Devotional Diary: The Chosen People- Judaism

Oh friends, we are in for a treat today!!  My dear friend Dana from Kiss My List is sharing her faith!  I think you will find her perspective fascinating, as I did.  I admire her journey through thoughtful intention and commitment to what she believes.  I have learned so much about Judaism through her testimony.  Come share in her faith story and remember you too, are welcome to be in this series through sharing your own faith!  I would be honored to have you.

Devotional Diary The Chosen Ones I am the child of a Catholic father and a Jewish mother. When people asked me my religion when I was growing up, I said that I was both. My parents’ plan was to expose my sister and me to both religions, and to let us choose when we were older.

While well-meaning, it was a faulty plan. Our only religious exposure was a few years of Jewish Sunday school. Both of my parents are only children, and my paternal grandparents passed away before I was born. The only extended family I had were my maternal grandparents, and it is from them and my mother that my Jewish cultural roots were planted.  My religious roots came later, although according to traditional Jewish law, I am a Jew because I was born to a Jewish mother.

I attended a Catholic college, and ironically it was there that I truly became Jewish. I was surrounded by Christians, as I had been all my life, yet at college Catholicism was an integral part of the community. I studied in a quiet dorm while my roommates went to weekly Mass. I took the required Religion class and studied the books of the New Testament. I even joined the hand bell choir that performed at special Masses. While all of these experiences made me feel a bit isolated, they also served to strengthen my own beliefs. I learned about Christianity with curiosity and interest, yet I did not waiver in my own faith. Instead, I became more certain that Judaism was where I belonged.

When my husband and I were engaged, we discussed religion in depth. He was raised Catholic, and he proposed the same thing that my parents advocated years ago. Expose our children to both religions, he said.

I stood my ground. I wanted our children to be raised in one faith that was supported if not practiced by both parents. We decided on Judaism, knowing that I was to be fully responsible for our children’s religious education.

When I was pregnant with our first child, I had the conversation I had been dreading. I sat down with my father and told him that Matt and I were raising our children in the Jewish faith. I felt like I was choosing one parent over the other; I felt like I was letting him down. To his credit, my father was gracious and accepting of my decision. My in-laws were as well.  I know it is not easy for the three grandparents to watch their grandchildren be raised in a faith that is foreign to them, yet they have always been supportive and nonjudgmental. I like to think that they would rather have their grandchildren be raised with a different faith than with none.

And so it has been. Our children have firm roots in their faith, and they know that both of their parents stand behind them. By honoring my commitment to raise them Jewish, my own religious roots have grown alongside my children’s. They have far surpassed me in their knowledge of Hebrew, and my heart swells when I listen to them participate in services to an extent that I never have. 

While our Siddur (prayer book) refers to Jews as God’s chosen people, that can be interpreted many ways. My own interpretation is that all people are chosen by God. This blog is one of the few I read with a religious slant, because I am saddened and frustrated when the writer posits that one can only be saved only by knowing Jesus. Yes, Christians believe that Jesus is God, and Jews do not. Our God is One, and not of the Trinity, yet I believe the same God is the center of both faiths. The God I believe in would not turn away a person for believing in a different iteration of God – whether that is Jesus, Allah, or God by any other name – or even for believing in no God at all.

So what does being a Jew mean to me? Judaism is more than a religion: it is a culture rich with tradition. There is no dogma, and little discussion of an afterlife or other abstract beliefs. It is not a religion of absolutes. It asserts that there is one God, and that we are created in God’s image. The Torah is our holy text – for Christians this is the first five books of the Old Testament. It is written in Hebrew, and contains the ten commandments, as well as 613 mitzvot (commandments). As a Reformed Jew, I view the Torah as a living document inspired by God, but believe that Judaism must change and adapt to the needs of present day. 

At its essence, Judaism is concerned with the well-being of humanity. The focus is on our actions and our relationships – between the individual and God, between God and the Jewish people, between the Jewish people and Israel, and between one another. Reformed Judaism is committed to Tikkun olam – repairing the world. This is a hallmark of our faith, and I strongly identify with the commitment to social justice.
Organized religion is our way of making sense of the world and our part in it. It should provide comfort and unite us, not divide us. Some people embrace the structure and teachings, and some do not. It is a personal journey for each of us. My own journey has brought me to a place where I am sure of my beliefs, and I want to instill that confidence in my children. I want them to find strength in their faith as they grow into compassionate and moral adults. Isn’t that what we should all strive for?

