JewBu Quest: From Abuse to Happiness

JewBu: a Jew who practices forms of Buddhist meditation & spirituality. This blog documents my quest to 1) heal from sexual, verbal, and emotional abuse, 2) come to terms with losing Mom and Grandma to Alzheimers, 3) find balance, explore the spiritual, stay present. Bascially, I've experienced some pretty crappy shit in my life and want to find a way to move past it and find happiness.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

The Dealbreaker

I don't know how it came up, but somehow Jerry mentioned yesterday that he wants to have any future children baptised. I said something along the lines of hell no. Well, more diplomatically, I actually said something about being Jewish and needing all of my children to be raised Jewish so no. Jerry said that this is a dealbreaker for him.

Later I pushed him a bit on the topic, asking him if the baptism thing is important in order to keep the kids from going to hell. He said that it was related to that. I asked him if he thinks I'm going to hell, and he kinda skirted around the issue by pointing out that I don't believe in hell. That's not the point though; the point is how he sees me.

The whole thing makes me really nervous. Is this going to be what breaks us up? Are we going to break up? If we don't, will this be a point of fighting our whole lives?

I asked my advisor for advice today. She suggested that the baptism doesn't mean much and that I should negotiate that he can have the baptism in exchange for an exclusively Jewish education. She says the kid will never remember the baptism.

Then, I looked online, and it seems like the overwhelming opinion is that you need to pick a religion to raise your kid with, and that if you baptise a Jewish kid, they'll know, and it'll impact their identity. I forwarded a bunch of this stuff to Jerry, whose probably thinking "oh jeez." Anyway, another article spoke about creating more non-denominational baby naming/welcoming ceremonies. Augh! Such stress! But, writing it down in the blog does take a little of the weight off my shoulders.

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Blogger April_optimist said...

Our kids were neither baptized nor bar (or bat) mitzvahed. We raised them celebrating all the holidays. As my son grew older, it became natural to enroll him in a social program at the local JCC for handicapped young men and women. At college our daughter help organize a seder one year.

This worked for us. We didn't choose for our children, they chose what spoke most to them. Of course, in some ways it was easier because I didn't go to church and my husband didn't go to shul anyway. (I believe there are many paths to God and he didn't believe there were any.)

Don't know if any of this helps. Just wanted to share how it worked out for us.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007 9:47:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It seems to me that if this guy is the one, if he really is your "beshert" so to speak, than that's it. There's no question about breaking the deal because it has already been decided for you.

As to the impact on the children, it seems to me that their spiritual health depends mostly on the health of the relationship between the parents.
If you will be engaged in a power struggle than it will manifest itself everywhere,even if you were both Jewish or Christian.
The power struggle itself will force the children to choose sides on every possible issue, especially fundamental ones like character traits.That is what will mess them up.
On the other hand, if you manage to overcome that stage than it really won't matter. You'll be raising them with faith and love and that will make everything ok.They will be free to choose whatever they want when the time comes, as is their right.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007 12:31:00 PM  
Blogger Shari said...

I don't know a lot about Jewish customs/religion. Looks like a power struggle. That's tough. I am not against interreligious marriages. My brother and sister are married to people who have a different religion. Maybe what's best is to leave it to the kids to decide. That may be hard to do.

Good luck.

Thursday, June 21, 2007 5:29:00 PM  
Blogger Karma said...

I think that you guys are right about the power struggle thing. And we should be on the same page supporting each other instead of fighting for power. The thing is though that the kids can't decide if they get baptised, about receiving religious education, and how they're raised. I think that part of dating is figuring some of this stuff out - if we can agree on it.

Thursday, June 21, 2007 5:58:00 PM  
Blogger tafka PP said...

(Not necessarily for publication)
I think the baptism issue isn't so much as an issue on its own, rather it is part of the larger and ongoing issue with you and Jerry- the whole Jewish/Catholic thing. For whatever reason it is a recurring theme with you two, above and beyond many other "mixed" couples I know in a whole variety of circumstances and contexts... It's clearly a really big deal for both of you (judging what I saw and what I've since read on here or when we've managed to speak) and that's absolutely not a criticism, just an observation...

Maybe it would do you some good to take stock of what your relationship with Jerry is doing for you and has done for you, as opposed to looking into the future at this point via the religious lense: Remembr that you're in such a vulunerable place anyway and he makes you feel better, he makes you laugh, he's restored some of your faith in healthy relationships... maybe that's his role in your life right now? (That's mostly a response to what Jerusalem Joe was saying about beshert- I don't think you have to make any decisions right now. But I could be wrong.) Or do you WANT to make decisions now? What's important?

Friday, June 22, 2007 2:41:00 AM  
Blogger Gail Rae said...

