For many Jewish and Christian interfaith couples, merging two diverse cultural and spiritual traditions can be complicated. Partners in an interfaith marriage have potentially great differences, growing out of separate traditions of beliefs, values, rituals, and community patterns.
Some couples try to erase the “interfaith” aspect from their lives through, conversion, adoption of a new faith by one partner, dropping religious practices, or making a new blended tradition.
Other couples want to honor both traditions but are not sure how. While this wish may be a concern throughout the year, it can become particularly pressing at holiday seasons and life cycle events.
It isn’t always easy for interfaith partners to address their distinct traditions. There are many pressures, questions, and concerns. There are expectations of each respective partner and their families. Many times one is not really aware of why they do what they do.
Take for example this story:
The new Jewish bride is making her first big dinner for her husband and tries her hand at her mother's brisket recipe, cutting off the ends of the roast the way her mother always did. Hubby thinks the meat is delicious, but says, "Why do you cut off the ends -- that's the best part!" She answers, "That's the way my mother always made it."
The next week, they go to the bubbie's (grandmothers) house, and she prepares the famous brisket recipe, again cutting off the ends. The young bride is sure she must be missing some vital information, so she asked her grandma why she cut off the ends. Grandma says, "Dear, that's the only way it will fit in the pan!"
Two generations have slavishly followed the tradition without understanding it. For an interfaith couple, this tale is a parable for teaching the importance of understanding the whys of religious rituals. It is not enough, says this legend, to perform by rote — if observance is to have value, the reasons behind a tradition have to be appreciated as well as the ritual itself faithfully carried out.
Marriage is two diverse people becoming one. In order for the marriage to have harmony especially concerning the “spiritual” aspect communication about similarities and differences is key to making an interfaith marriage work.
If you are an interfaith couple or contemplating an interfaith marriage, we want to help you explore what interfaith means.
One real Life example - Scott and Judy are an interfaith couple. they have traveled down many of the same roads that you are facing.
In the beginning of their marriage, they shared the same belief that “There is one God”. Judy faced the task of understanding the Jewish holidays and the language. There were many times she would stop the conversation to ask for a translation of a Yiddish word that was thrown in. Scott was faced with understanding what Judy believed.
They wanted to find a place where they could worship together. They had a common basis – Torah and Haftorah. Judy wasn’t comfortable with the tradition Synagogue where Scott was a member. Scott wasn’t comfortable with the Church where Judy was a member. They faced a dilemma. Where could they go so both would be comfortable? They found the answer in a Messianic Jewish Synagogue. Scott felt comfortable because the services were on Shabbat (not on Sunday), followed Jewish liturgy, and felt Jewish. Judy was comfortable because Yeshua (Jesus) was recognized as Messiah. It became an area of compromise for them. At the time, Scott did not believe Yeshua is Messiah but the services did not feel alien like a church service did. Judy fell in love with the liturgy and the music. They both found their faith and marriage deepen by worshipping together even though they both were still coming from two different viewpoints.
A Messianic Jewish Synagogue provides a bridge for a Jewish and Gentile couple. It doesn’t require either to abandon their faith. The Jewish person can express their Jewishness or became more Jewish and the Christian can more fully appreciates the root of their faith.
In Jeremiah 31:31 “Here, the days are coming,” says Adonai, “when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah. It will not be like the covenant I made with their fathers on the day I took them by the hand and brought them out of the land of Egypt; because they, for their part, violated my covenant, even though I, for my part, was a husband to them,” says Adonai. “For this is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel after those days,” says Adonai: “I will put my Torah within them and write it on their hearts; I will be there God, and they will be my people. No longer will any of them teach his fellow community member or his brother, ‘Know Adonai’; for all will know me, from the least of them to the greatest; because I will forgive their wickedness and remember their sins no more.”
It was impossible to follow all 613 commandments. Blood sacrifice was required for atonement for sins. Yet God promises a heart covenant. We find that in Yeshua.
For a Gentile Christian brought up in the Church the “Jewishness” of the Gospel is not prevalent. We forget that Yeshua (Jesus) is a Jew. He was born of a Jewish mother, brought up in a Jewish household, celebrated the Jewish feast. He did not come on earth to start a “new” religion.Matthew 5:17 “Don’t think that I have come to abolish the Torah or the Prophets. I have come not to abolish but to bring to its fulfillment. Yes indeed! I tell you that until heaven and earth pass away, not so mush as a yud or a stroke will pass from the Torah – not until everything that must happen has happened. So whoever disobeys the least of these mitzvoth and teaches other to do so will be called the least in the Kingdom of Heaven.
If you would like more information, or would like to meet with other interfaith couples please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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