How do I find room for MY holidays with my Catholic in-laws?

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This topic has 3 voices, contains 3 replies, and was last updated by  Debbie B. 8 years ago.

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December 5, 2009 at 10:33 pm #4088


I’ve been married to a Catholic man for 2 years now.
After we married, I left my native Israel, said a tearful goodbye to friends and family, and moved to Chicago to live in his hometown. We are surrounded by his family and none of mine, and so, needless to say, I find myself celebrating all of their holidays while mine get glossed over.

It’s not that my husband is disrespectful, nor is his family.

They come over for the Passover Seders I prepare and they participate by reading the Haggadah and everything. But since we are on my husband’s turf, it’s like the Christian holidays take precedence. They are celebrated according to family traditions and are important to all, whereas my holidays are important only to me. I have no Jewish family or friends to celebrate with so I find myself relying on my in-laws’ willingness to “humor me” when my holidays come around.

Does anyone have any tips or advice on how I can solve this problem? It’s very difficult for me since I constantly feel my holidays are second best.

December 5, 2009 at 11:53 pm #4089

Debbie B.

I would not expect your Catholic relatives to be more involved than participating in a seder.

You should join a synagogue or other Jewish group and become a part of a Jewish community. We live in the Chicago area (Skokie) where our only nearby relatives are my Chinese cousin and her non-observant Jewish husband and their two kids who live about an hour away. Because of small family size and deaths, my husband has few relatives anyway, and my family is not Jewish since I am a convert, so we wouldn’t have many Jewish relatives living near us no matter where we lived. My cousin’s family comes to our house for a bit of Jewish exposure for their kids ( who are being brought up without any religion) such as for a Passover seder when the first couple of night fall on a weekend or my daughter’s bat mitzvah. However we are active members of two lay-led minyanim and thus have many invitations to Shabbat and holiday meals and have many friends to invite to our home when we host as well.

There are many synagogues and Jewish groups in Chicago. There are also many Israelis. If you contact me privately through this website I will ask my Israeli neighbors about contact information for the groups for Israelis in the Chicago area. And if you tell me which neighborhood of Chicago or which suburb you live in, as well as your denomination or level of observance, I would be happy to recommend appropriate synagogues.

December 7, 2009 at 11:24 pm #4094


Welcome to IFF. A former client of mine was in your boat for many years until her husband passed. She was Israeli and he was a non-Jewish American. What she did was invite all his family plus their friends and neighbors over for the different holiday celebrations. Everyone enjoyed themselves and learned a lot in the process. Furthermore it was not unusual for as many as 20+ to show up. 

December 8, 2009 at 1:29 am #4095

Debbie B.

Inviting non-Jews is only a partial solution because it gets tiring to always host and to have people who may enjoy learning, but cannot contribute and share in the same ways as other Jews. My husband and I  have often had non-Jewish friends and relatives over to celebrate Jewish holidays, but non-Jewish guests are interested in the sense of “cultural anthropology”, and although they may find connections to the meaning with their own faiths it is not quite the same as sharing the rituals with others who have a family history or deep spiritual connection with the rituals.

I think Inbalsp needs to share holidays with people for whom Jewish rituals are meaningful to them independent of their relation to her.

I’m not disagreeing with mattlax, but in some sense Inbalsp has already been doing what he suggests and it doesn’t satisfy her needs.

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