Until recently, a Jewish person marrying a non Jew would have been seen as marrying ‘out’. But it’s 2017, and, fortunately, new attitudes to mixed marriages have begun to pervade past messages. Now, rather than the Jewish partner marrying ‘out’, the non-Jewish partner often feels like they have married ‘in’.
If this applies to you, and you’re not sure what to expect from joining your new Jewish family, we’ve written a handy guide on how to handle the transition to honorary Jew.
Expect to be treated with varying degrees of curiosity
Reactions will be widely varied and are likely to rely on a number of factors, such as generational differences, levels of observance and so on. While it is possible that you may encounter resistance from some relatives, it’s also likely that you will simply be treated with curiosity, and indifference if you’re not the first non-Jewish partner in the family, maybe even a few ill-judged circumcision jokes (start practicing your best nervous laugh).
The most important thing is to speak to your partner about what to expect from different family members, and to approach the most supportive and liberal family members first, so that they can support you in meeting the others.
Some cultural differences
You may spend your first few Friday night dinners or Jewish holidays trying to wrap your head around why everyone is arguing all the time, particularly if they’re speaking Hebrew!
We’re a very direct, very animated bunch — sometimes what sounds like the row to end all rows is barely so much as a squabble, just a lively disagreement that will be forgotten in all of thirty seconds, if that, so try not to stress unless plates are broken and people are crying.
Kidding — that probably won’t happen… probably.
Another cultural difference is that your business will become everyone else’s business — and people will be very direct in giving you unsolicited life advice. Smile politely, say “thanks, I’ll look into that” and then continue as you were.