Wedding thoughts

Last night, in our final “Exploring Judaism” class, I had this
realization while listening to the other interfaith couples talking
about their process of deciding whether to convert. My
realization was this: I have no model for a truly interfaith
relationship. My father, who isn’t Jewish, always made it very
clear he wasn’t Jewish, though he supported from the sidelines as my
mother and I lit Shabbat candles, attended services, etc.

My parents didn’t confront the issue of their interfaithness when they
married – they were married by a Justice of the Peace (in the name of
Jesus Christ, no less – my grandmother must have had a heart
attack). If I had no model for an interfaith relationship,
my parents had even less. My mother was the first person in her
family to marry a non-Jew.

A few years ago, I wrote a poem in response to Marge Piercy’s “The
Chuppah”, and in it I wrote a line about having to make our own roads
on this journey, and how this process is both exhilerating and
terrifying.

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~ by realsupergirl on June 29, 2005.

7 Responses to “Wedding thoughts”

  1. At first I was puzzled about not having a model for an interfaith relationship because your parents are from two different faiths — then I realized that actually having an interfaith relationship is a different thing all together from simply having two people of two different religious/spiritual backgrounds in one relationship. Very interesting. I’d never really thought about that before.

    I’ve always just assumed that whoever I end up spending my life with would not have the same faith as me, I’ve just taken that for granted. But I’ve never, ever thought about trying to build an interfaith relationship as you are. Maybe that’s because I tend to date atheists and agnostics. Or maybe it’s because I’ve always just figured that the very best I can hope for is to find someone who will be tolerant and non-judgmental of the faith in which I was raised.

    I applaud you guys — I can’t imagine how difficult it must be to navigate these waters, but how much richer your lives will be for taking the time, care, effort and love to do it!

  2. I always thought I’d wind up with someone Jewish – I was actually more confident about that than whether I would wind up with a man or a woman.

    What was important, I realized, was that I find someone who wanted to share my interest in Judaism with me – whether or not that person was Jewish, interested in becoming Jewish, or not.

    On the other hand, if Kaphine were actively involved in another religious practice (as opposed to unsure and exploring) this process would feel very different. With all my issues with Christianity, I could imagine it would be hard if she were more attached to being Catholic or Christian. But I really appreciate her involvement in the exploration process – my father had an academic interest in religions, but no personal interest spiritual exploration.

  3. When I talk to people about Judaism and relationships, I have the surprising sense that if I were in a relationship with someone who was Jewish, I would consider converting. I don’t think it is something I will do in this lifetime, so that strikes me as very odd….I think it is the sense of belonging and the ritual, as well as having a spiritual connection to other people I care about.

    I know Christianity is not for me, so going back there is not an option. Since I don’t believe in a patriarchal god and have a very hard time with the patriarchal and judgmental aspects of many religions (for me personally–not that I think they are wrong…hope that makes sense) I don’t know if there is a place for me. I like the idea of having a spiritual community. Unitarianism is the closet I’ve come and will perhaps give it a try again at some point. (I have been to 3 or 4 different churches over the years, but didn’t quite find the sense the of belonging to come back for more than a few months.)

    I enjoy talking to musuemgirl about her spiritual beliefs and have learned a lot (and appreciate her being willing share some with me)…Perhaps we chat more about yours (realsupergirl) in person sometime….I definitely appreciate the posts!

  4. I’m curious about why you say you would consider converting if your partner were Jewish, but not otherwise…as you said, that strikes me odd, too. My surrogate aunt might be an interesting person to talk to, as she decided to convert, and even though her life partner is Jewish, he is not actively Jewish in any way and had very little if anything to do with her decision…she has talked about feeling connected to Judaism at various times throughout her life.

    I have my own ambivalence about my spirituality, which is why I have not yet joined a congregation. This is coming out more now as we are basically being invited, included, expected, whatever to be a part of the community of the rabbi who is officiating at our wedding, which includes the other couples in the class. It is a small, queer-friendly, Reform community…but I’m not sure it’s quite right. Maybe nothing is. Maybe it’s the Groucho Marx thing about not being a part of any group that would have me as a member. I don’t know.

    This I know: I find weekly Shabbat dinners with my girl (and/or others) very comforting. I find meaning and solace in Jewish holidays, especially Yom Kippur, Passover, Sukkot, and reading the Torah weekly. And I want to offer our children the structure of a religious community and ethical belief system.

    I suppose I could find those those things in just about any Jewish community. Why do I make these things more difficult than they have to be?

  5. Yeah, it makes no sense. It is not a logical thought, but rather a feeling. Perhaps I will chat with your surrogate aunt if I get the opportunity. I don’t think I would pursue converting, but it is an interesting topic nonetheless.

    When I have attended services at various, mostly Unitarian churches, I have been searching for that sense of it “feeling right.” I have definitely had felt intense feelings, perhaps some spiritual connection. I’ve also had this feeling in a Taoist Meditation group I’ve participated in off and on in Portland. Maybe I am looking for something I’m not going to find. Or maybe I’m expecting it to just feel right without giving it enough time or effort…Don’t know yet, but really appreciate the opportunity to chat with folks about it. Thanks!

  6. I don’t think I have a model for interfaith relationships, but I offer these experiences. For most of my growing up, while we were aware that my father was a X-tian, I had no sense that it had any relavancy to his or our lives beyond the fact that when we went to our grandparents house in December, they had a tree and Dad went to church. He also sometimes went to church on Easter, but I don’t remember his ever going to church otherwise.

    He was always respectful and supportive of our Judaism. On the other hand, I asked him once in my obnoxious college years whether he would like his children to be saved. I think he said yes but, to be honest, I don’t remember very clearly.

    After the youngest of us moved away from home, my father joined a Lutheran church with which he was very involved. My father was reared as a Methodist and converted to Lutheranism after he was visited daily by a Lutheran pastor when he was in the hospital in traction for six weeks when he cracked some vertebrae early in his marriage to my mother.

    Pumpkin is an agnostic — he recognizes that there may be a G-d, but doesn’t think that human beings have any way of experiencing that. So, that makes us interfiath, I guess. He’s very supportive of the way we integrate Judaism in our lives. (He even comforted himself on a particularly bad Thursday afternoon at work with the idea that the next day would be Shabbes.)

    I think it works well for both of us because we are both pretty agnostic. If we conceptualized G-d very differently, I think that would be difficult. That said, there are moments — sometimes long, painful moments — when I feel profoundly disconnected from him because of this difference. But, we’re all alone, when it comes right down to it, aren’t we? Isn’t that what all this searching is about, anyway?

  7. Having a similar concept of G-d is important. Two people from the same faith can have very different concepts of G-d, and I think this would feel more alienating than being in an “interfaith” relationship.

    We are all alone, but I think the purpose of life is to put off this thought and reality as much as possible.

    “He even comforted himself on a particularly bad Thursday afternoon at work with the idea that the next day would be Shabbes.”

    Isn’t this amazing? I think so much of Judaism just makes intuitive sense – which is why people of different backgrounds can find great meaning and comfort in it.

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