If you receive our fundraising emails, you’ve been hearing 18Door’s Board Member Mary Fernandez’s journey for the past few weeks—from wishing that 18Doors existed when she married her husband Adam, to the impact of Rabbi Michael Satz—Mary’s synagogue rabbi—becoming a Rukin Rabbinic Fellow.
Today, I want to tell you a different story—my own.
In 2005, I met and started dating Courtney, who is Catholic. Like Mary’s husband Adam, early on, I told Courtney, “I want Jewish kids, and a Jewish home.” (I also said I wanted a puppy, but that’s a different story.) Courtney looked at me and said, “Okaaayyyyy. Isn’t it a little early to be having this discussion?” I said some version of “Yes, but it’s really important to me, and if you’re not up for that, we should probably stop seeing each other.” She said she might be open to it, and began her own soul-searching journey.
And me? I panicked.
Because I didn’t know how to be a Jewish adult in a mixed-religion household, in charge of building a Jewish home and hopefully, raising Jewish kids. I started googling “Jewish Catholic couple,” “interfaith,” and every search term I could think of to describe us. And thankfully, like 1.5 million other people this year, I found 18Doors’ website (which back then was InterfaithFamily).
And suddenly, I was reading stories of other couples like us, which provided different ideas for navigating Jewish life and incorporating Jewish traditions into our lives. I didn’t realize I had been holding my breath that night until I exhaled, and when I did, a weight lifted. I knew that no matter what, I wasn’t alone, and there were other people on the same journey as Courtney and me. It was such a gift.
Almost 18 years have passed since that moment, and we’ve had many milestones, including a wedding and the birth of three kids. (This week, we’re dropping off our now 11-year-olds at Jewish sleepaway camp!) And yet, my family and I still use 18Doors’ website, because even as CEO of 18Doors, I still need 18Doors.
But we can’t do it without your support. Please join me today in paying it forward by making a gift, so that the millions of families like mine can continue to count on 18Doors as their go-to for exploring Jewish life, questions and traditions. And so that there will always be a place where they know they’re not alone.