Phyllis Miller’s experience growing up in Southern California wasn’t much different from that of many American Jews.

The product of an intermarriage — her mother wasn’t Jewish but later converted — Miller’s family attended synagogue occasionally, kept the kids home from school on the High Holidays and ate matzah on Passover.

But Miller’s religious life took an unusual turn in her high school years in San Diego, when she embraced the Mormon church.

After a year of resistance from her parents, she was baptized at age 16 in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. She later moved to Utah, enrolled in Brigham Young University, married a Mormon and raised six kids as Latter-day Saints, or LDS.

For decades afterward, Miller felt part of her identity was missing. So about 20 years ago, she started celebrating Hanukkah again. Later she found her way to a synagogue seder. These days Miller, 55, often wears her Star of David necklace and every six months she attends the semiannual gathering of B’nai Shalom, a Jewish Mormon group that holds events in this city on the eve of the twice-yearly LDS general conferences.

Make no mistake, however: Miller is still Mormon. She just celebrates her Jewishness, too.
“I still consider myself Jewish,” said Miller, whose grandfather was Larry Fine, one of The Three Stooges. “I feel like I just added on to my faith.”

Miller is among at least hundreds of Jews across North America who have converted to Mormonism yet still practice some Jewish traditions and identify as Jewish. They see no contradiction between the two.

“Being Jewish is my heritage,” Miller said. “It’s not like you can just get rid of it.”

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