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.
13 Replies to “One family, two religions”
Simply and beautifully put. Truth and love, bringing congruence up – like a parallel universe to the one I know of from the media. I hope it takes over, this parallel universe.
What a beautiful way to learn about God – from within 2 great religions! Personally, I would go for encouraging religious openness instead of ‘religious curiosity’ because I feel that we don’t need to be cautios about God, but we probably need to be cautios about religious dogma. Thank you for reminding us to bring this dimension into the education of our children
I think that this is a wonderful lesson we all should learn. Keep an open mind and, sometimes, to agree to disagree. Religion is important, but as you very well pointed out is highly private and intimate thing. It is our way to relate with the world around us and with the universe. However, all religions teach us to LOVE, because this is the essence of life. And if we learn how to love, we learn how to accept and tolerate each other. Your family is an illustration of this fundamental value every religion is based on: LOVE.
Your daughter is so lucky to have you and to grow up in such a beautiful family!
Your daughter is very lucky to have such understanding parents who will allow her to be open about all faiths.
For many more Christmukahs in our future!
Ana — this is wonderful! I tried to contact you via the email address provided, but it doesn’t seem to work. I would love to connect, as I am also an Orthodox Christian mom married to a Jewish guy with a baby daughter!
Dear Orthodox Mom, Thank you very much for the comment, The issue with the email is now resolved. Sorry for the inconvenience.
loved it, enjoyed it,
i think that in the terms of “broad perspective” she is blessed 🙂 with growing up with two great parents with an open, yet traditionally respective forms of religion. very happy to read 🙂
It is so fantastic to give her the initialising of both religious and let her choose, follow her identity, respect her pure instinct, divine guidance. Reading about mixing the traditions, made me think that “the only constance is the perpetual changing!”. Each brings what it has to get a better new… whatever may be this new…
What a blessing you both are for your child. And as a Jewish believer, I have to say how I envy you being able to experience the festivals in Israel!! I almost made Aliyah a couple of years ago (and may still one day) so going there for the holy days is a dream of mine!!
That’s great you and your husband have your own religions but it’s not an issue. I wish more people were that way – whether family or not. Religion really should be more of a personal thing. And I think raising your daughter with both and going from there sounds good.
I find both of these religions beautiful! My Christian aunt married my Jewish Uncle and I have enjoyed watching them walk the path of their faiths side by side. Faith is a journey and I’m sure your daughter will have your support in her experience!
Great post, we are an interfaith family too and I agree with you that children should be thought about a variety of religions. I believe that any religion should be a source of unity not separation.