What My Fraught Interfaith Marriage (And Eventual Divorce) Taught Me About My Judaism

country-road-2711213_1920Many years ago, when I was living with an old friend in an apartment in a big city, she announced that she was going to date only Jewish men from then on. She was adamant about wanting to marry a Jewish man, and spending time dating men outside her faith would make this less likely.

I remember being both impressed and incredulous. How can you be so calculated about the person with whom you fall in love?

When I listened to my friend’s pronouncement that day, I was quite young, and so very naïve. I could not have imagined then that marrying outside my faith would ultimately cause me so many years of personal pain and physical hardship. I could not even have considered how alone I would feel once I realized how large a part my ethnicity and my faith would play in my future self.

7 comments on “What My Fraught Interfaith Marriage (And Eventual Divorce) Taught Me About My Judaism

  1. Neighbor55 on

    A marvelous piece in which I found a great deal to think about, and it explains about so many pieces of my own life. The lens through which we look at life is established by many factors and we live it as we live it.

  2. Susan Katz Miller on

    A poignant story, well written. But to conclude, based on one unhappy experience, that life will be easier if you marry within the faith, has no basis in research. The miserable marriages (and subsequent divorces) in my extended family were all Jewish/Jewish. And many of the happy marriages have been interfaith marriages (as described in my book). I don’t conclude from the anecdotes in my own family that interfaith marriage is easier, only that you cannot extrapolate from your own life to make prescriptions for others.

  3. lisasolod on

    Not sure I was extrapolating. I was telling my own story. It’s an essay. I made my case for why I thought raising children in a household of the same faith was easier. I still believe that.

  4. Eliza Slavet on

    Poignant, and agree with @SusanKatzMiller:disqus that your one unhappy experience with a so-called “interfaith” marriage should not necessarily be the end of thinking about in-faith and inter-faith: many so-called “in-marriages” are actually interfaith since one believes in God and the other does not (or hates services, or whatever). Likewise, many a so-called “inter-faith” marriage is less about a difference of “faith” and more about a difference of backgrounds, cultures, values, and more (again, oh so possible with “in-marriages”). Unhappy marriages come in all shapes and sizes and combinations of faiths. Doesn’t make them any easier!!

  5. Joan Dane-Kellogg on

    I am very moved by your essay. Your writing is beautiful. I relate deeply to the “journey “ back to Judaism and to the experience of feeling the responsibility for my children’s Jewish identity. My road was made easier by a supportive spouse. Though he was not born Jewish, he converted to Judaism just prior to our second child’s bar mitzvah. But even prior to that, he was open to connecting to our reform synagogue community, which omitted the fractured family feeling. You were brave and tenacious in giving your children a sense of their roots, as you did. Thank you.

  6. Anonymous on

    I am a Muslim woman going through a similar situation. I am currently dating a guy outside my faith, and i’m already forecasting these issues. My partner dismisses my faith and also argues that one cannot have faith and be an intellectual. Is there anyway I can get in touch with the author of this essay ?

  7. Katie S. on

    Thank you so much for this piece! I recently ended a nine year relationship because I recognized that I couldn’t do the interfaith thing long term. My Judaism is too central to my identity and I want it to be a central part of family life with my future children. This article has given my confidence in my choice.

Comments are closed.