I’m a medical student and come from an affluent and well-respected family. I have dated a lot, but no one seemed to “fit the bill” for me. Until I met the love of my life. She is everything I have ever dreamed of—gorgeous, funny, smart, etc. The problem is that I am a kohein and she is a giyores. Her previously non-Jewish mother had married a Jewish man and, after a number of years, she and her children converted to Judaism. This girl lives a Torah life and attended frum schools.
When I initially met her, I did not know that she was a giyores. The person who introduced us did not know either. But we had been dating seriously, and when I proposed to her, it was then that she revealed her history.
I told her that I need time to think. I desperately want to marry this girl, and as you can well imagine my parents are going nuts being against this shidduch. I am ready to give up on my kehunah for this girl of my dreams.
Everyone is putting so much pressure on me to break up with her. But the more pressure they are putting on me, the more I am convinced I should marry her. Am I wrong, or is everyone else?
By Baila Sebrow
I will not attempt to go into any halachic discussions about your situation, and would refer you to choose a trusted rav to discuss the matter from that perspective. Instead, I will focus on your relationship with this girl and how she has impacted on your life.
You do not state your age or that of the girl. But based on your career description, I’m guessing that you and possibly she are at least in your mid-twenties. That being the case, you are both mature enough to examine and look at this relationship from a realistic angle.
My first and main question is, Why were you even introduced to this girl in the first place? Did the shadchan really not know the truth? And if he or she in actuality did not know about her giyores status, this girl—who possesses everything you have ever dreamed of in a mate—certainly did! Not only that, but the fact that she went to frum schools and lives a Torah life indicates that she knew that because you are a kohein, she is halachically forbidden to you.
You convey being in love with this girl, and in your eyes she is the most beautiful, funniest, and smartest creature G‑d has ever created in this world. I get it! But she waited until you proposed to her to break the news about her conversion. This girl had ample time and opportunity to tell you the truth even before the two of you became serious about each other. And especially after the relationship became serious, she could have said something or at least alluded to it earlier.
Unfortunately, for you and for her, that is not what happened. She waited until the eleventh hour. How did she break the news to you? “Oh, by the way I’m a giyores.” Forgive my cynicism, but deception turns me off in every situation, regardless of the circumstances. Deception rarely works, and ultimately it leaves all parties feeling unfulfilled and pained.
Your feelings for this girl are sincere and she does appear to be the love of your life. I believe that in her fear of losing you, this girl kept pushing off telling you the truth. But now you both have to face reality.
Your parents and you, along with this girl, need to make an appointment with a rav that you all trust and respect. In addition, her parents, if they have any involvement in her life, need to be present there as well. Once there, you must be truthful and leave out no details of your relationship from its very beginning. As I intimated before, there are halachic implications with regard to your choices. That is why I am stressing the strong need for a meeting with a rav.
You exemplified maturity whereupon hearing this girl’s confession of her status, your immediate reaction was to tell her that you have to think about it. Most people will agree with your parents and everyone else advising you to break up with her. It is not just the kehunah that you are willing to renounce; you are also facing lifelong consequences that will follow well into future generations.
That might seem unimportant to you now as your mind is filled with the thoughts of this girl you so desperately want to marry. At this point, all that you want and need is to be with her and live happily ever after. But life does not work that way. Once you are married and settle into daily and community routine, you will realize that romance does not substitute for, but rather enhances, an already full life.
Feeling more drawn to her as people react negatively to your relationship is natural in these types of situations. From my perspective, the advice I will offer you might feel unpleasant to you. In my experience with dating couples, I have come to know and realize that renouncing anything having to do with honor and lineage for the sake of love almost always backfires.
All marriages, even the perfect ones, have their ups and downs. There will be times when you will regret your decision should you choose to marry this girl and give up on your kehunah. Worse, during a moment of anger or stress, you will likely cast that aspect in her face in telling her that which you gave up for her—a privileged lineage. You are looking at the possibility of an unhealthy marital relationship. Therefore, after you all meet with the rav, you and this girl need to privately discuss these issues in a mature manner, leaving the love and romance aside for the time. In both of you talking and thinking this through, you will then realize that a marriage of this nature stands the chance where feelings of regret will pull the strings and ultimately take control.
Baila Sebrow is president of Neshoma Advocates, communications and recruitment liaison for Sovri-Beth Israel, executive director of Teach Our Children, and a shadchanis. She can be reached at Bsebrow@aol.com. v
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