In regards to the longevity of Judaism…I personally believe that every neshamah is here for a reason. Your children and grandchildren will, G-d willing, forge their proper path through life. They will, IY”H, grow up and leave the mark on this world that was intended for them.

      Intermarriage is just one of many issues that the Jewish community needs to work on. In the meantime, present your children with the facts of the situation (not idealistic notions…but how it really is; i.e., they may have to convert in order to be recognized as Jewish by some). And then let them take it from there.

  • Zvi

    What is wrong with these people?!?!

    She is marrying a non-Jew, not become a satan worshiping or something! Plus, since she the mother is Jewish, any children from this union will be Jewish, no questions asked. This woman must love her fiance very much is she is willing to go through the pain with her family, and I am aghast they would not support her. If it is her bashert, it is bashert. Did Moses not marry Tzipporah? And yet, the Jewish people survived such an intermarriage.

    Jews are suppose to welcome others into the tent. If I was this man and saw these vicious, bitter, ugly people there is no way in hell I would want to convert. Who would choose a religion that put piety before family? These parents just shot themselves in the foot and they don’t even realize it. How sad.

  • I think going to the wedding definitely condones the behavior.
    I would not attend the wedding of my child to a non-Jew, nor would I attend the wedding of ANY Jew to non-Jew.
    There are big halachic issues with it in Judaism.
    But largely, as the child of a Jewish-nonJewish marriage, I hated it growing up, being half and half. I always wanted to be Jewish but was not accepted really by either group. It’s so unfair and selfish when people marry outside of their faith and then decide to have children.

  • Jesse Miller

    I married a woman whose father is not Jewish, her mother is Jewish. My parents didn’t come to the wedding because we are Cohanim, and according to them, a Cohen can’t marry daughter of not Jewish father.
    Another reason they wouldn’t come is because it was not an Orthodox cer0mony.

    • A Kohen is not permitted to marry a woman who is divorced, widowed, a convert, or a “prostitute” (has had intercourse with a non-Jewish man). There’s nothing wrong with your wife… she is Jewish and kol hakavod to her for clinging to her Jewish roots and marrying a Jewish man!
      As long as you meet the halachic requirements for marriage, the type of ceremony doesn’t really matter… Some people can be halachically married even “accidentally”!

  • Jesse Miller

    What you say is nice, however my family and friends who are extreme Yeshivesh Orthadox disagree with you. Apparently it’s a little known footnote that a Cohen also cannot marry a daughter of a non Jewish father.

  • oni

    This is a tough call. My mother converted to Judaism before she married my father, who is Jewish on both sides. The conversion was not Orthodox, so to Orthodox and many Conservative people, I’m not Jewish. I was brought up in an interfaith sort of way and it was very confusing. That said, life is confusing and religiosity and spirituality are as well. I have no idea if I will end up with a Jewish husband or a husband of another religion or no religion. I would like to raise my children Jewish because I think it would give them a good base and then they can make their own decisions later in life. Everyone has to eventually. But I don’t think interfaith marriage is a great thing, because it lives you (offspring of such unions) not really able to fit into either group.

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  • WAKE UP!!

    You people need to get over yourselves!!! What the fuck are you talking about!!!! GO TO THE WEDDING!!! It’s your daughter/son!!! Not a damn stranger!!!… It is a big day for them and just because they decide to make a life changing decision on their own you parents want to ruin THEIR day (not your day)… The only thing that should matter is if this other “non-Jew” loves and cares about your daughter/son… You people think your so damn special… Seriously, get the fuck over it… Let your children be… You people remind me of helicopter parents, and if you don’t know what that means… Look it up!… And for that little kid who supposedly said the parents should be mad at her crap…. REALLY??? REALLY KID… Your a fuckn idiot….

  • goy boy

    So i’m a gentile (born Catholic but an atheist from a fairly young age) and have been dating an orthodox Jewish girl for almost 2 years. This has been a fantastic set of comments to read. My girl never really explained to me the problems and the rejection I would experience from her family. I tried to go to her family thanksgiving last year and was promptly shunned. I have never been discriminated because of my religion (or lack there of). I can tell you it is one of the most hurtful things I have experienced. I grew up in the south and was raised by some fairly prejudice grandparents. As I grew into an adult I realized though my own experiences that racism is wrong and that I am no better than anyone. The sitting shivah seems to me like supporting this ethnocentrism of Jewish people thinking they are better than everyone else. I understand you want to continue your heritage. I have certain traditions and things I would like to pass on to my children. But I also understand that things change over time and people will make their own choices. The way to influence people is through incentives. To make someone want to convert or stay sincere to Judaism is to make it appealing and show off its beauty. Why would I want to join a community that openly shuns everyone not involved in that community? That is like beating my dog to make him learn a new trick it just doesn’t work. Sorry to get off topic but i was just looking to get advise and this marriage thread seemed like an appropriate venue. Another thought, if sitting shivah worked then wouldn’t there be no interfaith marriage?

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