“How come you didn’t tell my it was Tisha B’Av?”

This was my boyfriend James’ greeting to me on the phone the other day. I sighed and told him the truth: I forgot about the holiday. Here’s another truth: As James asked me questions about Tisha B’Av, I had to Google the holiday just to answer him.

This scenario made me realize that my Catholic boyfriend is helping me learn more about my Judaism. It started at Passover, when James attended his first seder with my family. With James being his outgoing, inquisitive self, we had a lot more than four questions at our table.

When I was a teenager in Florida, my rabbi warned me that if I so much as thought about dating someone of another religion, I’d be “harming the Jews more than Hitler.”  I was also told that I shouldn’t be friends with people who weren’t Jewish, because “their motives can’t be trusted.”  I’m very grateful that here in Boston the Jewish community is much more open-minded and welcoming. James is already asking about the High Holidays, and we’re discussing options for attending services. Whatever place we pick, I know that James’s religion will not be an issue. And people won’t bat an eye at our queerness, either.  

Did I commemorate Tisha B’Av? No. But at least I know more about it. For that, I have my Catholic boyfriend to thank.

Are you inter-married, or dating someone who is not Jewish? How has this affected your Jewish knowledge or practices? I’d love to hear about it.

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