1. How did you and your spouse meet?
Bill and I met when our bands were booked on the same bill at a rock club in Boston. I thought “Who’s that cute Chinese kid?” (he’s half-Guatemalan) and he thought I was a blonde (it was a wig). We realized that we had a lot in common beyond a love of glam rock, including a shared love of music theory and analysis. We became friends first and then finally, the stars aligned and we got together!
2. Are you raising your kid(s) with one religion, both religions, or somewhere in between?
We’re going to honor the matrilineal nature of Judaism and raise our daughter Jewish, but since I’m a secular humanist and there isn’t a temple on the island where we live, her upbringing will be more about traditions and culture and less specifically about religion. We’ll also spend Christmas with my husband’s family whenever possible.
3. Can you think of a particular day when it felt especially difficult to be an interfaith family?
My husband’s family is wonderfully respectful of my traditions! There was one moment when Bill and I hadn’t been together for very long that was challenging–mostly for him. We were heading to California so I could meet his family for the first time, and he placed a call ahead to his brother asking him to go to his grandmother’s house and take care of any “embarrassing” books she might have lying around. His grandmother, who moved to the United States from Southern Italy when she was very young, is a loving and nurturing woman (and fabulous cook) who also happens to have some challenging views. Bill’s brother called him back, mortified, saying he found and hid a book called “Who Framed Hitler?” I was nervous about meeting her for the first time, naturally, but we found a lot of common ground, especially in the kitchen. My husband and I were married under a chuppah, and we were so happy she made the cross-country trip to be in attendance.
4. How did you choose your kid’s name?
Claire was always in the picture. It shows up a lot on my dad’s side of the family and we both love it. We had pictured it hyphenated with an L name to honor one of my sisters, but we couldn’t quite make it work. My husband had brought up Penrose early on but we hadn’t seriously considered it. It’s a Cornish place name and surname that shows up deep in his family tree. We also went to Cornwall for our honeymoon. I woke up in the middle of the night late in my pregnancy absolutely certain that the baby’s name was Penrose Claire. We kept it a secret until she was born!
“Up Close” is a photo and interview series on Kveller aiming to put a face on the interfaith conversation. We’ll be highlighting interfaith families and hearing their stories all month.