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Apr
17
2008

I dated for a very long time. About 7,000 years. I may have rounded that up a bit, but I’m telling you it was an incredible amount of time.

I remember Charlotte of “Sex in the City” proclaiming, “I’ve been dating since I was fifteen! I’m exhausted! Where is he?” A single girl myself at the time, I watched from my couch, nodding my head vigorously in agreement.

Where the hell was he?

And then Rick finally showed up.

We had our first date in 1996 and our second in 2000. Like Diana Ross told us, you can’t hurry love. But it’s really our third date where things got interesting.

Sitting at the Evelyn Lounge on the Upper West Side, Rick leaned in and asked, “Would you ever be willing to convert to Judaism?’

I’m sorry. What?! I think we’re going to need more cocktails over here. Hold on there cowboy. You’re cute. You’re nice. You’ve got a full head of hair. But Judaism? On the third date? Bold move boy. Really? Have you seen how much Christmas rocks? And that Easter Bunny. With the chocolate?

The answer was no. I wasn’t willing to convert. And it wasn’t about the chocolate. It’s just not who I am. In this case, Charlotte and I took different paths.

But I did (many nights later) agree to raise our children Jewish.

With the help of a team of non-denominational attorneys, we hammered out an inter-faith agreement where we would celebrate and honor the Christian and Jewish holidays but raise our girls with a Jewish identity. Oh, alright, there weren’t any attorneys but it was tense. Very tense and very emotional.

It was extremely important to Rick for our children to be Jewish and it was my gift to him.

But no one ever said one single word about “Paul Zim (aka The Jewish Music Man) and Seder Nights.”

It should have been in the agreement. I knew I needed an attorney.

I’ve always feared the Wiggles in my home. I never saw Paul Zim and his Seder Nights coming.

This past weekend we went to a Passover celebration at The Museum of Jewish Heritage and received this glorious CD in the goodie bag. Dylan, who is very musically inclined and has mastered the use of the CD player, started playing this Passover sing-a-long CD over and over and over again. She particularly has a passion for, “Dayenu”, which ironically means “enough” in Hebrew.

Click below to experience it yourself.

Paul Zim rocks Dayenu

Look, it’s a catchy, festive song.

The first few times I heard it, I’m sure I swayed with the beat.

I may have even sung along a bit.

But that was the first 35 times I heard it. And that figure is projected to rise significantly over the next few days.

Is she trying to drive her Christian mother mad?

I don’t think so. I think she just really digs that guy Paul and his kickin’ Seder Nights.

Someday the girls will be Bat Mitvah’d. But Rick and I haven’t yet brokered a deal on whether our girls will attend Jewish sleep over camp.

Rick has very fond memories of his summers at Camp Harlam. Mostly I think because of something called, “bush time” that has nothing to do with our current President (Yes, George W. is still in charge) and everything to do with horny adolescents spending a few moments in the bushes with their camp crushes. Absolutely true. Just ask Rick.

But if the Jewish Music Man has anything to do with Jewish camp, the girls can attend a nonsectarian arts and crafts day camp.

See, this is the kind of stuff you have to deal with when you marry a nice, cute Jewish boy. So worth it. Just ask that Charlotte.

mama bird notes

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28 Responses to the shiksa mother

  • Robyn says:

    As a nice Jewish girl who married a goy, I admire your willingness to raise your girls w/a different faith than your own. We're still figuring out what we're going to do with Bear, but whatever it is, he will definitely know and understand both religions, as they are his heritage.

    Happy Passover to you and your family!

  • Rhea says:

    You definitely should have had attorneys help you hammer out the deal! lol Just kidding. I'm so impressed when people of two different faiths can marry and raise kids, I really admire that. If only the rest of the world could manage that. :o)

  • Memarie Lane says:

    I think Judaism and Christianity are very compatible. One came from the other after all. I was pretty much raised on both, as my mom is obsessed with Judaism. She even knows some Hebrew, teaches Israeli folk dance, and attends a Messianic congregation. Messianic churches have a very strong Jewish identity, but believe in Jesus as the messiah.

  • Daphne says:

    Terrific post. I love this, and not just because I too married a camp Harlem fanatic (and don't be fooled, they are fanatic.) I also have been very resistant to jews in the bushes, which clearly was the part of camp that made the biggest impression on our boys!

  • I went to Camp Harlam. I was a counselor there, too.

    And I don't think what you are going through (with "Dayenu") is nearly payback enough for 2 full months of Christmas Carol muzak. So stop whining.

