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I'm a little different from most of you here but this is one of the only communities I thought might be helpful in any way. I'm an orthodox Jew. I only wear skirts and I cover my hair with a sheitl. I want to stop believing in god so much. Well, actually, I don't think I actually believe anymore. The problem is that I am so attached to keeping shabbos (the sabbath) and the holidays. They have deep meaning to me and I feel consoled by keeping them. My husband is now an atheist and has been for a while. Love is not enough. It just isn't, and anyone who tells you differently has never been married (at least not for more than a year). My continuing to keep orthodox practices and his not wanting to (I don't blame him...I just feel like I can't leave them behind) is tearing me apart inside. I am worried that our marriage will not survive if I cannot let go of religion. I used to daven (pray) three three times a day like a good orthodox girl and I have stopped. What is keeping me from giving up keeping shabbos and holidays? Why do I feel such a tremendous loss whenever I try to break shabbos by turning on a light or something? It makes me feel like my entire world is crumbling and I have nothing left....but I have my husband whom I love...shouldn't that be all I need? I need helping letting this go. I don't know if I will ever be able to stop wearing skirts and covering my hair...but the things that actually impact the way my husband and I live our life...I need to get rid of those things. I need to stop being religious. I am three months pregnant with our first child, so this is all the more important now. I know that Christianity and orthodox Judaism are worlds apart, but maybe some of you can help...

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Guest r3alchild

Hello and welcome, you might be a little diffrent from some people because of your deep commitment to jewish traditions, but if your looking to turn away from all those traditions then you are the same as anyone else who has come here. I don't want to encourage you to give up your faith/traditions for anyone but yourself. However ill say you have the right to investigate all the claims of any god/religion/truth that the world has taught you to take for granted.

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Hello and welcome, you might be a little diffrent from some people because of your deep commitment to jewish traditions, but if your looking to turn away from all those traditions then you are the same as anyone else who has come here. I don't want to encourage you to give up your faith/traditions for anyone but yourself. However ill say you have the right to investigate all the claims of any god/religion/truth that the world has taught you to take for granted.

 

Couldn't have said it better.

 

Welcome and congrats with your pregnancy yellow.gif

 

p.s. dont stress to much about it. at least not for the next 6 months.

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Hi there and congrats on your pregnancy.

I'm so sorry to hear that you are torn and having this dilemma. However, I'm having trouble seeing exactly where the tension lies. Is your husband forcing you to choose between him and the religious rituals that you still find meaningful and that make you feel a part of a larger community and help you identify with your ethnic heritage?

From what little I know of the Jewish faith, there is much more cultural and ethnic identity bound up in religious practice than what can be found in most forms of Christianity. Personally, I can see how a practicing Jew could still find meaning and comfort in those rituals apart from belief in any god and I'm pretty sure many do. It sounds to me like the problem may be with your husband and not your religion, but maybe I'm just reading things incorrectly. If he wants to let go of those things, that's fine for him. But as someone else mentioned, you shouldn't give up those rituals and observance for anyone but you. Have you talked with your husband about this at length? Does he know exactly how you feel?

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Guest MadameX

Oh wonderful news about the baby coming into your lives! Congratulations to you both. Hope you are not experiencing morning sickness. sick.gif

 

Pregnancy is also a stressful time because it means things are changing for both of you. And then this question on top of it all!

 

There are many Jews who are atheist yet are observant (as you know, I am sure). Yet, you could call them 'religious.' Religious; religion - very broad terms. Religion means both beliefs and practices. I have several cherished wonderful friends whose curiosity and intelligence took them away from belief in the literal interpretation of ancient texts, but they participate in all aspects of their Jewish tradition, in the good company of many Jews who recognize the importance of both honest questioning AND the important identity of their families and ancestors.

 

Many times I have wished my ancestors had not left their Jewish tradition and converted to Lutheranism, back in the old country. I sometimes think I have, despite the Christian's imposition of their religion on us, persisted in that Jewish tradition of rigorous intellectual searching as well as love of ritual and respect for its place in the hearts of humankind.

 

Maybe read this:

Unorthodox: The Scandalous Rejection of My Hasidic Roots

 

Wishing you joy, and peace. Stay in touch!