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  1. says

    Dana-So glad to see you hanging out with Chris today! I have been reading up on different faiths lately because I’m fascinated in how they differ from Christianity. My husband works with many people from all over the world, and I’m learning things every day about how people believe differently.

    It’s so wonderful that you and your children are so passionate about and embrace your faith! I love hearing this story of how you came to become Jewish-at a Catholic school no less. Thank you for sharing your story. 😀

    • says

      It is fascinating to learn about different faiths; the theology class I took in college was one of my favorites. Thank you for reading, Sarah!

  2. says

    Dana, said this quite perfectly and eloquently, too. Seriously that last line is what we all strive for our own children (at least I know I do). I am Catholic and was raised as such, but to me the choice of religion should be left up to the individual and what they too were raised to believe. I have never questioned my own faith and therefore don’t believe anyone should either. Loved hearing about Dana’s religious awaking here and how it led her to raise her child in her own faith in Judaism, because it truly gave me a better insight to my friend Dana and for that I am grateful!! 🙂

  3. says

    Dana, I’m so glad you took up Chris’s offer and wrote about your faith. It’s lovely to see how strong it is within you, and how deeply you care about keeping it, and passing it on to your children.

    I’m sorry that you’re saddened by Christian assertions about Jesus. It’s something I’ve always struggled with, because from my understanding, He was the fulfilment of the promises made to the Jews, and yet, I have SUCH trouble believing that having made those strong covenants with the Jewish people, God would ever turn His back on those who keep the Jewish faith.

    In the end I must have faith that He is a God of love for ALL, and that He will judge according to His wisdom, which is far, far, far greater than my understanding, and that He’ll do the right thing.

    I’m really glad that your husband and extended family have been supportive of your raising your kids in the Jewish faith. It’s always a tricky one, particularly (I think) for Catholics and people of other traditions, because the RCC seems to put a lot of pressure on conversion and keeping everything Catholic. I was a little worried when Husby and I got together, but his faith in the RCC was pretty jaded by then, so it’s never been an issue.

    Thank you so, so much for your candour. I really hugely enjoyed learning this about you 🙂 You awesomerock.

    (And Chris, thanks so much for hosting these devotionals – I’m really loving them)

    • says


      I’m curious about your husband’s thoughts on the new pope. I know very few Catholics and wish I could pump more for info. I find him very impressive in how he’s willing to challenge the established system. And I think most of his values are in the right place. Have you guys talked about this?

  4. says

    I love, love, love that you’re here today. And like you, I find Chris’ blog (among many of the blogs I read by Christian authors) to be open-hearted and open-minded.
    I had a slightly different background than you growing up, and my kids do too – but I like that you stood your ground to raise them with one faith.
    We haven’t done that within my family and I worry that it will confuse them as they get older. Jewish and Christian, but with little talk about God and temple/church. Ultimately I am confident, not in exactly what I believe, but that I do believe in something. Including myself and my family and kindness, and maybe a bit of magic. I hope my kids get that, in the least.
    I really loved reading this. Makes me curious as to how it will go in my family.

    • says

      I thought that you more than most would get this post, Tamara. Your kids will get it; you are raising them to be good people. You just have to do what feels right to you and your family. If your kids are confused, they will ask questions. You will answer and have conversations with them. You’ll write your story as it unfolds.

  5. says

    Dana – Thank you so much for sharing your story. I love to hear about other people’s faith and beliefs because it helps me figure out / solidify my own. I was raised Catholic but I don’t really identify with Catholicism anymore and haven’t in quite some time. I consider myself Christian, but I think I’m still on a journey with my faith. I suppose we all are in some sense.

    • says

      I agree, Jennifer. I think we are forever on a faith journey; some of ours have more twists and turns than others, but we all have them.

  6. says

    Thank you for sharing this today. I am honored to be born and raised Jewish, and I completely agree with your assessment of the values of Judaism. I, too, believe there is One God and that He does not turn His back on people who have not found Him or have given Him another name. I believe Judaism is a religion founded on the sanctity of humanity; a people created by God in His image.

