The winter 2007 issue of Reform Judaism Magazine focuses on the next generation of Jewish outreach. A pair of articles by Beverly Asaro, a mother from another religious background, and her Jewish daughter, Joelle Asaro Berman (who we blogged about here) detail their individual experiences in their Sicilian, Jewish family.
Beverly, in “Celebrating Our Differences,” explains her choice to raise Jewish children and describes the melding of her Sicilian background with her husband’s Judaism. The support of both her and her husband’s family helped Beverly to create a Jewish home in which her Jewish children and husband embraced her cultural background. She writes:
There are so many warm and wonderful stories, such as our first Chanukah together, when I, a Sicilian American, made the challah and my Jewish mother-in-law the lasagna—and all the guests at the dinner table assumed it was just the opposite.
Beverly also writes of the few times she has been uncomfortable in the Jewish community:
During the preparations for my daughter’s bat mitzvah my role was defined repeatedly as that of the non-Jew. I actually came to feel that I should have “non-Jew” branded on my forehead. My husband spoke to the persons involved, and they were quite repentant; they had never before considered the negative impact of their words.
Beverly makes the important point that partners from other religious backgrounds should be welcomed into Jewish institutions and not be made to feel like outsiders or others.