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What Does Jewish Identity Look Like in Your Home?

We recently asked parents and grandparents to weigh in about what’s important to you about raising your kids/grandkids with Jewish identity. (It’s not too late if you’d like to weigh in! Parents can visit this form, and grandparents can go here.) Are milestones like a bar mitzvah important? What about celebrating holidays or spending time with Jewish family members? How are our readers raising kids in interfaith families with a Jewish identity? Here’s what you said:

Parents

It’s important to me that my children know where they come from, and their family history. If they choose to have a bat/bar mitzvah, that’s great, but I prefer they know the history and humor of the Jewish people. I want them to form a Jewish identity around the positive—the holidays, the family values, the community connection. My baby son falls asleep to me singing “Bublitchki” in Yiddish. I hope that stays with him forever.

-Renata, MA

I love instilling in my children the traditions of how we do things the same way Jews have been doing for generations. Every holiday, every Shabbat, every Shiva, we have a methodical way of doing things and it makes us feel connected to our ancestors. Whenever my toddler sees a candle, he puts his hands in front of his eyes and babbles to the tune of our prayer. He doesn’t understand the “why” yet, but he understands the routine and it’s already a part of him.

-Jasmine, MI

Jewish milestones are important but so is respecting my spouse’s heritage and their family’s traditions.

-Sarah, VT

Raising my daughter in the Jewish faith keeps us connected to our heritage and family—especially my father who chose Judaism. I love sharing this connection with my daughter.

-Sasha, KS

Choosing to be Jewish is not the easiest road. When we chose this path, I knew there would be people and places that wouldn’t like my kids because of it. But I also knew that Judaism offered my kids a solid foundation of lifelong skills: that education and questions are key to understanding, that family matters, that history and heritage are always relevant. That G-d is what connects all of humanity and that according to Judaism all people are important and valued.

-Elizabeth

Grandparents

I was a bat mitzvah. My two daughters were both a bat mitzvah. Now, my oldest grandson soon turns 13, but he will not have a bar mitzvah (and his younger siblings likely also will not). That he has a Jewish mother and a father [who is not Jewish] is only part of the reason. He and his siblings are being raised with strong Jewish-based ethics and celebrations of Shabbat and home-oriented Jewish holidays, but no formal Jewish education or synagogue attendance. While I hope my grandkids identify as Jewish, I feel like the bar mitzvah has largely become a showpiece that has lost its meaning amid the partying.

-Linda, CO

My grandchildren are being raised Jewish and love celebrating the holidays with family! But they also celebrate with their dad’s family without the religious overtones. -Sharon, NJ

-Sharon, NJ

Ceremonies and holidays are a major part of being Jewish. I raised three children Jewish after being raised Catholic and converting to Judaism before I got married. I have five grandchildren (so far) and all them are in interfaith households. They all are aware of their Jewish backgrounds and participate in Jewish Holidays even though four out of five of them are not being raised Jewish. I personally believe that they are more well-rounded because of their multifaith upbringings.

-James, PA

18Doors

18Doors is here to support interfaith couples and families exploring Jewish life. We offer educational content; connections to welcoming organizations, professionals and programs; resources and trainings for organizations, clergy and other program providers; and our Rukin Rabbinic Fellowship provides offerings for couples in cities nationwide. If you have questions, please contact info@18doors.org.

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Author: 18Doors