Challah and Ham: Planning an Interfaith Family
By Stephen and Adam Podowitz-Thomas
As the Easter and Passover seasons are wrapping up in the Podowitz-Thomas household, we’ve been thinking more and more about how we’re going to share our religious traditions with our children. As an interfaith couple, we’ve had to navigate recognition and appreciation of one another’s beliefs throughout our relationship, but when talking about how to raise our children, we’ve noticed that things have the potential to get more complicated.
Stomping on glass at the end of our wedding ceremony.
One thing we’ve done for ourselves, and we hope to continue with our kids, is emphasize the commonalities of our religious experiences. A central aspect of our separate religious upbringings has been the importance that community played in our faith, particularly the role of a congregation.
Adam’s spiritual community growing up was his Presbyterian church, located in a pre-Revolutionary sanctuary. His congregation was a place of support, safety, and most importantly, delicious food at their regular congregational potlucks after services.
I grew up attending services at my family’s local shul (i.e., synagogue in Yiddish) in a tight-knit community. As a young child, many of my friends grew up observing the Sabbath without any form of work or the use of electronics. Having time to spend with friends and family encouraged us to come together, share a meal, prayers, and other religious rites that can easily get lost in the shuffle of day-to-day life.
Bringing people together in celebration was also an important element of our wedding, conducted jointly by a Methodist minister and a Rabbi. But even more essential to us was that we both felt represented in the aspects of the ceremony itself. Incorporating elements from both our traditions, including a chuppah, sharing a glass of wine, and a benediction from our minister, as well as stomping a glass, the ceremony turned into a somewhat eclectic blend of the Northeast, the South, Judaism, and Christianity, but represented who we are, both individually and as a couple. And this blending is also who our child is going to be; hopefully, with the addition of traditions from their birth families.
This blending of traditions has also played out in our celebration of holidays. Over the years, Adam has attended community Passover seders with me and our mutual friends and we have decked out our apartment with garlands and stockings every Christmas. We’re looking forward to making our child’s first latkes for Hanukkah and watching them hunt for eggs at Easter.
Our cat, Amelia, was not in the Holiday spirit.
In short, we’re not sure how it’s all going to go. We’re not sure how our child will identify religiously and we’re not sure, ultimately, that it matters. Through our years together as a couple sharing our own beliefs with one another, we’ve come to appreciate that feelings of support and respect are really the most important thing. And as long as we pass that lesson on to our child, we can be happy with the job we’ve done.
For more information about Stephen & Adam’s adoption journey, visit our adoption page.