New flicks with celebs in interfaith relationships and from interfaith backgrounds, plus their baby news!Go To Pop Culture
This week, InterfaithFamily is celebrating its important work and the leadership provided by InterfaithFamily Founder Ed Case and Combined Jewish Philanthropies of Boston President Barry Shrage in making it possible for more of us to #ChooseLove without needing to decide between love and a Jewish life. Leading up to Thursdayâ€™s celebration, I hope you have had a chance to read IFFâ€™s own Liz Polay-Wettengelâ€™s â€śAn Open Letter to Judaism from an Interfaith Familyâ€ť on Medium this week, as well as Molly Tolskyâ€™s great response on Kveller. In her essay, Liz Polay-Wettengel speaks some honest and difficult truths about her familyâ€™s path to, with, and outside of Judaism as an Interfaith family. Molly Tolsky underscores the importance of Lizâ€™s piece, and shares her own experience, one that rings true to so many of us, of how often Interfaith couples are whole-heartedly raising their famililes Jewishly, even while there are those in our community who still decry â€śthe problemâ€ť of their couplehood.
I am lucky that my familyâ€™s story is not filled with the denials, closed doors or simple noâ€™s described in these two pieces. A huge reason for this is based in a single exchange I had with InterfaithFamily, with Ed Case specifically, eleven years ago.
When Eric and I were engaged in Los Angeles in 2004, we knew we wanted to be married by a rabbi. We also knew we wanted opportunities for members of both of our families to be involved and engaged in the wedding ceremony. We had taken an Introduction to Judaism class together and had shul-shopped a bit, but we didnâ€™t have one rabbi we knew we wanted to marry us. My parents lived in Newton, where IFFâ€™s founding and national office is located, and they knew a little about Ed Case and IFF. They encouraged us to check out the IFF website, and I was happy when I first poked around to find a link about â€śSeeking a Rabbi.â€ť
I emailed the IFF general email with a request for some ideas about rabbis in Los Angeles who would be open to marrying us. Ed Case quickly wrote back with a list of potential clergy, at least a dozen long. We started working our way through the list, setting up interviews, and eventually found a perfect fit – a wonderful rabbi named Allen Freehling with whom we both easily connected.
A list of names in an email might not sound like much, but when I compare it to the stories my peers shared this week, I am reminded of our great fortune. Wedding planning is a huge endeavor, and the process lays a foundation for your identity as a couple. If the very first step in this process is to encounter a set of â€śnoâ€™s,â€ť it can derail both your planning and your spirit. Because IFF had actively engaged in assembling lists just like the one Ed Case emailed to me, we had a long list of Yeses to send us down a path that encouraged both our pursuit of Judaism and our identity as an Interfaith family.
This week, I am thankful that IFF was available to Eric and me to support our establishment as a family. Every week, I am grateful for the resources of this organization and the communities it creates to continue this support. I hope you find it helpful to you in some small or large way, too. If you are anywhere near Boston on Thursday, Iâ€™ll look out for you at IFFâ€™s #ChooseLove celebration.