Up Close: Lara Robby & Shawn Gaiero – Kveller
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Up Close: Lara Robby & Shawn Gaiero

1. How did you and your spouse meet?

East Village, Avenue C. A Cuban Club, dancing, and a mutual friend.

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

We are raising our kids Jewish. I’m raising my husband Jewish too.

To be honest, we function as a Jewish family. My husband took an interest in Judaism when we were dating, by listening to my mother tell the stories behind the rituals of the holidays. Throughout her life, my mother continues to learn about Judaism by taking classes at her temple, studying with a rabbi, and reading on her own. Her zest for knowledge about Judaism rubbed off on my husband and he became interested. He also felt that the religion he was brought up in, or at least the way it was practiced wasn’t as enticing–it was like going through the motions without knowing why. When my husband became part of my family there was never a struggle about how we would meld both religions into our life. He adopted Judaism, because he found it interesting and saw how my family’s faith really binds us all together.

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

Not really. When we were dating, my husband did ask if he should pick up challah to bring to my parents’ house for Passover…but no, nothing remotely difficult. Awkward, yes. Difficult, no.

6. How did you choose your kids’ names?

Our son, Hayden, the first grandchild in the family, was named after my amazing grandmother Helen. She was a remarkable woman and it gives us such joy that they can be linked in some way.

We’ve always loved the name Sage. It has so many beautiful meanings. Powerful yet feminine. Fuzzy. Calming. Stoic. “Our little Sage-a-la.”

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

Instill the values and traditions that you find meaningful, on to your children, and let compassion lead the way. Teach each other the importance of tradition, which revolves around spending time with family to remember the past, learn from its story, and then become part of that story–all while doing some serious noshing let’s not forget.

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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