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Dating Advice #151 - Sharing the Passion
Dating Advice 151

Dating Advice #151 - Sharing the Passion

He wants to marry Jewish, but can he find an accomplished musician, too?


Dear Rosie & Sherry,

I am 23 and in graduate school. For years, my family has rightfully expected that I date Jews and that I marry a "nice Jewish woman." I have the same goals in mind, but in order to find someone who understands my lifestyle, I need someone who is a classical musician, like myself. Unfortunately in all my years of experience in orchestras and music schools (mostly since I was 16), I have met few Jewish women and the ones I have met were almost always not interested in Judaism. This is clearly frustrating because while they were often quite wonderful musicians, they lacked the spiritual side of things and many even rebelled against the religion by only dating non-Jews (or so it seemed).

Meanwhile, my parents have always hoped that I would find "the one" every time I have gone to a new school or a new summer music festival. The problem is that this has made me very lonely because I have rarely been able to invest my emotions in one person. The very few times I have had girlfriends (the only Jewish one was not a musician), I have perhaps gone overboard, already thinking of marriage.

Because of all this, today I find myself in a logical position that upsets my family. I have just started a relationship with a wonderful non-Jewish woman who has some interest in Judaism. I am even more upset now because my family won't even consider the possibility that she can convert and they are convinced that the children would be confused in terms of their identity. As you can see, I am in a position where nothing can work, and while I realize that I do not in any way need to find my soul mate right now, I feel that dating a "genetic Jew" who has little Jewish feeling is worse than dating a "potential Jew" who might enhance the life of my children Jewishly.

What's your take on all this?


Dear Jack,

Our perspective is influenced by the fact that we each have been happily married for close to 30 years to husbands who have avocations that are very different than our own. And we have the perspective of having worked for many years with married couples and with marriage-oriented singles. Finally, one of us is the sister of a classically-trained musician.

We can see that music is a vital part of your life, and it heavily influences your decisions about the future. We can understand why you feel compelled to date someone who shares your passion for music and will be able to understand you and the lifestyle you expect to lead. In fact, we've sometimes heard similar sentiments from people engaged in other fields of study, such as medicine and art, who strongly believe that only someone who shares their passion can truly understand them. We can understand why you feel as if your passion for music will be the central focus of your life and your marriage.

Right now, you expect that your shared passion for music will be a significant factor in your relationship with the woman you marry. It may be the factor that you expect will initially draw you together. However, marriage is based on an emotional connection between people and not on their shared passion for something -- be it art, music, politics, medicine, or even serving the Jewish community. Each of us is a very complex being, and we operate on many levels. You will connect on many levels with the person you will someday marry, most of which will not be related to your music, and it is on these levels that she will truly "understand" you.

It has been our observation that most artists are married to someone whose talents lie in a completely different realm, and that their spouses are not necessarily as driven as they are. This highlights one fact you may not be aware of, simply because you aren't married -- that married life is much more multi-dimensional than you can currently envision.

What we are saying is that despite your belief that you should seek a classical musician as a spouse, there are other qualities which you would be better off focusing on. High on the list should be someone who respects your love of music -- even though she does not share your "passion." Anyone who has a passion should be married to someone who respects, even admires, what is so important to them.

There are many Jewish women who meet these criteria, including women with musical training, or who work in a music-related field, or who simply love to listen to classical and other kinds of music. In fact, we personally know of a number of Jewish women who are classically trained musicians (sorry, they're married!) and who are working as music therapists, music teachers, or who continue to play and/or perform even though they are engaged in non-musical careers.

Music alone cannot guide your choice of dating partners. We suggest that you set aside a few hours one evening to write down your thoughts about the future -- the direction you would like to see your life take and the type of home and family you would like to have. Give some thought to the lifestyle you will have as a classical musician -- the constant travel to different performance venues and the resulting time away from your family, performance hours that may cut into quality family time, the less-than-ideal salary.

An ideal marriage partner for you would be a woman whose own career and lifestyle choices can be compatible with yours, not someone whose choices will be identical. In fact, a marriage with two musicians in different orchestras would probably be very difficult to sustain.

A significant part of your thinking during this exercise should also be on the personal qualities you would like your lifetime partner to possess. Remember that you are not looking for a carbon copy of yourself. Life would be so boring if each of us married an opposite-gender version of ourselves!

Come back to what you have written a few days later, refine your thoughts, and narrow down your list of personal qualities to only four.

Now focus on finding a dating partner who seems to have these qualities. Even though you have developed an attraction for a non-Jewish woman, your letter tells us that your family always expected you to find a Jewish spouse, but it seems to us that this has also been your expectation. You appear to be a spiritual person and Judaism will probably play a greater role in you life as you get older, and when you raise a family. We've observed that people's spirituality often grows as they mature. As important as you feel it is to have as shared love of music with your spouse, we believe it is even more important to have someone whose ideas of a Jewish home and raising children are similar to yours.

