An Irish Jew?

I have had a rather unique upbringing.  My mother was raised Catholic, was married and divorced, then converted to Judaism, and finally decided she wanted to have children.  She was artificially inseminated to have me, her now 22 year old daughter.  It has been just my mom and I in my immediate family for my whole life, but we have been blessed with an amazing extended family and have many friends that have become part of and added branch of our family. For the first 9 years of my life, My mom and I lived in the basement apartment of one of my mom’s friends from work.  Elaine was a little older than my mom and had 4 children with her former husband, and had grandchildren that were around my age.  They became my adopted Jewish family.  We moved out when I was in 4th grade, and Elaine passed away when I was in 8th.  We stuck together through that hard time, and we are still extremely close with her family.  Elaine’s son, Andy, is my Godfather.  We spend passover each year with most of the family (it is a huge celebration that I look forward to enthusiastically) and see them on a regular basis throughout the year.  I feel so fortunate to have a strong Jewish family to be a part of.  I am lucky, because I also have a strong, supportive Catholic family.  My mom is one of seven children, so although I don’t know anything about my father or that side of the family, I have many aunts, uncles, and cousins.  I have never felt looked down on or left out with my family even though we are of different faiths.  If anything, it has made both my family bonds and my faith stronger.  I am able to learn from my family and to teach them.  It has created an open forum and has kept communication flowing.

My faith has always been a large part of my life.  Until I was in 3rd grade, we attended conservative Congregation B’nai Amoona, at which point we moved to the reform Congregation Shaare Emeth.  I went through Ladue School District, so I was not alone in my faith at school, seeing as there is a large Jewish community within the district.  I attended Hebrew School and Sunday School, was bat mitzvahed, participated in youth groups through middle and high school, and was a familiar face at temple.  My mom also played a large role in the community as a Gesher (7th grade religious school) and Sunday School teacher.  Since beginning college I have not been able to be as involved with the community, but my faith and spirituality are still a large part of my life.  I attend Saint Louis University, where I am in the extreme minority, but I love representing my religion and discussion theology with my friends and fellow students.

I am so grateful for my unique background.  It has made me a strong, distinct individual.  After all, how many people can say they are Irish Jews?

Lauren Yates

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One Response

  1. Lauren,

    You have a very interesting personal history? Are you aware of the interesting history of the Irish Jews and their role in the establishment of the State of Israel?

    Here is a link to that describes the history of the Jews of Ireland:
    http://www.isjm.org/jhr/IInos1-2/ireland.htm

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