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By Nicole Rodriguez
Whenever I meet someone new, thereâ€™s always an instant connection the moment I find out theyâ€™re Jewish. Itâ€™s almost like an immediate form of familiarity, even though we just met. However, when I meet someone from a different faith, I am just as interested to learn more about their culture as I am when someone is a different denomination of Judaism.
Growing up in a Reform Jewish household, I was often told by my parents, â€śYou can marry anyone you want, but we prefer a nice Jewish boy.â€ť A big emphasis was on the â€śprefer.â€ť But Iâ€™ve dated many people and the religious aspect hasnâ€™t weighed heavily. The one serious relationship I had was with someone who was not Jewishâ€”he was Lutheran. But besides the occasional questions here and there about our faiths, we rarely talked about it. It just became one of the details I knew about him. We were both pretty non-observant religiously; less organizational and more family-centered and holiday-based.Â All the other positive aspects about him were more important to me than the fact that he came from a different faith and belief system, which ensured a successful relationship.
Interfaith dating forces someâ€”not allâ€”people to make the difficult decision of whether they should or should not pursue a potential relationship with someone of a different faith. My opinion as a millennial in this day and age is that beliefs are not a key factor in determining the outcome of a relationship; values are. Date whomever you want based on personality, sense of humor, how that person shows their love for you, etc. Truly good people are those who find ways to apply their beliefs to their lives and aspire to live a life by the right values.
Though all the different kinds of faiths across the globe may vary from one to the next, many of their values are universal. As long as both people share similar values and are able to maintain mutual respect for each otherâ€™s beliefs, there shouldnâ€™t be anything holding them back from being together. Both parties can carry on the religious traditions important to them, share in each otherâ€™s practices and celebrate the unity of their values. There will be different approaches to how to be a good person, and that can potentially be enriching to learn about and process.
As a famous Beatle once said, â€śAll you need is love.â€ť Now, John, what do you mean by that? Specific love from specific people? Love as long as itâ€™s with someone from your religion? No. I think he means that any love is worth your time and affection, regardless of religious differences. By limiting yourself to one cluster of people, you might be denying who can truly make you happy. Some couples might disagree, but in my opinion finding someone who will love you the way you truly are is the truest kind of love.
Judaism has a sense of peoplehood and a shared text, language and connection to a land. However, when you find a mate with real love and connection that isnâ€™t Jewish, it doesnâ€™t mean they canâ€™t still be a great addition to the community. I wonâ€™t lose my Jewish connections and Jewish allegiances, identity and pride when I #ChooseLove. Iâ€™m not choosing love over sharing the same religion. If I can have both, awesome! Iâ€™m hoping for love with someone who will support me for me and let my beliefs inform them as well.