  • Jennifer H says:

    Well, I have to disagree (cheerfully) with suburbancorrespondent. Clearly, mamabird wasn't whining–she was kvetching. 🙂

    My friend is sending her son away to Jewish sleepaway camp this summer, for 10 days. Apparently, it's a very big deal. Wish I could send my kids.

    Also, it was good of you to agree to raise your children in your husband's traditions.

  • Another Harlam Alumn says:

    Daphne should be aware, if I were to ever agree to move back to the east coast it would be contingent on the girls going to Camp Harlam. Yes, I drank the kool aid(aka bug juice) for 11 summers!

  • holli says:

    One of my best blogging friends (who has become one of my best friends) married a Jewish man and it's been really interesting reading about her journey from pretty much where you are now, to deciding to convert. It's all on her blog if you're ever interested – not too too detailed, but I liked reading about how they worked things out.. and I loved reading how she finally found her place in religion.

  • izzy's mama says:

    I adore Dayenu but I too tire of Izzy playing our Passover CD a gazillion times, especially when it is not the season. Which, by the way, he likes to do with Christmas and Hannukah CDs too. I have to hide the holiday CD's once the holiday is over or else!

    I wish my husband were as agreeable as you. He was the only one to disagree at our interfaith workshop.

  • Queen Goob says:

    I did the same thing. I’m the daughter, grand-daughter, and niece of Presbyterian ministers and I agreed to raise my children in a different faith……Southern Baptist.

  • anonymous says:

    great post! And if you like dayenu, you should try a little bim bom! That'll really get you rockin'. As for messianic temples combining Judaism and Christianity, there is no way to accept Christ and consider yourself Jewish. It's certainly nice of memarie lane's mother to have an interest in Jewish culture, but no mainstream branches of Judaism would consider messiancs as part of the religion.

  • Julia says:

    Kelcey, I can totally relate! In our interfaith house, Gabi and Bianca have fallen in love with Frosty the Snowman. They can listen to this for hours at a time. And yes, we are well aware that Christmas is long gone. I think my poor jewish husband is besides himself.

  • Jessi says:

    Kelcey, that was very touching.

    Now on to the music…I understand. The same song over and over and over again…should almost be singing Crimson and Clover.

  • Jordana says:

    I was expecting a jazzed up crazy Dayenu version. This is standard seder fare! As my dear father says, we Jews are not known for our catchy tunes – this is one of our few good ones – Bravo for Dylan for finding it! BTW, do you think my assurances to Rick about your definite conversion to Judiasm gave him false hopes? Sorry, Rick! And last but not least – oh those summer (camp) nights!!

  • susiej says:

    I so admire your commitment to working out this wonderful way to raise your children together. I'm surprised you didn't need attorneys… but love, conquers all.

  • Jordana says:

    PS: I just played the song for Ava and she said "noooo Mommy. I don't like this!" Wanna trade kids for the seder??

  • Milena says:

    As a Catholic girl who grew up amongst Jews, then met a Muslim whom she married and converted to Islam for, I think this world is becoming more religiously tolerant no matter that the extremes in all religions make it not seem like this is the case. In this house we celebrate Christmas and Persian holidays. We've found a happy medium even though like you, there was some negotiation in the beginning. My son now attends an Episcopal school. I guess that makes him a half catholic, half muslim, pseudo jew who is currently exposed (in Episcopalianism) to what my husband and I refer to as a version of Catholic lite. You know what? Pass over the Zim guy records. The way things swing around here, we'll probably know all the man's songs by the end of this night.

  • I really admire the views you (and Charlotte) take on this whole subject…I too dated for a very long time and found a nice Jewish boy in the mix. I really liked him but after a few serious conversations and a comment he made about "no Christmas trees within 100 feet of his house" that was it. It's been years but, go figure, he called me just the other day to find out if I was still single… 😉

  • jordana's dad says:

    Aw Kelc…. that is one of the very few good jewish songs.

    (Hava N'gellah is another , but there are very few).

    I love my religion, but you guys got great music.

    My delcious little grand daughter

    now calls the entire seder experience Dayenu.

    When she heard us singing it around the seder table, her opinion of the song changed.

    Love ya A & S

  • PunditMom says:

    Had i known about that CD when I, another shiksa, married my Jewish husband, I would definitely have banned that in a pre-nup! Of course, I guess making Dayenu fun can't be all bad!

  • Aunt Marcia says:

    When someone asks you to 'convert', it means you're not good enough now; you have to CHANGE. It's all about the Golden Rule; it's the same in all faiths. Treat others as you would have them treat you…Glad you stayed your wonderful 'Shiksa' self.


kelcey kintner


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