When you don't have the same religion, how do you make it work?
Single Mom Seeking: This past weekend marked the start of the seven-day Jewish holiday Sukkot, one of the most joyous holidays to celebrate the harvest festival.
As someone who was raised in an interfaith family, I'm curious how other couples from different cultures handle the holidays. (I was brought up in Reform Judaism, which considers a person to be Jewish if either of her parents are Jewish -- my mother is not.)
If you read the stats, about half of American Jews intermarry these days. That's why I've turned to mom of two Francesca Segrè to find out how other families celebrate this time of year.
When I call Francesca, she's nursing her newborn son, Isaac. She and her husband, Bernard Chen, also have a two-year-old name Lilah.
I first heard about Francesca when I read her essay "Girl meets Goy" from The Modern Jewish Girl's Guide to Guilt (2005). It begins:
"I've laid down the law. I will only date Jewish men. I've laid down the law, many, many times. I tell myself that if I date a Jewish man, we'll share backgrounds, traditions, and beliefs, and, if we get married, we'll do our duty -- we'll procreate. Giving birth to baby Ezra and baby Shulamit will help ensure the continuation of Judaism. In short, to marry another Jew is fundamental to being a good Jew. So then why is it so hard?"
Everything changed when a former classmate from Brandeis University introduced her to Bernard Chen. But how could she date him? He wasn't Jewish -- his family was Taiwanese. (He was born and raised in Los Angeles.)
It turns out that he knew some Yiddish -- thanks to all of his Jewish friends -- and he loves to cook Jewish food. They had a very Jewish wedding, and says Francesca, "by the second date, we agreed that we'd raise our kids Jewish."
After having their first child, the couple took a "Parent and Me" class through the synagogue in Los Angeles, where they'd meet regularly "in someone's living room, eating bagels, and you talk about raising your kids Jewish. It was a very relaxed, non-judgmental atmosphere."
The recent holidays, however, "were an anomaly because I'm nursing a newborn, and I needed to give my son milk every few minutes, so we didn't go to synagogue," she adds. They celebrated the Jewish New Year and Yom Kippur with friends.
In fact, their closest friends are a Jewish and Japanese couple. "It's so ordinary!" Francesca adds about raising biracial Jewish kids in southern California.
However, she adds that their lives are about to change big-time -- Bernard has accepted a job in Singapore and they're moving this fall. Francesca has been researching: "The Jewish community in Singapore consists of 200 people."
If you're Jewish and married to someone who's not, how are you raising your kids? (Or, vice versa?)
|Rachel Sarah, a.k.a. "Single Mom Seeking" blogs at SingleMomSeeking.com and co-founded SingleMommyHood.com, the first-ever website to offer "a whole new way to think about life."|