Being an Interfaith Family

Until Easter of this year, I never knew how many religious friends I had. Like every holiday, my personal facebook feed was flooded with pictures, happy holiday statuses, and plans for the day. I love that people share so much of their lives online like that. I loved seeing pictures of kids dressed up in their Easter best, hunting eggs and opening baskets.

But on Easter this year, there were a lot more religious statuses than I ever noticed before. I saw “He is Risen” everywhere. I’m all for people showing what they believe, but you won’t see any of those things from me.

Because I’m Jewish, and Chris is Catholic. Abbie is both. We’re an Interfaith family.

Beer Wedding

We had a Jewish wedding – Circling under the chuppah is a traditional part of the ceremony.

This confuses some people. People are generally used to categorizing your family in one religion, and we don’t fit that mold. We never will. I have no plans to convert, and neither does Chris. Abbie will learn about both our religions as she grows and will be free to choose what she believes once she’s old enough.

For me, this is normal – it’s actually the way I grew up as well.  My mom is Jewish, but when she married my dad, they chose to bring up my sisters and I with both their traditions.  In addition, my Nana lived with us for a while and had many visits from the Jehovah’s Witnesses (and my cousin now is one).  So I learned a lot of different things.

Lighting the Menorah

Lighting the menorah with Abbie last year

I learned to light the Hannukah candles in the winter.  I learned to love the movie It’s a Wonderful Life and collect Hallmark ornaments.  I learned about God.  I learned about Jesus.  I learned about the plagues and Passover.  I learned about Easter and Lent.  I learned about Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur and why we fast.  I read bible stories with my Nana.  I felt the ink on my grandfather’s arm from Auschwitz.  I learned to love kugel, bagels, lox, cream cheese, and matzoh balls.  I rolled and cut out Christmas cookies.

 

And one day, as if it had always been there, I knew what I believed.  I had the freedom of choice, and because of that I have a strong emotional connection to my faith.  I’m not sure I would have had I just grown up doing whatever my parents did.  Obviously, there’s no way I’ll ever know otherwise, but that’s a post for another day.

Abbie's Baptism

Abbie’s Baptism

So we’re an interfaith family.  It’s different, yes, but it works for us.  Chris has taken Abbie to church, and she was baptized about a month after she was born.  We celebrate Jewish traditions with her at home and with friends – Passover last week is just one example.  As she grows, she’ll learn why her family is different and special, and that no matter what she chooses when she’s an adult, we’ll love her just the same.

We just want her to be a good, kind person…and isn’t that the goal of it all?  It’s what we all want for our children – for them to grow up in a loving home, to have values and morals.  To be kind and to be there for others, and to be strong, independent people who think for themselves and make their own choices.  She’ll get that from both our religions, so I think she’s a pretty lucky girl.

Abbie Reading

If any of you have questions about this, I’m happy to answer.  I realize it’s a little unconventional to be an interfaith family (even though I grew up with it).  I’ll try my best to explain.  We’re not overly religious, but it is a part of our lives.  If you’re curious, a great resource for Interfaith Families is interfaithfamily.com.

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18 Comments

  1. April 29, 2014 / 8:45 am

    I love this!! You keep doing what you’re doing and that sweet girl will get the best of both worlds!

    • Jess
      April 29, 2014 / 4:19 pm

      Thank you! I hope so!

  2. April 29, 2014 / 10:41 am

    Mac is also the product of Catholic and Jewish parents. Apparently, these kids call themselves cashews. Really. And it’s an interesting split because Mac tends toward more Christian theology while his brother is more Jewish.
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    • Jess
      April 29, 2014 / 4:20 pm

      I’d never heard the “cashews” phrase. It’s definitely interesting that Mac and his brother lean different ways!

  3. April 29, 2014 / 12:40 pm

    I think that is so neat! I was raised Baptist (and I still am) but I’m very interested in Jewish traditions and holidays. We’ve even talked about celebrating Hannukah this year, because I love what it represents.
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    • Jess
      April 29, 2014 / 4:23 pm

      They are definitely interesting, and I’m glad Abbie gets to learn about them. Hannukah isn’t really a big holiday for us, but she’ll know to light the candles on the menorah and how to do it from an early age….I’m scouting to get her a toy version for this year!

  4. April 29, 2014 / 1:35 pm

    I think this is amazing and even better than a family of a single faith. Abbie is going to learn so much from both of you!
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    • Jess
      April 29, 2014 / 4:24 pm

      Thank you so much! I was worried about what people would think of this since I’ve gotten backlash in my real life since people don’t understand. Thanks for the support!

  5. April 29, 2014 / 4:17 pm

    This is so amazing. I love that you and your husband are both supportive of each other and what you believe and are teaching your daughter about both walks of faith.
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    • Jess
      April 29, 2014 / 4:25 pm

      We are trying! I hope it helps her learn about tolerance and that it’s ok to be different.

  6. April 29, 2014 / 4:28 pm

    We lean towards Buddhism, so yeah, I understand what you mean šŸ™‚ We’re definitely in the relgious minority and overly religious statuses make me uncomfortable. In Austin, a lot of people are like us, which is nice. We were visiting my husband’s hometown about 6 months ago and someone who vaguely knew him from elementary school was encouraging me to join some mommy and me church group so that I could get my Christian on, and make mommy friends (clearly I’m paraphrasing). It was super awkward since I’ve never identified myself as a Christian. I really wish people wouldn’t make assumptions on religion.
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    • Jess
      April 30, 2014 / 9:26 am

      I’m glad I’m not the only one that gets uncomfortable with the super-religious statuses. I just try not to say anything because I don’t want to offend…but it’s a little weird to me.

      That church thing would be super-awkward. People do tend to assume others are Christian just because it’s so dominant…but they forget there are people like us!

  7. April 29, 2014 / 5:35 pm

    LOVE THIS! I love reading about interfaith families and they ways they incorporate and respect both religious traditions. Thanks for sharing and I look forward to reading more about your family! šŸ™‚
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    • Jess
      April 30, 2014 / 9:28 am

      So glad you enjoyed it! I’m going to try to incorporate more of this going forward.

  8. April 29, 2014 / 6:40 pm

    I know someone from my high school who also raises their children in a Jewish and catholic family. I think it’s great if a family can make it work than why not!

    • Jess
      April 30, 2014 / 9:28 am

      That’s how we feel! I don’t think the values conflict, so why not give her both?

  9. May 6, 2014 / 9:35 am

    I like this! My mom was raised in an interfaith family (dad was Jewish and mom was Christian), and I was kinda raised in an interfaith family (dad is catholic and mom is more towards the protestant end of Christianity). When my parents got married they had both faiths present, which I always thought was really cool.
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