Since you obviously have an interest in Judaism, we encourage you to look for dating partners in places where you can meet or be introduced to Jewish women. You can explore Jewish Internet dating sites, take an adult education or outreach course on a Jewish topic, volunteer for a Jewish community service project, and get involved in your local synagogue. Many of these activities will help you strengthen your connection to and appreciation of Judaism, while at the same time helping you meet the Jewish woman who is really right for you. You might meet someone yourself, or, as you develop friendships with other Jews, it may be that one of these friends will know someone who is right for you.

We believe that you will have an easier time finding a Jewish woman whose spirituality and personality are compatible to your own, and who shares or appreciates you commitment to music, by following the approaches we have suggested, rather than by using classical music training as your primary criterion for a potential dating partner. All the best,

Rosie & Sherry

March 20, 2004

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Visitor Comments: 8

(8) Esther, August 31, 2006 8:04 PM

What you are really looking for is passion

My take on this situation is that the quality he is looking for is someone who is passionate. I think a lot of the comments below are hung up on the technicalities about music. But I know many people who are passionate about other arts, and it seems that this would be a good match because they would "get" each other, and would have the opportunity to learn from each other. My husband and I have introduced each other to new interests and perspectives, and this adds so much to the marriage. Plus, it seems that he also wants someone who is more passionate about Judaism as well, which agains suggests that it is really this qaulity that he is looking for. (BTW, if you look at the comments of "professional musician and educator," you could substitute many art forms into her words and come up with the same concepts. i am sure that artists, writers, non-classical musicians, craftspeople, etc. would all say that their art form "provides a means of expressing feelings," are aware of their art's way of "making special" and so on. It's a beautiful description but is not limited to music.

(7) Adam, March 25, 2004 12:00 AM

From a professional musician and educator

There is a very big difference between a person who has successfully studied music and one who decides to make a career of it. People whose passion is music are different than non-musicians at their core they are aware of music's use of sounds to "make special" in a way that only sounds can do. Music provides a means of expressing deep-rooted feelings in a way that words cannot. Music gives us forms of imagination and forms of feeling inseparably; that is to say it clarifies and organizes intuition itself.

Our world is very materialistic. It's hard for a man (who is traditionally expected to be the breadwinner) to find a woman who really understands what music means to him.

I certainly agree with the notion that marriage is a complex and multidimensional union and that a common value system is essential to sustain it. But is "respect" of the other person's passion sufficient to be truly "in synch" with them? Will Jack's partner really be able to "get him?" To be honest, I think that Jack's marriage to a non-musical woman would be a compromise - the wonderful things that marriage, family, and community can provide notwithstanding.

It is wrong to paint the world of musicians with a broad brush. Some professional musicians are technically proficient but lack a certain depth of feeling for artistic expression. These are the types of musicians who can successfully marry non-musicians. And the true "artist" could also "successfully" marry a non-musician, but an important dimension would be missing from the relationship.

A man's sense of identity is closely bound to his career (even if he's a great dad). A woman's sense of identity is more closely bound to her family (even if she is a successful professional). So, because music is not always the most lucrative of professions, it's a big advantage for a male musician to have a wife who really "gets him."

I agree that Jack should not overly restrict his possibilities for finding a Jewish wife to only classically trained musicians. Yes, some other type of music professional could also be an appropriate choice for him. But a woman who politely allows music to wash over her ears without connecting to the intense emotion behind it? That may be too much of a compromise.

(6) simona, March 25, 2004 12:00 AM

reality check

Reality Check!
I'm a Jewish Single Woman and amateur musician (classical) born to a mother who is a classical pianist. She recently married a jazz musician. Their lifestyle is pretty mundane, so I'm not sure why you seem to think yours is so unusual that no mere woman could handle you.
Plus where on earth do you live? I live in a medium sized city and between our sympohony, opera, pops, and other musical/arts groups can instantly think of dozens of young and single Jews who are musicians or involved in some other aspect of the scene. I'd be more than happy to hook you up if aish gives you my email...
Also, if you really think about it .... find some older Jewish folks in the classical world and have them fix you up with their kids...
The fact of the matter is that you're limiting your choices based on some random perception that you have of the non-classical and non-musical world. I'm not sure if you feel superior to the rest of humanity or that you feel that the rest of humanity feels superior to you... Its hard to tell.
But lifestyles are different among different people... Musicians can be world traveling jet setters or minivan driving carpoolers or impovershed dreamers or whatever...
I would guess your aversion to Jewish women is not based on their underrepresentation in the classical music world (b/c we're not all that scarce in that world) but due to some other issue.
Good Luck, I hope you find a nice Jewish girl despite your prejudices otherwise!

(5) Anonymous, March 23, 2004 12:00 AM

Never, never tell an artist to forget his requisites for confort - especially if Jack just told you that this is (his) desire. Infact, being a professinal musician all of my life has shown me that what Jack needs is most definitely a musician - even if it were not to work out- he must find this out for himself - let him take the plunge with (his) fantasy! Then he will feel liberated and he will know that he has lived!

(4) commentina, March 22, 2004 12:00 AM

perceptively put

exactly what most readers woulda answered, but oh how sensitively said.

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