Be'chol Lashon

Be’chol Lashon

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La Mishpacha

Violeta  Flemenbaum, Alef: The NEXT Conversation, July 1, 2010

"Borei pri, ya lo comi" which translates to "Borei pri, I ate it", and so we begin to eat our Shabbat dinner. My husband always says this at the end of Ha-motzi. While some people may find this strange, we don't! After all, Ari and I grew up with Spanish as our first language. He's the son of Ashkenazi Jews from Colombia and I'm the daughter of Catholics from Mexico.

It seemed only natural that we gravitated toward each other and eventually married. We had so much in common: being made fun of at school for being Hispanic (Ari went to orthodox Jewish schools while I attended Catholic schools) and we both grew up in households where Spanish along with heavily accented English was spoken. I was already on the path to conversion when I met Ari but that's a story for another day. Eventually we married and are the proud parents of 3 amazing children.

Our Latino upbringing infused a respect for G-d and family that my friends who are not the children of immigrants have a hard time understanding. For example, if either of our parents invites us to dinner at the last minute, we are obligated to join them despite any other plans that we have already made. Latino parents, regardless of what religion they practice, always stress the commandment "Honor thy mother and thy father." They practically beat it into their children's mentality. When it comes to G-d, you are expected to follow the rules. When I converted, I had no problem with kashrut or mikvah because in my heart I felt it was the right thing to do.

When Ari and I started our own family, the first thing on our list was to find a name for our son that worked well in Hebrew, Spanish, and English so we named him Gabriel. Next came Natalie (I know, I know but I just couldn't pass up this exquisite name). We call her Tali the majority of the time. Then came our precious Daniela.

If you come to our house around any mealtime, you're likely to find us having lox and bagels with huevos rancheros, or brisket with a side of tortillas. For Shavuot I like to make "pastel de tres leches" (three milks cake) which is a common dessert in Latin countries. You're also likely to hear Fortuna and the New Orleans Klezmer All-stars on our CD player. Our kids are well aware of their rich cultural heritage and they will proudly exclaim that they are "Hebrew-Spanish." Is our family Jewishness a little different than what you'd might expect? Sure, but we wouldn't have it any other way! L'Chaim and Salud from our familia to yours.
(Tags:Intermarriage, Spanish, Jews, Christians)