The Interfaith Dating Forum, which featured a diverse panel of speakers, drew over 20 students into a conversation about pivotal points in interfaith relationships. The event, which was held in Arnold Lounge in Keeney Quadrangle Wednesday night, tackled topics that included religious ceremonies, negotiations over holidays and how to raise children when the parents belong to different faiths.
Panelist Carol Cohen '83, associate dean of the college, described herself as "the Jewish girl at the church … and the priest's wife."
"The public aspect (has been) much harder to negotiate than the private," Cohen said.
The key to an interfaith relationship is "about knowing where your lines are … the meaningful lines," she said.
Panelist Ceceley Chambers, who is Jewish and married to an atheist, said she has realized in the last year that she wishes to become a rabbi. In order for her to do so, her husband must convert to Judaism. She said he is willing to consider the switch, but no matter his response, she already knows where her boundary lies. "If I was asked to choose between my husband and being a rabbi, I would choose my husband," she said.
Experience with serious romantic relationships did not dominate the panel, as panelist Nathaniel Johnson '10 addressed the topic hypothetically.
"I have been and I am in many interfaith relationships, but I have yet to be in a romantic interfaith relationship," he said. There would probably be issues with his parents if he wanted to marry "a nice Hindu girl," he said. "There would be a long conversation."
It is also very important to clarify the difference between dating and marriage, he said.
Panelist Mary Yang '13 spoke about her experience with interfaith parents. "Just growing up with them, I could see their relationship had a tension," she said. In her current relationship, "the question of faith has come up as the main problem," Yang said.
Reasons for attending also varied. Audience member Mathew Reiss '12 said, "I'm here because I've been dating a Catholic girl for three years, and I'm Jewish."
Christopher Huynh '10 "was just kind of interested in seeing what interfaith dating is," he said.
Chelsea Waite '11, one of the event's coordinators, said the "assumptions that go along with a certain faith … are confronted when dating someone not of your faith."