After Her Husband’s Tragic Death, She Embraced a Religion and Culture Not Her Own


Yuki is a Japanese-born single mom. She has managed to raise her nine-year-old son Abi alone, after overcoming the sudden tragic death of her Jewish-American husband in San Francisco when Abi was just a baby. She is also a writer, surfer, foodie and someone who has created a space for her little family to thrive in.


Abi and Yuki live in San Francisco nine months of the year, visit her family in Japan for about two months and spend about a month on the East coast visiting her American in-laws.


Yuki raises Abi as a bilingual English/Japanese speaker. She speaks to him only in Japanese. Abi attends a public school in San Francisco. Yuki also sends Abi to a Jewish school, even though she is not Jewish. She celebrates Jewish festivities when her in-laws visit. My family experienced our first Passover seder at Yuki’s when her mother-in-law came to visit.


When I asked her why she was raising Abi Jewish, she told me, “I think children are like seeds.  It is your responsibility as parents to feed those seeds and help them grow.  I think that the more cultures and languages people are exposed to, the more chances there will be that they will grow up wanting peace, as they will be able to understand each other better.”


Another reason why she is raising Abi with Judaism is to keep a part of her husband alive in her son and preserve the culture and religion he would have wanted to pass on to his son.


After her husband’s passing, Yuki lived for sometime with her mother-in-law on the East coast.  Coming from an introverted culture, it was like a therapy for her to interact in such a direct way with her mother-in-law. Yuki said that if her husband were present, she would have never gotten to know her mother-in-law as well. They now have conversations that last until 4 am when they visit each other!


Yuki learned that only when you try to see the other person’s point of view, even if different than yours, can you understand them. That understanding is what leads to empathy, tolerance and peace. Yuki believes that the more languages and cultures you expose your kids to, the more opportunities you create for them to grow up wanting peace.




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Born to a large family in Quito, Ecuador, Carmen Cordovez went to bilingual Spanish/English school from kindergarten through high school. Her childhood was happily spent going to the beach and riding horses during the summer. She studied and worked in advertising in Ecuador, before moving to Brazil to study computer science. She then moved to San Francisco and worked as a database administrator for Oracle, followed by a start-up. She has always loved traveling, and before having kids, traveled as much as she could to places like India, Burma, Turkey and more. Since having her two American-Ecuadorian kids, she spends her time raising her children, creating art, traveling and doing occasional consulting projects. Her children are currently fourth and first graders in a Mandarin immersion school and are able to communicate in Mandarin. They are also fluent in Spanish and English. She happily spends her summers on a yearly pilgrimage to Ecuador (or other Spanish speaking countries) to visit family for her children’s bicultural/bilingual experience. Carmen blogs at about her experiences traveling.


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