For Interfaith Families, the Holiday Season is Not Always Festive

December 13, 2003

Source: San Jose Mercury News

On December 13, 2003 the San Jose Mercury News reported on the problems that plague interfaith relationships during the holiday season. The article notes that "childhood memories, religious faith and pressure from in-laws all can add layers of complication to the task of developing new traditions as a couple and family. Even partners who come from different denominations can clash: Do they attend the Christmas Eve Protestant service or Christmas Day Mass? Berkeley artist Khalil Bendib and his wife, Song Chin-Bendib, come from different faith traditions but find common ground in December: They ignore Christmas. He is Muslim; she is Buddhist. The couple has negotiated around Ramadan, which just ended. 'Sometimes there are little conflicts in terms of what's going to be eaten and when,' he said. But, Bendib added, 'We are both pretty flexible.' Couples in which one member is Christian and the other Jewish, though, often struggle when December rolls around, said Laura Sheahen, a religion producer. 'A lot of Jews have trouble with this. It stems from a long history of persecution and anti-Semitism and being a small minority," said Edmund Case, publisher of His nonprofit organization promotes acceptance of interfaith couples in the Jewish community and advocates the inclusion of Jewish traditions in the lives of interfaith families."