Tag Archives: inter-culture

“Which one of you had to convert?”

Image- http://ssje.org/sermons/wp-content/uploads/2010/02/Conversion_Wordle.jpg

As well as having to answer the “Not Without My Daughter” question (refer to my previous post titled “Not Without My Daughter”, I have also faced some other gems for questions including:

“Which one of you had to convert?”

My preferred response is “We flipped a coin for it” making the stupidity and primitive nature of my answer aptly reflect the stupidity and primitive nature of the question.

I mean it’s just wrong on so many levels, that I don’t even know where to begin. At school I was taught that you could always find the answer, or at least part of the answer to your question in the question itself. So, the person asking this question had already answered some questions for themselves- that either myself or my husband had converted AND that this conversion was obligatory.

This offends me. It offends me due to the  fact that my Mum is of Russian Orthodox faith and my Dad is a Jew and neither one of them converted to the other’s faith. Surprisingly, their decision didn’t bring about the end of the world.The concept of converting for marriage has always been a bit foreign to me because my parents didn’t feel the need to do it, so naturally I didn’t feel the need to it either. Even if I did feel the need to do it, it would have been by choice and not by obligation. I’m going to make myself clear and say that I have nothing against people who choose to convert to their partner’s religion. It’s totally cool, however it’s just something that I was not prepared to do myself, or ask someone to do for me.

I made it very clear to my now-husband on our very first date that I am what I am- a daughter of an Orthodox Mum and Jewish Dad and that I intend on staying that way. Take it, or leave it. I told him that if he has an issue with that or can envisage his family having an issue with my faith/(s) that he should tell me now so that we could walk away from the table as friends. I also let him know that it was nothing personal and that it had nothing to do with him being Muslim (this is actually the case, this isn’t another example of my intolerance).

Had I been dating a Jew, who later told me to revoke my Orthodox faith, I would have told them where to go- somewhere nice, but far away from me. Had I dated a person of Orthodox faith who asked me to denounce my Judaism, they would have joined the Jew who disagreed with my Orthodox religion. Prior to marriage,  my underlying message to potential suitors was as follows: if you want to change my religion- don’t date me. It’s that simple.

Before I answer “Which on you had to convert?” let me start off by first reframing the question: “Did one of you need to convert to make your relationship work?” No. Thank you for asking.

~

Although I am new to the blogging world and am completely incompetent at using technology (I only recently learned how to make hyperlinks), I believe that my message of peace and tolerance needs to be heard. To learn a little bit more about my background please read my post titled “A little bit about myself…”. To learn more about why I started this blog, please read my post titled “Introduction…”.

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Listen to your Heart Chakra

It’s truly amazing how what we say and do can effect those around us. I will never forget a conversation I had with one of my best friends in a cafe called “The Little Prince” (the cafe is named after my favourite book of all time by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry).

My Bestie and I were trying to decide what to eat, whether or not we wanted to share one meal or share two meals or eat a meal individually. I don’t really think we were paying too much attention to our surroundings or the effect that our conversation could have on other patrons of the cafe. After a long moment of pondering, my Bestie turned and said: “Seriously, what are we going to eat?” and I responded with:

“What does your Heart Chakra tell you? Let’s listen to that and find an answer”.

I’m not really sure if I was being serious, or if I was joking. To be fair, in the context of my conversation with my friend it was irrelevant. To the both of us it was a typical comment about keeping your attention in the present moment and being mindful of what your heart, mind and body wants. I can’t say that the comment was all together insignificant to us, but it wasn’t really eye-opening either.

It was, however, eye-opening to someone else. There was a lady sitting on a table next to us, who had overheard our conversation and expressed how it had deeply moved her.  She repeated the words “Listen to your Heart Chakra” and smiled to herself and said that she will do her best to listen to her heart in her everyday tasks, when doing something as simple as choosing a meal. She thanked us profusely several times.

After the lady on the table next to us left, my Bestie and I realised that we had just shared a truly beautiful moment together. We had helped someone remember how to listen to their heart.  We achieved that by doing nothing other than simply being ourselves. At that moment I realised how important it is to stay true to yourself and to stay positive, for yourself and for those around you. I learned that everything you say or do leaves an imprint on the lives of others and how important it is to leave positive imprints. In simply being your positive self, you can have a positive effect on the person next to you.

