Downton Abbey Portrays Reality of Interfaith RelationshipsBy Gerri Miller
Go inside Season 5 Episode 9 where the story line of Atticus and Rose's interfaith relationship comes to a head.Go To Pop Culture
"I'm not 'Chrewish', I'm Jewish!" I exclaimed. My dad is a Jew and my mom is an Episcopalian. Even though my family is Interfaith, I am not "Chrewish." I go to a private school in Massachusetts where not very many of my classmates are Jewish. They are "Chrewish." "Chrewish" means half-Christian and half-Jewish. The few Jewish kids in my grade are secular Jews. Some claim to belong to two religions. One boy says he is both an atheist and a Jew. Another girl is a strict Orthodox Roman Catholic, but says she is also Jewish. Someone else says he is Jewish, but has never been to a synagogue all his life. I am the only kid in my grade who has been attending religious school for the past several years. My Bar Mitzvah is in November and I am currently working on the portion, Noach. I am Jewish.
Before I was born my parents agreed that I would be raised as a Jew. My mom and dad felt strongly that there is one God and that it is important for a family to have one religious identity. When my mom's mother died, my mom was very sad and felt the desire to have some of her family's culture within our home. The older I get, the more my "Christian side" is slowly fading away. For a few years when I was little, my family used to get a Christmas tree. Now all we do is hang up stockings and enjoy Christmas music. On Easter Sunday my brother and I used to search on top of cabinets and on windowsills for chocolate bunnies and jelly beans. Last Easter my parents vacationed in Las Vegas and my brother and I slept over at my Jewish grandma's house. Even though my family is not celebrating Christian holidays and traditions, my mom has always had a strong influence on me.
I remember one Friday evening when my family went to our synagogue. My family always attends services together. During the middle of the service my mom started crying. I did not understand why. My brother looked confused and whispered to my dad, "Why is Mom crying?" My dad answered, "It's hard for her." What type of an answer is that, I thought. My mom's lament kept up and my dad finally decided that we must leave the service. When we got to our car in the parking lot, my mom seemed hysterical. "I'm sorry. You should have stayed. It's just that ... " my mom managed between breaths. My mom spoke with sadness as if she was trying to say, "I'm sorry." My brother and I stared, not knowing what to do or say to a weeping adult. My dad tried to comfort my mom by saying, "It's all right" and "Everything is fine." I talked to my mom after the incident and she said that she cried because all the Jewish traditions that were taking place at the service were very alien to her and she had very mixed emotions.
I always feel sorry for my mom because she is not a Jew. At holidays such as Rosh Hashanah and Hanukkah she has a hard time pronouncing Jewish names. My mom is the only person on my dad's side of the family who is not Jewish through birth or conversion to Judaism. Because my brother and I are Jewish, my mom is becoming less Christian. For example, she never goes to church. My mom grew up in an Episcopalian family that went to church every Sunday. Since my mom's family is in California and we live in Massachusetts, we do not see them very often. When my Christian grandparents were alive, we celebrated many holidays with them in California. I love my Christian relatives and am looking forward to seeing them this summer.
"I'm not 'Chrewish', I'm Jewish!" I repeated. My dad is a Jew and my mom is an Episcopalian. Even though there are two religious backgrounds in my family, I am being raised as a Jew. This is a choice that my parents made with love for my brother and myself and our family. I am proud to be a Jew. I am Jewish.