When I was asked me to write about my Passover experiences as an interfaith family, I came home and told my husband. Our interfaith status is a subject that has been a private matter in our lives – something that we choose to navigate as a family in a way that works for us, regardless of what others think. It’s probably more of a sensitive topic for my family, since we are the Jewish ones with declining population, etc. etc.
My in-laws actually gave my husband their (unsolicited) blessing for him to convert to Judaism if he wanted to. His choice not to is a different topic; however, I share all of this for context. He was raised in a practicing Lutheran family, but at this point in his life, he is more spiritual than anything. All that being said, I felt like I had to clear the request with my husband before hitting the laptop.
His response surprised me: What business do we have telling people what it’s like to be an interfaith family? Do we really have interfaith kids? The only impact to the kids is more presents in December. To that I responded, “Did you grow up having Passover seders?” I didn’t think so.
To an extent, he’s right, though. Our kids have never been to church. We don’t belong to a synagogue, but our kids have attended a Jewish preschool since they were infants. They know about all of the Jewish holidays, Shabbat and a lot of the basics of Judaism (to the level that a toddler and school age child can). So we lean more Jewish, but my husband isn’t Jewish.
We have approached the Jewish holidays as a family since we started dating. Being a Twin Cities transplant with few Jewish relatives in town, it’s been up to us to create holiday experiences for ourselves and our kids.
My husband initially viewed the Jewish holidays as a learning experience. We only dated for 11 months before getting engaged, so it was a quick induction for him. After his first Seder, I asked him what he thought. Like most Jewish experiences, he said he appreciated the storytelling nature of the Seder (and some lively plagues flying around the table), and of course, the four glasses of wine.
A few years ago, he took his participation to the next level and learned to cook a kosher-for-Passover meal! We were having a Jewish friend over for dinner and I was running late from work. He figured out how to make a KFP kugel (and managed to find the matzah meal at Byerly’s). And it was quite tasty! I remember feeling so proud and grateful to have a husband who embraced my traditions and beliefs, even if they weren’t his own. To quote my grandmother, I was kvelling.
This year will be our ninth year celebrating Passover together. It’s not like those first few years where there were some preparatory and exploratory conversations. It’s a given and it’s what we do. I still treasure his perspective though. He picks up on things at the seder (and most Jewish experiences for that matter) that I’ve either long forgotten or just glazed over throughout the years. He keeps me on my toes, ensuring I know why we do the things we do and can explain them intelligently. And for that – and his love of matzah – I’m truly grateful.