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Dear Dr. Paula: How Do I Mourn as a Jew-by-Choice? was pleased to offer "Dear Dr. Paula," written by Dr. Paula Brody, the nationally prominent specialist on interfaith family issues. Dr. Brody's monthly advice column responded to email letters submitted by our readers.

Dear Dr. Paula,

I am a single woman who became Jewish many years ago. Last month, my mother died. After her Catholic funeral in the church of my childhood, I began for the first time using the Jewish ritual of saying Kaddish (prayer extolling God that is traditionally recited by mourners) to find comfort. My friends and my synagogue community have surrounded me with their support, which has been very touching. Yet, I am finding it incredibly difficult to find a meaningful way to mourn for my mother because I am using a ritual, a language, a place, and a religious tradition that separates me from my siblings and father, who are mourning my mother's loss in our Catholic church. This is the first time I have felt very lonely in my otherwise wonderfully fulfilling Jewish life. Can you help me?


Derived from the Greek word for "assembly," a Jewish house of prayer. Synagogue refers to both the room where prayer services are held and the building where it occurs. In Yiddish, "shul." Reform synagogues are often called "temple." Hebrew for "holy," a prayer found in Jewish prayer services. There are many versions of the Kaddish, the best known being the Mourner's Kaddish, said by mourners.
Dr. Paula Brody

Dr. Paula Brody, Ed.D., LICSW, is director of Outreach Programs and Training for the Northeast Council of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations (the Reform movement), where she develops and coordinates a wide range of programs and services to welcome interfaith families into Reform congregations.

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