Converting to Judaism

The Oys and Joys of Choosing A Jewish Life

Welcome Home

on June 8, 2015

I’ve been staying at my parents’ house for a little over three weeks. But today was the first time in a long time that I truly came home.

Let me bring you up to speed on my family.

My family is a very religious Catholic family of 7 (two parents, five kids including me). And it all stems from my mom, who is the powerhouse of the home. Church every Sunday, confession on Saturday, a crucifix in every room, grace before meals, rosaries in the evening, church every morning at 7:30AM in the summer (it didn’t even feel like a chore by the time I reached high school- I WANTED to get up at 7 and go), Christian music in the car and on the radio, fish on Fridays (even when it’s not Lent), and all of us kids have been altar servers, lectors, cantors, the like in church.

In my family, it’s always been 1. God, 2. Family, 3. School, and then 4. Everything else. I’ve been pulled out of class and dress rehearsals for church obligations in the past. All of my parents’ decisions are based on the Catholic church’s interpretation of Christianity. Even though I decided Catholicism is not something I could truly live whole-heartedly, this upbringing coupled with my loving parents gave me the solid foundation I needed to grow into the moral, respectful, observant woman I am today. I have no qualms with my parents or my childhood.

The last time I was here was the week of Passover/Easter because it was my school’s spring break. Despite my awkwardness with eating a completely different diet than my family and dipping out to go to seders at friends’ houses, I found my mother was extremely accommodating of my religious decisions. I was touched by every little gesture that my family made to accommodate my foreign Jewish lifestyle.

Apparently, spending Passover with my Catholic family was the best thing I could have done.

Today, my mom said that having me home for Passover gave her the opportunity to try and help me live according to my new lifestyle, such as when the two of us went out to buy matzah together. She really wants to help me live my new life, but she feels like she can’t ever really support me in my religion the way she can for my siblings because she doesn’t know anything about Judaism.

To hear my mother say that she wants to support me and my new identity made my heart swell. I’ve been waiting to hear these words for a really long time. I honestly thought I would never get her approval. I knew that my Jewish lifestyle felt like a rejection of everything my parents had ever taught me, and I preferred Shalom Bayit- peace in the home- to fights over my life choices.

For a while, I’ve been living Jewishly, regardless of whether I’m at school or with my family. This Jewish identity is one that I’ve adopted as my own and one that I am proud of.  Now I feel like my mom has come to a point where she has adopted a Jewish daughter as her own. It’s more than I was ever expecting, and for the first time, I feel like I can be comfortable in my own skin at my house.

Though my family will not be joining me at the mikveh this Thursday, it’s nice to know that I have their acceptance waiting for me when I return home. After thanking my mom for everything she’s done so far, I assured her that there’s much more I want to learn as well and we could do it together. I can see her in my future as a Jew- it’s easier for me to now picture my parents at my wedding, my children’s Jewish life rituals, and holiday celebrations. While it won’t be easy, it’s wonderful to know that we’ll be together for the important stuff, and that’s all that matters.

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