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Hello and welcome, you might be a little diffrent from some people because of your deep commitment to jewish traditions, but if your looking to turn away from all those traditions then you are the same as anyone else who has come here. I don't want to encourage you to give up your faith/traditions for anyone but yourself. However ill say you have the right to investigate all the claims of any god/religion/truth that the world has taught you to take for granted.

 

Couldn't agree more!

 

Also very good to investigate your traditions, seek that truth behind the rituals.  And remember to enjoy the liberation that will follow.  First and foremost, do it for yourself!

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Welcome my friend. Thank you for sharing your story with us. It is a bit of a hard journey. I had to do a lot of crying. But that's just me.  Letting go of something that you love, or have practiced for a long time is a 'transition'. Time, along with some grieving, will help you decide what you need to let go of to have a healthy life.

 

You stay here with us and post your concerns and we can try to guide you a little.

 

Breathe...it's gonna be alright. You wait and see. Congratulations on your first baby!!

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Hi, OJG, and welcome to ExC.

 

You say you, "Need help letting go" of your religious traditions.  The first question is, as others have wisely pointed out, whether you really want to let go of them.  No one can answer that question except you and it is only your decision.  Unless you really and truly want to let them go, they will not leave you.  If you do want to let go of them, it can only be because you no longer see any meaning in them.  You should think this through very carefully and decide for yourself if they do have meaning.

 

I'll give you a Christian example of what I am talking about.  One Christian tradition is Communion or what some call the Lord's Supper.  Before his (alleged) crucifixion, Jesus had a last supper with his twelve disciples.  In that meal, Jesus broke bread and passed it around and then gave wine to his disciples and they all ate and drank.  He said the bread represented his body which he gives for all and the wine represented his blood which he was soon to shed for them.  He then commanded that they observe this ritual in remembrance of his sacrifice (the death on the cross was \supposedly a sacrifice for the remission of sins).  Christians take that command as applying to all Christians and churches regularly have communion.

 

Because I no longer believe Jesus was any sort of savior at all (and the Jesus as described in the Christian bible - the New Testament - never existed), that particular ritual has no significance to me whatsoever.  Therefore, I do not observe it because it is meaningless.

 

You should do this kind of thinking.  Decide for yourself if what you do has meaning for you and make your decision accordingly.  If you decide to abandon them, then I can tell you that from the Christian experience, it is not easy letting go.  Many ExChristians feel lost when they first decide to leave the religion behind.  They have to spend a lot of time getting over their "loss" which is, for many, quite real and disturbing.  It takes some a lot of time to get past it, but time is the healer and many come out of the difficulties of leaving the religion behind happier than when they were observing the Christian religion.

 

If you decide not to leave your religious practices, then you will want to work things out with your husband.  I want to say, first, that marriages do work when one spouse is religious and the other one is not, even when the non-religious spouse was religious when the marriage began and that spouse later left the religion.  That is not to say that there are not problems that must be worked out, sometimes with great difficulty.  If you read on this forum, you will read of many such situations and the struggles involved.  But there are many of us who are in your husband's situation (being the non-religious ones) who are married to a religious spouse and we have been able to work things out.

 

I can tell from your post that you love your husband and I will assume that he loves you, too.  You say that love is not enough and I agree with that.  However, love is the foundation of any marriage so you have that all important foundation.

 

There are several ways such "mixed marriages" tend to work out.  One way is that the religious spouse drops his or her religion so both spouses are in perfect accord on that point.  That does happen sometimes, but you will read on these forums that in many situations that does not happen and other accommodations are worked out.

 

What seems to be most successful is that the spouses speak with each other freely and openly.  I have no idea whether you have had this conversation with your husband or not, perhaps you have, I don't know.  If you haven't done so already, perhaps you should explain to your husband what these practices mean to you.  I think you eloquently explained it in your OP. 

 

The problem is that I am so attached to keeping shabbos (the sabbath) and the holidays. They have deep meaning to me and I feel consoled by keeping them.

 

I find what you wrote to be touching and deeply heartfelt on your part.  Explain to your husband in detail what meaning you find in them and how they console you.  In return, allow him to explain to you why he feels the way he does and carefully listen to him and acknowledge what he says.

 

Perhaps after that discussion, the two of you can come to mutually satisfactory accommodations - a compromise.  It is that type of discourse that has saved a number of marriages which have been described in this forum.  The compromise is often something to the effect that the religious spouse agrees not to push his or her religion on the non-religious spouse.  In return, the non-religious spouse agrees not to try to force the religious spouse to give up his or her religion.  In your case, I think that would mean that you would continue with your observances but you would not require your husband to be observant.

