I am divorced, no kids, 53 years old. I was married briefly in 2004 to a beautiful Jewish girl, who turned out to be a paranoid schizophrenic. Both she and her family hid this "nugget of information" from me.
I am now becoming more religious/ observant, partly to console myself for probably never having kids. I am attending an Orthodox synagogue.
I am hoping to marry a Chinese girl. In my opinion, they are way more beautiful than Caucasian women. Just my opinion.
I do not expect to be able to meet any woman, Jewish or Chinese or whatever, who is interested in either having a child with me, or adopting a child with me.
I am certainly hoping that my future wife, if not Jewish, will become Jewish. I will certainly try to gently persuade her.
I have a theoretical question- if (SADLY) for whatever reason a Jew or Jewess marries a goya/ goy knowing IN ADVANCE that (SADLY) there is no question of having kids with them- does it make a difference to the tzibbur whether or not the goya/ goy converts to Judaism, given the fact that there are not going to be any kids from that marriage??When I asked for clarification, he added this:
I am asking
1) what is your personal opinion about my marrying a woman who is non-Jewish and may never convert, GIVEN THAT (SADLY) there will be no children in the marriage, (SINCE I cannot find a woman who wants to marry me who wants to have or adopt children with me)??
2) what do you think is the view of Orthodox Judaism (Modern Orthodoxy, not Haredi nor Chassidic) about my marrying a woman who is non-Jewish and may never convert, GIVEN THAT (SADLY) there will be no children in the marriage, (SINCE I cannot find a woman who wants to marry me who wants to have or adopt children with me) ??
He threw it out to all us schmucks and schmuckettes who hang around FM all day, and by the time I finished writing back to him I realized that it had become a blog post unto itself. Hence, me throwing it up here.
As regards most things with personal practice, my opinion is that if it's not a big deal to you, it's not a big deal. While there may be some halachic issues with having a "mixed" marriage, my impression is that, for the most part, it is possible to be a practicing or observant Jew (particularly if no spawn are involved) without your partner being Jewish, too. What is necessary, to borrow from Dan Savage, is that your partner be "game." They need to at least be ok with what you're doing-- and, ideally, be willing to go along and play at least some role with you (particularly if you are fairly religious and want to keep that standard up in your household once married or living together).
While I don't think it's ethical to demand a partner convert, I think it is reasonable to communicate what your priorities and values are from the beginning-- just as, no doubt, they will be. I'd be very clear with prospective partners that you want to have a Jewish household-- however you define it. Presumably if you're committed enough to each other to get married, any potential partners will at least be willing to accomodate you, if not be actively interested in participating themselves in various ways.
My practice is not all that halachic, but since you mentioned you lean Orthodox, I think you may want to examine some of the nitty gritty issues of your personal practice and values, particularly how some of it might need to change or adapt if you had a non-Jewish partner. (Are there particular mitzvot you wouldn't be able to do that you want to? Are there potential work-arounds?)
I also think it's helpful to establish an intellectual framework in terms of what mental status you would want to use for your wife-- is she a giyoret-in-process? Is she a straight-up gentile? Is she a full-blown Jew except for the paperwork? That will help you figure out what lines of thinking you want to use in your personal practice in cases which involve your wife. For instance, would you want your wife to observe Shabbat with you, or would you want her to still be able to perform forbidden work? Would you want her to light candles, or would you? In our case, I treat my wife as if she were fully Jewish and invite her to do whatever Jewish stuff as she wants. The only "status" difference between us is not over halacha, but knowledge-- and these days, there are a few areas where she's more knowledgable than me.
Our model is definitely more participatory than obligatory, but it works for us. In the early days when we were dating there was a lot of explaining, lots of questions, lots of re-explaining, and lots of me asking my friends (and the internet) additional questions. Now, my wife reads books on Jewish sociology, follows Orthodox blogs, is slowly studying Hebrew with me, and so on. The point I'm trying to make is not that you need to search out someone that's going to be a rabba-in-training, but rather that it's better if your spouse has an interest in what you're doing, or at least isn't hostile to it.
Obviously, some of these issues may be is far off, but it's a useful exercise nonetheless. I think the biggest decision you need to make is-- will YOU care if your wife isn't Jewish? If not, then you should think about why not, and also start considering how you might integrate those ideas and conclusions into your practice-- either now, or when you find who you're looking for.
Over the six years we've been together, my wife has shul-hopped and davenned with me, celebrated Shabbat with me, fasted on Yom Kippur with me, lit menorahs with me, helped me lead seders, hang mezuzot, studied chumash and commentaries with me, and most importantly, explained and defended our eclectic practice to her Christian relatives (as well as to my secular ones who accused me of brainwashing her). She has even been experimenting with covering her hair since we got married (totally unprompted by me, for the record).
I would much rather have an engaged partner who is interested in participating in Judaism than a partner with "the right" status who could care less.
Just my POV. Feel free to comment or email me if you'd like to chat more.
Readers, what say thee? I realize I have kind of copped out on what Modern Orthodoxy might have to say about this (though, given that I'm not MO and don't really hang out with MOs, I feel that anything I could say would only be a random guess). Feel free to leave comments for me or Dave.