Ann Dee Lee was raised in the Jewish faith, surrounded mostly by Christians.
“You grow up from the time you’re very little knowing that you’re different, and accepting that, and that you have different times of the year than everyone else to celebrate, to pray, to mourn,” Lee said. “There is an apartness, if there is such a word, that makes you realize that you are not a part of the mainstream.”
Lee grew up in Tulsa and attends Temple B’Nai Israel in Oklahoma City, a reform Jewish congregation. Much of her life she had to deal with having a different set of customs and beliefs.
“I think it was harder as a kid,” Lee said. “You don’t want to be different. It’s difficult to have that courage of your own ego where it’s all right to be different.”
But Lee credits being different with making her stronger in her faith and in her life.
Her temple family has supported her through the years, even when her heart found someone outside of the Jewish faith.
When Lee went to college, she fell in love with a man who wasn’t Jewish.
“He doesn’t have a membership or identify with any other faith, but I can tell you that he knows more about Judaism than a lot of people,” Lee said.
After discussing it, they decided to raise their children Jewish.
“He knew that was important to me, so we opted that if we ever had kids, we would raise them in the Jewish faith, which is exactly what happened.”
Lee’s two sons are now in college. Even though they were the only Jewish children in their classes, she believes Oklahoma is a good place to raise a family.
“I found this a real good place to grow up Jewish.”