Losing My Religion, Looking For Our Faith

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Losing My Religion, Looking For Our Faith

By [URL=http://www.brainchildmag.com/2014/04/this-is-childhood-available-now/]This is Childhood[/URL] contributing author, Kristen Levithan

When my husband and I first started dating in college, the subject of religion came up all the time. We stayed up late, chatting in his dorm room over Wawa subs and barbecue potato chips about how he—a Conservative Jew, the son of a rabbi—and I—a lapsed Catholic—could ever get married. How could we pull off a wedding? And what would we do about the kids? Children then were as theoretical to us as our upcoming art history exam was real. How would they answer the question, “What are you?”

For a while, I thought the only choice was a binary one: as a couple, we would have to pick a side. So for the next few years I learned more about Judaism. I memorized the rituals of Shabbat, the motzi over the challah, and the choral songs his family would sing during the Seder, fists pounding on the dining room table in time to the music. I agreed to keep a kosher kitchen. But the more I considered conversion, the more I realized it wasn’t the right answer for me or for us. I didn’t really feel like a Catholic anymore, but I didn’t feel Jewish either.

In time our reservations about an interfaith marriage gave way to the force of our years together and our youthful optimism that we could make it work. After considering ways to make our wedding ceremony reflect both of our traditions, we decided to dedicate our celebration to one religion we had in common: our love of words. We stood before our family and friends and shared original vows and selections from poetry and literature. There was no priest, rabbi, or cantor, but there were Jane Austen, Matthew Arnold, and Sappho and promises to love and nurture each other come what may.

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