    I was once asked by a very caring Baptist if I had “found the Lord” and I replied “of course I have! I’m Jewish” and he was astounded!

    I would love to read more of your interesting thoughts. May th God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob bless you!

  7. says

    What a beautiful post, Dana. It seems as if we look for reasons to be separated from each other, when we really all belong together and in fact, need each other on our life journeys. Where would we be without the richness of faith?

    • says

      Jennifer, you are right – we do seem to look for reasons to divide instead of unite. Why is that? I hate to think that it’s human nature. Thanks for reading!

  8. says

    Dana – I love how you have laid out the philosophical foundation of reformed Judaism in a simplified manner. I was raised Jewish – my plan with my Catholic husband was for our children to be Jewish yet at some point, I became disengaged and unaffiliated. While culturally, my kids and I all identify with being “Jewish,” they have no formal education in the synagogue.

    While I love the texts, I feel disheartened by how the texts are interpreted and how organized religion is often used as a mechanism to divide people versus help them make sense of the world. I know that while the ideals are perfect, people are not.

    You seem so well grounded in your beliefs and I admire you commitment to them. If we were neighbors, I have a feeling I’d have a little more motivation to get to Friday night services.
    Lovely, lovely post.

    • says

      I would love to be your neighbor, Ilene – I feel distanced from my fellow congregants because we live 25 minutes from our temple, and not near many practicing Jews.

      You make an excellent point about texts being used as a mechanism to divide people. It saddens me when religion is used that way – so far from what was intended.

      I feel like one of the beautiful things about Judaism is that you can culturally identify yourself as a Jew even if you don’t have a formal education in your faith. It is such a rich culture with a long history, and any exposure is an enrichment in your children’s lives.

  9. says

    Dana- I loved reading this post and learning about your faith and commitment. I struggled with religion all my life. Both my parents are Muslim and I married a Catholic. I went to Catholic schools. Before I married in the church, I had to convert so I did. It didn’t matter to me. I just wanted to be accepted by his family. They liked me better now that i was like them. I still didn’t feel right. There was something missing..I chose to go back to my religion which upset his family and caused so many problems to this day. My children witnessed all the fighting about religion and that left a bitter taste. To me, in some cases and especially where I come from religions split people apart and that was the case in my home also..I chose to raise my kids as loving people no matter what color or religion. They turned out beautiful. I will support them whether they go to the church, mosque or temple.
    I admire your determination and faith. I also love reading Christine’s devotionals. They keep me going and give me courage. Love you all! Keep these beautiful posts coming.

    • says

      Manal, you have had quite the journey – I hope returning to your faith as brought you some peace. I feel like you do; I want to raise my children to be loving people regardless of religion. I know that’s what my parents and my in-laws wanted as well, and I think that’s one of the reasons they have been so supportive to my husband and me. I hope you’ll consider sharing here too!

  10. says

    Love that you shared this here Dana! I have shared with you before about the unique relationship between my Presbyterian congregation and the Jewish community of faith across the street. It is truly a special friendship we have a we have learned so much from each other. I love your explanation of Judaism and I love that you are so grounded in your beliefs. And, that last sentence – that is mod definitely what we should all strive for.

    • says

      I do remember, Lisa – there should be more mingling of different faith congregations – it would make for a more tolerant world. I’m saddened by people who feel that learning about other faiths undermines their own. I think it strengthens it.

  11. says

    beautiful perspective on faith, love, God.

    If we could unite in this way, & just love one another— the world could be abundantly better, peaceful, and perhaps, without war.

    I am a Christian. I love Jesus…

    …but I have friends who are Buddhist, Jewish, Catholic…etc.

    We respect & love one another.


  12. says

    Wow, Dana, this is really beautiful. I really enjoyed reading this and hearing your perspective and learning something new. Thank you! Makes me want to meet you in person even more now! Thanks Chris, for being so open to different views.

    • says

      Kate – I replied in the wrong spot for your comment, so here I am commenting in the right spot so you get the email notification and can come back and read my original reply. That is if you haven’t completely lost interest by now!

  13. says

    I loved reading this, Dana!!!
    We want to make sure that our boys are exposed to a variety of religions and cultures. I love the fact that you said that all people are chosen!!!
    One of the best experiences we have had was going to a Bat Mitzpah (sp?) for a friend – it was incredible!

