Archived Story

Progress: A marriage of 2 religions

Published 3:01pm Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Taryn Israel-Nechanicky and her husband, Mark Nechanicky, come from two different religious backgrounds but incorporate both into their marriage.

Israel-Nechanicky practices Judaism, and Mark practices Christianity.

Israel-Nechanicky grew up in a diverse metro area so it wasn’t uncommon for several religions to be practiced. When the Michigan-native moved away to college and started her first teaching job she became a minority at a mostly white Christian school.

On their first date, their religions came up in conversation. The fact that Israel-Nechanicky was Jewish didn’t really bother Mark, who grew up in Albert Lea.

“He’s just the kind of person that likes to learn about new things,” she said.

When he was in college, Mark toured Eastern Europe and had visited two concentration camps, so he already had knowledge about some Jewish history when they met.

“We found that we have very similar values as far as how our families raised us even though we have different religion,” Israel-Nechanicky said.

Before getting married, the couple took an inter-cultural class. They learned that all marriages are inter-cultural in some way because there are two different family cultures coming together.

Because they each valued their own religious background, they decided they could make it work and would raise their daughter, Anais, now 2, knowing where they both come from.

“Religion is not a huge issue yet,” Israel-Nechanicky said. “For a two and a half year old, to them everything is sacred.”

The family mostly attends a local Methodist church, but when they have the chance, they go to a synagogue in Rochester.

Israel-Nechanicky said she is very fortunate because both of their families have been accepting from the beginning.

“There’s bigger issues than dogma that both our families are interested in,” Israel-Nechanicky said. “We’re looking at the person. Truly we are all one and truly we have very similar values about love and peace and all the universal things that transcend religion.”

Israel-Nechanicky said that when she is at the Methodist church she feels welcome and can have a spiritual experience because it isn’t building specific, but she misses being able to attend a synagogue more often.

She said there hasn’t been any problems with each practicing their own religion.

“We’re open to each other’s different traditions,” Israel-Nechanicky said. “We don’t have the belief that there is only one right way to do things or there is only one path to God. Our openness and respect of each other’s traditions and heritage has made it work for us.”

While the Nechanickys support each other by going to both religious places, they don’t consider themselves both Methodist and Jewish. They each respectfully opt out during parts of the services that would require them to state they have a certain belief. Israel-Nechanicky said in history there has been so much pressure to convert Jewish people to be whatever the majority religion is that she is weary of assimilating too much.

The Methodist church and the synagogue are aware there are inter-religious couples and they work to make the other partner feel welcome. At the synagogue the Nechanickys attend, a Christian prayer is said during holidays because they know it’s important to educate and not exclude the partners. At the Methodist church, Israel-Nechanicky has become the first Jewish bell ringer and has taken the confirmation classes to the synagogue as a learning experience.

She said it is good to learn about other religions especially since Christianity and Judaism have a history together. They share the Old Testament, and just because one learns doesn’t mean they have to practice or believe in it.