Growing up, I was always told two things by my traditional Jewish immigrant parents – I must become a doctor and marry a nice Jewish boy. So like most obliging daughters, I enrolled at Brandeis University and majored in Neuroscience. I dated really nice Jewish boys (Hi Ariel, if you’re out there) and had several high profile internships at Mass. General Hospital and the Cleveland Clinic.
Fast forward a few years; I neither became a doctor nor married a Jewish boy. I instead got my MBA in Finance and married a half Muslim, half Catholic (yes you read that correctly), Sudanese/Croatian who converted to Judaism. We had a fairytale wedding that included a Rabbi who my husband ended up playing soccer with every Sunday, a Ketubah illustrated by a former Israeli Air Force Artist, and a Muslim Sudanese father-in-law who adorned a Kippah under our rose covered Chuppah.
My parents were beyond thrilled (insert sarcasm here) and the Jewish circles of my hometown were abuzz with gossip about my choice of spouse. In fact, during the 1930s it was customary for parents to sit Shiva (I kid you not) when their children married outside of the Jewish faith.
But I didn’t care; I had a lucrative career I loved and a husband who adored me. Together we built a loving Jewish home and share a daughter who is being raised as an observant Jew.
In the old days (and still in some circles still today), intermarriage was generally seen as a rejection of Jewish identity and a form of rebellion against the community. I like to look at it from a different perspective; rather than losing me as a Jew, the overall Jewish community gained an additional devoted member of the Tribe.
Always remember the brilliant Yiddish proverb, “Mann Tracht, Un Gott Lacht” (“Man Plans, and G-d Laughs.”). Despite the best of intentions from our families and the most careful planning on our parts, life is unpredictable. Embrace the blessings and challenges equally!