I know we don't know each other. And I can't say I know Leo well either. I saw him once on a street corner in New York, and he's really cute, but not really my type. To each her own. Or so I wish.
Thing is, since the whole world is weighing in
on whether the two of you should get married, I thought I'd wish you well ... and say this: I think you can live happily ever after, even if you're Jewish and he's not. And I speak from experience.
I admit, my jaw hit the ground when I read about Lehava yesterday
: An entire Jewish organization dedicated to breaking up relationships like yours!? And, well, mine. Before we go any further, I should tell you that I'm a non-Jewish girl married to a Jewish guy.
And even without an entire league of crazies pitted against us -- sending my mom threatening letters about why we should end it, like they did yours -- it hasn't always been easy being an outsider who married in.
The thing is, it's hard to find love. Maybe especially if you're a supermodel. I mean, I don't really know what that's
like, but I can see how being one of the most beautiful women on Earth could make you wonder: Does he really
love me for my sense of humor!?
I've had to have a healthy one while dating, then marrying, Adam. Being an interfaith couple isn't for the faint of heart
: Even if everything's cool between the two of you, the world has a way of inserting its beliefs in your relationship. As you know.
I mean, I'm not naïve. I know this goes on the world over: Mamas everywhere wring their hands when we fall hard for someone we shouldn't. Or they think we shouldn't. The thing that I find really rich in your situation is this: What if Leo's mom were all up in arms over the fact that you don't know how to make gnocchi -- or don't worship a dude called the pope!? What if she hired a secret Vatican council bent on keeping him dating girls who believed in the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost -- so as not to taint his bloodline?
I think some people might call that racist. So why is it OK for Lehava to do it in reverse?
Don't worry, you say -- they're extremists! But it does suck when their crazy zeal hits your relationship head-on, and, I hate to say it, but when you're an interfaith twosome, it's not only total wack-jobs who will feel the need to get involved
There are at least a few lovely, highly educated people who have been less-than-welcoming to me since Adam and I met. I don't mind ... much. I got lucky! Not only is Adam great, he's so great that I'm willing to tolerate a fair amount of social censure to be with him. But that doesn't mean it doesn't get to me occasionally when people get all up in our business.
In fact, the first time we met an old friend of Adam's, he greeted me with: "So, are you tribe?"
I just kind of gave him a blank look. Of course, now I know what he meant was "Are you Jewish?" But can you imagine if the tables were turned, and I looked at him and said, "So, come from WASP stock?"
Still, a minor offense. Tribe?! Won't be caught looking on that lingo again. But then there was the time when we were first dating, and we met a bunch of his parents' close friends for the first time. Don't say anything stupid, I told myself. At dinner I was listening to a couple talk about one of their sons, who was in college:
"Does anyone know anyone we can fix him up with?" they asked.
And someone else said, confused, "Isn't he in a relationship?"
"Oh, she's not Jewish, so we're going to bust that up," said this kid's dad. And he laughed.
Holy faux pas, I thought. Just call me Bust That Up. There I was, meeting them for the first time, but nobody blinked. I tried to imagine if the situation were reversed: I would pretty much fight to the death if anyone insulted my fiancé, but when you're "tribe," it seems, dissing anyone who isn't is kind of like talking about the weather.
Then there was the time my husband and I got invited to a Sabbath dinner at the home of another old friend of his. I knew they were very religious -- and had grown increasingly so as they got older and had kids. I thought it'd be really cool to see what a Friday night dinner was like through their eyes. But then, about a week before we were scheduled to go, Adam said we had to talk, and he had a look on his face I'd never seen before.
"Um, I have to talk to you about dinner at Seth and Ronit's," he said.
"What?" I replied, blithely, wondering if they needed me to bring something special I wouldn't know how to make.
"They're not really comfortable having us there since you're not Jewish."
Whoa. Guess who isn't
coming to dinner?
This was a guy Adam had known since childhood. One he loved and, moreover, admired. My first concern was for him: Was our relationship going to break up friendships he'd had his whole life? But my second thought was, Paging Sydney Poitier. I mean, really? Besides, what would happen if I threw a dinner party and decreed, Sorry, No Jews Allowed?
In time, I got over it. As did they. They came to our housewarming a year later, bearing apologies and gifts. Yes, I guess, eventually we can
all just get along.
But, as anyone entering into an interfaith liaison should know, there will be flare-ups. For a while, Adam and I went through a peaceful stretch of being upset only by each other: Over how I perpetually left the spoon on the counter after stirring the coffee. Whether he had been unintentionally rude to my friends.
Then, the other day, my husband was writing an article for the newspaper where he works, and I helped him with some edits. When he wrote his editor and told him, the guy emailed back almost immediately:
"Tell the blonde shiksa
you're fired, and she's hired!"
Ha, ha ... funny? (I mean, even if "blonde shiksa" is a tad redundant.)
How odd, I thought. I didn't know this guy well enough to I.D. him in a lineup. So what gave him the right to come at me with a pro-Zionist zing?
But, these days, I really do try not to bristle -- I find it's bad for the skin. And, Bar, I hope Leo has a thick hide, because you're going to have to stand strong against a small, small-minded faction of your countrymen.
But that doesn't mean it can't work. After all, I'm about to host My First Passover. My in-laws are coming. I'll do my level best not to kill anyone with the charoset
. As for the rest, we'll -- as they say -- let go and let God.
Please know, if you have nowhere to go, you and Leo are welcome at our table, whether your union is considered b'shert
in the eyes of Lehava or not.
Like reading personal stories of other ladies' experiences? Check out our entire first person category.
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