 

You mention several things in particular.  You mention your style of dress, wearing skirts and covering your head.  You also mention keeping the Sabbath and observing the holidays.  Find out from your husband why, or if, your doing these things is troubling to him and explore with him how he could accommodate your desire to do these things and how you could accommodate him if you continue doing them.  If, for example, your manner of dress bothers your husband (and, again, I have no idea whether it does, I only use this as an example), then perhaps you could agree not to dress that way while at home or, perhaps, you could on occasion such as when there is some non-religious function such as an office party, you would dress for that function in some other manner. 

 

As for the Sabbath, I do not pretend to know all the Jewish laws related to observing the Sabbath, but one thing you mention is flipping a light switch which I take it is seen as some type of labor that is forbidden for Orthodox Jews on the Sabbath.  Fine, then don't flip a light switch on the Sabbath, but don't forbid him to do so.  I'm not saying you do forbid him, I am, again, simply using this as an example.

 

As for the holidays, I do not know all the details of how Orthodox Jews observe the holidays, but from what little I know the Passover is of great significance and I believe the man plays an important role in its observance.  Perhaps there is a way you can still observe the important holidays without requiring your husband's participation.  For advice here, you may need to consult a Rabbi as I would imagine they have given advice to some who face similar situations as you in which one of the spouses is an observant Jew and the other is not.  I would think they have devised a way to accommodate this.

 

An important issue to discuss with your husband is your child who will be born in about six months.  The question that many on this forum have issues with is how the child will be raised, whether religious or not.  Don't sweep this issue under the rug, but face it and the two of you make a decision with which you are both at least comfortable.

 

If you have any other specific questions you want to raise, do not hesitate.

 

Congratulations on your pregnancy and best of luck.

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Welcome, ojgirl!  Starting over with traditions and beliefs is very difficult.  Is your husband a former orthodox Jew?  Regardless, expecting you to quickly abandon what has until now been foundational in your life is unreasonable.  Hopefully he will be patient with you while you two work out what the future holds.  Take your time.  Celebrate baby steps toward where you would like to be.  :)

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Welcome, OJG!

 

I can echo what most said about not knowing much about Orthodox Judaism, but I completely understand where you're coming from.  Even after deconverting (but not telling anyone yet) I still continued to go to Small-Groups, Church on Sunday, and various other church activities.  For me it no longer had anything to do with God, but it had everything to do with fellowship and a unity I felt with these people.

 

Just because you deconverted doesn't mean you have to give up who you are, on the contrary!  Now you really can express who you are.  You will see in the coming years that making new traditions with your family will be very important!  If you want to keep some random ritual that doesn't mean anything, then do it, just don't teach your children that it will affect their whole life.  My family does the Polish tradition Wigilia (Christmas Eve), which holds the belief that anything that happens that day will have an impact on the coming year.  Does it?  No.  Do we take it 100% serious that someone above is watching our behavior?  No.  But it's something that my whole family has and can relate to, regardless of our beliefs.

 

Good luck my friend, I'm only 9 months into my journey and there have been moments of great joy, and of great pain.  Take each of them in stride and keep your chin up, we're here for you should you need anything!

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Hello,

 

I'm sorry you are feeling this way.  My first impression when I read your post is that your religious practices are more of a security blanket for you than actual faith.  There is nothing wrong with liking to do things out of tradition.  We all have traditions that have become part of our life that have no actual meaning outside of nostalgia and familiarity.

 

If you are not certain you believe in a god, maybe talk to your husband about that.  Or talk to him about how staying in your cultural/religious traditions is important to you and makes you feel safe and comfortable.  What issues does he have with all of it?  I don't know your husband, so I can't predict what he might say.  But I feel that if I chose to marry somebody, I would accept and love their personality and accept their habits.  I hope he is open to hearing you out, and getting to know what you are thinking. 

 

I'm saying this because your husband is an atheist, and he believes you are a believer (or so it seems).  Based on this, I would bet that he would love to know more in depth what you are really thinking, and what direction you are going towards.

 

Good luck.

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Welcome OJG!  I hope that the folks in this community can help you, even if our issues are somewhat different than what you are facing.

