Often couples of the same faith join a religious community together after getting married. As an interfaith couple, it can be a big decision to join any kind of community around religion or faith. There are a lot of questions to ask: Is a community important to both of us? Should we join communities for both of our religious traditions? Should we look for an interfaith community in our area? Is there one? How should we consider our future family in these questions?
Zach and I haven’t joined an interfaith community yet, although there’s a great one in the greater DC area that I’ve referenced before, Interfaith Families Project. I’m realizing that part of my religious practice includes celebrating, observing and sharing with a community. Zach and I had been forming our own religious “community” by discussing what was important to us through the lens of our wedding ceremony. Now that we’re done planning our wedding, Zach and I are talking less about our respective religious traditions. I miss the learning and reflection those discussions incited. One way I’m looking to fill the void is by becoming more involved with my local Catholic community.
This article inspired me to become more active in my Catholic parish as a way of claiming a religious identity. The idea can be applied to all religious traditions and even interfaith communities like this one: You have to commit to building a community before you can feel a part of it. After reflecting on this idea, I’ve participated in local events like a book discussion group and a video series about the Catholic Church’s Second Vatican Council. I find that because my partner is Jewish, some discoveries are more exciting for me than my peers, like the ways the Council paved a smoother path to interfaith dialogue. Often people are curious about my interfaith marriage, and I’m happy to share our carefully blended wedding ceremony with anyone who asks.
Of course, I’ve also enjoyed becoming part of the Jewish community. Zach has shared with me how Judaism provides a moral foundation for his life, and now our lives. We accept the challenge and responsibility of “tikkun olam” through charitable giving and service throughout the year. When we celebrate Jewish holidays with Zach’s family, I feel a familiar sense of community and ritual that helps me connect to Judaism. Writing this InterfaithFamily blog and reading others’ posts gives me a similar opportunity. Reading other contributors’ posts reminds me that so many people are struggling with the same questions that I am. The questioning and searching makes me feel part of this community.
Zach’s religious identity is less outward and less focused on ritual than mine. Because of this difference in how we approach our religions, religion has not yet become a unified aspect of our lives. Instead, we’re still approaching it from individual perspectives. But we’ve talked about what this will mean when we have a family. Will I go to parish events when we have kids? How will we manifest our faith and religious traditions to our kids inside the home? I’d like to begin creating an interfaith home by saying a prayer together before dinner. I found a nice list from Xavier University (a Jesuit school) through a Google search. We tried this one from an anonymous author the other day:
“Bless us, O God. Bless our food and our drink.
Since you redeemed us so dearly and delivered us from evil,
as you gave us a share in this food so may you give us a share in eternal life.”
We’re also considering this Sufi prayer from Inayat Kahn:
the Sustainer of
our bodies, hearts, and souls,
that we thankfully
Who knows? Maybe we’ll go back to the traditional Jewish prayer over bread:
Baruch atah Adonai Eloheinu Melech ha-olam hamotzi lechem min ha-aretz.
(Blessed are You, Eternal our God, Sovereign of the universe, Who brings forth bread from the earth.)
Do you have interfaith traditions in your home that bring your religion into everyday life? What’s your favorite family prayer, mealtime or otherwise? I’d love to hear what ideas others have in the comments below!