    • says

      Bat Mitzvah 🙂 I think everyone should go to one – it is amazing how hard the child works to get to that day! That photo at the top of the post is actually my daughter (her hand) at her Bat Mitzvah, and our son will become a Bar Mitzvah in August.

  14. says

    Thank you so much, Kate – your comment means a lot to me. I’m so glad you learned something new. I love sharing information about Judaism with people who would like to learn about a different faith.

  15. says

    I absolutely love your last paragraph Dana. I have a very close friend who was raised by a Christian father and Jewish mother. She also chose the Jewish faith. It was really, really difficult for me to understand how, when taught about Jesus she could choose to not believe in him, but her values and outlook on life helped me to see that she valued all the same core values that Jesus taught. Taking care of people, loving your neighbors, following the 10 commandments, etc. Her religious views have had an enormous impact on me, and while I am still a Christian, I believe fully that God loves us all and good people are good people regardless of what their doctrine is.
    I, like Ilene, find it very discouraging when i see organized religion being used as a tool to divide people.
    Thank you for sharing your views and beliefs, and thank you Chris for having her do so!

    • says

      I’m sure it was difficult to understand your friend’s decision, particularly because you were raised in one faith. While having a choice was difficult for me, it also made me responsible for my decision and committed to it. And yes – good people are good people. Thank you for reading, Alexa.

  16. says

    Love it when two fabulous bloggers team up! Dana, so glad you shared your story and faith with us! I especially appreciate, respect, and also believe your view that God, by any name or no name at all, does not turn anyone away. And, if we live by the same principle and do not turn away any human but instead show love & compassion, we are getting close as we can to heaven on earth.

  17. says

    I think I am supposed to be Jewish. My mother always felt that she should have been. Reading this post and why this is important to you made me nod my head so hard it hurts. All the things you said about being kind and helping and social justice…YES!! This is an AMAZING post!-Ashley

    • says

      Thank you Ashley! I’m curious as to why you always thought you should be Jewish – do the principles ring true for you? Maybe you should write for Chris – I’d love to read what you have to say!

  18. says

    I love how you wrote this! How other people practice faith and how they choose their faith is always fascinating to me. I grew up strictly Catholic and went to Catholic school for 12 years but I don’t practice at all now. I love how you had a choice and made a decision for your kids based on how you were raised (or not raised) and had the courage to do it. Great read and loved learning more about who you are.

    • says

      Thank you, Allie. I always love when bloggers I know share about what makes them who they are, and that’s what inspired me to share my own story. Faith really is fascinating, isn’t it?

  19. says

    So glad you wrote this piece and especially that Chris’s devotional series was the platform for it to be published, Dana. I cherish your words and really benefited from your explanation of Judaism. It made me think about many questions that I still harbor re: Christianity and its foundations in Judaism. Thanks for taking this step and sharing, and for provoking deeper thought in me. Hugs, Ali

    • says

      I’m so glad this post made you think, Alison. I really believe that learning about other faiths can strengthen your own. Any time you’d like to have a dialogue, you know where to find me!

  20. says


    I responded on your blog today (a novella; sorry about that), so this comment is for Chris.


    I am married to a Jewish man, and we are raising our children Jewish with some of Jesus’ teachings added on (that’s my job since I was raised Christian). I see no reason why these two religions need to be so divided. To me they have so much more in common than otherwise. (‘Course I have a pretty loosy-goosy take on Christianity.)

    I really appreciate you invited Dana to write about her religion on your blog. One more step to more openness and understanding.

    • says

      I think the great “divide” is because Christians feel so strongly about Jesus being THE one and only way to eternal life and Heaven- and that creates this urgency and need to push people toward Him.

      I believe that Christ came for us, truly. But I also believe that His Love stretches out to ALL of God’s children…

      Therefore I love. Every. One.

      I am honored to have Dana here sharing her beautiful faith, and I want nothing more than to open hearts to His Love- and in doing so, I welcome ALL walks of faith here. 🙂

      • says

        That’s a great point, Chris, about the urgency to push people toward Jesus because of the belief that knowing Jesus is the only way to Heaven. I understand why many Christians feel this way, and I know that for most the motivation is pure and out of concern for other people’s souls. The concepts of salvation and eternal life are just not a significant part of my Jewish experience, which I know is difficult to wrap your head around if it is one of the most important parts of your faith.

