Jews-by-choice find Judaism through various avenues. While some discover their affinity to Judaism after a long period of religious exploration, in many cases (at least historically) Jews-by-choice arrive at Judaism through marriage – whether by converting prior to the marriage or, after the intermarriage, once the partner has developed a high level of comfort with the religion.
My colleague, Paul Golin, discussed this storied interplay between marriage and conversion in a Huffington Post article last week called, “The Complicated Relationship between Intermarriage and Jewish Conversion.” His article articulates how marriage has traditionally served as a path for Jewish conversion and highlights the insensitivities that many Jews-by-choice face. On the one hand, the Jewish community has often seen conversion as the panacea to high rates of intermarriage and in the past has heightened the pressure on non-Jewish partners to convert. On the other hand, too many Jews-by- choice have been “confronted with assumptions by born-Jews that the only reason they converted was to please a Jewish spouse or parent-in-law.” In both cases, the insensitivity stems from the perceived association between the marriage and conversion.