Introducing Lisa

Greetings interfaith families!

As a Catholic who converted to Judaism three and a half years ago, I thought at first that my family and I had put the “interfaith” part of our religious life behind us. I was raised in an interfaith family—my mother was Catholic and my father at turns Baptist and Methodist—and let’s just say that religion was hotly debated in my childhood home.

My Jewish husband and I are raising our three children—ages 16, 11, and 7—as Jews. I’ve memorized the prayers and figured out how to make latkes. We’re active participants in our interfaith synagogue. I faithfully sat in on my older daughter’s Hebrew lessons and watched with tears in my eyes as she recited her portion at her bat mitzvah. In fact, her bat mitzvah was what finally spurred me to convert. Religious identity, complete at last.

But I’m learning that in reality we will always be interfaith. When my mother died a few months ago after a brief, heartbreaking struggle with cancer, I found myself thrust back decades. Memories of my mother and I attending Mass, going to confession, and saying the rosary together came flooding back. It turns out the language of my grief right now isn’t Jewish—the prayers that pour out of me are Hail Marys and Psalm 23. I tried to say Kaddish to myself in her final moments, but couldn’t remember the words. Our family and friends, Jews and Christians alike, came to my mother’s funeral in a beautiful, old Catholic church on a chilly spring day. My youngest asked what the kneeling pads were for, which came as a weird shock to me. I’m trying to take comfort now in the fact that, as my husband pointed out, my mother is remembered in (at least) three faiths.

Introducing Susanna

HI!  Welcome to the Interfaith Parenting blog.  Since we are starting with introductions, I will take a moment to introduce myself and my brood.  I am the non-Jewish partner in an interfaith family.  When my husband and I got married, we were told:  It will never last, you will get divorced, it is doomed, interfaith marriages never work out, don’t get married unless you convert.  Having just celebrated our 15th wedding anniversary, I want to say pppbbbttt to all the nay-sayers!  We are still going strong and I would be very surprised if we divorced because he is Jewish and I am not.

I am still not Jewish.  I really don’t plan to become Jewish.  It isn’t part of what I want to do for me.  It isn’t part of my reality.  That does not mean that I don’t drive the kids to Religious School every week, make challah for Shabbat, take them to temple… alone, and do what a “real” Jewish mother would do.  My relationship with G-d is mine, and it isn’t Jewish.

We have three wonderful, Jewish children, two boys (11 and 8) and a girl (5, almost 6 (she wanted me to say that)).  They are more than Jewish, but living in what seems to be the epicenter of Christianity, I find that describing them as Jewish happens more often than not.  Oh the looks I get when I tell people that our babysitter is going to Israel for a semester and wants to be a rabbi

As a family we struggle to educate people that Christmas is a Christian holiday, that Santa Claus does not go to shul and that Easter is not for everyone.  One of my biggest surprises was going into my son’s kindergarten class and asking how many of them had heard of Hanukkah.  It was shocking how many really didn’t know anything about it.  Our challenge is to teach people about tolerance, and we believe that education is the route to that.

We are also embarking on many life cycle events: our oldest started middle school and is preparing for a bar mitzvah, our middle son is starting Hebrew school on Wednesdays, and our baby is going to kindergarten.  We are experiencing a great deal of change.  How that impacts our family and our sense of who we are, well, I guess you will have to keep reading to find out. 

Hope you take some time to put us in your RSS reader and keep coming back.  It is a great group of bloggers.

Furniture and Other Attachments

“You don’t need one. It becomes useless very quickly,” my friend tells me. But I still want one.

We’re debating the utility of that nearly ubiquitous piece of baby room equipment called the changing table. No more than a couple of pieces of balsa wood with a flat surface on top for re-diapering a baby and a shelf below, I’ll admit it doesn’t have much to offer in the way of aesthetics. And yet, months after our conversation, paging through an Ikea catalogue, I stop dead at the sight of one and with a whispered reverence say to myself, “ahhh, it’s a changing table.” My eyes linger over it for a long moment and I nearly choke up.

I’m aware that there’s something deeply psychological about my attachment to this particular item of furniture. I suspect it’s the name – “changing” table. The arrival of my child has been so long anticipated that it’s painful to even think of it at times. First, I waited to get married. Second, I waited because I didn’t think I could raise a child on my own. Then I waited some more, overwhelmed by the choices in adoption (private, foster, international?). And now, I wait for “referral,” that lodestone of adoption-speak, meaning finally, finally, I have been matched with a baby.

And I wait for all the surfaces in my life to become “changing” tables – spaces transformed by the presence of a child –the dining table to become the family dinner table, floors to become play areas, and my ordinary rocking chair to become the point of departure for “Goodnight, Moon” and “If You Give a Mouse a Cookie.” Like most perspective adoptive parents, I’m working on my Master’s degree in waiting… waiting for change.

