Dear Rabbi Singer,
I am a somewhat fanatical atheist from a primarily Jewish family (3 of 4 grandparents). My values regarding family and community, as well as my own cultural self identification, are very much aligned with Judaism. I attended some Hebrew school under duress, but eventually got my way and opted out. I often argue that being an American Jew is an identity that extends and can exist separately from religion and faith, but I know that this position is often in the minority.
When discussing religious identity with dates (especially early on) I feel conflicted about saying I am Jewish, as I know that what this means to me is not a generally accepted definition, and feel that this would be misleading. At the same time, the first few dates are probably not the best time to attempt a nuanced conversation about atheism or the evil inherent to religious faith.
What would you recommend as the most tactful and honest approach to this subject during the first few dates?
Dear Honestly Faithless,
The most honest approach is, as always, the whole truth and nothing, but the truth. If your maternal grandmother was Jewish, according to all religious opinions you are technically Jewish (like it or not), so you can tell your date just that. You can also tell her that while you are biologically Jewish, you are intellectually and practically non religious. That is the truth, right?
Then, it’s up to your date to decide whether she wants to get to know you better or not. All you can do is be yourself. You’ll find the right woman who will accept you for who you are.
Best of luck to you!