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Jun 17 2014

Up Close: Michelle Tirella-Ventura & Andre Ventura

By at 9:56 am

Michelle-T-Up-Close-2

1. How did you and your spouse meet?

Andre and I met through our mutual friend, Juli, who insisted that I go see her new home and meet her cute contractor who she happened to mention I had a lot in common with. When I refused, she said I must go over and check to see how things are going with her new home, because she couldn’t pull herself away from work and I worked around the corner.

I did go to see her “new home” and brought the cute contractor coffee and Andre and I ended up talking for an hour. A week later she coordinated his next appointment with my visit. When he saw me again, he asked me to dinner. Read the rest of this entry →

Jun 16 2014

Up Close: Tamara Reese & Family

By at 2:01 pm

Tamara-up-close

1. In what ways have your kids taken part in religious holidays/events with their non-Jewish family members?

I converted, so my parents (my children’s grandparents) are not Jewish. My husband was raised by his Jewish mother, z”l. His father is not Jewish and is married to a wonderful woman who just happens to be a Methodist minister. My children have celebrated Christmas with both of our extended families. We are Jewish and raise our children in a Jewish home, but that does not take away from celebrating our extended family’s faith and traditions with them at their house. If Hanukkah and Christmas overlap, our families have always been very respectful and wrapped all of my kids’ gifts in Hanukkah paper. My boys more than anything love the lights and the tree. They know we are celebrating a holiday that is not ours, similarly to our extended family joining us for Passover or Hanukkah.

2. Have your kids ever been confused about why certain relatives have a different religion and celebrate different holidays? Read the rest of this entry →

Jun 13 2014

Up Close: Elizabeth & Matthew

By at 1:48 pm

elizabeth-up-close-2

1. How did you and your spouse meet?

We met in high school and stayed connected while attending different colleges.

2. Are you raising your kid(s) with one religion, both religions, or somewhere in between? Read the rest of this entry →

Jun 12 2014

Up Close: Carin & Mike Mrotz

By at 9:55 am
mrotz-family-2

(Photo credit: Steven Cohen)

 

1. How did you and your spouse meet?

Some mutual friends were road-tripping and made a stop in the Twin Cities, visiting both of us separately and introducing us in the process. But when we met, Mike was a week or two away from leaving on a months-long trip out of the country, so it wasn’t until a year later, when we ran into each other at a coffee shop, that we really started hanging out. That was in the summer of 2000; we’ll be married 11 years in August.

2. Are you raising your kid(s) with one religion, both religions, or somewhere in between?

We’re raising them Jewish, and we’re pretty intentional about having both parents, not just the Jewish parent, involved, so that the kids see Jewish life as a family thing, not just a “mom” thing. Mike might take Henry to a religious school program while I stay home with Miriam. He’s usually the one that reads them their PJ Library books before bed. We’re pretty clear that Mike’s not letting me raise Jewish kids, we’re doing it together.

Read the rest of this entry →

Jun 11 2014

Up Close: Adina Kay-Gross & Family

By at 9:50 am

adina-kay-gross-up-close

In what ways do you think having extended interfaith family has enriched your lives?

I’ve written about this a bunch before, and my feelings haven’t changed. My mother, who converted to Judaism, honored her non-Jewish mother by making sure she was never alone to celebrate her holidays. This meant she and my dad often packed up our family of five and shuttled us to the bowels of Italian Brooklyn for Christmas Eve and Easter dinner. Sometimes when holidays overlapped, we’d bring our matzah or our menorahs with us. My parents worked hard to make sure we knew who we were, and that meant not just knowing that we were Jews, but also knowing that we were, as the Talmud teaches, “the compassionate children of compassionate parents.” They were confident in their Judaism and instilled that confidence in us. There is no such thing as mutually exclusive in this situation; you can be religiously committed and not alienate family members who have made different choices. Sure, it’s hard work and it’s often confusing and complicated, but if you want to make it work, you can. In my family, love came before difference.

Is there a specific day/experience you can remember where this family set-up felt particularly complicated?   Read the rest of this entry →

Jun 10 2014

When One Daughter is Jewish and the Other is Not

By at 10:40 am

one-Jewish-child

A lot has changed since I had my first child: I got divorced, converted to Judaism, and most recently, got re-married. My wife is also Jewish. We have a daughter together who is Jewish, and she is being raised Jewish. So far, so good, right?

But this is my second marriage and I have a fabulous daughter from my first marriage. While I do share custody with my ex-husband, my first daughter lives with me the majority of the time. And she is not Jewish.

When converting, I did a lot of reading about the commitment as a Jewish parent of raising your children to be observant Jews. You teach them or you have them taught at religious school about the history, the culture, and the religion of Judaism. Read the rest of this entry →

Up Close: Ben & Meida Tolsky

By at 9:57 am

ben-tolsky

1. How did you and your spouse meet?

We met at the first reading for a play that never actually happened. I was teaching English abroad in China, and for some reason I decided I should try to be in a play. Meida was helping to write and direct it.

2. Are you raising your kid(s) with one religion, both religions, or somewhere in between? Read the rest of this entry →

Jun 9 2014

Up Close: Courtney Naliboff & William Trevaskis

By at 9:55 am

courtney-wedding

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? Read the rest of this entry →

Jun 6 2014

Up Close: Stacie & Andrew Garnett-Cook

By at 9:45 am

Stacey-andrew

1. How did you and your spouse meet?

We met online. My profile said “Chocoholic seeks NPR addict”–and that’s who I found!

2. Are you raising your kid(s) with one religion, both religions, or somewhere in between? Read the rest of this entry →

Jun 3 2014

Up Close: Melissa & Marc Cohen

By at 10:10 am

melissa-cohen

1. Are you raising your kid(s) with one religion, both religions, or somewhere in between?

Our children are being raised as Jews. When we first got married, I knew nothing about Judaism and was nervous about what that would mean for our family. My husband is Jewish, and his Judaism is central to how he defines himself. I knew that it would be a part of our children’s identities as well. I read everything I could get my hands on about Judaism.

The more I learned about Judaism, the more comfortable I was and the more I wanted to be a part of it. I don’t know that I was ready to convert when we got married, but by the time I did (five years later) it felt utterly anti-climatic. It felt like getting married, a confirmation of what we already were. We were reading PJ Library books before bed, and baking challah every Friday afternoon. We were members of a synagogue (my daughter was attending the same religious school that my stepdaughters attended), and actively living a Jewish life. Read the rest of this entry →

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