POSTED AT 1:30 PM ET, 02/12/2010
A Hindu-Muslim love story
By Kavita Ramdya
I was raised by parents who were, relatively speaking, very open-minded. First-generation Indian-Hindu immigrants who moved to New York in the early '70s, they nested in Smithtown, Long Island, a middle-class suburb that was as average as its name. "Diversity" in our well-manicured suburban cocoon meant attending bar and bat mitzvahs and even then, Jews were always the majority in my honors and A.P. classes. In my high school graduating class of five hundred students, approximately ten weren't white.
There were many benefits of growing up in Smithtown: a well-stocked library, excellent public schools and neighbors with robust "family values." The downside, I understood much later in life, was the sheer absence of diversity. There was nothing to challenge us, spur debate, or force us to interrogate our way of life. Not only was a there a lack of ethnic diversity but also of family structures, professions and diversions. Without a black family in the neighborhood, African Americans never entered my consciousness except when reading books like Harriet Beecher Stowe's "Uncle Tom's Cabin" or Toni Morrison's "The Bluest Eye" in English class. There were no outlets for entertainment like a solid community theater or a local gallery, and "going to the mall" was the default diversion for spending Friday nights. So it should come as no surprise that my parents and I never spoke about Muslims, the religious group most at odds with Hindus since Mughal rulers conquered India in the 700s until the mid-19th century. The lack of Muslims kept my parents from feeling the need to "teach" me about the Hindu-Muslim divide, an omission for which I am grateful.Continue reading this post »
POSTED AT 11:54 AM ET, 02/12/2010
Wanted: Mexican Mezuzah
By Hila Ratzabi
Perhaps I shouldn't have been surprised that I couldn't find a Mexican mezuzah. But when my boyfriend and I decided to move in together, amidst apartment hunting, collecting boxes, and searching for the perfect glass leftover containers, I decided I wanted a Mexican mezuzah. I figured someone had already had this idea. But when I googled "Mexican mezuzah," all I could find were jewelry Web sites selling both mezuzahs and Mexican sterling silver crosses.
My boyfriend is Chicano, born in California, and raised both there and in Mexico. I am Jewish, born in Israel, and raised in New York. The term "interfaith" is an easy catch-all, particularly for Jews in relationships with non-Jews. But it doesn't quite fit: my boyfriend is an atheist and rejects Christianity. I am Jewish, semi-practicing, with faith in a wild, creative, unknowable deity.Continue reading this post »
POSTED AT 3:47 PM ET, 11/17/2009
55 Years and Counting
We knew there would be trouble right from the start when the rabbi said he would not perform our marriage on campus because the Columbia University Chapel has "Christian windows."
But we did not anticipate that during the wedding my mother, a recent convert to Roman Catholicism, would stand outside the chapel crying and try to keep people from entering because, she explained, the chapel "was not consecrated." (When the chapel was built, the president of the University refused to consecrate it for any one denomination so it could be used by all. So much for that.)
This is not to say we weren't expecting some drama from my mother, who tried to persuade renowned theologian Reinhold Niebuhr to talk us out of the marriage. (He blessed us instead.) When my engagement to a Jew had been announced, I received a telegram from her accusing me of hammering the nails into Christ's feet. Both of us were working and going to school full time and hadn't realized that the announcement was to be published on Good Friday.Continue reading this post »
POSTED AT 12:30 PM ET, 11/16/2009
Q&A: Interfaith love and marriage
The Post's Sally Quinn and Ellen McCarthy were online Monday to answer your questions and discuss some of the issues facing the men and women in interfaith relationships. Joining them was Annette Mahoney, a psychology professor at Bowling Green State University who, with support from the Templeton Foundation, recently completed an exhaustive review of scholarly research on the role spirituality plays in our families and homes.
POSTED AT 12:27 PM ET, 11/16/2009
Video: Cokie and Steve Roberts
Sally Quinn talks to journalists Cokie and Steve Roberts about their Catholic-Jewish marriage. "I didn't fall in love with the Catholic Church," Steve says in the interview. "I fell in love with a Catholic woman." Cokie talks about her decision not to convert to Judaism for her husband. "I couldn't give up Jesus," Cokie says.
POSTED AT 1:24 PM ET, 11/12/2009
Faith in love
By Lisa Miller
Every girl, they say, has a 'type.' Mine was not Jewish. I liked sweet, boyish men often from large Catholic families. And so I married one. Ours was an interfaith ceremony, performed under a chupa by an Episcopalian priest who worked with a rabbi to create a service that included both of our traditions. He knew us, and loved us, and that mattered more to each of us than denomination.
(Read more of this personal essay by Lisa Miller, Newsweek's religion editor and an On Faith contributor.)
POSTED AT 5:40 AM ET, 11/12/2009
The wonders and worries when traditions converge
By Ellen McCarthy and Sally Quinn
We'll get ready, soon, to decorate the Christmas tree. Or light the menorah. Or celebrate Kwanzaa. Ready to honor whatever tradition we hold most dear -- unabashedly filling our homes and lives with the spirit of the season.
Unless, of course, there's some domestic debate about the significance of that spirit.
Perhaps your atheist husband wants that manger scene off the mantel. Your Hindu wife is uncomfortable with the Hebrew blessings before dinner. Your Muslim mother-in-law doesn't want her grandkids sitting on Santa's lap.
The holidays can be a minefield for interfaith couples, unearthing disparities that lay mercifully buried throughout the rest of the year. Because the tree isn't just about the tree, of course. Like the menorah, or Iftar feasts at sundown during Ramadan, it's about family and ritual, identity and culture.Continue reading this post »
POSTED AT 3:13 PM ET, 11/ 9/2009
About 'On Faith and Love'
More than ever before, people are dating and marrying partners of different faiths. The Washington Post is launching a project exploring how religious differences play out in our lives and relationships. Have you loved across a chasm of beliefs? We want your stories: about how you negotiated and navigated these differences, how conversions or compromises were made, how it all worked -- or didn't.
Share your experience (in 700 words or fewer) by e-mailing OnFaithandLove@washpost.com. We'll publish some of the submissions online and in print starting this month.