Up Close: Elizabeth & Matthew – Kveller
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Up Close: Elizabeth & Matthew

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?

We are raising our kids Jewish entirely. My daughter goes to a Jewish preschool, and you can read more about us raising our kids on my blog.

3. Can you think of a particular day when it felt especially difficult to be an interfaith family?

It was hard when we got married. My husband had decided to raise a Jewish family, but hadn’t decided where he stood on converting, or being Jewish himself. Some of his family and friends were concerned that I was pushing him into converting and being something that he’s not. It’s always hard during Christmas. I have a lot of unresolved issues related to Christmas and feeling left out or being hurt. But my husband still has warm and loving feelings, and looks at the holiday as a more secular chance to get together. That’s really hard for us, because, though we are both committed to a Jewish family, what does that mean for his birthday Christmas ornaments?

4. How do you feel about your family being labelled “interfaith”?

Not so great–because I don’t really think that our family is interfaith. However, without using that label I feel like we ignore important parts of our heritage and our larger family, especially my husband’s side. His family still gets together for all the Christian holidays and we participate, because it’s important to be with family. Sometimes when we’re in Jewish company I feel like we are judged for being interfaith as if we aren’t really Jewish–and that hurts not only me, but my husband and kids as well. I know my husband also doesn’t like the label. He feels like we are Jewish, and that’s the end of the story.

5. What did you think would be an issue about being an interfaith family that really hasn’t been?

My husband has a very religious sister. I expected her to have more reservations and emotions related to us being Jewish, but she’s the most supportive of the entire family. Coming from a religious background, she respects our religious needs–including ensuring that any Easter event has Passover candy!

6. What’s your word of advice to other interfaith families?

Do what makes you happy. Try not to let other’s opinions of your choices make your choices for you. If you want a Christmas tree, have one. If you want a Jewish preschool, go for it. When you encounter people who don’t want to accept you, or make you feel worse for being what you are then you probably didn’t want them in your life anyways.

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.

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