Baby J’s Baptism & Hebrew Naming

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J’s Hebrew naming certificate and baby whale party favor. J is named Yonah Natan after my husband’s late father.

A few weeks ago sweet baby J was baptized and had the Hebrew naming ceremony. It was a beautiful Interfaith ceremony held at Old St. Patrick’s Church and coordinated by the Interfaith Union. Fr. Tom Hurley and Rabbi Ari Moffic were Co-Presiders at a ceremony that blended both the Jewish and Catholic faith. My husband is Jewish and I am Catholic but we want to expose our children to both faiths. For Catholics, a baptism is one of the seven sacraments and it is when babies are welcomed into the Catholic faith and freed from the original sin they are born with. In Judaism, with the bestowing of Hebrew names, children are linked with their ancestors and their Jewish heritage. We as parents are granted blessings so that we may know the joy of teaching our children the virtues of reverence, Torah, and good deeds.

When I was pregnant with baby J, I knew I wanted him to be baptized just as my daughter was baptized at Old St. Pat’s but with my husband being Jewish, I wanted to find a way to incorporate his faith in our son’s life. I wasn’t sure where to begin, finding a way to do an interfaith ceremony but luckily I was introduced to jBaby at a Bump Club event. My husband and I met with our jBaby Parent Ambassador and were connected to a rabbi that presides over interfaith ceremonies. We were also welcomed into a community of other young families of Jewish faith in Chicago.

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My ohana with Co-Presiders, Fr. Hurley and Rabbi Moffic, and Godparents Manilyn (my cousin) and Ed (my brother-in-law).

I was raised in a devout Roman Catholic family.  Being Filipina-American and Catholic are part of my identity and who I am. Actually it’s pretty hard to separate the Filipino culture apart from the Catholic faith, they seem to intertwine in so many ways. That being said, being Catholic played a huge role in who I have become as an adult. I taught religious education (CCD), was a Lector for years in our home parish,  and even went to a World Youth Day in Paris to see Pope John Paul II.

Before meeting my husband I did not know much about Judaism. Growing up in a suburb of LA, mostly all my classmates were Filipino or Latino. I wouldn’t think that Catholics had much in common with those of the Jewish faith but as Father Hurley said during the ceremony, if you peel away the layers you will see the beauty and commonalities of both religions. Being married now for a year I see that there are actually so many things in common with both the Filipino culture and Jewish culture. We have similar values and place a great deal of importance on family, education, and tradition.

With tonight being the Jewish New Year, it made me think of the traditions and rituals I grew up with to celebrate the New Year. For Filipinos, we came together at a relatives house to eat noodles to symbolize long life, wore polka dots to symbolize wealth and had a variety of round-shaped fruit in our home on New Year’s Eve to symbolize prosperity in the new year.

In the Jewish faith,  food such as apples dipped in honey is a tradition for Rosh Hashanah to symbolize a sweet new year. Both cultures customarily feast and drink with family and friends to gather and celebrate the new year. I can think of countless other ways that our culture and faith are similar but ultimately my husband and I have values of love, loyalty and compassion which are universal values in many cultures.

We want to raise baby J to be somewhat of a hybrid Filipino-Jew. We will continue to expose him to both faiths and allow him to explore his own identity as he gets older. We want to ensure that we are blending both the Filipino Catholic faith along with the Jewish faith. Luckily for us, we belong to a parish that is progressive, open-minded and welcoming. This quote was written on baby J’s program and I think it’s a great way of exemplifying why my husband and I wanted to honor each other’s faith during baby J’s baptism and Hebrew naming. “As Christians and Jews, following the faith of Abraham, we are called to be a blessing to the world. This is the common task awaiting us. It is therefore necessary for us, Christians and Jews to first be a blessing to each other.” —   Pope John Paul II. So to my Jewish friends and family, “Shanah Tovah.”

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