TLDR: I want to raise my kids with Jewish traditions and practices, bf not completely comfortable doing that. He humours me with the traditions and will do e.g. seder meal, cheesy dinners for shavuot, but becomes uncomfortable at mention of god. How do I navigate this?
The long version:
My partner and I have been together for 9, almost 10 years. We met in university. He even moved abroad with me when I got a work opportunity. We have come a long way through ups and downs. Our relationship is pretty strong and we’ve never had e.g. fidelity issues, issues with in-laws etc. We bicker sometimes but its always resolved within the hour.
When we were younger, we were totally on the same page. Obviously we have both grown and changed as we have grown up, but in some manners we have grown in quite different directions. A big one being the belief in Gd. When we met, My bf used to be a staunch atheist. He was of the opinion that religion and science cannot work together; he used to view (he is more open minded now) people who believe in any organised religion, as sheep/not logical/lacking intelligence. I think this is largely to him having been surrounded by a Christian education at the early part of his childhood (before his parents also became atheists). He grew up with the notion of God as some old man with a big white beard on gold throne in the sky, god that meddles even the most mundane aspects of each and every human’s life, a deity with a body etc. He grew up told that e.g. the creation story is a literal story and thinking all Abrahamic religions believe it to be strictly literal, that the earth is only some 5700 ish years old and that people who believe in god don’t believe in evolution.
I am Jewish. I grew up totally secular. For a long time I was on a similar wavelength to my bf. Not for the same reasons, but because I knew nothing of religion and am a scientist by trade, with a very mathematical and logical mind and it took me a while to realize that a lack of proof does not concretely equal disproof. In my small experience, that rhetoric about religion being asinine and for the unintelligent is pretty rife throughout the western world of scientific academia.
Anyway, I can’t say for sure exactly why, but the last few years I have been getting more and more in touch with my heritage and traditions. I only realized around the last year now that when I have kids (which I hope for within the next few years), I want to raise them Jewish. I want little jewish babies. I tried to broach this topic a few times but I think he feels a little blindsided because this is not the woman he thought he was with 9 years ago. I used to bash organised religion too. I used to identify as agnostic and rejected a lot of my Jewish identity for a very long time.
I’m not affiliated with any denomination, I’m not exactly orthodox. I guess my personal philosophies are closer to reform, but observance is more traditional. I mean, my kids don’t have to be (nor do I at all want for them to be!) hassids/super orthodox/whatever. I just want them to know who they are, where they come from and the basic 101s of Judaism. I want to teach them some amazing aspects of our basic philosophy and instill in them the typically Jewish desire to always keep learning (whether religious, scientific, arts, languages, whatever, just keep learning and love to learn), the basics of our major holidays and how some other basic things work. I want to keep shabbat, a roughly kosher diet (no pork, no mixed meant/dairy, but no need for the OTT double kitchen with two sinks, double utensils etc, just thoroughly wash up after ourselves between meals is good enough for me).
So the last year or so, I started myself to be a bit more observant, to get to a point where I feel comfortable. I stopped eating pork and seafood 2 years ago, stopped eating meat and dairy in the same meal and have started to roughly observe the holidays, even if I don’t stick to the strict orthodox ways, I celebrate in my own way (e.g. had a passover seder for pessach, had a nice cheesy dinner and cheesecake for shavuot). He also stopped eating pork in the house. I observe shabbats in my own way. Generally that means I don’t write, spend money or do anything strenuous on saturday. Sometimes I will try not to use electronics, but not always. I travel sometimes and go to the shops with my partner, but don’t spend money myself on shabbat. I light candles on friday and have a glass of wine. I don’t dress “tnius”/modest. I go to shul on Rosh haShana and Yom Kippur and the very occasional shabbat (maybe 3-5 times/year). That’s about my limit and its where I am comfortable with. I also agree with him that not all organised religion is good and ultimately it starts at home and is a personal thing.
I try to involve my bf in the various events at home and explain. But sometimes I feel embarassed to approach him and say “hey there’s this holiday xyz coming up and the tradition is to do abc, so do you wanna do it together?” I know thats on me and not him, but I don’t always know how he will react. He’s usually pretty chill about it but I think (maybe just my paranoia) that sometimes inside he is judging and I feel like I need to approach with a lot of caution and have some kind of incentive (e.g. I brought up the idea of us doing a passover seder together by leading with “its a big meal where we have to drink at least 4 glasses of wine”. We had a nice seder in lockdown together. I made a hagaddah with english translation and phonetic transliteration and I led it in Hebrew and actually he did enjoy and engage quite a lot and I discovered that when you abstract god from the Christian notion and go more to the concept of a higher force/energy that is maybe more passive/has better things to do than meddle in every single human life constantly, he is actually on board and believes. but he also started to criticize some of it, especially saying “there is no concrete evidence of jews in ancient Egypt” etc. I don’t want him to say belittling things like that in front of our future kids).
I’m not asking him to have a revelation or convert or anything like that. I just want him to be a bit more on board with it and a bit more open to raising kids like this. I’d like to eventually send my kids once a week to a Hebrew school on a sunday or after school so they can learn a bit more than I had the chance to. But he hates the concept of any kind of religious institution, so I don’t know if he’d agree.
Its horrible but I sometimes wish I could have just fallen for a jewish or half jewish guy (just because it would have been easier), but I want to stress that I love my bf so much and whilst raising our kids with zero jewish identity is a red line for me, at this point I am not prepared to leave him, we are committed for life (we only never married due to 1, money and 2, both thinking it was mostly a Christian thing and if you remove religion, whats the point, its just a bit of paper and we don’t need the government to have a record to make it official).
TLDR: I want to raise my kids with traditions and practices of the Jewish faith, bf not completely comfortable doing that. How do I navigate an interfaith relationship? How do I communicate it’s importance to me? How do I try to reach a compromise without hurting his feelings?
Edit: many read this as him disrespecting me, but understand that here I only tell the bad. In general he is very respectful and open to listening to me. He is an amazing partner in literally every other aspect of a relationship and the idea that his partner has become a bit religious is very new to him…