The Student News Site of Flintridge Sacred Heart

Veritas Shield

The Student News Site of Flintridge Sacred Heart

Veritas Shield

The Student News Site of Flintridge Sacred Heart

Veritas Shield

From Santa to menorah: being raised Christian and Jewish

Raquel Sandford
Both Christian and Jewish, Houston Sandford ’25 celebrates Christmas and Hanukkah. Photo by Houston Sandford ’25

Being Jewish has always influenced the way that I live my life. Whether I am surrounded by peers of different faith backgrounds or not, I continue to live my life with the same intent. My family and I have always practiced Jewish traditions, due to my mom’s Jewish faith and my dad’s Christian one. Throughout my childhood, I attended private schools that had different religious denominations than I have. When I first came to Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy, I was hesitant about being part of the religious minority. However, the more I contributed to the community here, the more I started to feel welcomed and respected despite my religious differences. Although attending Mass and doing a morning prayer was something I was not familiar with, over the years, I have learned so much and enjoyed exploring different religions.

My mother enrolled me in a Catholic school with the purpose of introducing me to different religions.

“We raised you Jewish because in the Jewish religion you are technically the religion of your mother. I was the more religious parent, and Dad was not a practicing Christian. We sent you to a private school at a Catholic school because in our area, the best schools around were the Catholic schools, and we wanted you to experience both religions,” my mom said.

So, as I experienced both religions, I participated in traditions from both faiths. In my household, Hanukkah and Christmas are both significant holidays celebrated by my family. During Hanukkah, we emphasize the importance of family by gathering at my mom’s cousin’s house. We eat, pray and thank God for the opportunity to celebrate together. On Christmas, my dad’s side of the family gathers on Christmas Eve and Christmas morning to spend time in community. We open presents and make breakfast together as a family.

“I believe in family, I believe in community, I believe in being loving and kind. Those are very important in the Jewish religion,” my nana, Margie Zwick, said.

My nana has always motivated me to embrace my religion and live through loving kindness. As a child, she and my mom took me to synagogue and taught me how to practice Jewish traditions as a family.

A Jewish friend of mine who attends a Christian school like me, Noah Adler, reflected on these traditions, expressing how going to a Christian school became a learning experience for him by enabling him to connect with others outside of his circle.

“It started off really weird being the only Jew around, but I quickly adapted. Everybody around me was really nice and accepting. This experience taught me about the different kinds of cultures and people,” Adler said.

Like Noah, I too feel that my religious background has helped me develop a more open minded outlook on life. I am constantly curious about different perspectives and I’m always looking to gain a better understanding of how religious beliefs shape someone’s character.

Imagine what the world could be like if more people were exposed to different religions like this through the course of their childhoods. Would there be less conflict? Would there be more world peace? One thing’s for sure: it certainly wouldn’t hurt.

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About the Contributor
Houston Sandford
Houston Sandford, Staff Writer
Houston Sandford 25’ is a new staff member ofr the Shield and is looking forward to what this year has to offer. When she is not spending time with her family and friends, you can find her baking, working at Sushi Roku in Pasadena or binging “Working Moms.”

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