By Sara Gibbs (All images are from the author’s Jew-ish wedding)
I always assumed I would marry a Jewish man. Even though I wasn’t religious, I grew up with a strong sense of culture and belonging. My father was Israeli, my mother, a Habonim alum from north London. While other families celebrated Christmas, I looked forward to feasting on doughnuts, spinning dreidels and eight days of presents (this bears repeating – eight days of presents – what you got on that, Santa?). My September birthday was frequently, and notably, ruined by coinciding with Yom Kippur, and then magically repaired with the breaking of the fast (what better way to break a fast than with birthday cake?). I loved helping to build the sukkah, failing to blow the shofar, searching for the afikoman. I loved my friends at cheder, I loved the songs, and the rituals and the togetherness – the unique warmth of a Jewish family.
I was going to marry a Jewish man, because I wanted a Jewish home. I wanted to have Jewish babies and raise them in a house full of the music of my culture, the foods, the beautiful bickering – anything else was unthinkable.
Love chooses you
The thing about love, though, is that you don’t choose it – it chooses you. At university, I met a Jewish man, a fellow vegetarian and bohemian type, who, on paper, was perfect (and who, to this day, remains one of my closest and most important friends). But for all his convenient Jewishness, true love didn’t choose us.
We parted ways and I moved to London, where, in my very first job, I met an initially very surly IT manager, who was raised at an international school in Saudi Arabia. He was grouchy and didn’t seem to like me at all. And, in return, I didn’t like him one bit (that’ll teach him). But over much political debate, and him coming to the rescue when I managed to kill my poor, overworked laptop, this incredibly kind, startlingly intelligent, warm-hearted man was revealed to me. All grouchiness subsided – I’d read him all wrong. I had accidentally discovered a diamond – one of the last good ones. A man who would cook and clean and support my dreams with unconditional love and unfathomable patience. He wasn’t Jewish – but it didn’t matter. I was in love.