Every Sunday The New York Times features a couple in a short Vows video for its Weddings/Celebrations section. This week, we had the fortune of hearing the story of Dr. Hiroko Hosaka and Dr. Ryan David, a Jewish-Asian couple who met during their shifts in the pediatrics emergency room. Not only are they exceedingly sweet in their video, but they also have chosen to embrace the multiculturalism of their identities. According to the video, the couple plans to incorporate elements of both their Jewish and Japanese heritage into the wedding. Ryan explained, “We are having a Jewpanese style wedding – a cross between a Jewish traditional and Shinto – or Japanese wedding – so we will be doing a sake ceremony and following that, a breaking of the glass under the chuppah.” Their dedication to both Judaism and Japanese culture indicate the couple’s mutual respect and their desire to pass on the traditions of each other’s cultural identities. We know of many couples who maintain dual or multi-cultural homes while choosing Judaism as their household religion, and we encourage those who are still deciding to learn about the benefits of becoming a part of the Jewish community.
Moreover, we have highlighted Hiroko and Ryan because, while intermarriage has become more commonly accepted within the Jewish community, interracial intermarriage is still less frequently acknowledged. The Vows column and video has featured the love stories of many Jewish and intermarried couples in the past, but this Sunday’s star couple illustrates the fact that intermarriage today entails navigating through not only different religions, but also entirely different cultures. There will be different challenges, but also great opportunities to continually renew our assumptions of what Jews look like and who is a Jew.
Though JOI has documented Jewish-Asian intermarriage in the past, Hiroko and Ryan’s marriage reminds the Jewish community how we need to welcome and promote acceptance of our continually diversifying community. JOI’s Big Tent Judaism, which calls Jewish organizations to practice the mitzvah of hachnasat orchim (the bringing in of guests), speaks to this need: actively welcoming Jews and intermarried couples of multicultural and multiracial backgrounds. Raising awareness of the increasing diversity in the American Jewish population will allow couples like Hiroko and Ryan to feel comfortable in our Big Tent – or under our chuppah.
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