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Jun 20 2014

Up Close: Ali & Patrick McDonald

By at 11:07 am


1. How did you and your spouse meet?

Patrick and I met in a wine bar, in Kansas City. I was visiting family from out of town and went out for a drink with my mom. The bar was crowded, and Patrick gave up his seat so that I could sit down. We spent the evening talking (yes, the three of us!) and at the end of the night he asked me out. I almost didn’t go, because I lived in Vail, Colorado and thought I would never see him again. My mom encouraged me to go and enjoy a free dinner. I’ve been riding that free dinner for years now!

In the beginning, Patrick used to take 10-hour road trips to visit me, but within six months he had followed me to Vail and the rest is history. We moved to the DC metro for a couple of years after Vail and are now living in the Kansas City metro, near my family. Read the rest of this entry →

Jun 19 2014

Up Close: Amy Ravis Furey & Brian Furey

By at 10:17 am


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

We are a Jewish family that has a Catholic dad and we are proud of that distinction. Our children like to ask a lot of questions to get clarity around who is Jewish in our family and who is Catholic. We make it very clear that to us being a loving family means celebrating and supporting one another–like helping our Catholic family celebrate the holidays that are important to them. Much like attending a friend’s birthday, our kids aren’t confused about joining in on celebrations of a different faith tradition. We all can attend birthday parties without being confused that the celebration is not yours–and we also know that we as guests are often an important element that makes the celebration meaningful.

Although we live in Kansas, because I am a Jewish community professional, a lot of our life looks Jewish, is surrounded by Jewish community and friends and is full of Jewish culture. We spend more waking hours at the Jewish community campus than at our actual home. The kids have a strong Jewish identity and an even stronger sense that there are all sorts of people in our family and our community and we value each of them for those differences.

For a guy that attended Catholic school all the way through college, Brian is fully bound up with the Jewish community and at the same time, he has no plans to convert. He likes being a Catholic dad with Jewish children and family. He helps to plan the congregational Purim carnival, served on the Associate Board for our Jewish retirement community, wakes up early to drive religious school carpool, gave blood at Mitzvah Day and recently traveled on a Jewish Federation Leadership Mission to Israel. We like to be an example that interfaith families can still raise Jewishly engaged children. Our children get the idea that it is not only Jews that can live a Jewish life, sustain Jewish heritage, and exemplify Jewish values. Those people that love us are also deeply connected to the Jewish people and will help us to flourish as a community with their commitment. Read the rest of this entry →

Jun 17 2014

Up Close: Michelle Tirella-Ventura & Andre Ventura

By at 9:56 am


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


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


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

(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


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

Up Close: Ben & Meida Tolsky

By at 9:57 am


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


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


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 →


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