        • says

          Oh how I just love that reply, Dana! Thank you for having an understanding about the Christian mission and the heart to be gracious about that “push” so many intend on you/others in loving concern. I do hate hate hate that so many approach their ‘mission’ in a forceful manner… don’t they know that human nature will predict that outcome? There is nothing that repels a person more than confrontation and interrogation of a person’s soul…. how on earth do they think that will fulfill their purpose to change their hearts for Jesus? Ridiculous.

          I am so fascinated at your perspective on eternal life/heaven!!! Can I ask (out of naivety!!) what Jewish people believe happens when you die?. I am loving this conversation…. thank you for teaching us all and sharing such a beautiful part of who you are my friend!

          • says

            I don’t know if there is just one view about what happens when you die,Chris. Honestly it’s never been a focus and I don’t remember ever being taught anything about it. Because Judaism is so focused on the present, there isn’t much dogma and it’s left to personal interpretation. Personally, I’m not really sure what happens when you die. Here is a quote from the Union of Reformed Judaism website from Rabbi Howard Jaffe that I think is helpful: (he is speaking of the afterlife)

            “Reform Judaism, while not taking any “official” position on the matter, has for the most part ignored the question, and tended towards the belief that there is no such thing. The attitude of Judaism might best be summed up as “We really do not know, but if there is a life after this one, and a reward for what we do, then surely it will be dependent upon the kind of life we have lived – therefore, let us strive to follow God’s path for us as closely and as enthusiastically as possible, for then we will surely know all manner of rewards, especially the one of seeing a world that is a better place for our efforts”.

            I know it’s hard to reconcile this considering how much emphasis is put on salvation and the afterlife in Christianity. It’s a matter of perspective, I suppose.

            • says

              Wow- that is SO interesting Dana!! I am so grateful you took the time to share this perspective with me, because I ALWAYS wondered about that. I wonder what children think when they ask what happens when they die? I would be at such a loss… and not knowing would be so very difficult!

              I believe God has a special place for you when you die… I have to. And although my beliefs are different than yours, I still find comfort in believing that there is a ‘saved place’ for Jewish people in heaven. There simply must be.

              Such a hard topic to sift through, isn’t it? I love you for winding through it with me!! And I suppose, we will all find out in the end. <3

              • says


                Dana’s post is wonderful, but I think I love the exchange of ideas in the comment section most of all. They’ve been interesting and informative to read. And, unlike the example set for us so often by the media, everyone has remained respectful and open.

                I loved this quote from you: “There is nothing that repels a person more than confrontation and interrogation of a person’s soul.” The most meaningful Christian examples to me are those that by examples by life (and daily) choices rather than explicit evangelicalism. I don’t think I’m saying that right, but I bet you understand and know what I mean. I think you are one of those people.

                Also, just to add to what Dana said. She’s definitely more of an expert than I am, but my husband is grappling with the after-life in Judaism as we foresee his father’s passing (he has Stage 4 cancer). He talked to our rabbi where we used to live, and she said some Jews choose to believe in heaven because it is a comforting idea. I like when religion offers freedom (and I’m not saying Christianity does not; I believe it does) like that. And, as you said, I guess we’ll find out!

              • says

                Oh how I just LOVE that you are such a significant part of this amazing conversation, Sarah!! I absolutely get what you’re saying!! I feel the very same way about that. The Christians that have influenced my faith and my life have been the ones who frankly, show His Love and His GRACE by example.

                Thank you for sharing new enlightenment on this tricky topic- I am SO glad you liked that quote from me!! It is such a passionate piece of my life, in trying to change that perspective for both the Christian community and those that have been affected by forceful Christians. It truly breaks my heart to hear of so many people that were refused or rejected in His Name.

                I can only imagine how your husband is dealing with his father nearing toward the end of his life… I do pray he finds some peace and comfort in his conclusion about death here on earth and has resolve for what happens after.

