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Posts Tagged ‘marriage’

In our previous exchange, John (@Sirthinks) and I touched upon many issues couples in or contemplating interfaith marriages face. These include compromise, respect, upholding traditions, love, and family complications. In his summary, he talks about parental expectations and his experiences. Coming from a traditional Jewish family, I certainly can relate.

I was raised what would be considered Modern Orthodox, but as an adult, my theology and practise has drifted. I do not maintain a lot of the traditions with which I was raised because it was no longer right for me for a variety of reasons. I cannot be Shomer Shabbat (Sabbath observant) when I work with non-profit, community, and activist organizations that have important events on Saturday. As an avid photographer, I do not want to miss photo ops that fall out on Jewish holidays – with the exceptions of Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur, which I spend with my family out of respect to them.

I maintain some of the dietary laws because I want to. I simply would not feel right eating pork or shellfish. Others I am less strict about, such as combining meat and dairy (which I don’t do much anyways because of my aversion to cheese). Again, it is my choice. Like John points out, we have to make our own ways and make sure we are doing what we do for us, not for our parents.

Do I do some things to placate my folks? Certainly. We all do. We have to honour and respect our parents. It’s in the Torah. We do not necessarily have to obey them, though. I know my parents would prefer I marry a Jewish man. If I had married a non-Jew in my early 20s, there likely would have been more family friction than if I married one now. They would have been concerned about my traditions slipping away and about how the children would be raised. Now, it is not so much of an issue.

So again, the bottom line is indeed compromise. As we get more set in our ways as we, ahem, mature, this is always a challenge. Can love conquer all? If it is true, unselfish love, I think it can.

In the previous article, Tradition v. The Heart v. Expectation Paula (@livingsanctuary) and I agreed to both play the devil’s advocate, to a point. I suppose there is some clarification required in order that people don’t see either of us as uncompromising individuals.

Raised in a Christian, though tumultuous, home, it has never bothered me to befriend, date, or marry someone not of the same religion as I. Has this raised problems? Absolutely. I married a Roman Catholic girl who’s mom was a former nun. I never found out why she left Holy Orders to marry and have kids. It was none of my business. She was a great lady whom I love to this day. What made me crazy was the fact that my wife was not at all hung up on her RC religious upbringing, but everything had to look on the up and up to her mother. She was so afraid of what her mother might think, we had to eat fish on Friday even though her mother lived in another town. I HATE FISH! I think this is what led to our downfall. It wasn’t her beliefs, as hers didn’t differ a lot from mine. It was more the fact that we always had to keep up appearances for the sake of her mother.

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Tevye: Traditions, traditions. Without our traditions our lives would be as shaky as, as… as a fiddler on the roof! (Fiddler on the Roof)

As is the norm for me, I occasionally like to go to Twitter and check out people I am following. Today at work, I was bored To fight the boredom I decided to check out @livingsanctuary, our #yeg #twitter resident activist, or shall I say HIPPIE. So off I ran to her website to check out what is in her head.

A trip to someone’s blog can often lead to learning something about the person. Let’s hope so!! So I learned that @livingsanctuary is not only an activist, she is also well educated, a lover of music, and of all things, Jewish. As I read through a bunch of her writing I was led to a deeper understanding of her as a person, a woman, and as an activist. The best part of reading her work is she made me pause and think followed by some good old laughter.

One article, Single Jewish Female had me laughing, but more importantly it led me to thinking. Not only did it get me thinking, it led me to her next article, written several years later, Small Community, Big Problems: What’s a Jewish Girl to Do? Oh boy, the reading was great.

Of course, being me, I have an opinion on everything. As soon as I was done the articles I had to tell @livingsanctuary I had read them. Part of being me required I also comment on the second article. My comment was answered by another comment which, because I am me, I had to comment on again.

Knowing that the topic of interfaith marriage is quite dominant in our multicultural society, we decided to have a good old fashioned “He Said, She Said” discussion about the perils of being a Jewish woman in a predominantly NOT Jewish city.

Being a PK (Preacher’s Kid) myself, I understand, from a different perspective, the pressures put on kids by zealous parents who, out of love, want their children to find the “right” person. Unfortunately, the definition of “right” is not necessarily what is right for the child, rather it is based on what is right for the parents, grand-parents, and perhaps the community as a whole.

I highly suggest reading the above articles by @livingsanctuary’s real world persona, Paula E. Kirman, prior to following along in this diatribe we are about to undertake.

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