I am writing you regarding a difficult extended family situation. My brother just got engaged to his girlfriend of 3 years. They have lived together for 1.5 years. I live in a different country, so because of Covid, I only got to meet her this summer. I was told that her maternal grandmother is Jewish, so I had assumed everything would be fine. My brother claims to be a Zionist atheist. He loves the Jewish people and Israel, but wants nothing to do with judaism. And his fiancée has the exact same views as him. When I met her we had a friendly chat about her family, and she told me that her grandma was 2 years old when the einsatzgruppen murdered her entire family, as well as her entire village. Somehow her grandma had managed to hide, and she was adopted by a local goy family who changed both her first and last names. Her grandma doesn’t know the name of her parents, not even the family name. Her grandma married a goy, and her children also married goyim. They never did anything Jewish, as the grandma said it was a curse. My brother’s fiancée did some research in Lithuania, but nothing could be found. I had thought that she would be happy to find a way to have Halachic recognition, but she is not interested. I had a serious talk with my brother, telling him that even if they’re not religious and want to raise their children in atheism, at least give their future children a halachic status. He said they don’t want a religious wedding and that their children can always do a Giyur when they’re older. I begged him to reconsider and at least explain the halachic ramifications for their children if his fiancée doesn’t get her Jewish paperwork. He said that he will mention it to her, but that if she still refuses, he will not push it. I wanted with all my heart to love his fiancée, but this hurts me so much. I find it incredibly selfish from her to refuse to give her future children a choice. And they both show contempt for religion, for example when my brother offered my daughter some chocolate, she asked if it was kosher. When his fiancée heard this question, she looked shocked, then asked “even chocolate?!”, then proceeded to laugh. I also noticed that she doesn’t care much about what my brother wishes, for example he wanted to organise a family reception for their civil wedding in a nearby mansion where we have many childhood memories. He wanted this mainly to please my mom. But his fiancée said no way. She wants a beach wedding (in bikini) with a barbecue, and my brother agreed! I am very concerned for my brother. He chose a woman who is 33, has had several relationships before, is tattooed and has a belly button piercing, has serious psychological issues (PTSD among others), and is in poor health. Besides that she is quiet and smiling, respectful of my mom. But I cannot forget all these red flags. It is eating me up since I’ve met her, and I feel very bad for doing lashon hara about her. I don’t know what to do with my concerns. I have spoken with my mom yesterday, and mentioned the red flags I’ve witnessed. My mom was upset, and lashed at me. But I believe she was upset about my concerns, because she also believed that the fiancée was willing to get her Jewish paperwork sorted prior to the wedding. I should add that since Covid my brother and his fiancée live in my mom’s house, so my mom knows them well, although she has never had a proper conversation with the fiancée, who is very into herself. My mom told me she will have a straightforward conversation with the fiancée asking what her intentions are regarding her Jewish paperwork. I would appreciate very much your input and advice.
It is very sad situation, that this is the choice that that you brother is making, but on one hand, if she is indeed Jewish that is quite positive.
Regarding getting her “Jewish papers”, it might be challenging to get a Rov or any official agency, to verify that the grandmother is indeed Jewish. The Rov would have to question the grandmother to ascertain how she knows she is Jewish. Is to only from the gentile who raised her, or does she have some other memories etc.? Additionally, she can’t really investigate this, as she doesn’t recall her Jewish name. Does she know which town she lived in? She might be able to get some information from the people who brought her up, but that might be challenging, as it might be very hard to contact them.
Hashem should help you brother that he should have a change of heart, and come closer to his heritage and religion, and do a full teshuva.
Have a good year.