This coming year, my maternal grandparents will observe their 60th anniversary. A huge milestone by any measure – the coming date will no doubt be cause for celebration. Amidst the fanfare it is unlikely that anyone will remember that their union was originally, back in 1952, cause for religious controversy.
Now, based on the picture I’ve painted for you – there are probably a number of scenario’s you are conjuring in your imagination. Although I take no prejudice to the following arrangements, for the sake of clarity, I will tell you that my grandparents are NOT engaged in any of the following potentially controversial marriages: interracial, same sex, polygamous or interfaith.
Can you guess where the controversy lies?
Additionally, they are almost exactly the same age (born within 10 weeks of each other), they are both Ashkenazi Jews, they both grew up in the same town in Baltimore to middle class families and they even attended the same primary school.
How about now – Any guesses?
Based on modern standards, my grandparents are engaged in the least controversial marriage imaginable. However, 60 years ago their relationship was quite taboo. The reason is because my grandfather is a German Jew and my grandmother is a Russian Jew.
It seems illogical, even silly today that a difference so small would cause religious controversy, but back then it was a serious issue.
Personally, I take some comfort in this story. It makes me think that as time goes on the differences between people will continue to become less and less significant. Who knows which seemingly insurmountable differences today, in 60 years will be considered insignificant and silly.
It also makes me think that as the world becomes more connected we choosing to focus more on our similarities than our differences.