As I was stumbling around getting dressed this morning, the Today Show had this little piece on Interfaith families during the holidays. One family was Jewish-Catholic, and chose to raise their kids Jewish so as to not confuse them. The other family was Jewish-Catholic and what do they do? Take their kids to shul on Friday and mass on Sunday.
Whoa whoa whoa -- what?
Now, the funny thing about that second family is that they were showing a church and a synagogue -- not sure if they're the ones these folks go to, but I can only assume that they'd use the ones they went to (they showed them inside the church, but not the synagogue). The synagogue turned out to be that one I wrote about a few weeks ago that caused a huge ruckus over on Jewsbychoice.org. Yes, the synagogue that I felt was too light on its ritual and tradition -- even for a Reform convert from Nebraska like myself. Coincidence? I think not. But maybe that is the type of family it caters to -- those on the fringe, raising kids as Christian Jews? I don't meant to sound so harsh, and if I come across as harsh, forgive me. But I just do not get it.
My beef with interfaith families has nothing to do with holding on to the beliefs you hold fast to. After all, people are usually shocked to find out that I didn't convert for some Yeshiveh boy I wanted to marry (a la Sex and the City's Charlotte converting to marry Harry Goldenblatt). No, I converted for me, myself, and I. No outside influence, not even a really close Jewish friend to call my own. I did it to fulfill my own prophecy, not someone else's. So I applaud the couples for sticking to their religious guns and making it work in the ceremony, with a rabbi and a priest, etc. I always wonder how these folks choose the synagogue over the church (I'd think synagogue since the church is an evolvement of the synagogue, right?).
Would I ever hold such a wedding? No way, sir. The confusion, oy!
My beef with these couples comes when it's time to have and raise kids. I applaud the first family for settling into raising their kids Jewish. Typically these kind of situations arise when one of the individuals isn't as devout or religious as the other, and I think that more often than not the kids end up getting raised Jewish. But that second family ... how can you seriously take your kids to both services? How can you cause such confusion, such ridiculousness. I don't understand the logic behind such things. It's a proven fact that kids raised in those situations often grow up without any faith or religious beliefs at all, driven away from both faiths instead. I just don't get it! Pick one, stick to it, teach your kids softly about the other, and just go with it! In these cases I have to wonder if the parents agreed to disagree and put their kids out on the plank because they couldn't go one way or the other. Why punish the kids with confusion and distress?
Of course, this means I intend to raise my kids Jewishly ,and I fully intend on marrying someone who also intends to do so. It was a vow I took when I chose to become a Jew, and it is a vow that holds fast to my heart. No, I don't intend to live vicariously through their bar and bat mitzvahs and Hebrew school and other life moments because I did not have the chance to experience those as a child. I simply want my children to grow up with an understanding of Judaism, the people and the culture and tradition and religion that I fell so deeply into. I would rather have children completely cognizant of one of the world's religions than none at all. My children will have full right to choose what they want to do when they reach adulthood, and I rue the day that I raise a child driven away from Judaism because of my actions or the way that I raised him or her.