When the Forward published my essay on being in an interfaith relationship last year, I could never have predicted that I would eventually decide to put together an entire anthology of essays by women in Jewish interfaith relationships. Before I wrote my essay, I had carried ideas for it in my head for a long time, and I imagine, many other women carry around such narratives, too. When my relationship began, more than a year ago, I was flooded with all kinds of emotions, typical of any new relationship. But there was also another layer of pure bewilderment. After all, I had never before been in an interfaith relationship; I had never planned to be in one; I was specifically trying not to be in one.
In recent months, I’ve drawn on the support of women who also happened to be writers and who were also in interfaith relationships or marriage; and I’ve drawn on the rich content on sites like interfaithfamily.com and on Julie Weiner’s excellent “In the Mix” blog, based on her column of the same name. Books like “Still Jewish” (NYU Press) by Keren McGinity, and “Double or Nothing” (Brandeis University Press) by Sylvia Barack Fishman provided a sociological and historical perspective.
The idea for an anthology slowly brewed over time. Ultimately, I felt strongly that there should be a book of essays by women in Jewish interfaith relationships. The next, immediate thought was: it probably already exists. The closest collection published is called “Half/Life: Jew-ish Tales from Inter-faith Homes” (Soft Skull Press) edited by Laurel Snyder, which features beautifully written personal stories by adult children of intermarriage. In addition, there are memoirs on the topic, along with plenty of guides to plan your interfaith wedding or to learn how to be a grandparent to interfaith grandchildren. These all serve their purpose and contribute to the widening of the conversation; but I feel that women, both Jewish and non-Jewish, who are or have been involved with interfaith relationships, need to have their voices heard on this topic.
I have already collected a wide range of incredible essays — including one from a lesbian mom examining the paradox of applying the matrilineal principle in a same-sex intermarriage; another from an African-American woman who ruminates on a racist incident that occurred among her Jewish in-laws, and another still from an intermarried rabbinical student who takes the lead in transmitting Jewish culture in her family.
But I’m looking to bring more stories into the mix, and invite you to submit your essays to me. Guidelines for submission can be found here, and you can email me your essays at firstname.lastname@example.org by July 1, 2010.