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Raising children with a non-Jewish husband


Rabbi Chaim Tabasky

Adar I 29, 5768
I am an orthodox Jew who made the mistake of marrying out. Before we got married my husband, who is a non-Jewish atheist, agreed that we would raise our children Jewish. Now that we are married he has said that I need to compromise and that he doesn’t agree with many of the Jewish practices. For example, he thinks our children should be able to choose whether they eat non-kosher food. I feel like he has gone against his promise and i don’t really want to have a family with him now. My instinct is to divorce him but I am now 30 and worry that I will never find a Jewish husband. I also still love this man despite it all. Should I divorce him and try to start over?
In your question you wrote, "I am an orthodox Jew who made the mistake......." I think the first question you must ask yourself is whether the present tense was correct. In what way are you an orthodox Jew? Do you believe in the Divinity of the origin of the Torah? Are you a practicing Jew in and in what ways? If your Judaism is important to you, and you believe that the Torah is G-d's message and directive to the Jewish people, then I would certainly advise you to deepen that connection through learning and practice, and especially through a connection to a Jewish community and teachers who can help you develop your spiritual aspirations.. If the answer to these questions is that your Judaism has not been crucially important to you in your life, then I can hardly blame your spouse for being less than committed to fullfilling the agreement to raise the children as Jews with "all" the aspects of Jewish practice, when you have demonstrated that these practices are not so important to you. If you come to the conclusion that there is an incompatibility between your desire to live as a Jew, and your marriage to a gentile, then I can assure you that thirty is not too old and that I am certain that you will find the proper match and proper continuation for your desire to reestablish your connection to the community of Israel. But I would caution you not to blame your huisband, and not to "do it for my children". This is a decision that has to do with YOUR life, and you should make it on the basis of the values that are important to you.
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