The End: Lovers Gonna Love

In the end, the wedding went the way it was supposed to. That’s not to say that we didn’t hit a few snags along the way, most of them caused by me. I may have left our room at the hotel a mess prior to Shannon’s arrival. “Do you want the photographer to get pictures […]

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Rabbi Freedman on Interfaith Marriage

Rabbi Eli Freedman came into my life just as I was beginning to explore the possibility of converting to Judaism. I first met him at a Shabbat dinner when he handed me a beer and said, “The synagogue’s men’s club brewed this.” That’s when I thought, “I’m going to study with this guy.” Rabbi Freedman, […]

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Let Us Now Praise Famous Mensches: Celebrating Interfaith Marriage

This morning I put a cross into a drawer. It was a cradle cross that Leacock Presbyterian Church gave my parents when I was born. My mother returned it to me on the day of Shannon’s bridal shower. “I wasn’t sure if you’d want it or not,” she said. I wasn’t sure either. It’s the […]

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Interfaith Marriage: Finding Meaning in the Journey

I went to Congregation Rodeph Shalom’s Purim celebration this year. (Or last year, by the Hebrew calendar.) The shul went all out. The theme was “A Night in Persia,” and congregants came dressed in robes, bedecked themselves in scarves and beads, and happily buzzed around the room. Our cantor and one of our rabbis, both […]

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Let Us Build a City: Interfaith Weddings as an Act of Translation

Shannon practiced saying “Shanah tovah” during the week leading up to Rosh Hashanah. “How do you say that thing?” she said. “What thing?” I replied, all innocence. “You know, that thing you say that means ‘happy new year.’” “Oh, that thing.” I told Shannon how to say it and listened as she repeated it. That […]

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Reconstructing the Ketubah: Finding the Sweetness in Tradition

I attended services at Mishkan Shalom last spring. A friend of mine led the Torah study that preceded services. We read from the haftarah, Hosea, in which the prophet addresses his unfaithful wife, Gomer. Their troubled marriage is really a metaphor for the relationship between Israel and God. Here’s a sample of what Hosea says: […]

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Naming Our Fears: When Have We Asked Too Much?

A Muslim man greeted me with “As-salamu alaykum” on Rosh Hashanah morning. Having seen the kufi-style yarmulke I wore, he acknowledged me as he passed the bench on which Shannon and I sat. “He said ‘hello’ to you,” Shannon told me as I wrested my attention away from my smartphone. “He did?” I said, blinking […]

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God Was Not in the Fire: Getting Over the Intermarriage "Debate"

I confess that I was disappointed by the mikveh. I did not expect to emerge from the waters with fully grown peyot and spouting Yiddish. Nor was I unhappy with the aura of the mikveh, quiet and peaceful, reminiscent of the womb of which it is symbolic. Rather, I was unprepared for the mundanity of […]

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Universal Values, Jewish Expressions: Finding Common Ground in an Interfaith Marriage

When I became Jewish, I began seeing homeless people. I was not unaware of the homeless before I converted to Judaism. When I moved to Philadelphia in 2008, it was the first time I saw people living on the street. I was shocked. I grew up in rural Lancaster, Pennsylvania. There were poor people, certainly, […]

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Navigating the Narrow Places: Interfaith Arguments

When Shannon and I fight, I assume the worst. We’re going to break up. We’ll never speak again. We’ll be torn apart by wild dogs. “I just want us to be happy,” I’ll say. “We can’t always be happy,” Shannon responds, ever sensible, ever right. “Sometimes we’re going to fight.” No love story is entirely […]

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Smashing the Idols: How to Plan a Nontraditional Jewish Wedding

“We should have eloped.” One of us has said that every week since we began planning our wedding. “We should have eloped,” I say. “I know,” Shannon replies. Then we both sigh. A wedding is a turning point. It’s the moment when two lives become one, when two individuals are sanctified unto one another. And, […]

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The New Jew & the Irish Girl Plan a Wedding

“I think I’m converting to Judaism.” I said it quietly, without making eye contact, as Shannon walked by. As if, by treating it as a commonplace, like the weather or the Phillies, I’d sneak it by her without conversation. Shannon stopped and turned to face me. “Are you serious?” she asked. I’m known for making […]

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