1. Are you raising your kid(s) with one religion, both religions, or somewhere in between?
We are raising our children Jewish, and they will be attending a Jewish preschool in the fall. Growing up in a Catholic school and [with a] strict Catholic upbringing, religion was a big part of my life. What I took from it was a love for religious history and spirituality. Even though I have converted and my children are Jewish I believe in teaching my children about Christian holidays, and why we celebrate them. Right now they celebrate both Christian holidays with my family and Jewish holidays with my husband’s family. They are still to0 young to ask questions but when the time comes I hope that I can teach my children to embrace both sides of their parents’ history and traditions. I never want my children to feel like they need to choose sides. It’s important to both of us that they become good people first, and Jewish second.
2. How do you feel about your family being labelled “interfaith”?
Honestly, I have never given that word much thought. We’re just a family. We’re just two people whose families come from two different parts of the world, with very different lives. Together we created two beautiful children. Isn’t that what every family really is? Just a blending of two families that come together to create something beautiful.
3.What did you think would be an issue about being an interfaith family that really hasn’t been?
Before my children were born, I struggled a lot with how I would raise them. How would I explain Christmas to them? Easter? What would we do about holidays between families? How would I explain my Filipino family’s very strict Christian beliefs vs. our own Jewish beliefs? Actually none of these things have been an issue. I’m actually very proud of my children’s unique and diverse family. I can’t wait until the day they will ask me more questions about our family. I want to teach them everything, I want to leave nothing out. I have so much to share with them, as does my husband’s family. I see these things as opportunities to make my children more tolerant and compassionate people, and really that is all my husband and I could really wish for.
4. How did you choose your kids’ names?
Our daughter Charlotte Ciperiana was named after both our grandmothers who had passed. Charlotte was my husband’s grandmother, and Ciperiana was my grandmother. I love that my daughter has such a Filipina name behind her Jewish grandmother’s name.
My son Jackson Wesley was named after my husband’s grandfather and my father, both who have passed. Jackson was for his grandfather Jack, and Wesley was my father’s middle name.
These names mean a great deal to us. When we found out we were pregnant, we picked one name for a boy and one name for a girl. There were never any contending names. Lucky for us we had boy/girl twins, and we never had to choose.
5. What’s your word of advice to other interfaith families?
My advice to other families would be to do what’s best for your family. What you feel comfortable with. Be as observant or non-observant as you wish. If you want your children to know both religions, then teach them both. Know what is important to both you and your partner and build your home from there. Tradition and history is important in our family. I want my children to know where they came from, where their grandparents immigrated from and why.
I think once you have a sense of who you are and where you come from you can embrace all the special differences in your life. Religious or not.
“Up Close” is a photo and interview series on Kveller aiming to put a face on the interfaith conversation. We’ll be highlighting interfaith families and hearing their stories all month. If you’re interested in participating, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line “Kveller Up Close.”