My Jewish Identity as a Mother: Striking a Balance Between Interfaith Families

If you had told the 13-year-old me that one day I was going to convert to Judaism and raise my child Jewish, I wouldn’t have believed you. I grew up in a small town in Indiana, going to Catholic school until the first grade then public school until I graduated high school. I don’t recall meeting a Jewish person until I went to college at Indiana University. Though I loved my hometown growing up, it was your typical small town, so it was important to my parents that my sisters and I keep an open mind and an open heart about all peoples and religions. No one is better than the other and we are all equal. I think those lessons helped me to embrace Judaism as an adult, and sharing those lessons with my son now is extremely important to me.

My conversion story in a nutshell

I converted to Judaism in April 2014 after my then-boyfriend proposed to me. It prompted people to ask if I converted just to get married, but I didn’t. Yes, the timing of it all helped people make that assumption. But I didn’t convert because I was getting married. I didn’t convert to upset my parents, who are Catholic and attend mass regularly. I didn’t convert to please my in-laws, who welcomed me with open arms. I converted because of a feeling I had when I first went to Shabbat services at our synagogue. The music and atmosphere gave me a gut feeling that kept me coming back when taking Judaism classes. A few years later, that feeling led to me converting.

Years later, I can’t wait to pass that feeling on to our son. My husband and I both enjoy our involvement at our synagogue. With that involvement though, and the fact that our son will grow up going to temple and not mass, we are more cognizant than ever of keeping the balance between our interfaith families.  

Finding a happy balance

I have mentioned this in previous posts, but we are lucky that both sets of grandparents live in Indianapolis. This is MAJOR in helping strike a balance between interfaith families. We make a conscious effort to see both sides regularly, sometimes weekly. When we ask for babysitting help, we make sure to ask one set before the other, if we know they didn’t get to watch our son last time. Our son is growing wonderful relationships with them all, and it’s a lot of fun to watch. We make sure each set gets equal quality time. Dear grandparents, if you are reading this, yes, this me buttering you up to accept more babysitting in the future.

Another point in our favor is they all get along REALLY well. They are both respectful of each other, they welcome each other into their homes and we all celebrate my son’s major life events as one group. My mom is always thrilled that she doesn’t have to share us with another family for Christmas, and we now hold an annual Christmukkah party at our house. My side of the family joins in for Passover seder every year. So far, it just works out. 

This is a work in progress, but we are all willing to make it work and that’s all that matters. 

interfaith families

Christmukkah 2014 – with my mother (left) and mother-in-law (right).

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One Response to My Jewish Identity as a Mother: Striking a Balance Between Interfaith Families

  1. Miriam July 10, 2018 at 7:56 pm #

    You have a wonderful way to express yourself on your motherhood journey.
    I really enjoyed reading it. I feel blessed to have you as my DIL!

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