Thursday, April 11, 2013

Not really Jewish, but Jew-ish

I married a Jew. We are raising our kids Jewish. I am not Jewish, but sometimes I do feel... I don't know... Jew-ish? Before I go on, let me answer all the questions my non-Jew friends and family always ask when they first find out:

See? Told you. Pork & shrimp. And Pizza.
  1. No, I'm not converting. Yes, that's ok with Ethan's family.
  2. No, we do not keep kosher. We have a freezer full of pork and shrimp and we LOVE IT.
  3. Yes, we do belong to a temple, but that does not mean we're really religious.
  4. Yes, we celebrate both Christmas and Hanukkah, yes it is a big pain in the ass.
  5. Yes, my kids are "real Jews" I don't care what the guy you knew in college says.
  6. Yes, my husband's nose is huge.

My husband is an atheist but he feels strong cultural ties with his Jewish heritage. Currently I'd say I'm some crazy mixed up Jew-ish agnostic Irish Catholic blob of self-doubt. Let me expand on that a little. My parents were raised Catholic. Nuns, confession, confirmation, the works. I was baptized Catholic. Then we hopped around to a few churches, and I ended up taking first communion at a Lutheran Church. Then basically quit Church all together and worked at the hardware store on Sundays. I never felt really firmly rooted in anything religious and I was a budding liberal with a faith in science. I had a Darwin fish on my car and religious tracts were slipped into my coat pocket by a friend's dad. And then I married an atheist Jew. I might be going straight to hell. I'd be more worried if I were sure it existed. 

We were featured in an article about inter-faith families
Now we're raising our kids Jewish and that has presented a few new challenges  First off, I don't know shit about Judaism. I've learned a lot in the last decade with Ethan (that's my husband, I got sick of calling him my husband, his name is Ethan damnit) but I have a lot more to learn. Like, I can belt out a great rendition of Bim Bam, but ask me to say the blessing over the bread and you'll probably end up hearing about wine or candles or just jibberish that sounded like Hebrew to me. And please never ask me when any of the holidays are, because even Ethan doesn't know that, and he's a real Jew! Our kids are so screwed. But knowing every detail and doing every tradition the right way isn't what being Jewish means to our family.

Being Jewish (or Jew-ish) means raising our kids with a sense of community and an understanding of their ancestry. It means celebrating life, love, and family twice as often because we totally get double holidays. It means having a keener eye for where people in the religious minority are being left out. It means one day singing hava nagila at my daughters' weddings. But most often it means rolling my eyes and going with it when my husband insists we have to shop at Costco because it would be against his cultural heritage to pay a higher unit price for frozen pizza. 

11 comments:

  1. I'm totally with Ethan on not paying a higher unit price for frozen pizzas. It's against my "religion" too :)

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    1. haha, ok, now you're official an adopted atheist Jew. :)

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  2. I love the phrase jew-ish! :0) I bet your kids are chuffed they get double holidays. Your little ones are so lucky to be raised by people who can give them that community and appreciation of their ancestry - so many don't get that chance any more. Great post!

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    1. Thanks. I'm not sure my kids appreciate it yet, because I'm not sure they realize that not everybody gets both Christmas and Hanukkah, and things like that, but I hope they do eventually. :)

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  4. Being Jewish or Jew-ish is so much more than a religion! Good Shabbos.

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    1. I totally had to look up Shabbos. haha. I'm learning more each day. :)

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  5. Nice post and agree. My great grandmother was a jew who married out,we weren't brought up Jewish. Funnily enough whenever I read anything connected to Judaism I feel a strong pull deep inside me.
    If you like science try reading 'butterflies are free to fly' you can download it free from the author at http://butterfliesfree.com it's quantum physics and spirituality, interesting way of looking at life.
    #atozchallenge
    maggie winter

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    1. Thanks, I'll have to look at that. It's amazing what things trigger that connected feeling in us.

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  6. ha ha! I loved that last line. This was fascinating to read. I really enjoyed it.

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