Sunday, September 21, 2014 Elul 26, 5774
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Put your profession in your profile

Thursday, March 22, 2012
By:

Dear Miriam,

I met a great guy online, and we recently went on our first date. His profile didn't specify his religion or profession, so I asked him about that early on in the date. Turns out, he's studying to be Christian clergy. We still had a good time, but I want to have a Jewish home, and I feel like his career path is a deal breaker. Also, don't you think he should have been upfront about this in his profile? He's willing to give "us" a shot, but I'm not sure that I am. In case it matters, I'm not planning to have kids regardless of who I end up with.

Signed,
Put your profession in your profile,

Dear Profession,

We seem to be alternating between food questions and dating questions lately. It's good to know what really matters! It's also worth reiterating that while I walk a fine line between representing myself and representing any number of Jewish institutions, ultimately, my opinions are my own and are not communally sanctioned. I say that again here because I actually think you should give him a chance, and that's probably not the answer you're expecting.

As a committed Jew who wants a Jewish home, you're going to make sure you have that, and it's going to be easier to do that with someone who appreciates religion and culture and tradition than with someone, Jewish or not, who doesn't. To be totally upfront about where I'm coming from, a big reason that people are afraid of intermarriage is because of Jewish continuity and making sure that Jewish kids know who they are and have pride in their Jewish identity. Once you take kids out of the equation, I find the issues to be really different and see a lot more room for flexibility in what a "Jewish home" can look like.

I do find it odd that his profile would make no reference to his religion or career path, though I've heard from a number of single rabbis and rabbinical students that their careers are an obstacle to dating. As soon as someone finds out what they do, all kinds of defenses go up from people who think they're not "Jewish enough" to date clergy. How much more so, then, might you expect those defenses to come into play in online dating when you can just click to the next profile as soon as you see "clergy" and think, "whoa, not for me." It could be really refreshing for him to consider dating outside his faith because while you may have baggage about what it means to be Christian clergy, it's a different set of baggage than people might have inside his church. It's also worth noting that every rabbinical school that I know of has a policy against its students dating non-Jews, and it's interesting that it sounds like his seminary doesn't have a comparable policy.

If you think you could never fully open up to someone who believes in Jesus, then you're right, it's a deal breaker, and you should move on. But you said you had a good time, and in this world of online dating, that's a rare and special occurrence. Since you've already had the beginnings of potentially difficult and defining conversations on the topic, I would encourage you to meet up with him again and dive into the complexities of the situation. Even if you don't want to pursue him romantically, you both might gain a lot from the exchange.

Be well,
Miriam

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