In simply being myself and telling people about my background and the background of my husband, hopefully I have left and will continue to leave positive imprints in the minds and hearts of all the people who surround me and interact with me for whatever reason.  When I go about my everyday activities such as going to work and university, getting my hair and nails done etc. I talk to people- some are my friends, some acquaintances, some are people I am meeting for the first time. Usually I tell people that I am married (or if the conversation was prior to the wedding, that I am engaged).  They would ask me about my other half; how we met each other, how he proposed etc. One way or another the topic of nationality would arise and I always tell people the truth.

At first people look a bit shocked when they hear about a union incorporating bits and pieces of Russian, Iranian and Australian cultures, as well as Jewish, Orthodox and Muslim religions. Sometimes people tell me that I’m brave for what I am doing. I would usually pull a face and ask: “Brave for doing what? Falling in love? Getting married?” Usually at about that moment, the penny would drop. What someone had once thought to be impossible, unlikely or improbable had become not only probable, possible, but also kind-of normal and okay.

Just by being myself, being in love with my husband and sharing my story, I am  able to show to at least one person, that it’s okay for cultures, religions and nationalities to intertwine. Hopefully the people I speak to will go ahead and share with their friends and family a story about a Russian-Australian-Orthodox-Jewish girl they once met who got married to an Iranian Shia Muslim boy. That it is possible. That it is normal. And that it is okay.

Hopefully, I can continue to plant seeds of hope and peace in the minds and hearts of the people I interact with and by a chain reaction they can plant the same seed in the minds and hearts of the people they interact with. As my Dad told my husband and I on our wedding day: “You guys are spreading the message of world peace, one family at a time”. I only hope that it is received with love and interpreted positively… and I am sure it will, in so far as people choose to listen to their Heart Chakra.

~

Although I am new to the blogging world and am completely incompetent at using technology (I only recently learned how to make hyperlinks), I believe that my message of peace and tolerance needs to be heard. To learn a little bit more about my background please read my post titled “A little bit about myself…”. To learn more about why I started this blog, please read my post titled “Introduction…”.

A little bit about myself..

I am a Russian Orthodox -Jewish-Muslim.

Isn’t that a mouthful? Is that even possible, I hear you say?

Allow me to elaborate…My father is Jewish and my mother is of Russian Orthodox faith. I was baptised and am , to some extent, a Russian Orthodox.  Traditionally the Russian Orthodox faith is passed down along the father’s line, which complicates my situation given that my father is a Jew.  Judaism, on the other hand, is passed down along the line of the mother. Given that my mother is Orthodox, I also can’t really call myself Jewish. Ironically, I have parents of two religions, and I technically belong to neither even though I embody both.

Amongst my mother’s side of the family, I am known as “the Jew”, and amongst my father’s side of the family, I am known as “the Christian”. Similarly, given that I am an immigrant from Russia, I am considered a “Russian” in Australia and an “Australian” in Russia.

Just getting that down on paper has made me question how I haven’t yet had an  identity crisis/nervous breakdown in my life. But wait-because that wasn’t confusing enough, the plot thickens…My husband-dearest is an Iranian Shia Muslim.

Personally, I can’t wait for my children to start posting on this blog, because their stories will probably be even more unconventional than mine, given that they will embody three religions that, generally speaking, can’t seem to agree on anything other than a war. However, given that my husband and I are only at the “practicing” stage of the baby-making process, you- dear reader, will have to make-do with my stories.

Love and Light ❤

Image- http://blog.ccbcmd.edu/rpurimetla/files/2012/04/coexist_happy_700w.jpg

Introduction…

human being

Image: http://christanncox.blogspot.com/2013/03/gay-rights-world-so-hateful.html

As an individual with roots in differing cultures and not only differing but contradicting religions, I have reason to believe that we can all harmoniously coexist. I would like to share my personal interfaith and inter-cultural experiences, particularly the challenges and rewards I have reaped from my various religious and cultural backgrounds.

I have created this blog to illuminate the theme of tolerance from my personal experiences where I have been the victim, perpetrator and everything else in-between. Hopefully this space will inspire people to spot our similarities, not our differences.

Love and Light ❤