I grew up Catholic, attending a faith-based elementary school. As a teenager, and in college, I found others who were exploring Catholicism on a deeper level. Although I decided to examine the swirling belief systems as a theology major at College of St. Benedict, I never thought I was choosing a career path. I was simply a liberal arts student.

However, I did start making the 
distinction between religion and faith. My 
religion gives me inspiration, comfort, and 
insights through the rituals and practices 
of my church. It is not a perfect institution. 
Like all of us, Catholicism has some work 
to do in living out what it says it believes. 
What is important to me is that I believe I 
am not on this journey alone — my faith 
community is there for me. 

When I met the man who would become 
my partner, he was a non-practicing Jew. 
He grew up in a conservative synagogue 
and had become committed to his faith as 
a teenager and into his early college years. 
Yet he questioned the existence of God. He 
fell away from practicing Judaism. Today he 
is an atheist who is also an active member 
of his synagogue community, and observes 
many of its traditions. He feels Judaism 
gives him a framework for ethics and 
relationships, even if he still questions the 
existence of God. 

As a married couple with two daughters, 
we discussed what role religion and faith 
would have in their lives. We decided to not 
determine their religion, but would both 
be responsible for teaching them about our 
faith traditions. If they expressed a desire to 
more closely align with one tradition, they 
could. We agreed that when our daughters 
approached the age of 12 they would need 
to make a decision for themselves. This age 
corresponds to the age for B’nei Mitzvah, 
and also would connect them to the 
confirmation process in Catholicism. 

Both of our daughters now identify 
as Jewish. The short version, from my 
perspective, is that they both felt a strong 
connection to their synagogue community, 
where they found the worship and liturgical 
experiences meaningful. They have found 
a context or framework for living a good, 
ethical life. To paraphrase the words of 
one of my daughters, “I can’t find the right 
words to describe it, but it feels like the right 
place for me.” 

For me, that is God calling — I wasn’t 
going to stand in the way just because she 
was choosing a religion different from mine. 

I’m proud of my daughters and their 
commitment to practice and deepen their 
experience and knowledge of Judaism. They 
are amazing young women, doing their best 
to live what they believe, and both have a 
passion for Tikkun Olam – the concept of 
repairing the world. 

What makes this diversity of beliefs in 
our family work is that we are open about 
our spiritual lives. We look for areas of 
agreement while acknowledging the places 
where our paths split. 

In our family, both Judaism and 
Catholicism are practiced. We celebrate 
the major holidays as a family. For us 
that includes both a Christmas tree and a 
menorah at Hanukkah, Passover Seders and 
Easter dinners, meatless Lenten Fridays and 
fasting on Yom Kippur. We do this because it 
is important to support and share key times 
with the most important people in your life. 

This requires self-knowledge about 
what is most important to us and to our 
respective traditions. Over the years, we 
have uncovered those things through 
conversation, compromise, and revision.

The road to a shared home with diversity 
takes work and communication. It has given 
us a family that embraces each member and 
values who and what they are.