 

I don't know if I'm interpreting your post correctly, but it sounds to me like you don't really believe anymore and are clinging to the rituals out of fear, rather than because they actually provide consolation to you.  You have lived your entire life doing things in a certain way, so it is very understandable that changing these behaviors would shake your world at least a little bit.  It is a lot to process all at one time.

 

Perhaps you could try to deconstruct your feelings on one of the smaller issues.  Let's use turning on the light as an example.  (You would have to determine which issue is appropriately 'small' for you.)  You mention feeling a great sense of loss when you even consider turning on a light on the Sabbath.  Do you feel that you are losing something personally, or do you feel a loss of your family's approval?  If it is a personal loss, does it feel like a superstition?  I know people who won't step on a crack in the sidewalk, or touch wood when they speak of something that they hope will not happen, so superstition can play a powerful role in a person's life.  I think religion is similar.  The root of it is addressing what you fear will happen if you do not maintain the ritual.  Once you really contemplate that fear and its origins, it might not seem so scary anymore.  A qualified counselor might be able to help you navigate these areas and help you find your way as you redefine your life.

 

Others have already mentioned this, but there are probably many ways that you can celebrate and honor your heritage through rituals and holidays that are less burdensome on your everyday life.

 

 

I know it all seems terrifying now, but believe it or not, you are on a path that leads to a happier place with a lot more freedom in life.  It just takes time.  You will get through this.  And you have friends here!  yellow.gif

 

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http://www.ex-christian.net/topic/54506-a-time-for-all-things/

 

Traditions matter to many. For my wife, lighting the candles, saying a prayer for those loved one, asking for guidance, are all traditions. She doesn't go to mass. She never talks about it. I guess it akin to "being Jewish" but loving to eat bacon. But when the touchstones are needed, they will reach for them. 

The scene in the grotto was not the time to have a discussion about religion. Enjoying the pretty lights is not the time have a discussion about the myth. There are times when the fights need to be fought. There are also times when the beauty of the traditions needs to be respected because those you love find comfort in them. 

Remember, there is a time to fight and time to love. 

 

 

Besides what others have shared here.  I will comment with this.   Part of love is acceptance.   Part of love is communication.  

 

Talk to your husband about what you are feeling. 

 

As in my case, it could very well be that it doesn't bother him at all.

 

Also,  this is something that you use to identify who you are.  When traditions are so closely tied to personal identity, it is very much like losing part of yourself to "let them go".   A person whose whole world is defined as "wife" and "mother" can be devastated when a divorce comes.  

 

Change is inevitable.   Touchstones of tradition are very helpful when change comes. 

 

And now for a more musical response. 

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The posts above are really very good. They make a lot of sense. Just a day or so ago I posted one of

Mark Twain's comments. I think it is appropriate here, too. He said we should hold on to our illusions. If we don't we will have a very unsatisfactory life. Mark Twain was not a believer in God. The

illusions he was referring to were not those which would interfere with one's contact with reality

causing one to try to impose his or her beliefs on others, whether they like it or not. I have a

feeling that the Jewish traditions and rituals could fit what he meant by "illusions". Can you

continue all or some of your traditions without giving up your freedom of thought? Are the traditions

amenable to being followed without feeling that you must maintain your belief or lack of belief in God? If you can continue to follow the traditions without sacrificing your honest beliefs, then why not

continue them? They can be a source of peace and give you a sense of your history. And there is nothing wrong with that. I'll stick my neck out and predict that your husband will have no objections. If he

does, come back and talk with us again if you want. Best of luck to you. bill

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Oh, you need a hug so badly. I wish I lived near you (that's possible, but I doubt it).

 

You are right that there is no god. But it is okay to keep your rituals as they make you feel comfortable. They will lose their meaning as you are ready. Don't be afraid of that.

 

You are perfectly correct that there is no god. There is no reason to worry ; unbelievers like you and I have been living well for thousands of years, and then "suffering" the same exact fate as believers do.

 

Don't worry. Take care of your baby and relax, because that is the best thing you can do. It will be ok. Private message me if you want. I'm here.

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My ex-wife was Jewish and we are both atheists but we both find Jewish traditions to be very comforting.

Maybe you don't have to let go of the traditions? If they are hurting you or your marriage you may need to talk about it but if it makes you feel good, why not?

