The blessings and challenges of an interfaith family
As mentioned in our introductory post “Raising citizens of the World“, we are an interfaith family, I’m an Orthodox Christian and my husband is Jewish. Our family is a beautiful syncretism and, for us, religion is a source of long hours of passionate dialogues. Since the very beginning we enjoyed talking through our beliefs, but we’ve never allowed ideological debates to push us apart. Even though we like the excitement that accompanies religious or metaphysical discussions, we often end up agreeing that the search for the sacred is a very private quest, which doesn’t have to be embraced by the other.
This lax attitude is probably determined by the way our religious identities are moulded. My husband has a secular mindset, while I’m attached to my faith and, from a very small age, I had a “thirst for God”. We both, however, embrace universalism and equality of religious beliefs. Living in the Netherlands, within a very secular, multicultural, community, makes things easier. Religion is just a topic of discussion, like so many others, which are meant to be enjoyed while having a glass of wine, or a cup of coffee. Disagreements exist, but they are civilised.
As regards our families or friends, we have never encountered pressure. They accepted our “union”, as they wanted us to be happy. Their unforeseen openness gave us a profound feeling of belonging and brought us closer. This is why we fly to see them as often as possible. Just to be with them, for Christmas or Easter in Romania, and for Pesach, Rosh Hashana in Israel. We find tremendous joy in all our “different” families ‘celebrations as we see them as ways to come together, connect and learn more about our rituals and traditions.
In the ten years that we’ve spent together, we have nevertheless also dealt with challenges and the most significant one regarded our wedding ceremony, more precisely the moment we realized that it was impossible to have a religious one. For me that was a painful moment. In a way it has also been the moment I’ve started questioning my religious affiliation. Not my faith, but my adherence to dogma.
Today we have a little daughter. Often people ask us how are we going to raise her. Unsurprisingly, as she is only 18 months, she has yet no understanding of all of this. She was, nevertheless, blessed by a woman rabbi, when she was younger than 6 months and she seemed curious about the entire ceremony. Around the same time, she was baptised in an Orthodox church. The full immersion shocked her a bit, but the little spoon of wine made up for all of that.
For us it seemed natural to introduce her to both faiths and this is probably the path we are going to follow. Introducing her to the major religious systems and hoping that she will develop a sort of religious curiosity. Apart from this, we would like her to find poetry in biblical or spiritual stories, but above all to cultivate in her a deep sense of compassion.
We strongly believe that the world of our children is wider than ours and teaching them to be kind and to love across lines of faith, or cultural differences, or any difference is the most valuable lesson we owe them.
Ps. Should you agree or disagree with our posts, please let us know. We will cherish any sorts of comments.