  21. says

    Hi Dana! I had no idea where you stood with your beliefs. I think the first time I knew you practiced some things Jewish was when I wrote my post about Christmas and you mentioned how you celebrate the holiday time with your family. This was enlightening to hear your beliefs as it pieces together for me your whole person- that person which is Dana. 🙂 Thanks for sharing with us more about you! xo

    • says

      I don’t write about religion much on my own blog, Brittnei, so I though writing here in Chris’ warm community was the perfect forum. I’m glad you’re here!

  22. Lisa Hemelt Hall says

    Well written, Dana. After being raised Catholic and attending Catholic school, I no longer share many of the beliefs I was taught. I do, however, believe it is important to respect the beliefs of others, and that is what I try to instill in my boys.

  23. says


    I feel like I get to *know* you more and more with each of your posts. My father was a Baptist minister for most of my childhood, but his best friend was Jewish. I always loved the open minded nature of his friend who on many occasions sat next to me in the pew to listen to my father preach. I’m fairly ignorant to the doctrine; however, the people who represent Judaism, to me, certainly exhibit kindness and faithfulness, which is really what God wants in everyone.

    • says

      I agree, Mandi. And I’m glad that you feel my posts help you get to know me; I’ll take that as a compliment! That is, if getting to know me is a good thing 🙂

  24. says

    Dana, this is gorgeous. I love how you have described your faith and why it is important to you, and how it can adapt with the times. I love the line about how religion helps us make sense of our lives, and should be something to unite us, not divide us… Thanks for sharing this!

  25. says

    You might not even realize this, Dana, but the way you thoughtfully navigated this decision was also a lesson to your kids in what religion is all about. Without faith, what do we have?

    You’ve shown your kids what they can have *with* faith.

    • says

      I suppose you are right, Eli. Although my kids have always had just one faith, they know my experience and their father’s, and the decisions we made to get here.

  26. says

    Dana, I thought I knew something about Judaism. After reading your warm description and ideas, I realize I know very little. Thank you for sharing the culture and beliefs. I am a non-practicing Catholic. I made all my sacraments and we went to mass as a family every week and on most holidays. Because my siblings and I attended Catholic grammar and high school we were immersed from a very young age. I always joke that I’m on the credit system which is why I don’t attend church. The real reason is it just became too political. Both my boys were raised to believe in God and in Heaven. They learned the commandments and how to pray every night before bed. A very simple approach, but I instilled strong
    morals and values in them. In my heart I believe that there is a God and he wears many hats and goes by many names and no matter what you call him as long as you know him and have him in your life, it’ll all be okay.
    Great words.

    • says

      A simple approach still works, and it sounds like it has for you and your sons. I’m glad you enjoyed my post – thank you for commenting and sharing some of your ideas about faith too, Barbara.

  27. says

    I enjoyed reading your perspective Dana. I always enjoy reading and learning about other faiths. Thank you for sharing this part of you.

  28. says

    I’ve struggled with religion. I’ve been sad about the acceptance we did not receive from the church we tried here. My husband was raised baptist, which may as well be alien to me (also some of their beliefs – NOT HIS- are horrible and stupid), I was (loosly) raised Christian – methodist or enough like it, and now, my dad is married to a Jewish woman, whose children and family are pretty devoted.
    I believe in God. This sounds like I am 12 years old but I’m going to say it anyway – I do not believe in religion. I think religion is amazing when it comes to forming communities, and all of that but most of the time, I just think it’s limiting. THere is no way that that God I believe in cares what name we call him when we pray. There is no way that the God I believe in cares whether we go to church.
    I loved this, Dana, and Chris, I think this is an amazing and important series. You should do an Our Land. Totally.

  29. Dana says

    How fun to see you on other blogs. . as usual Dana you completely impress me with your thoughts, ideas, and writing in general. I love the way you explained all of this. I always wanted to know all of the similarities and differences and you laid it out clearly and concisely. Thanks sister. I really loved this post.

    • says

      Thanks, Dana (Chris, Dana is an IRL friend of mine). I’m glad you liked the post – and if you ever want to know more, you know where to find me!

  30. says

    Absolutely beautiful. As I think you know, we are Catholics and our daughter converted to Judaism before marrying our fabulous son-in-law. It was very important to them to be unified under one faith. She was drawn to the cultural and historical aspect of Judaism and he was much more committed to his religion than she ever was. Together they have found common ground in their belief in God, dedication to social justice and desire to live their faith in everything they do. Our family has learned so much about Judaism and it has provided a new, rich dimension in all of our lives.

