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Dec 12 2014

I Came Late to the Jewish Party–But I’m So Glad I’m Here

By at 1:00 pm

I Came Late to Judaism--But I'm So Glad I Did

The question of whether or not to raise our children Jewish wasn’t one that my husband and I ever clearly articulated–but it’s what’s happening.

I came late to the party, as far as Judaism is concerned. I didn’t convert formally until I was in my mid-30s, and by then I had already had my first child. It’s not that we didn’t talk before we had children–we did, endlessly. Neither one of us wanted to give up our traditions, and we both wanted to raise our kids to honor and celebrate both sides of their family tree. We understood that there would have to be a lot of on-going compromise, patience, and discussion.

We approached religion and spirituality from two very different places. For my husband, Judaism was about identity, Israel, and belonging to a People. For me, religion was the opposite of spirituality. I grew up Catholic, and had dabbled in Wicca and a free-flowing sort of Paganism. For me, spiritual identity was tied less to a specific religious path and more to traditions and heritage that weren’t necessarily religious. Organized religion made me uncomfortable; the idea of belonging to a religious community was foreign to me. Read the rest of this entry →

Oct 15 2014

The Catholic School Teacher Who Made Me Want to Raise My Kids Jewish

By at 9:36 am


I’ll never forget the first roll call in fourth grade at the St. Fabian School.

“Levey, Hilary? [Pause] Really?!”

Yes, really. My father, who gifted me his last name, is clearly a Member of the Tribe (Levite, natch). But my parents decided to baptize and raise me as a Roman Catholic, like my mother. Read the rest of this entry →

May 22 2013

My Catholic Daughter & Her Female God

By at 9:29 am

kids-bibleThis post is part of our month-long series featuring different ways that parents of various religions have talked to their kids about God.

I live with a little theologian. My eldest daughter has had a lot to say about God for as long as I can remember. The expected questions have come along about creation and death, and they become more complex and challenging as she gets older. What has not changed is that she has consistently referred to God using female pronouns. Until recently, she never asked directly about whether God is male or female. It has been consistent that God is She. “Why did God make dogs and cats Momma? Does She like them both the best?” Read the rest of this entry →

May 20 2013

How an Ex-Catholic and Jewish Atheist Talk to Their Kids About God

By at 11:48 am

julia fierro kids

This post is part of our month-long series featuring different ways that parents of various religions have talked to their kids about God.

When people ask what religion we areme, my husband Justin, and our two small children–I answer, “nothing.”

Then I realize how empty this sounds. I revise, explaining our parents’ religion. As if, to tell the whole truth, one has to start from the beginning.

My Catholic parents believe even dogs go to heaven, I say.

Justin’s parents, I add, are atheists who belong to a temple of socially conscious activists, presided over by a gay rabbi. Read the rest of this entry →

May 7 2013

When it Comes to God, My Daughter Wants to Change the Subject

By at 10:06 am

church with christ statueThis post is part of our month-long series featuring different ways that parents of various religions have talked to their kids about God.

Our Lady of Loretto–the local Roman Catholic church–is within shouting distance of our home, and we walk by its sunlit, red-brick façade most mornings, admiring what my 6-year-old girl Percy calls the “sculpture” of Christ dead on the cross.

Most of Percy’s friends attend services at one of our small town’s four churches–in fact sometimes we see a few of them shuffling into the darkness of Loretto with all the zeal you’d expect of first graders about to endure a lengthy sermon–but thus far God has entered our father-daughter discourse less often than conversations on (e.g.) the debt ceiling, or certain elusive subatomic particles. Read the rest of this entry →

Oct 17 2012

I Send My Jewish Son to Catholic School

By at 10:05 am
baseball kid

My son Nicky at bat.

My son Nicky loves baseball. He’s really, really good at it.

Despite the looooong list of Jews who made it big in baseball, we were shocked to learn our town was not overflowing with Jewish schools that have viable baseball programs. My husband’s old Catholic school, however, (“The Hall”) has a very well-respected baseball program. So does another Catholic school nearer to us (“The Mount”). Mark Teixeira is a hometown boy who went to The Mount. We forgive his playing for the Yankees. Read the rest of this entry →

Dec 7 2011

There’s No Star on My Tree, But There are Saints in My Home

By at 11:18 am
milagro cross

A Milagro Cross

The Kveller blog has recently featured two posts which speak directly to one of the major challenges facing the Jewish community right now—that of intermarriage and mixed families. Alina Adams wrote about her experience being married to a non-Jew, who is not welcome as a member in their Conservative shul, and Mayim Bialik expressed her distaste for the Star of David Christmas-tree topper (which has apparently been a huge seller, according to a Jerusalem Post article by our own Jordana Horn).

I appreciate the perspectives offered by my fellow Kvellers, and I’d like to share my own. My husband’s heritage is entirely Jewish, as far as we know. The majority of my heritage is Jewish, but not all of it. I have ancestors who were Catholic and Protestant, and I grew up in New Mexico, surrounded by Catholic art and culture. However, I am Jewish, my husband and I keep a Jewish home, and we are raising our children as Jews.

We’re not going to have a Christmas tree in our house this year (or any year, as far as I can tell), but we have a small wooden cross covered in silver milagros on our mantle. A framed picture of the Patron Saint of Mantova, Italy, hangs in our upstairs hallway, right around the corner from a floor-to-ceiling bookcase of Judaic literature and references. We have a beautiful collection of Mexican folk art, in honor of el Dia de Los Muertos, or the Day of the Dead, right next to our menorahs and hamsas.

I respect that many of our readers (including Mayim, whom I consider a friend) may be deeply concerned, or perhaps even offended or horrified by the idea of Christian and pagan icons in a Jewish home. I understand that, and I think our divergent views are precisely what make the Jewish community so rich, vibrant, and durable. I also think that disagreeing about, and struggling with, important issues (and even unimportant ones), is an integral part of the Jewish psyche; an acknowledgment of divergent views is even built into the structure of some of our most important writings. Read the rest of this entry →


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