Growing up as twins, Rebecca and I shared many friends. But there were a couple of friends who were really just Rebecca’s or mine. Barbara was all mine. We’d met at the temple religious school in fourth grade, and became fast friends. Even after Barbara went off to graduate school in Boston, we stayed in close touch. She always called on my birthday and right before Yom Kippur. Instead of saying, “Hi, it’s Barbara,” she would start right in with singing our favorite song from the Yom Kippur liturgy, “All the World Shall Come to Serve Thee.”Until she intermarried

Until she intermarried.

After graduate school, Barbara settled in Boston and got engaged to her longtime non-Jewish boyfriend, John. She invited both me and Rebecca to her wedding. Rebecca had recently started grad school, and was living on a tight budget. She sent a note pleading poverty as her reason for not attending the wedding. I sent a gift and a card, which I wrote and rewrote. I told Barbara that I loved her and that our friendship was important to me. We would continue to be the best of friends. I would always be there for her when she needed. But I could not condone an intermarriage.

Barbara accepted Rebecca’s declining to go, but she was angry and disappointed about my “rejection.” She wed without me, and it put a heavy strain on our friendship. She stopped calling before Yom Kippur, but continued calling or sending a card for my birthday.

Last year, I was at Rebecca’s the morning before Yom Kippur. Rebecca was preparing a meal for before the fast. Her husband, Greg, was preparing to go to a sporting event with their two sons. Before he married Rebecca, Greg had converted to Judaism with the rabbi from our parents’ temple, but he was never an enthusiastic temple-goer, and in response to his strict Catholic upbringing he was not keen on traditional religious observance of any kind.

That morning, I heard the phone ring. It was Barbara, calling to speak to Rebecca.

I was surprised at my feelings of jealousy and hurt—Barbara didn’t call me before Yom Kippur anymore. I headed outside to avoid being asked to talk.

After Rebecca hung up, she came to comfort me. “Don’t you get it?” she asked. “Barbara and I talk before every Jewish holiday, because it’s just so hard for us. We are so jealous seeing all those happy families sitting in shul (synagogue) together, doing the same thing, sharing the same way of life. We don’t have that in our families. Sometimes the boys will go to shul with me if they don’t have anything better to do, but Greg’s basically out of the picture. So is John. During the rest of the year it’s not so bad, but at holiday times it’s really difficult, and downright lonely. Don’t be hard on Barbara. She isn’t excluding you. Unfortunately, she’s including me—but not for a happy reason.”

I considered Rebecca’s words, and I took a step I started to feel compassionback. Instead of feeling hurt by Barbara, I shifted to feeling compassion for both Barbara and Rebecca. I realized that if I were in their shoes, I would feel lonely too. I would feel a deep disappointment that my husband and children didn’t share in something that was so meaningful to me. I decided that instead of judging them, I should try to be supportive. When I got home later that day, I called Barbara. I told her I just wanted to say a quick hello and wish her an easy fast.

“I can’t believe you called,” she said. “I was just thinking of you.”

Later, she e‑mailed me:

After you called me, I had a good cry. It meant to so much to me that you called. I feel like in the past you’ve been critical of me and my marriage to John, but I feel like now you are accepting me for who I am—a deeply committed Jew, who does fast on Yom Kippur, but somehow fell in love with a non-Jew and married him.

It’s a funny thing that both Rebecca and I married men who are so wonderful, but just don’t share our love of Judaism. We let them “do their own thing” and hoped they would come around. When we got married in our 20s, it just didn’t occur to either one of us that our husbands wouldn’t eventually come around, and we might be faced with the situation we’re in now—that we have children who are torn between parents who believe and practice differently. We just don’t have that all-for-one-and-one-for-all type of Jewish family we long for.

I felt like our friendship took a leap forward. Our friendship took a leap forwardI realized that Barbara hadn’t thrown Judaism away; she just didn’t consider the long-term view, that she could very well end up as she did. It’s not easy to look down the road, especially when you don’t want to see what might be coming.

Recently, my son had his bar mitzvah. Barbara couldn’t fly in for the event, but as I lit the candles the Friday night of the bar mitzvah, the phone rang. I heard the message from the answering machine: “Hey there, it’s me, Barb. Rats, I must have missed the Shabbat deadline. I gotta get more on the ball. Well, I just wanted to wish you a hearty mazal tov. Love you! Good Shabbat.”