Meet Jewish Gateways Participants Laurie and Jim Kirkpatrick
Laurie was raised as a Jew and Jim as a Roman Catholic. Laurie says about her background:
My early experiences with Judaism were confusing and fraught with unspoken baggage. My mother was raised very Catholic, and in fact spent part of her childhood as a boarding student in a convent. My father was the son of an important figure in an Orthodox Jewish community. It took 18 years for my parents' families to get over their opposition to my parents' love and marriage. My father’s father didn’t speak to him for the rest of his life.
Jim and Laurie Kirkpatrick
Neither of my parents practiced religion. However, my father thought it was important that my sister and I have some religious foundation, so I began Jewish Sunday school in third grade, feeling “behind” and at sea. I did come to identify as Jewish and remained involved through high school. My most meaningful experiences were with the temple youth group, which took us outdoors for worship, study, and pleasure and gave me some of my first exposures to social justice, ethics, and philosophy.
By the time Jim and Laurie married, Jim had no interest in church involvement and they agreed to raise their children with Judaism. As Jim and Laurie's daughters grew older, they and Laurie attended High Holiday services together, in search of a comfortable setting and a meaningful experience.
Since finding Jewish Gateways, both Jim and Laurie have been drawn into a deeper and more serious involvement with Judaism. Jim explains:
My connection began in response to a sermon given by Rabbi Bridget that described a tradition called Mussar. Laurie shared the sermon with me after she heard it at High Holiday services. She and I developed a morning ritual of reflecting together on the previous day, contemplating our progress in living meaningful lives. We have now practiced this daily for about a year. We were both ready for more spiritual contemplation and socially just action in our lives, and wanted a practice in which we could join together. We talked with Bridget about our wish to participate in a Mussar group and to ask our friends to join.
That conversation led to the group meeting in our home. Jewish Gateways, and Mussar specifically, are helping me to be a better person and a better partner, and I tell friends and community members about this.
After Laurie shared Bridget's sermon with me, I came with Laurie to a High Holiday service and was surprised and pleased when Bridget welcomed me and invited me to participate in the service. Now we attend Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur as a family. Our grown daughters have voluntarily increased their involvement, and one of them is now starting Jewish Gateways' Adult Bar and Bat Mitzvah class.