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Can a person still converting to Judaism date a Jew?

Submitted by 3 Comments

Dear Matchmaker Rabbi,

I am wondering if I could get some insight in regards to being a convert attempting to be successful with dating Jewish men.

I’m almost 30 and feel like I am running out of resources and options. I have developed a great relationship with the members at the local Temple. I have asked my rabbi and was advised to try the black Jewish community. I did and was unsuccessful, as I have a feeling that the Jewish men I encounter are not so sure about dating me, as I haven’t completed conversion yet.

I also have had Jews consult with their rabbi about dating me as I do impress/scare the men to the point that they have to do so. I also participate in Jewish community events, as well as Jewish dating events, in order to ‘put myself out there’ so to speak.

1. Is it appropriate for a Jewish man/woman to date a convert while the convert is in the process of completing their conversion?
2. What could a convert do in order to show that they are dedicated to Judaism and all that entails, during a date, without having to regurgitate all of the information that the convert has spent years learning?
3. Would it be best if a convert just wait until the conversion process is complete before attempting to date a Jewish male/female?
4. What advice could you give to a convert who is trying their best, yet keeps getting rejected, and frankly, is finding Jewish dating to be a big disappointment, due to the lack of acceptance and constant requirement to prove their “Jewishness”?

- Committed

Dear Committed,

I would like to begin by offering a big and heart-felt “welcome to the Jewish people!” Your conversion may not be “official” yet, but you have already made the step that is the most important in my mind—fallen in love with our tradition.

I believe that the richness of our community is built not on the halachic status of our individuals; it’s built on the good intentions, kind actions, and commitment of the people that make up our community.

That said, the answer to your question(s) is going to depend a great deal on which branch or slant of Judaism you are talking about. Many Orthodox men will not be interested in dating prior to your conversion. After you convert, they will probably still not want to date because they will not view your conversion as legitimate, since it wasn’t done by an Orthodox rabbi. (Since you mention a “Temple,” I’m assuming you’re working with a Reform-affiliated rabbi?)

I’m not defending this position, I’m just explaining it. It’s a viewpoint I actually find highly offensive and damaging, but that’s a different topic for another time.

Jewish men outside of orthodoxy — many of the men you might meet on JDate® — are not going to care that you have not yet officially converted. More than 50 percent of Jewish men marry non-Jews, so why would most men refuse to date you on the grounds of your religious affiliation (whatever they happen to consider it)?

To be honest, my hunch is you might be having the opposite problem. Men are not so much viewing you as “non-legit” but rather as intimidating in your knowledge, and “over” enthusiastic about a tradition about which they have mixed (or even negative) feelings.

Just because a man is on a Jewish dating site doesn’t mean he’s going to Temple every week, or even twice a year. Just because he’s on JDate doesn’t mean he’s not also on another secular dating site. There are lots of guys who want a cultural Jew, but not a religious Jew.

I’ve had several close female friends over the years who have converted to Judaism. To a person they talked about how, in most cases, they were far more enthusiastic about Jewish religious observance than their dates were. Over the years, I had several dates tell me I was an “Uber Jew,” and they didn’t mean it as a compliment.

You are in a tricky position. It sounds like you are liberal, but you are also Jewishly observant (whether halachic or not). That also puts you, as I was, in a small slice of the Jewish dating world. All I can say is numbers, numbers, numbers. You have to keep trying and keep looking. Your beshert, your destined one, is out there.

One piece of your letter to which I plead ignorance: dating in the black Jewish community. The black and (largely) “non-black” Jewish communities are, sadly, highly segregated. There is a black Jewish synagogue in my city, and in five years, I have never met one person who goes there.

I am told that many (most?) black Jewish communities do not accept or observe Jewish customs that evolved in the rabbinic era (ie, halachic practices), so there is at least one non-racist explanation for this schism. There are no doubt, many others. Race relations are complicated.

If you are black and Jewish, I’d love to hear your views and advice for this lovely Jewish soul who has taken the time to write …

-The Matchmaker Rabbi

To ask the Matchmaker Rabbi a question, email her at myrabbi@jdate.com.

Joysa Winter, aka The Matchmaker Rabbi, knows all about how hard it is to find lasting love. It took her 17 years to find Mr. Not Wrong! In that time, she tried just about every singles site, dating club and Matzah Ball known to humanity. Now a rabbinical student and the mother of 2 young kids, nothing brings her greater joy than officiating a wedding. She is finishing a book on her dating misadventures called Chasing Cupid, Tales of Dating Disaster in Jewish Suburbia. Read more about it at www.chasingcupid.com.
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3 Comments »

  • Unlisted says:

    This so-called “rabbi” is doing an extreme disservice to the woman who wrote the question in so many ways.

  • M. Andy says:

    I also am black (Jamaican) and Jewish and converted with the Conservative movement and am engaged to the love of my life (thanks Jdate!!). To Committed I say, stay that way!! I agree with The Matchmaker Rabbi in that it is very much a numbers game and you will eventually find someone who compliments you and who is happy that you are so enthusiastic about Judaism instead of feeling intimidated, etc. My husband to be is Israeli and we’ve been together for over two years and when we met on Jdate, I made it very clear to him that I intended to convert and lead a Jewish life and he was open and accepting. He was with me through the entire process, and was supportive and even came attended sessions with me as well. As a part of that process, he’s actually become more observant and we both are adamant about raising our children to be Jewish. Don’t get discouraged and the very best of luck!! :)

  • victor cole says:

    I am black and Jewish and I find here in LA things are pretty good for me. I never had to go thru what this person is going thru .On the other hand I have never considered an orthodox conversion. I do understand and agree with orthodox reasons as to why I converted. I have a nishoma yehudi. I am very serious about being Jewish and I do go to temple, regularily. I go to a reform temple b/c the other temples, conservative and orthodox just have too many people who question why I am there. If I were her I would understand that the world has changed and there are a lot of African American Jews, Asian Jews and Latino Jews now in the USA.

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