Pre-Order So God Made a Mother

The other day I noticed that my middle son was wearing his late grandfather’s Chai necklace. He wears the Chai (which is the Hebrew word and symbol for life) and his Judaism with pride and like any parent I feel satisfaction knowing that he embraces the traditions that are so important to his father and me. Because my son was adopted and doesn’t look particularly Jewish I admit to occasionally worrying when he was younger whether he would feel different, or perhaps “less Jewish” than if he had been born Jewish.

When my husband and I decided to adopt a baby we didn’t think much about ethnicity or race. We were mostly just concerned about an adoption situation that would be a good fit for our family. So when a wonderful opportunity presented itself with a birth mother who was Thai we were thrilled. We told the birth mother we were Jewish because I thought it was important for her to know. She was happy because she wanted her baby to be brought up with traditions and religion, even if they weren’t the same as hers.

There are three steps required to convert a baby boy to Judaism. The first step is the ritual circumcision (brit milah). Our son’s bris was performed a few days after we brought him home and was witnessed by our closest family and friends who shared our joy over the arrival of our new son. The second step in converting a child is a ceremony that includes a dip in a ritual bath (mikveh). We took care of this when our son was six months old at a mikveh in Manhattan. My husband took our baby into the water where he was immersed under the supervision of three rabbis with impressive beards. And the third step in completing a conversion is the bar mitzvah.

My son’s bar mitzvah was incredibly beautiful and moving. He chanted from the Torah and led the service with such fluency and confidence that it brought tears to my eyes. He truly understood the significance of the day and was proud that going forward he would be counted among the Jewish people.

One time my son came home from school very upset because another boy told him he wasn’t really Jewish. I make it a practice to rarely get involved in my children’s battles but on this occasion I made an exception. I called the other child’s mother because some comments are just unacceptable. The mother handled the situation graciously and the boy apologized. I explained to my son that the cruel comment had nothing to do with him and was more about the other boy. Luckily, situations like this one were rare. My son has told me that from time to time he has been asked questions about his background and feels very open to discussing it.

When my son was little, he would announce proudly that he was half Thai, half Irish and all Jewish. I know that he still feels that way. Although he has expressed normal doubts about formal religion and the existence of G-d, he has also articulated his desire to have a Jewish home and see his own children bar or bat mitzvahed. Now that he is in college, my son continues to celebrate the Sabbath at a local Chabad House (Chabad is a Jewish sect), continues to celebrate all the Jewish holidays, and works as an assistant Hebrew School teacher at a temple near his campus.

Any fears I may have had about my son’s feelings about his Jewishness were unfounded. He is more confident about his identity and comfortable in his own skin than most people I know. I believe that if you teach any child the beauty and value in the customs and traditions that are important to you they will endure. I am glad we were able to give our son the heritage that is so much a part of who he is.

So God Made a Mother book by Leslie Means

If you liked this, you'll love our new book, SO GOD MADE A MOTHER available for pre-order now!

Pre-Order Now

Marlene Fischer

Marlene Kern Fischer is a wife, mother of three sons, food shopper extraordinaire, blogger and college essay editor. She attended Brandeis University, from which she graduated cum laude with a degree in English Literature. In addition to Her View From Home, her work has been featured on CollegateParent, Grown and Flown, Kveller, The Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop, Beyond Your Blog, The SITS Girls, and MockMom. You can read more of Marlene’s work on her site here:

What Happens to the Mamas When Their Children Are Grown?

In: Faith, Motherhood
Five children walking hand-in-hand, color photo

A friend came up to me the other day after church and commented, “I’ve never seen you alone. I had to make sure you were okay.” It’s true. I’m never alone. I usually have one or two children hanging onto me and three more milling about with my husband close. But at that moment, my husband had stepped away to collect the younger ones from the children’s service, and my older two had run off with their friends. I was standing alone. And as I stood there, one thought crossed my mind, “This is what it will be like when...

Keep Reading

8 Fight Songs for the Single Mom

In: Faith, Living, Motherhood
Woman holding earbuds in ears

They whispered to her: You cannot withstand the storm. I have had days when the storms hit me while I sat on the shower floor with my knees to my chest feeling completely defeated, letting the hot water beat down on my body. I have had nights when the storms hit me as tears stained my pillow. As time has moved on, I am learning how to beat the storms. This is only possible because of the family and friends that God has brought into my life. This is my fight song. These are and have been my take back...

