Hi all, I’m an atheist woman planning to marry a Jewish man born to Conservative parents. He considers himself more Reform than Conservative. He has made it clear from the beginning of our relationship that raising our future children Jewish is important to him, and as I’ve learned more about the ethnic culture of Judaism I’ve discovered I want the same. I want them to have a strong connection to their Jewish ancestry, family, and all other Jews.
There lies the problem. As an atheist, I cannot convert into one of the main denominations and our children will not be Jewish by halachic law. My boyfriend and I are pushing off our actual engagement in order to determine how we’ll handle the conversations with his parents. I know I can’t control it, but I don’t want to hurt or scare them with the idea that their grandchildren won’t be Jewish.
I have looked into conversion over the years, but the only denomination that would accept my atheism is Humanistic. I still grapple emotionally with possibly converting to Humanistic Judaism, because it feels dishonest to belong to a religion after a lifetime of no affiliation, even though I would be living a culturally Jewish life with my future husband and children. And the fact that none of the other branches recognize Humanistic Judaism as a legitimate branch doesn’t help.
That’s why I’m here to ask Conservatives, what do you think of this situation? My boyfriend, being Reform, is comfortable accepting patrilineal descent. I would be happy to raise our children as Reform. How would you personally feel about your grandchildren being raised Reform, through a non-Jewish mother?