You know, it's so weird, I know you've been talking about your relationship with Jerry, in some detail, here, for sometime, and yet I continue to be surprised when you mention "breaking up"...and I think, "Oh, yeah, are they actually going together? I don't know why, but, for some reason, you're relationship with this guy just hasn't seemed solid to me; so much so that I am surprised when you talk about breaking up because it doesn't seem to me like you guys are really together.
Thought you might find that observation interesting, Karma.

Monday, June 25, 2007 12:51:00 AM  
Blogger Karma said...

You have to realize though Gail the things that I'm choosing to write about - the problems, the things which I find unsettling and difficult, and NOT all of the good beautiful times.

Monday, June 25, 2007 8:16:00 AM  
Blogger Karma said...

There's a great article in the June edition of the Yoga magazine about yoga and ptsd.

Friday, June 29, 2007 1:25:00 PM  
Anonymous isha echat said...

I agree with April, Jerusalem Joe and Shari, and will add my two shekels:

I believe in many paths to the Divine and spirituality. I think when we learn to see the value and merit in other belief systems, we benefit from it greatly and progress as people and unlimited spiritual beings.

It's true, a battle and power struggle over religion and religious ceremonies will negatively impact a couple's home, relationship and children to a significant degree.

The rhetoric that says it's "wrong," "bad" or a "betrayal" to your birth religion for either of you to honor each other's faiths and sacred ceremonies will only serve to infect and erode your relationship.

You will receive external flak and negatively from both sides of the religious equation, but it's up to both of you not to let the opinions of others interfere in your relationship.

Raising children to honor and respect both your faiths and all peaceable faiths, fosters their growth as true forces of tikkun olam in the world.

You will face condemnation from religionists for raising them that way, but you will grow in autonomy, strength, unity and harmony as a couple and future family as peacemakers and peacewalkers upon this earth.

Perhaps it would help to contact interfaith rabbi ross and read his lovely article at

The book "Joining Hands and Hearts: Interfaith, Intercultural Wedding Celebrations: A Practical Guide for Couples" by Rev. Susanna Macomb ( provides beautiful insights, sentiments, and advice for interfaith couples.

Here's a quote from the Editor's review on Amazon:
"If yours is an interfaith, intercultural, or interracial union, then you have already embraced a love that knows no boundaries. What could be more beautiful?"

Author Rev. Susanna Macomb writes:
“Through my exposure to the various traditions, they have become somehow part of me. I have discovered that in some way I am Christian, I am Jewish, I am Muslim, I am Hindu, I am Buddhist, I am Taoist, I am Sufi, I am Native American, I am African-American. I am one with the beauty and wisdom of all faiths and cultures..."

Her website:

Our world would be a Divine place if everyone embraced these beautiful sentiments, but everyone does not, so it's up to us as individuals to embrace that Divinely healing path.

B'ahavah. Shalom v' shlemut and kol tuv to you.

Sunday, July 01, 2007 11:23:00 AM  
Blogger Karma said...

Wow, thank you isha ehat for those thoughtful and insightful comments. Once the pressure of having to stick up for "my people" and being able to think about creating a life with someone, each step at a time based on what works for the two of us, it makes a big difference!

Sunday, July 01, 2007 9:53:00 PM  
Anonymous isha echat said...

I once fell prey to the external rhetoric and "pressure to stick up for my people" too. Then one day I realized all people are my people. There is one race, one people, the human race.

I realized this idea that I must remain religiously defensive, loyal, exclusive and separate was holding me down and back
emotionally and spiritually as learning, growing, evolving human being.

A dawning occured within me and I embraced the deeper knowledge. The core knowledge to create a loving quilt of many faiths and many beliefs.

There are many paths to the Divine and I decided to weave together a rich tapestry of spiritual beliefs that was as the New Seminary states "never instead of, always in addition to..."

The following quote by the Dalai Lama is my continuing inspiration:

"There is no need for temples; no need for complicated philosophy. Our own brain, our own heart is our temple; the philosophy is kindness. My religion is very simple. My religion is kindness."

Monday, July 02, 2007 9:55:00 AM  
Anonymous isha echat said...

Just wanted you to know I'm an abuse survivor too. That actually was a factor in my impetus to tear down and reject religious walls and barriers.

When I saw the hurtful, negative energy created by religious divisiveness and bigotry against dual-faith or open-faith marriages, I knew I had to take a different path.

BTW, Rabbi Ross's article about his interfaith journey is a wonderful source of truly positive inspiration.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007 3:34:00 PM  
Blogger Karma said...

Yes, I found both of those sites to be very helpful and insightful. It was nice to think interfaith rituals that would fit both for me and for Jerry.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007 4:15:00 PM  

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