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While we cherish both backgrounds, when we have to choose between them Jewish holidays and observances take precedence over Chinese holidays and customs. Belinda finds Judaism meaningful and she has learned to love it more than Chinese traditions. Judaism is central to us, and it helps imbue our lives with meaning and direction..
How did we get to this arrangement? From moment we began dating, we enthusiastically explored each other's cultures through visiting many ethnic establishments and participating in various cultural activities. Our goal was to broaden our horizons and to take best of both worlds. However, as my parents were vehemently opposed to my dating Belinda because my religion prohibits intermarriage, we delved deeper into Judaism while also examining other religions. We read voraciously on different spiritualities. We attended Chinese churches, Buddhist and Taoist temples; took part in Jews for Jesus, Reform, Conservative and Orthodox Jewish synagogues and events; visited a Sikh Gurdwara, a Muslim mosque; and toured Israel for a month. It was a long but worthwhile journey. Through it all, we inspired each other in our spiritual growth, and helped shape each other's outlook on life. Belinda eventually converted to Judaism after more than four years of exploring and learning. She genuinely loves Judaism. An important reason that my wife and I have adjusted to each other so well is that we had developed a common vision for ourselves before we got married.
We are now connected to a Torah-observant community where people are accepting of us and our Asian-looking Jewish children. We were forewarned by rabbinical court which presided over my wife's conversion that there would always be some Jews who, out of ignorance of Judaism, look down at converts and their children as being "not really" Jewish. Thank God, we have not experienced this kind of debasement.
We hope that as our children grow up, they will question, investigate and renew their commitment to our Jewish heritage, and also respect and honor their Chinese roots. That they will carry their Jewishness into their own relationships and raise their children with healthy and life-affirming values and practices.
This article originally appeared on www.InterfaithFamily.com, a member of Jewz.com Media Network.
Author of Chicken Soup with Chopsticks. See www.PaperSpider.Net
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Jack Botwinik grew up in a culturally rich family, speaking 5 languages. In addition to speaking in public, Jack helps couples in interfaith dating relationships 1-on-1.