Large Multicultural Family Finds a Jewish Home In North Carolina

Though they did not start off life as Jews, Puah Millsaps and her multiracial family have never felt more welcome than they do in the Jewish world. Be’chol Lashon caught up with this busy mom between homeschooling lessons to hear more about her family’s unusual journey, their joys and challenges.

Team Be’chol Lashon: Tell us a bit about your family.

Millsaps: We have five children and one on the way this summer.

BL: Is it a challenge to be such a big family?

Millsaps: Of course. Especially when my husband Brett is at work, and I am doing the parenting on my own. When it is the two of us it is easier. Now that we have older kids, it’s easier. It flows. We have our routines.

When we go out without Brett, the most common comment is “you have your hands full.” Today’s society is not set up for big families. With both parents working, most people can’t have big families. We don’t have family-oriented homes. It is not as intimate as it once was. There are not used to seeing big families. In Asheville, [where we live] we get lots of positive comments about a beautiful family.

BL: Are there any challenges because you are a multiracial family?

Millsaps: Being a multiracial family has not really popped up. When we got together, [me and my husband] we were living in West Virginia in a small town and they had no diversity, except the college kids. So a couple times we got looks, but we didn’t really pay attention. We do know that there are places out there that will do that. We have not run across that. We have never had discrimination in housing or jobs. In the Jewish community, the concern is more about us being converts and having so many children.

BL: How did you come to Judaism?

Millsaps: I grew up in Christianity with my family. My father and his lifelong best friend moved to West Virginia when I was 13 and when I turned 22 they were into a movement of finding their faith. It was all within the Christian tradition. When I was 18 they started looking for a church of their own and I went with them. We were Pentecostal for about six years and then my dad’s friend found a Hebrew Roots movement because in our small town there were no synagogues there was no way to have a broad Jewish affiliation.