Interfaith Couples: Eli and Shay

To celebrate Interfaith Week, we’re presenting a series of interviews with couples from Tampa Bay (and beyond) to raise awareness about the importance of interfaith and inter-religious dialogue – especially within the family.

Next up, Eli and Shay.

shay_eli

What is your full name?
Eli Michael Schwab.

What is your occupation?
Artist and writer.

How did you meet your partner?
Film School.

Are you married?
No.

What is the religion or faith that you identify with?
Jewish, though I used to say “seeking my own religion.”

On a scale of 1-5 (1 being the least), how seriously do you take your personal faith or philosophy?
About a 4. When it comes to my family and tradition it is very important to me. In my daily life it acts as a moral signpost along my daily trek.

Has your relationship been tested by your partner having a different set of values or beliefs than your own?
Can you give examples?
None. We have combined our favorite beliefs and created our own beliefs together.

How has your relationship been made stronger by your partner having a different set of values or beliefs than your own?
Yes, for sure! One thing I believe strongly in is that all types of people have a lot to offer others. You can always learn something new from people with different beliefs.

Have you incorporated any of your partner’s beliefs into your own?
Can you give any examples?
Growing up Jewish I always wanted a Christmas tree. It just seemed like a cool thing, this giant tree decorated with presents underneath it. I asked my folks and they said no that is not for our religion. I wondered, “Why? It’s just a tree!” So, her belief that trees and presents can bring people together at a certain time of the year is cool.

Do you have any children? If so, how do your values or beliefs influence how you raise them?
No, but I would give my children the knowledge and interest to seek their own religion and present them with Aldous Huxley’s Perennial Philosophy.

In what ways do you worship, celebrate or express your spirituality together as a family?
My family gets together for a lot of big Jewish holidays. Passover is a huge one with my side of the family. Shay and I celebrate “Chakkumas” a combined holiday. I have personal moments with the Earth that I enjoy alone mostly. Worship comes in a sunset or a beautiful view, or the love I have for my partner.

Do you have any advice for couples that are questioning whether an interfaith relationship may be right for them?
I say, “do it.” The best relationships are ones where each side has something to teach the other.


What is your full name?

Tanichee (“Shay”) Amaris Cain.

What is your occupation?
Artist, aspiring Production Designer.

How did you meet your partner?
In film school, we were in the same film making club.

Are you married?
No.

What is the religion or faith that you identify with?
Christianity (raised Christian), and Buddhism.

On a scale of 1-5 (1 being the least), how seriously do you take your personal faith or philosophy?
1-2, my daily life reflects almost no religious aspects. When I go home (to a very southern family), I’ll go to church and participate in whatever religious activities they have.

Has your relationship been tested by your partner having a different set of values or beliefs than your own?
Can you give examples?
No, both of our families are open to other religions. We are also both open to learning and sharing both of our views and have created our own traditions.

How has your relationship been made stronger by your partner having a different set of values or beliefs than your own?
We created our own traditions and enjoy teaching each other new views and ideas.

Have you incorporated any of your partner’s beliefs into your own?
Can you give any examples?
I never celebrated Hanukkah or Passover growing up, but now Eli will take me home to his family to celebrate. He has such a big family and the tradition of getting together is something I really, really enjoy.

Have you had to reconcile any dogmatic or creedal religious teachings (heaven/hell, reincarnation, the trinity, karma, etc.) with those of your partner?
Can you provide examples of how you accomplished this?
Eli would make light jokes about Jesus, until one day I told him it sort of bothered me. Although I’m not too religious, I was raised Christian, and I was uncomfortable with him making those jokes. He understood and now respects what I was raised on.

Do you have any children? If so, how do your values or beliefs influence how you raise them?
No. But we’ve already talked about what we will do. We think we should present both religions, and others, to our kids and let them decide what they believe in.

In what ways do you worship, celebrate or express your spirituality together as a family?
We celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, and Passover. Outside of holidays we don’t go to church or temple, unless family is in town.

Do you have any advice for couples that are questioning whether an interfaith relationship may be right for them?
Go for it! Don’t be afraid to question your faith and learn someone else’s beliefs! Seeing someone else’s perspective can open your eyes to new ideas and help you earn respect for people you don’t know, whether you agree with them or not.

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About Joran Slane Oppelt

Author, Musician, Interfaith Minister, Chaplain, Public Speaker, Event Producer, Marketing Professional, Husband, Father - Not necessarily in that order. Follow me on Twitter @joranslane. View all posts by Joran Slane Oppelt

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