Every family is different, regardless of whether they are interfaith or not. But, of course, being part of an interfaith family can be even more complicated, and not just around the holidays. When it comes to raising children, it’s hard knowing how to incorporate all of the various cultural and religious elements you, your spouse, and extended family bring to the table.
It’s not even just about raising kids either. Sometimes, forming your own identity can be difficult too; many of our readers are in interfaith marriages, many with a spouse who is Christian, or have extended family who are.
Whether you’re confused about how to navigate the holidays, aren’t sure how to raise your children, or just want a peek into other people’s lives, we rounded up some of our favorite Kveller articles written by interfaith families like you.
We hope you enjoy them as much as we do.
“My husband and I met as adults, got married, generally agreed to be non-religious with some select Oprah-style “remembering your spirit” exceptions, and largely ignored the topic of faith for most of the first part of our relationship.
We now have a kid. My husband has little or no interest in passing along his family traditions, which don’t seem to have been particularly pronounced in any case. I, on the other hand, am both intrigued by and proud of my son’s Jewish heritage.”
“Here’s the deal: I’m Jewish. My husband is African-American. Our kids identify as both. Except, when it comes to community events, the scale tips much further into the Jewish column.”
“Last July, I sent my Jewish kids to Vacation Bible School at a local baptist church. I had just given birth 11 days earlier to my third baby, and I was willing to lend the little souls of my two older children to Christ if it meant four mornings of free childcare while I lazed around with my newborn and cleaned spit-up off my nursing tops.”
“Expect changes in your plan…For instance, you may decide that keeping a kosher house isn’t so bad after all. Or, after a couple of confusing years of no presents for your Jewish kids on Christmas, that it’s okay to let the Christian grandparents give them a few small ones. Like the Constitution of the United States, your marriage should be able to adapt to the times and pulse of your union.”
“There are many ways to include non-Jewish family members in Jewish baby naming rituals. Typically, both parents do readings about the choice of the child’s name. Both sets of grandparents can be given ceremonial honors, such as carrying the baby into the room, and/or reading a poem or non-denominational prayer for the child.”
“During a recent parent-teacher conference, I learned that my 8-year-old daughter Sophia was asked by a classmate at her Jewish day school, “So your dad is Jewish and your mom isn’t?” Sophia responded, “Yes.” The other child said, “You know if your mom’s not Jewish, then you aren’t either.” According to a teacher who overheard this conversation, Sophia responded, “It’s complicated,” and walked away.”
“David and I met at a furniture expo in Milan. He was an American sculptor and painter, and an observant Jew. I was a French fashion designer and writer, and a not-so-observant Catholic. We were engaged three months after we met and married six months after that.”
“The more we talked, the more conflicted I felt. Ceremonial circumcision sounded like a violent rendition of the Star-Bellied Sneetches, except you couldn’t get the star off very easily. Or you can, if you look online at this Australian guy’s website, but I don’t recommend that.
On the other hand, circumcision is so prevalent in the U.S., that your son could feel ostracized by his “hoodie” even in a secular setting. I have a dear friend who grew up Catholic, was uncircumcised, and felt so self-conscious that at age 8, he asked his parents if he could get the procedure done. And he did.”
“My brother and sister-in law will be raising their children as Hindu, and my husband’s sister and brother-in-law do not plan to have children at all, which means at this rate, our son will have no Jewish first cousins.”
“By “Japanese housewife,” I don’t mean to suggest I’m a Jewish woman who is also Japanese (a tangle of identities my 16-month-old daughter will have to learn to navigate—and, I’m sure, find some way to blame me for when she hits adolescence). I mean a Jewish American woman who is also a stay-at-home mother in Japan, with a Japanese husband, in a Japanese house.”