To be quite honest, I never thought I would marry outside my religion. Being Jewish and growing up in an area that was 90 percent Jewish, I knew I was definitely going to marry in the religion. I have never dated one non-Jewish guy until I met my husband. While my parents didn’t necessarily completely advocate for me marrying outside my religion, they were extremely open to me doing what would make me happy in my life. Whether Jewish, Catholic, Black, White, Asian, Russian, or any other religion or race, marriage should be about who you love and they conveyed that to me early on.
When my husband and I met about two months before Christmas, he warned me that his family were devout Catholics. My husband never went to one day of public school- it was always Catholic school. His dad to this day still goes to Church every single day. I remember vividly entering their house for Christmas 2003 and seeing crosses all over. I felt so out of my element but I also knew that this was a man who I was beginning to really like, and potentially love.
As my husband’s and I relationship began to take off, I realized this was the man I wanted to marry. However, I had one condition if we were going to marry, and that was to raise our kids Jewish. Being the mom, I knew the kids automatically would be Jewish but I wanted my husband to be supportive of my decision and not because the rules dictate they would be Jewish. We talked long and hard and both agreed that they would be raised Jewish, however, they would be equally exposed to all the Catholic holidays including Easter and Christmas. I guess you would say- they would get a little of both worlds.
Fast forward 7 years and I am beginning to notice a slight problem. Hayley and Zane are tremendously exposed to the Catholic holidays since my husband’s family are a big Italian family and no holiday goes without a big hoopla on their side. However, I feel like they don’t even know they are Jewish. We hardly have any Jewish friends here and no one makes a big deal out of any of the Jewish holidays. Today, was our biggest holiday of the year, Rosh Hashana, which is our Jewish New Year. I felt so alone and so sad today.
You might ask why I felt sad. Truth be told, that while my husband is fully supportive of my religion, he never really comes with me to temple. It is not his religion so I completely understand. Today though, I sat alone and noticed all of these families coming together to pray and there I was sitting by myself. I felt really sad thinking I will always be the one sitting alone with no support. I went home after services and called my husband.
I told him that I really want to join a temple and start introducing my children to the Jewish religion. I want them to understand that the Jewish holidays are just as important as the Catholic holidays in our home. I don’t even think they know that today is Rosh Hashana which upsets me greatly. He understood my concerns and in the next year or two, we will be joining a temple and hopefully, getting a good core group of Jewish friends, so I don’t need to sit alone at the holidays anymore. My husband also told me he will come with me next week to Yom Kippur which made me very happy.
I think it will all get worked out but I really feel it is important to balance both religions. So, if you are from a mixed religion family- How do you handle it? Do you have any advice?