Ahead of Their Time
Chuck and Jo were way ahead of the curve. They married in 1955. At that time, the Jewish-Gentile intermarriage rate was less than 6%.
Jo was from an involved and practicing Christian family. She knew Jewish people and their culture, but hadn’t envisioned marrying one. That is, until she met Chuck.
He was from a traditional Jewish family. His parents came from Russia and raised him in a religious home near Cleveland, Ohio. After serving with the U.S. Air Force during W.W.II, he and his family moved to California. When Chuck and Jo got married, they didn’t have very many models for how to be a Jewish-Gentile family.
Chuck was a man of strong convictions. They included an adamant commitment to his Jewish people and a faithful pledge to always be with Jo. She wasn’t going to convert to the Jewish religion because her convictions included faith in the Jewish Messiah, Jesus. Nevertheless, she wanted to honor Chuck’s family, heritage and people.
They both sought ways in which they could demonstrate appreciation for their individual and joint commitments. Every year, Chuck and Jo celebrated Passover in the home of his parents. Their children were raised with the traditions of the Jewish calendar. They had a minimal association with the synagogue, and Chuck’s eldest son made Bar Mitzvah.
At Christmas, they had a tree and a traditional American celebration. Only, in their case, the tree was adorned atop with a Star of David, and all the lights were blue and white as an accommodation to Chuck. Nevertheless, Jo insisted on telling the story of Jesus at Christmas time.
The five children grew and went their separate ways. The youngest, Judith, married and started her own family. They lived near Grandpa Chuck.
Judith and her Gentile husband, Patrick, along with their two children, all became followers of Messiah Jesus. When Jo died, Chuck put religion and spirituality on a “back burner.” However, he still had questions about eternity and life after death that were unanswered. Though widowed, Chuck was still devoted to Jo. So, conversations with his daughter, Judith, led him to wonder whether Jo could have been right in her spiritual assessment of the Messiah.
Chuck maintained that he and Jo would always be a “Jewish-Gentile” couple. He didn’t intend to give up his Jewish identity, but then Jo didn’t intend for him to give up his identity either when she believed in the Jewish Jesus. At the age of 87, Chuck investigated the gospel message and finally could see what Jo had tried to tell him all of those years they were together.
Research has found that spiritual harmony is one of the biggest challenges in a Jewish-Gentile marriage. However, it is never too late to find that harmony through faith in the Messiah of Israel. Chuck and Jo Munstein were intermarried ahead of their time, but they are now united in eternity through their mutual faith in the God of Israel’s redeemer.
Please let us know if we can help introduce you or a spouse to that mutual hope.