 

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Sorry I didn't read fully. It sounds like your husband is set against it.

Would you guys be open to couples counselling? I think it's really helpful.

Even though my ex and I were unable to continue our marriage we both found it comforting and helpful to make the changes in our lives that we needed to make.

I'm not sure what the therapist will tell you but don't let go of your needs to please him, or vice versa I would say. Maybe there's a middle ground somewhere? If you're in a city you might be able to do Passover and Rosh Hashanah with some atheist reform friends?

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Welcome!  I don't have much to add, but I am sure you are aware of the reform and liberal Jewish communities.   I have a few friends who are happily atheist but practicing culturally as Jews (but not as strict as an Orthodox Jew would, of course).   Maybe you can reach out to those communities in your area and find some like-minded people who can help you find a way to respect your traditions without all the Godstuff.

 

Again, welcome to the site, and although we can't relate to your specific traditions, we can certainly relate to what you are feeling and going through.

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Hi OJG! May I wish you a Chag Sameach? I was born and raised Jewish, although in a far more secular way than your tradition. When my children were small, I was somewhat more abservant. I do understand how you feel about Jewish rituals and celebrations.

 

You really did come to a wonderful place fro support. I have found the people here to be very supportive and caring. When I posted my "testimony", I felt a little bit out of place too, but everyone has been great!

 

Tonight is the first night of Passover. I live in a city far from my family and I have no plans for this evening. I am a full on atheist and so I feel no particular need to follow dietary rules. However, I am missing sitting down to a family seder. I miss telling the story, I miss dipping the herbs, I miss the four questions and I miss the children hiding/finding the afikomen. I am also quite aware that there has never been ANY evidence found for Hebrews in bondage in Egypt during that time. I will not follow the dietary restrictions of the Koshruth nor of Passover, But I do miss the family time and the repition of familiar songs and prayers. 

 

Rituals are comforting. Rituals that link you to your ancestors for thousands give a sense of connectedness that has nothing to do with a human created diety or with worshiping this deity. I am still working out the parts of Judaism that I stil need and trying to figure out why I need them. 

 

 

I will tell you a little story. A few years ago, I was working in a remote location in the deep southern United States. There were 75 Jews in the entire County. I only knew about 5 of them. I have been an atheist for several years (and likely really did not believe in deity for a lot longer). I had not practiced my religion in several years. But here I was in the Deep South and I felt my ethnic Jewishness around Passover time when I lived there. The tradition was for all 75 Jews to gather together at a catering hall and participate together in a Seder. About half of the 75 people were elderly folks whose families had been in the area for generations. The rest hailed from all over the United States and a few from Canada, Russia and South America. To me , they were 70 strangers. I sat there looking at the table, set with several seder plates, wine glasses, bowls of salt water and piles of matzoh. We told the story in English and took turns reading from the Haggadah. There were about a half dozen children present and they chanted the four questions. We said prayers over the matzoh and the wine. We sang the Deyenu. I found myself joining in and feeling connected to these strangers. I did not believe the story was true and I did not stop being an atheist. But I was far from my family and my friends and taking part in that seder made me feel connected. It felt GOOD. The singing and chanting gave me a feeling of peace and an almost childlike sense of being protected. 

 

I think that tradition is something that humans need to feel bonded with other humans. I enjoy sharing other people's traditions as well and in the same spirit. Time and circumstance have molded and changed where and when I need to participate in these kinds of things. I love in South florida now where being Jewish is pretty common. I find that I have a sense of connectedness on lots of ordinary days and I have less need to indulge in more formal rituals. (I am not invited to seder tonight, but I am tomorrow...I feel ok both ways.) 

 

You will find a comfort zone for rituals in your own life. You may also find that your needs change as you live and experience new stages and phases in your life. You husband is also going through a process as he finds a comfortable place with his atheism. He seem to be more the sort who feels best giving up the whole thing all at once. And that is ok for him. You need to give one another space to find your comfort level with your past adherence to these rituals. 

 

Love is not enough unless there is also respect in your marriage. My suggestion is to respect one another and allow one another to adjust to eich other's needs. There is no "wrong or "right" way to practice atheism. Take your time. Give one another space. Talk about your feelings and his. Make compromises, Love and respect each other. And take care of that baby.

 

Flo

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