Intermarriage wasn't supposed to be something that I'd ever have to deal with. I'm the daughter of a rabbi and a cantor (and the stepdaughter of yet another rabbi!), sent to Jewish day school as a child, raised Conservative, and while I'm unsure about my personal beliefs, my identity as a Jew has always and will always be super important to me. I've been to weddings my father officiated, listened to him explain how stamping on the glass is a reminder not only of the destruction of the temple but of the constant work we need to do in a marriage, and even sang Sunrise, Sunset in the chorus of my own temple's Fiddler on the Roof production.
Just my luck the love of my life turned out to be an atheist…
He's a friendly atheist with a deep appreciation for the aesthetics of ritual and religion, and my family has been fine with our relationship. He even considered conversion for a while, before deciding it would be spiritually dishonest to profess faith in anything, as much as he loved Judaism's culture of intellectualism and constant questioning. Any religion I want in our wedding is okay by him, but it will still be an interfaith wedding.
Which means, of course, that it can't be Conservative. The denomination I was raised in will not perform intermarriages.
While some Jews find this horribly unfair, I actually don't. I totally get it. Judaism in general (Conservative Judaism especially) is dwindling, and children of intermarriages tend not to become Jews. More than that, in order for a Jewish ceremony to actually mean something, Judaism should be part of the couple's life. It's great when religious Jews marry religious Jews because something special and holy will be a shared part of their lives, inform their values and help them grow together.
I get it. The prohibition against Conservative rabbis even attending intermarriages is less reasonable to me (and some family friends will be skipping our ceremony due to this), but overall I get it.
It still means I'm leaving behind the way I was raised, and the denomination that I feel the most connection to. (As the joke goes, I may not go to shul often, but the shul I don't go to is Conservative!) I'm speaking right now to several Reform and Renewal rabbis and cantors (Reform clergy will perform intermarriages where the children are promised to be raised Jewish, and Renewal clergy get to make up their minds — which all clergy do to some extent, anyway).
My wedding will be spiritually appropriate to a questioning couple with doubts about eternity but a love for culture, and a belief that transcendence is possible. I will be just as Jewish and my husband will be just as supportive and engaging in that Jewish tradition as ever.
It still means other-ing myself from my family. And that's never easy.
How have our other interfaith couples handled this often sticky religious issue with each other and your families?