A Jewish woman’s journey into the Church

You never know how God will work.  The story, from Fargo and the Patch:

Susan Finneman can’t remember a time she wasn’t captivated by the Christian faith.

Though such a fascination shouldn’t be cause for scandal, in her case, throughout most of her life at least, there was a slight problem: she was Jewish.

By blood, perhaps, but not in the strictest religious sense, she admits.

“My parents weren’t particularly religious,” says the Fargo woman, who grew up the youngest of three children in the Lesnick household in Providence, R.I.

“It was not a sin not to go to temple but the orthodox and strong conservatives went to temple every Friday night and Saturday morning for the Sabbath, and honestly I never did that, though we celebrated the holidays like Passover and Hanukah.”

The family considered itself conservative, a designation falling in the middle of the Jewish-faith spectrum that includes orthodox on one end and reformed on the other, but according to Susan, the way they lived out their faith more closely matched reformed.

It surprised her to learn well into adulthood that her father was a Cohen, a descendant of the Jewish high priests of ancient days. “I’d just assumed all those years that we were Israelites.”

In the end, the foundation wasn’t enough to satisfy the curious youngster.

Susan remembers celebrating Hanukah, when the family would gather to light candles for eight days. But she didn’t view it as a religious event.

“It was more a recognition that there was enough oil to keep the lamps lit in the temple for eight days when there was only enough for one,” she notes. “It was considered a miracle.”

Despite growing up in a city with a large Jewish population, the Lesnick children weren’t immune from Christian influence. Acknowledging this, their parents agreed to celebrate Christmas as well.

“We didn’t have a Christmas tree, though I desperately wanted one, and I loved the lights and all that (the season) entailed,” Susan says.

To honor at least pieces of Christian tradition, her parents placed gifts under the dining room table, which had been adorned with Christmas decorations.

But her desire to experience Christmas didn’t end with tinsel and lights. In high school, Susan loved singing Christmas songs with her school choir and was the first to volunteer to go out caroling around the neighborhood. “Back then, if you were Jewish, you didn’t do that.”

And always, tucked away in the recesses of her mind, were questions of faith she dared not utter. “I never really talked about it or admitted it to anyone. I just didn’t. But I was really interested and did a lot of reading when I could find the books.”

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