Your new partner takes the Bible as seriously as your parents, only what they call the “Old Testament” your partner calls the “only Testament.” Bridge the gap with these steps—it’s not as wide as you might think.
- Step 1: Do allow for some heavy-handed icebreakers from your parents, like “Nice to meet you. You know, we just love Fiddler on the Roof.” This may lead to an awkward silence, but try to see their good intentions through the steam coming out of your ears.
- Step 2: Don’t, however, be too heavy-handed: “Dad, we were listening to your favorite, George Gershwin, on the way over. Who knew he was born Jacob Gershowitz?”
- Step 3: If religion does come up, look for common ground. Many traditions often associated with Christianity originated in the Jewish scriptures—such as the 23rd psalm (“The Lord Is My Shepherd, I shall not want”), The Ten Commandments, and the story of David and Goliath.
- Step 4: Try to relax and enjoy the evening. As long as no one tries to convert anybody else, religious differences shouldn’t matter. Now, if you and your partner decide to marry and have kids, well, that’s a whole other ball of wax.
- FACT: “Christ” is the Greek translation of “Messiah”—a Hebrew word meaning “Anointed One.”
- Step 5: When introducing your partner to your parents, consider dropping in an icebreaker, like a shared interest in jazz, for example.
- TIP: Christianity and Judaism may evoke some unfavorable stereotypes on both sides. You and your partner might want to wring these out before meeting the parents.
- Step 6: Select a meeting place everyone can enjoy, like a casual dining venue. Avoid, for example, the Three Little Pigs’ House of Ribs.
- Step 7: Prior to the meeting, discuss Judaism from your partner’s perspective.
- TIP: Judaism can refer to both a religion, with various expressions such as Orthodox, Conservative, Reform, and Reconstructionist, and a culture—a people with a distinct identity and history, many of whom consider themselves secular Jews.
- Step 8: Discuss your understanding of Christianity with your partner ahead of time as well.
- Step 9: Choose a meeting time. Consult a Jewish calendar to avoid scheduling conflicts with the Sabbath and holidays.