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Where Do We Fit In?

Being a somewhat Shomer Shabbos Jew married to a non-Jew, I often feel a little at odds with my Jewish identity.  Where, exactly, does my family fit in?

Jewish spirituality is definitely made up of categories: Reform, Conservative, Orthodox, cultural, secular – just to name a few. 

A friend’s daughter asked me “Are you Orthodox?”

She cowered after she asked, because she felt she had asked too personal a question.  I reassured her that it was a perfectly acceptable question.  I wondered that myself, who am I spiritually?

I eat Kosher food.  I observe Shabbat and the holidays (as in no electricity, driving, writing, etc.).  I dress modestly.  I am a member of a Modern Orthodox synagogue. 

We are raising our son with Jewish values. 

I struggle with the notion that I will be teaching my son different values than the ones I grew up with, the same ones that led me to marry a non-Jew.  How would I teach him to make different choices than mine?  Would I be a Jewish hypocrite? 

Is there a place for our Jewishly observant family with a non-Jewish parent within a typically Orthodox paradigm?

The answer to that question depends on who you ask.  My husband, for the moment, is not interested in converting.  We would have to be accepted as we are: a Jewish parent, a non-Jewish parent and one Jewish little boy. 

Throughout my spiritual journey, I have constantly asked myself, Who am I, What am I doing and What is my potential?  Essentially I want to understand where my Jewish spirituality is headed.  The answer to those questions will not only impact my own life, but will influence my marriage and our parenting decisions. 


Chana-Esther Dayan

Chana-Esther Dayan lives in Ottawa, Canada, with her husband of five years. She is learning to integrate her Jewish faith in her daily living in a mixed marriage. Since there are no real rules, Hannah and her husband are learning as they go.

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