Embracing interfaith experiences: our Catholic family's Jewish school

Embracing interfaith experiences: our Catholic family's Jewish school
Our story

Although my husband and I are Catholic, we chose to start our boys' education with the Jewish Council Youth Services (JCYS) in Chicago. It's broadened our religious education, faith and community.

I grew-up in Chicago near JCYS Michael R. Lutz Center. I have lifelong friends who are both Jewish and non-Jewish who had the best experience with the JCYS. Today, they are confident, smart, successful leaders.

Our family and faith are important to us. Catholicism is of course part of Christianity, which is based on Judaism. Faith helps anchor our lives with meaning, which include family and friends.

The friendship of the Supreme Court Justices Ginsburg and late Scalia got a lot of press. One is Jewish and the other Catholic. They both loved their families and valued education. They respected each other's differences.

We teach our boys to respect every belief system. We try to learn about other traditions in our diverse world. We're grateful for JCYS's emails and flyers that educate all parents about the holidays and traditions.

If we visit another home or host friends, we ask if they observe Kosher and/or have dietary preferences. We serve vegetarian options such as cheese and veggie pizza in addition to salad.

Our youngest was the Shabbat helper last week when he turned three. We invited a few of his friends over that night to celebrate. All of our worlds connected for a joyous celebration.

Big thanks to JCYS who send a Shabbat bag home with the Kiddish cup, candles and journal to share our story. This is ours...

Dear JCYS friend,

Shabbat Shalom is my favorite time of the week! I dreamed about being Shabbat helper at school! I was a baby with Mom and Grandma when my big brother was Shabbat helper at JCYS. I sing and pray Shabbat.

Mommy and Grandma sat with me at school during Shabbat.  I helped carry the challah bread during our celebration for teachers and friends. I rejoiced I felt Shabbat all over. Shabbat makes me happy! Thank you for teaching me how to be a good Shabbat helper!

Shabbat helper

Shabbat helper

That night we ate my favorite family dinner. My Grandparents, Auntie Meg and my cousin joined us that night with three of my friends for my birthday. We put fresh white flowers on the table.

Daddy lit the candles. We welcomed the light. We drank grape juice out of the special cup. My friends helped us sing and pray. My favorite is Bim Bam.

We stayed in our pajamas all day Saturday. We prayed and gave thanks for family. We are saving money and clothes for the poor.

We are grateful God created man in six days and rested on the seventh. We rise for a dance party every Saturday when the sun sets.

Love, Patrick Passamani XOXO

Big thank you to JCYS (no reimbursement offered or received for this) and all of our friends with many beliefs who enrich our family story. We love our child's interfaith early education.


From my archive: Early education and kindergarten are stressful for parentsShabbat Shalom before Passover and First Hanukkah for our Catholic family

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