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Why Date Jewish?

Can Jews Date Persons of Another Religion?

The answer is yes we can but what we should really be asking is:
Just because we can should we?

Dating is generally described as the process of finding that one person who will become a soul mate, will go through all life's ups and downs, and be a good co-parent to any future children. Under this definition, dating warrants thoughtful consideration of the consequences of pursuing a mixed religious relationship.

A common response from someone in their late teens and early twenties may be "I'm not ready for such a commitment right now." Dating for this person is better described as - enjoyment of companionship with someone who is physically attractive, and to have a good time. The justification is - "Later on when I'm ready to settle down then I will date only Jewish." This scenario is commonly referred to as casual dating. Let's explore casual dating because any suggestions put forth for it would also apply to its more serious counterpart dating - without the casual qualifier.

Casual dating is:

  • - not ready for long term commitments
  • - seeking companionship with someone to be romantically and physically close to

If the association is for someone to socialize with in a purely platonic fashion then this is a friend; Jews have had non-Jewish friends for Millennia. Our question, can Jews date (even casually) persons from another religion, infers that some level of intimacy is anticipated in the relationship. It is this anticipation that really muddies the water.

Regardless of how prepared individuals are for keeping a relationship casual it must be remembered that they are, after all, dealing with the emotional sides of two human beings, and they will not always be relating to each other with their pragmatic thought processes fully engaged. Should emotions win the day, as can often happen, the mixed couple can easily move from casual dating to dating, or more. It is not the intent of this article to deal with the elephant that can enter the room at any time. This reference is to pregnancy or unwanted diseases which may result from such relationships; however it should be a mitigating factor.

Dating carries a lot more weight than casual dating. Here, because of two different religious backgrounds (no inference is being assumed regarding level of religious observance, or practice) compromises will have to be made.

  • - Holidays - Holidays can be challenging times for anybody, even when two persons are on the same page religiously, not to mention introducing a different ethos into the mix. In the case of Christian/Jewish dating, individuals will have no less than 7 opportunities throughout the year to practice holiday related concessions.
  • - Kashrut - Numerous meals will be shared. A person doesn't have to be observant to have issues in this area. Many persons consider themselves as secular yet observe some of the kashrut regulations.
  • - Religion - It may be decided never to discuss religion; it's impossible however to shut oneself off from the real world. With the plethora of social media applications like Facebook-Twitter-MySpace, international issues which are intrinsically tied with religion are ever present; religion is going to come up.
  • - Politics - Again it may be decided never to discuss politics. There is however a changing political scene regarding how the western nations relate to Jews in general, and specifically Jews in the Land of Israel. Whatever the personal views on this subject are today, it can change drastically in the future when world opinions of Jews begin to erode, possibly in the near future.

The political aspect alone should give one concern regarding the wisdom of entering into a mixed religious relationship. The social media outlets and some mainstream op-ed pages are observing a change in the air. Be these observations, real or imagined, again this is not the place for that discussion; it must be factored into the decision as to the practicality in pursuing such a complicated relationship.

Persons of any age are at risk of complications in a multi religious relationship; political, social, and religious outlooks can change at any phase of one's life. The probability of complications presenting themselves to persons in their late teens or early twenties in a mixed relationship rises sharply. These are most at risk since they are embarking on or in the midst of their first decade of independence. Changes are inevitable as ideas are now modified by real world experience.

Until this new independent phase, ideas were seeded from parents and adapted by the individual. Later while attending college or university, theories on social-political-religious issues are contemplated. Together, these youthful perceptions and education theories form the foundation for a person's impression of the world. Real world experience is the completing phase that will give a person their opinion of the way things should be. Is it wise to add such a complicated relationship to this transitional time?

Besides the obvious psychological dangers that can exist in a multi religious relationship, there is the possibility of a person not achieving their full potential. If one finds themselves in a relationship of constant compromises to keep life on an even keel, their self esteem can be damaged and goals never achieved. Life will offer you enough opportunities to hone your compromising skills in conventional relationships, why add more if you can avoid it?

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