I have a dark secret to share with you today: Mrs. Rotting Post is a Gentile!!
I know. Gasp! Right? But it’s true. And frankly, I don’t care what you anti-Gentiles think! Because I, for one, accept her for who she is: an alien being of a different species.
People wonder: How does such a marriage succeed, where one of you lacks that, “vital Jewish sense of humor,” and the other does too, but for completely different reasons?
There is no denying we are very different people. I am male, for instance. She is female. I am taller. She is less taller. And yet somehow, in spite of these flaws of hers, and many others, we “make it work”. We respect each other as “individuals”. We value diversity. And also perversity. We always try to see the other’s point of view, before concluding that it is completely loony.
It helped that both of our families were rather secular. None of our parents actually, “believed”.
My own religious education consisted of:
(a) Going to Synagogue once a year for Yom Kippur, the “Day of Atonement”, solemnly bowing my head, and solemnly wondering how much longer I needed to keep looking solemn
(b) Solemnly ridiculing my Hebrew School teacher’s odd hand motions
(c) Solemnly dancing, “The Bunny Hop” at my friends’ Bar Mitzvahs
And we were religious zealots compared to Mrs. Post’s family.
The point is, from early on when I started dating my future wife, we shared the same, deep-seated love of not observing. As we pondered the dreadful covenant of marriage, we gave careful consideration to how it would all work:
“We’ll have twice as many holidays to do nothing on,” I said.
“For Yom Kippur,” she said, “I can atone for skipping Easter.”
“And for Lent,” I said, “I can give up pickled herring.”
“That’s so noble.”
“But which religion will we teach our children to not observe?” I asked. “I really want them to be lapsed Jews. It means a lot to me.”
“Can’t they be lapsed half-Jews?” she asked.
“Seventy-five percent?” I offered. “Life is about compromises after all.”
“Seems like fifty-fifty would be an even compromise.”
“It doesn’t say life’s about even compromises,” I pointed out. “It just says ‘compromises’.”
“You’re an idiot. Why am I doing this?”
And so it was decided.
The next issue was informing my parents. As we know, there is a pretty strong proscription in Judaism against marrying outside the faith. There are several approaches to the delicate conversation. Let’s look at a sample technique:
Daughter: Mom, Dad, Guess what? I’m getting married.
Parents: Mazel Tov! Who’s the lucky guy?
Daughter: Umm…he’s this guy. His name is Brian Macdougal.
(Long, ominous pause.)
Parent 1: I see. That’s…an interesting last name. MacDougal. What kind of name is that?
Daughter: It’s Jewish, actually! In fact, he’s a Rabbi. Rabbi MacDougal.
Parent 1: (to parent 2) I think she’s pulling our leg.
Parent 2: I gathered that, Parent 1.
Parent 1: I knew we should have sent you to that Jewish preschool.
Parent 2: Enough with the preschool.
Parent 1: Well you wouldn’t listen to me.
Parent 2: I listened.
Parent 1: If you’d listened, Parent 2, we wouldn’t be about to lose our daughter.
Parent 2: Hey, how come you’re Parent 1 and I’m Parent 2? Why can’t I be Parent 1?
Parent 1: Try acting like Parent 1 for a change! Then maybe you can be Parent 1!
As you can see, a little levity can go a long way to helping a difficult conversation. But wasn’t my situation different? My parents, after all, were modern, enlightened free-thinkers. They were rationalists. I opted for a straightforward appeal to logic. “Logos”, as we classical rhetoricians call it. Let’s see how it went:
Me: Hey, I have some news!
Parents: What is it?
Me: “K” and I have decided to enter into the ghastly covenant of marriage.
Parent A: Congratulations!
Parent B: Well…she seems very nice. Of course, we expect her to convert.
Me: Ummmm….Convert? To…what?
Parent A: To…to Judaism, of course!
Me: But we don’t do anything. We don’t practice the religion.
Parent A: It’s not about what we do. It’s about…identity. It’s who we are.
Me: So, let me see if I understand this. You want her to go through this gigantic conversion ordeal, just so she can go from not practicing one religion to not practicing a different religion?
Parent B: Yes!
Me: I’m confused.
Parent A: It’s about what she feels.
Me: Okay, then can’t she just declare that she feels Jewish?
Parent B: Does she?
Parent A: It doesn’t work like that.
Me: Can’t we just declare that it does work like that?
Parent A: It doesn’t work like that either.
Me: So what if she goes through the whole conversion thing and she still doesn’t feel it?
Parent B: Well then, how she feels doesn’t matter anymore.
Me: Then it’s not really about how she feels.
Parent A: It is and it isn’t.
As you can clearly see, screw logos.
Still, in the end, it all worked out. We’ve been married now for many years, have raised two children, and it feels like it’s only been a few, short millennia.
So what are the keys to a successful Interfaithless Marriage?:
- Choose someone from a different faith
- Patience and understanding