QUESTION: Dear David,
I am unsure if you can help me. I am in a relationship with a Jewish girl. She is an Orthodox Jew and her family are deeply religious. Her family do not know about me as she fears the repercussions.
I have/am considering conversion. This seems the logical step to take however I wanted to ask if you had ever experienced this or offered advice on this subject. I want to marry her and reaching out feels like a next step.
I understand the subject is of a sensitive nature. However I do not know where to turn for advice on the matter.
ANSWER: Hi Daniel,
I cannot advise you on this. I am not a Rabbi nor have I ever dealt with such a situation. The only comment I can give is what you probably already know, orthodox Jews do not accept people who convert to marry. There is an inherent risk that the conversion would be rendered invalid. For a conversion to be valid, the person must accept all Torah laws without exception. If the convert would at one point decide it is ok to turn on a light on the Sabbath it would invalidate the conversion. If you find a Jewish court that would be more lenient, they are suspect of compromising our religion. There is no court among core Torah observers that would accept a convert under such circumstances.
Even if you were to accept all Torah laws sincerely, the risk to your life would be grave. If you violate the Torah after you have become a Jew (in a manner that does not invalidate the conversion), you may be subject to capital punishment from Heaven. Jews are much more scrutinized in Heaven for their actions than non-Jews. Every violation may have consequences, often non-life threatening. This is true on a national as well as individual level. There is no nation in the world that has been persecuted like the Jews. Just read our 2500 year history.
I wish you the best of luck,
---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------
QUESTION: Dear David,
Thank you so much for your time and answer.
I would love to open dialogue on this subject with you however due to its sensitive nature I understand if you would prefer not to.
I am aware of the conversion process in the UK and have been in contact with a Shul and visited on numerous occasions (on Saturday service). I keep Shabbat and intend to explore the religion in greater depth (I am studying Torah).
I have no issue in my life being in danger. I do not fear death itself especially if it is for something I am prepared to die for.
Can I ask if I were to live as a Jew and become fully observant where does that leave me? I understand were my partner and I to have children that they would be Jewish as the Mother is Jewish. Whilst this is hypothetical, were we then to raise them Jewish in a Jewish household then from my understanding we would be an observant family continuing the tradition. I am open to alternative suggestions.
I wish to add no offence is due from my email I am aware of the controversial nature I just want to understand this subject in far greater detail.
From your original email it is clear to me that you are a knowledgeable and passionate man, someone who I could learn from.
My hesitation in opening a dialog is only because I feel inadequate dealing with this issue, I would be doing you a disservice. I signed up to this site solely to analyze specific Torah text and attempting to clarify obscurities, dealing with other people's life issues is not my forte.
With regard to you keeping the Sabbath, you must know you may not keep it fully, you should at least commit one violation on the Sabbath, even in private if you prefer.
About death, it is not the noble death of a hero you would be facing, it is the death as a result of failure. Your comment raises a flag, it seems you do not fully appreciate the significance and the reality of the risk. In today's society religion is viewed as an individual choice with very few immutable rules and G-d will forgive our sins because to commit a sin is not such a grave matter, there are only our feelings to be concerned about. You wouldn't say that about your job, marriage or relationships. Willful non-cooperation on the job will get you fired, ignoring your spouse will get you divorced, etc. Failure in our relationship with G-d is the worst, because we have failed ourselves, we are being destroyed by our own hand. And it is our very essence our soul that is being destroyed, that which rests in our chest when we point to ourselves saying "I".
I assume you mean to ask about not being Jewish and raising a Torah observant family with a Jewish partner? It is a sin for the Jew to be living like that, I am not sure if it is a sin for the gentile. If the gentile truly cares for their partner, they would not do this to them. Also, they would be shunned in the community. I don't have an alternative for the relationship other than to end it. Life in this world is not infinite, nor absolute. People suffer losses all the time. Many learn to live with it and accept it. Up to about 60 years ago one of our foremost leaders lived in Israel by the name of Chazon Ish. When he met his spouse to be, it became clear she was mentally disabled, I don't know the condition. He decided to marry her anyway so as to avoid causing her pain and despair for a happy life. Most people view this story as the heroic act of a great man but I heard a very smart man saying that he became the great man he was "as a result of" the path he chose. He never had any children.
You need not worry about offending me. Please just take good care of this Jewish girl and yourself.
I wish you success,