Up Close: Jessica & Derek – Kveller
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Up Close: Jessica & Derek

1. How did you and your spouse meet?

We met on Myspace… Yes, Myspace.

The man who would be my husband emailed me.

He looked adorable and didn’t say anything crass and mentioned my favorite person, Mel Brooks and my favorite TV show, “Arrested Development.” I had to write back. I had never written to, nor met up with, someone I’d met online before, but his profile made me laugh and he just seemed so sweet.

As far as meeting “in person” after emailing back and forth for just over a month, we met at a local watering-hole, where I showed up late and we talked for about four hours. 

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

Our plan is to raise our daughter with both religions (Christian and Jewish). There may be a bit of making up the family’s rules as we go along, but we think it is very important to have a foundation in both Judaism and Christianity from a religious, traditional, family, and cultural point of view.

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

I’ve been to church a few times with my husband for holidays and to watch him perform in sketches through the church’s theater group. He’s joined me in celebrating numerous holidays with my family and has come to temple with me the few times that I’ve been and I’m sure if I actually committed to one, he’d come with me whenever I asked.

There was one particular time I went with him to church and the pastor was discussing how Christianity is the best. Totally reasonable, you’re at a church service, you’re quite literally and figuratively preaching to the choir. Of course you think your religion is the best. But it was when the Pastor brought up Judaism that I felt my muscles tighten. He was talking about how Jews have it all “wrong,” and that by not finding Jesus everything we’re doing is all for naught.

I understand that in whatever religion you follow, you have to have a sense of faith that what you are following and observing is right, but I do not understand why that has to come with calling other faiths wrong. If you win a spelling bee, you are the winner. You don’t need to turn around and call the other contestants “losers.” I’m not saying religion is a contest. It isn’t.

But I do think this is why my husband and I work as an interfaith couple. We both have faith in our own religions, but we also respect each other’s beliefs. I think he was as uncomfortable with what the Pastor was saying as I was. 

6. How did you choose your kids’ names?

Our daughter’s first name is after my husband’s late great-grandfather and my late grandfather, both named Marvin…her Hebrew name is the female version of his Hebrew name.

Her middle name has the same meaning as my husband’s late grandfather’s middle name, Hill and is in honor of my late grandmother, Bernyce, whose Hebrew name is our daughter’s Hebrew name. 

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. If you’re interested in participating, send an email to info@kveller.com with the subject line “Kveller Up Close.”

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