Keep Reading

Your Brother Is With Jesus Now

In: Faith, Grief, Loss
Brother and sister in yellow outfits smiling on park bench

“Thao is with Jesus now,” we told her, barely choking out the whisper. Jesus. This invisible being we sing about. Jesus. The baby in the manger? Jesus. How can we explain Jesus and death and loss and grief to a 3-year-old? And now, how can we not? We live it, breathe it, and dwell in loss since the death of her brother, our son, Thao. Here we are living a life we never wanted or dreamed of. Here we are navigating loss and death in a way our Creator never intended. What words can I use to describe death to...

Keep Reading

Even When You Can’t Find Joy, Jesus Is There

In: Faith, Grief, Loss
Sad woman through pane of rain covered glass

The international church service was vibrant with voices lifted up in songs of praise. Many clapped their hands and some even danced before God. But I wanted to be invisible. Joy felt like a land depicted in a fairy tale. I had returned from the hospital the day before—a surgery to remove the baby who had died in my womb. Watching this church buzz with happiness unearthed my fragileness. I slouched in my chair and closed my eyes. Tears trickled down my freckled face. My mind knew God was in control, but my heart ached as yet another thing I...

Keep Reading

He Mends Our Broken Hearts

In: Faith, Grief, Loss
Praying hands of woman with bracelets

Rays of soft sunlight streamed through the curtain onto the hospital bed. I stepped to the edge of the bed, taking a moment to soak in his face before gently holding his hand. Eighty-nine years is a rich, full life, and each passing day revealed more convincingly it was time for him to go. Grief and relief shared the space in my heart as I carried the weight of understanding each visit held the opportunity to be my last.  When he felt my hand, his eyes opened, and he gifted me a smile. Pop Pop always had a smile for...

Keep Reading

When I Feel Like a Failure, God Reminds Me of His Grace

In: Faith, Motherhood
Child hugs mother in sun flare

I’ve always been a teeth grinder, especially during times of high stress. Striving manifests itself physically through my teeth and jaw. I have even shifted several of my teeth from the grinding, moving my pearly whites to become crooked and a little unsightly. I should’ve known this morning that the night of grinding my teeth before was going to turn into a day of clenching my jaw. The spiritual warfare was intense, the temptations strong. I felt angry and burnt out.  After I finally laid my son down for a nap, I sat on the couch and told God, “I...

Keep Reading

My Father’s Faith

In: Faith, Grief
Man with grown daughter, color photo

I’ve been thinking a lot about legacy lately.  When my dad passed away in 2011, I lost the most influential person in my life. He was sacrificial in his love for me and others. His heart was devoted to the Lord, and it was evident to all who knew him. His death marked me in a significant way, and I still struggle with grief 11 years later. But his life marked me in an even greater way, and for that, I’m eternally grateful. As I reflect on legacy, I think about the impact that my dad’s faith had (and still...

Keep Reading

He’s the God of Small Things In Motherhood Too

In: Faith, Motherhood
Woman holding infant, black-and-white photo

Normally, on a Sunday afternoon during the girls’ naptime, I try to get some work done or lie down to rest. But a few days ago, I instead wrapped a blanket around my waist to keep warm and pulled cutting boards and pots out of the cupboard.  Before I had kids, I wondered what kind of mom I would be. In fact, I was pretty sure I knew. My outgoing and vivacious personality attracted kids to my side for years. Their energy matched mine, and we giggled and chased each other before collapsing on the floor. I pictured myself holding...

Keep Reading

Silence the Lie that Says You’re Too Much

In: Faith, Living
Mother and daughter smiling outside wearing sunglasses

As a kindergartner sometimes I tagged along to my mom’s work as a hotel housekeeper. While my mom worked, I played in the recreation room. Her boss checked on me and always had something fun to play with or a story to share.  One day, in a burst of excitement, I shared something special that happened over the weekend with the supervisor. The words bounded from my mouth like a puppy ready to play in the morning.  The boss chuckled, “Whoa, motor mouth! Slow down!” In a split second, my 5-year-old heart crumbled, and the lie that would follow me...

Keep Reading

Let’s Stop the Negative Talk about Marriage

In: Faith, Marriage
Square, wooden arch with floral and fabric in field, color photo

Growing up, I remember hearing many negative phrases used about marriage—on TV, by distant relatives, anywhere, really.  “The old ball and chain.” “All my wife does is nag.” “You’re happy in your marriage? You must still be in the honeymoon phase.” These are just a few examples of the many things I have heard for years that create a negative connotation around marriage. I never really thought much of it until I fell in love and got engaged to the man of my dreams. Can you guess what happened next? “Just wait . . .” I heard entirely too many...

Keep Reading