Introducing Lisa


Greetings interfaith families!

As a Catholic who converted to Judaism three and a half years ago, I thought at first that my family and I had put the “interfaith” part of our religious life behind us. I was raised in an interfaith family—my mother was Catholic and my father at turns Baptist and Methodist—and let’s just say that religion was hotly debated in my childhood home.

My Jewish husband and I are raising our three children—ages 16, 11, and 7—as Jews. I’ve memorized the prayers and figured out how to make latkes. We’re active participants in our interfaith synagogue. I faithfully sat in on my older daughter’s Hebrew lessons and watched with tears in my eyes as she recited her portion at her bat mitzvah. In fact, her bat mitzvah was what finally spurred me to convert. Religious identity, complete at last.

But I’m learning that in reality we will always be interfaith. When my mother died a few months ago after a brief, heartbreaking struggle with cancer, I found myself thrust back decades. Memories of my mother and I attending Mass, going to confession, and saying the rosary together came flooding back. It turns out the language of my grief right now isn’t Jewish—the prayers that pour out of me are Hail Marys and Psalm 23. I tried to say Kaddish to myself in her final moments, but couldn’t remember the words. Our family and friends, Jews and Christians alike, came to my mother’s funeral in a beautiful, old Catholic church on a chilly spring day. My youngest asked what the kneeling pads were for, which came as a weird shock to me. I’m trying to take comfort now in the fact that, as my husband pointed out, my mother is remembered in (at least) three faiths.

3 thoughts on “Introducing Lisa”

  • Pslam 23 is Jewish.  Psalms were written by King David and are part of the Old Testament.  It is traditional to say psalms by the grave of a loved one.

  • I’m so sorry for your loss; my condolences to you and your family. Perhaps in that tough time, G-d knew what words would help comfort you (and your mother) the most, and sent them, even though they weren’t Jewish prayers. I definitely think your husband had it right, though–your mother is remembered in (at least) three faiths–that’s a wonderful thing. When my father battled colon cancer (thankfully very early stage)  5 years ago, I took some comfort in the fact that he was on the prayer lists at about 4 church denominations, 2-3 synagogues, and even a Buddhist temple.

    Welcome to the blog. I look forward to reading more about you and learning more with you!

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