In Sarah Littman's book, Confessions of a Closet Catholic, Littman (a Reform Jewish woman) writes a tale of a Jewish girl who decides to give up Judaism for Lent and practice Catholicism. She takes Communion with matzos and grape juice and confesses to her teddy bear "priest". Then, her very Jewish grandmother dies, which makes her question whether it's God's punishment and whether she should return to Judaism. The author does say in an interview that her character resembles her teenage self in a spiritual-seeker sort of way.

What is the truth behind this story? Is it really spiritually dangerous to practice Christianity? Since idolatry is forbidden in Judaism, what are the spiritual and earthly consequences?

  • See this book written by a renowned Rabbi: simpletoremember.com/vitals/the_real_messiah.pdf Commented Feb 10, 2014 at 2:56
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    I think a more interesting question is related to the case of Crypto-Jews -- those Jews from Spain and Portugal who had, under risk of death or expulsion, chose to formally convert to Catholicism while secretly maintaining Jewish customs and observance, marrying only other crypto-Jews, and even placing relatives who were also crypto-Jews into the priesthood so that they could create a paper trial of Catholic baptisms, weddings, and funerals that never occurred. See Genie Milgrom's book, My Fifteen Grandmothers on this subject. The issue then would be whether this lie was legal under halacha. Commented Feb 10, 2014 at 19:54
  • This is a very interesting question and I don't think there is a direct answer, as it implies a variety of answers. However, at least from the Catholic perspective (which I have able credentials to answer for), nothing happened when she did these things. Catholic teaching would support the idea that any of these actions were actually "Catholic" or, for that matter, Christian, but were instead just a child imitating rituals. Commented Apr 28, 2014 at 14:59
  • Beyond that, if she was an adult (I am uncertain of the girl's age in this story), there would definitely be a difference. From the Catholic perspective she would be committing grave sins by imitating ministers, if she knows this law. From a Jewish perspective, similar to @shalom's answer below, it just doesn't make a lot of sense. Christianity seemingly accepts Judaism, but doesn't actually do so, whereas Jewish belief necessarily go in an entirely different direction than Christian beliefs. They are far apart and, like a channel between two islands, one cannot have one leg on each island. Commented Apr 28, 2014 at 15:03

2 Answers 2


In general, don't try to obtain your knowledge of Judaism from episodes of Arthur or from fiction stories. People make things up in the interest of the story. There are much better, and more accurate, sources for learning about Judaism.

Yes, in general, it is considered not a good thing for a Jewish person to practice another religion.

But in terms of the grandmother dying in punishment for the sin, or "sin", of the girl, consider Deuteronomy 24:16:

“Fathers shall not be put to death because of their children, nor shall children be put to death because of their fathers. Each one shall be put to death for his own sin."

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    If I could upvote twice, I would. Commented Feb 10, 2014 at 3:35

I'm not sure what to make of "spiritually dangerous."

Jews are prohibited from practicing Christianity, and it's considered a very severe sin.

The point is that God made a law and therefore I'm obligated to keep it. Not that I get to be selfish about avoiding activities that are "spiritually dangerous."

Thousands of years ago, in rare occasions, the death penalty could be given for idol worship. Today Jews don't give corporal punishments; we believe God will apply whatever punishment is appropriate for this person's situation. As for exactly what that will be -- and whether it will be in this world or the next -- that's for God to figure out, not us.

  • When I said "spiritually dangerous", I was thinking more along the lines of "punishment by God".
    – Double U
    Commented Feb 10, 2014 at 1:59
  • If God chose you to be a light to the nations and part of that is that you put away evil from your midst, than why do you cease to do what God instructed in regard to abolishing evil from your midst. I can understand maybe where you are in the diaspora and the legislative, executive and judicial systems are not in Jewish hands. But in Israel where the government is Israeli, is leaving God to apply the punishment he instructed you to bring forth even an option? Is that not a sin of omission? Is that not disobedience?
    – user2411
    Commented May 12, 2016 at 12:29

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