This blog is about a single Jewish woman hoping for motherhood. The journey so far has been unpredictable, filled with both promise and tears. I hope you’ll climb up onto the changing table with me as I wait for the simcha [joy] of a new son or daughter.

Introducing Cassie

Hello readers and fellow parenting bloggers!  I am excited to begin sharing our story with you and learning a lot more along the way.

First, a little about me:  I am an Evangelical Christian woman married to my wonderful Jewish husband for nearly 3 years.  Our interfaith journey together has stretched nearly a decade and has even brought us to live in Israel for a year!  Being pregnant in a foreign country has been quite the adventure in itself.  Did you know your pregnant belly is public property in Israel?  It has taken some getting used to random strangers rubbing my belly and exclaiming a hearty “B’sha’a tova” [in good time] or “Mazel tov” [congratulations], but I can’t say I haven’t enjoyed the attention.

Although I have no plans to convert and am very strong in my faith, I am very committed to my raising my piece of the Jewish family.  I am actually a parent-in-training as I am due with our first child in January of next year.  We can’t wait to meet our little boy and begin this new chapter of our lives together.

I hope you enjoy reading my blog posts and of course I always welcome advice, comments and questions.  Until next time, I’m off to pack for our second international move back home to Atlanta…while 6 months pregnant!

Introducing Hannah

Shalom!

I am another one of the fab parenting bloggers.  I am actually a parent in waiting… due in 3 days!  (Will baby be on time? That’s a different story.)

I am Jewish and grew up mostly culturally Jewish.  We had three sets of dishes in the house, milk, meat and treif.  We went to my grandparents’ for Shabbos (by car) and the synagogue was reserved for High Holidays. 

My husband is not Jewish.  He grew up… well, kind of non-denominational.  Technically Catholic, his parents forced Sunday school on him in his early years but then they weren’t committed to any religion. 

After much research and discussion, my husband and I have decided to raise our little guy as a Jew.  Add to this journey, that I have been growing more observant, in that I have been actually keeping Shabbat (no driving, no electricity).  My husband has agreed to follow suit once the little one is here (to avoid confusion).

How will this all work out?  Don’t know.  But I do have a lot of questions! 

P.S.  You can read some of my articles describing my spiritual journey on InterfaithFamily.com

Introducing Julie

Well, hello! I wanted to take a couple quick minutes to introduce myself as one of the Parenting bloggers. First, I suppose, I should cover the basics. I’m a non-Jew (Christian, United Methodist) married to a Jewish man (Bryan). We actually blogged here together on the Weddings blog a few years ago. We have three boys; for now I’ll call them Bubba, Bear, and Baby. (English major nerd alert; I like alliteration.)

Here’s where it gets complicated… Baby is Jewish, Bubba and Bear are not. How is this, you ask? Well, Bubba and Bear are my stepsons. (Believe me, I’d love to claim them fully as my own because they are truly that wonderful!) Their mother is not Jewish, and she and Bryan decided that they would expose the boys to both religions and let them decide when they were old enough. How we came to the decision (okay, really, how I came to the decision, and yes, it really was my decision) for Baby to be Jewish really could be a post by itself; in fact, I think it will be!

To make our lives even more fun, we have a large extended family. My side is Christian: United Methodist and Catholic. Bryan’s parents are divorced and both remarried. His dad’s side is Jewish (his step-mom converted from United Methodist before she and my FIL married). His mom converted to Judaism before marrying my FIL, but was then re-baptized before she married Bryan’s step-dad. Did you follow all that? And that’s the “simplified” version.

So, you can see I have LOTS of interfaith learning experiences coming my way. In fact, I imagine I’ll gain more wisdom from my Parenting co-bloggers (is that a word?) and our readers than I impart. I hope to at least make it an even trade. So, with that, what’s on your mind?

Our New Parenting Blog!

Coming soon to this very corner of the world wide web, InterfaithFamily.com’s third blog!

You’ve seen our Network blog, with posts by IFF’s staff about policy, news, advocacy, holidays and more.

You’ve seen our Weddings blog, The Hitch, authored by a couple preparing for their interfaith wedding.

Now, we’re excited to add our newest, the Parenting blog. This group blog will be handed over to parents who are intermarried. They’ll be writing about…
[list][o]the challenges of raising kids Jewishly when extended family members are also of different religions;
[o]creative solutions to teaching Judaism in your homes;
[o]how you answer your kids’ questions about Judaism and other religions;
[o]amusing anecdotes;
[o]food, eating and recipes;
[o]holidays, celebrations, life-cycle events and milestones;
[o]questions posed to the other bloggers and to you, our readers;
[o]and more![/list]

Stay tuned for the first posts, coming soon!