“Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.” – Genesis 2:24
Wife-hunting is not easy for anyone, but it’s even harder for religious Jews and Mormons. In addition to finding a woman who’s cute and laughs at our jokes, we also have to find out whether – and to what extent—she observes the Sabbath and keep the dietary laws (Word of Wisdom for Mormons). Alas, there’s no spiritual compatibility checklist, so all we can do is create our own – and pray.
I’ve been asking (and answering) lots of questions recently in the process of getting to know a certain LDS young woman, and it’s wonderful to see that we’re both looking for the same qualities in a mate. I met Florina in Bucharest, Romania last fall during a speaking tour of Europe to promote LDS-Jewish relations. She came up to me afterwards to compliment me on my Romanian, I complimented her on her beauty, and we took a few pictures. I had to leave for Moldova the next day and didn’t have time to spend with her, but I thought of Florina often in the weeks and months that followed. It turns out that I somehow made a lasting impression on her as well (proof that miracles still happen), and we recently reconnected on Skype. If things continue to go as well as they have, I may be visiting Romania again later this year.
What does a religious Mormon look for in a prospective wife? Here is the mental checklist I reviewed during my first few conversations with Florina:
1) Missionary service. It’s not expected of women, but I’ve always thought of it as an added plus. In Florina’s case, she gets major bonus points. She converted to the LDS Church seven years ago at age 23, past the age (21) when most women leave on their missions. Nevertheless, she served a 6-week “mini” mission in Arad, Romania, then spent 18 months as a full-time missionary in Russia. As a result, she is trilingual (Romanian, English, Russian).
2) Callings. We have a lay ministry, and every member is called to serve in the church. The specific calling is not important, but the person’s willingness to accept one is. In Florina’s case, she teaches the weekly Family Home Evening (FHE) lesson to other singles living in Bucharest. [There is no Jewish equivalent to FHE; in this case it would be similar to a weekly social gathering of Hillel students]. She and I now plan to conduct weekly FHEs via Skype every Monday just for the two of us.
3) Love of children and family. Florina currently teaches science classes at an international school in Bucharest and loves children. One of her first serious questions for me was whether I wanted to have a family. She wants five kids, and I want at least two. Based on my observation of married friends, this means we’ll have five kids if we do get married.
4) Her criteria for a husband. Florina is looking for someone who is kind, loves the church, honors his priesthood by keeping God’s commandments, accepts callings to serve in the church, and is enthusiastic about starting a family. [I think she also mentioned something about liking tall, dark, handsome men, but I’ll have to check on that]. I don’t know how well I measure up, but her list sure gives me something to strive for. It also shows that she is a serious person who is looking for a serious person to settle down with.
Whether you’re a Jewish guy looking for a committed Jewish girl in one of several movements, or a Mormon guy looking for a faithful Mormon girl in one church, you have to ask (and answer) more questions than the average guy during the courtship process. I have no problem with this. After all, if you’re looking for someone willing to commit to be your wife for eternity, you should count your blessings that her list isn’t a mile long. My fingers are crossed.
My podcast interview on LDS-Jewish relations is available on the LDS Church’s official radio station: http://feeds.lds.org/WhyIBelieve
Today the Mormon Times published an article by Trent Toone featuring two bloggers on LDS-Jewish relations
Rabbi Arnold Rachlis, Dr. Armand Mauss, and Brett Holbrooke will conduct an LDS-Jewish dialogue at University Synagogue in Irvine, CA on Friday, March 11 @ 8:00 p.m.
Thousand Oaks Stake Director of Public Affairs Larry Bagby and I will be making a presentation on LDS beliefs at Adat Elohim on March 16 @ 7:30 p.m.
I will be speaking at the San Antonio (TX) West Stake’s Education Weekend on April 15 and 16