    • says

      Your daughter and son-in-law are lucky to have support from you and your husband – I know not every family works that way. I’m sure your daughter knows more about Judaism than most Jews by birth (including me) do!

  31. says

    Dana- I was raised by a Methodist minister, who 6 months prior to his passing had completed & gotten his degree from Duke University for his Masters in Methodism theology & studies, however, My father humbled me to go out & see the world, meet everyone, hear about their beliefs. He was just a good hearted man. So- I understand that our technical beliefs are not the same, it doesn’t mean that I cannot love you any less… Geez, you love Idina! It’s like we are one in the same just not really…. LOL!!! XO, LOVEY! Wonderful piece, sorry for babbling.

    • says

      I think being a good person with a good heart is key – that is what is most important. I can tell that you are your father’s daughter, Amber. xoxo

  32. says

    This is wonderful! I love how you explained it, and I love that all the grandparents were understanding and gracious of your family decision. I was raised with parents of different religions as well, and honestly, I really wasn’t exposed to either. My father was Jewish, and my mother Methodist. As a result, I was never very religious. I married a man who was Catholic and had a strong Catholic upbringing. We made the decision that the kids would be raised Catholic and that I would convert to have a unified family unit. However, my husband is responsible for their religion. It does work for us, however, there are bumps in the road occasionally too.

    • says

      Our situations are actually pretty similar, Michelle. My husband didn’t feel strongly about his faith despite his strong upbringing, so it made our decision a natural one. I suppose there are always bumps in the road, but making the decision to raise our children in one faith prevents a lot of them.

  33. says

    dana, this was such an amazing post. it was really well-written and delivered. i will be tweeting it tomorrow! catholicism is rooted in judaism, so i personally do not see a major divide between the two religions. we all believe in the same God. even though i’m devoutly catholic, when i was dating, i said (truthfully) that i could marry anyone as long as he believed in God. i believed it at the time, but after dean and i suffered the miscarriages, it was really beneficial that the two of us were of one faith. a priest performed the sacrament of the sick on me. we prayed and consulted with our priests for guidance. it would have been more challenging if i was going to church and my partner was going to synagogue.

    i really agree with you when it comes to raising children in faith. it has to be ingrained and second nature. they’re too young to decide on their own which religion they get to be a part of.

    • says

      Thank you for your comment, Catherine. Particularly in times of sorrow, being able to share your faith with your spouse is a blessing.

      I agree with you that children are too young to choose their religion. But so many adults turn from the faith of their upbringing; my husband is a prime example. I’m not sure what makes some people continue to practice as adults and other to let it go, regardless of their childhood experiences. That would be interesting to study.

  34. says

    I thought this was so beautiful stated, Dana. All of it. And I was glad to learn more about your background. So layered and interesting how you came to live a Jewish life.

    I relate to the bit about feeling more strongly Jewish in a non-Jewish environment. I grew up in a very Jewish area of Chicago, then spent my junior year abroad in Santiago, Chile where I lived with a Catholic family. They were wonderful and I had the best time. They were so religious and filled with faith that they had tons of questions for ME, the only Jew they’d really known. I felt a responsibility to answer intelligently so my parents sent me Joseph Telushskin’s helpful book Jewish Literacy–a thick tome which I read cover and cover and explained important bits IN SPANISH to my host family. Needless to say, I learned A TON. I grew up Jewish and strong in my identity but not very religious. I’m probably somewhere between Conservative and Modern Orthodox now. It all brings a lot of joy and depth to our family life.

    Anyway, glad to meet your host friend here on MomCafe. We ladies of faith usually have more in common than not, no matter the faith.

    • says

      I have to admit that having another Jew read this made me nervous, Nina. I have so little formal education and I didn’t want to misrepresent Judaism; I just wanted to relay my own experiences. As you said, it is a responsibility to share our faith with others who have questions, and one I don’t take lightly.

      Thanks for sharing some of your experiences here. I will have to check out Telushskin’s book; I bet it would be helpful for my kids too. As the fairly rare Jew, they are considered experts by their friends!

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