You're Still Part of an Interfaith Family

I empathize with your mom, and you obviously do as well. Like you, I’m the daughter of a Jewish father and a Christian mother. My mom put aside her religious practice to raise Jewish children. Growing up, we traveled to my Christian grandparents for Easter and Christmas, so that my mother would not feel so alone, and we celebrated those holidays with them in a secular manner (Easter eggs, Christmas trees, no church).

I urge you to think about doing the same. You would be keeping your mother company and showing her that you still appreciate the culture of the family in which you were raised, even if you have taken a different religious pathway. I would hope that your husband appreciates that you are converting, and is confident enough in his own beliefs to allow this kindness for your mother’s sake. And if you have children, surely he knows that many people are raising children now in Jewish families that also celebrate secular Easter and Christmas with Christian grandparents. And some of them grow up to be rabbis.

With conversion, I understand the desire to commit fully to your chosen religion, and give Judaism your whole heart and soul. But on another level, you are always going to be part of an extended interfaith family, and your children (should you have them) are going to know this as well. You can honor this reality by expressing gratitude to your mother for accepting your choice, reassuring her that you are not rejecting what was presumably a happy childhood and agreeing to continue to celebrate her holidays with her — even if you no longer claim them as your own.

Susan Katz Miller is both an adult interfaith child, and an interfaith parent. She is a former Newsweek reporter, and the author of “Being Both: Embracing Two Religions in One Interfaith Family” (Beacon Press).

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You're Still Part of an Interfaith Family

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