Technically speaking, I'm a shiksa: the dreaded gentile woman who has trapped a nice Jewish man. But really, I'm just a goy who met a boy, fell in love, and got married. We happen to be of different faiths and cultures, but together, we have woven a beautiful bond. We have made our own traditions that have strengthened and enriched our relationships with each other and our families. It's not been an easy road; we still face the looming question of how to raise our unborn children, but I love the challenge of finding God in the jumble of traditions we bring to our marriage. Along the way, I've discovered that we have more in common than not: we may have different faiths, but our values are the same. While our traditions have formed and grounded us, exploring and participating in the other's religious practices has opened our hearts and minds to a broader sense of community, the universality of loving kindness, and an appreciation for the validity of many different paths to God.
Our marriage presents a challenge to our faith communities. To be Christian, we are told, you must believe in the Messiah; to be Jewish, you're still waiting for one. It is understandable that our religious institutions would discourage the kind of relationships that challenge the boundaries of their seemingly irreconcilable tenets. As marriages like ours become more common, however, congregations must ask themselves: How can we become more inclusive and widen our appeal, but maintain our identity? We ask ourselves a similar question in our marriage. I'm a United Methodist and my husband is a reform Jew. Neither of us wants to change who we are and conversion has not been a part of our conversations. Instead, through trial and error, patience and courage, we have started to figure out how we can have different faiths in the same marriage. Each year, we explore ways to celebrate holidays, worship, and pray in ways that are inclusive, informative, and inspiring to the other. We're making it work for us.
On the eve of the most trying time of year for our Christian-Jewish family, I launch this blog. In the past, this is the time of year when we have deeply felt the chasm of differences between our religions. Tomorrow is the first night of Passover, marked with a seder at my mother and father-in-law's house. It is a ceremony that ties my husband to his family, to his heritage, and to his community; its the time of year that makes him think about being Jewish. Later this week, I will attend Holy Week services and meditate on the love God shows me through the life and death of Jesus. I will dye Easter eggs and decorate our house with bunnies. This is the time of year when I think about being Christian. Yet even with these differences, I have come to see common ground. Both our families will gather around a table to feast on our faith traditions. Both families will celebrate this season of hope. And we will be at both tables. For me, it's the perfect season to share my hope for interfaith marriage. Through this blog, I want to tell our story. Also, I want to know how other couples are figuring out how to share their faiths in respectful and inclusive ways. Through sharing memories, recipes, reflections, liturgy, articles, books, and conversations I hope this blog will be a vehicle for interfaith dialogue that will help couples like us discover new ways to grow in our relationship with God and each other.