Journalism I student Natalie Ripps (second to right) poses for a photo with family members Michael, Janie, Olivia and Kim Ripps (left to right) at a cousin’s Bar Mitzvah, a religious coming of age ceremony, in Atlanta in 2014. The Ripps’ have been attending the Bar and Bat Mitzvahs of friends and family members for many years. Photo courtesy of Natalie Ripps.
Journalism I Student Natalie Ripps shares how being in an interfaith family has affected her life.
I don’t celebrate Christmas, but my mom does.
I read the Torah, but my mom doesn’t.
People often ask my family how we do it. What is it like living in a household with two different religions? How does it affect our family dynamic?
Growing up in an interfaith family has taught me to look at the world in search of common principles, rather than focusing on differences.
Someone else may see a Christian and a Jew, but I see two people who have something in common — loyalty to their beliefs.
My outlook on faith comes from my mother. She attended church from an early age, but married a Jewish man and had three Jewish children. Though we don’t share the same religion, she has taught me tolerance and acceptance.
As a child, my mom took me to temple to attend services, hoping it would familiarize with a Jewish environment. She would also volunteer at our temple teaching Sunday school and go to weekly services.
On Sundays, the students would look forward to learning about Jewish history in their religious studies, taught by my mom. She taught me that I do not have to be an expert to have an open mind.
To reciprocate the respect, my father, sisters and I attend Easter and Christmas services at her church. These traditions became the norm for our family.
Being raised by a Christian, “Jewish” mother continues to teach me the importance of appreciating other people’s differences while learning to embrace my own.