Article Discussion: Because Their Children Are Jewish

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This topic has 5 voices, contains 5 replies, and was last updated by  Debbie B. 1522 days ago.

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July 14, 2010 at 4:00 am #4863

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Click here to read the article: Because Their Children Are Jewish

July 14, 2010 at 3:36 pm #4865

Cassie

Thank you for this article! As always, Interfaith Family provides insightful articles of issues in interfaith families. My husband and I have talked about this issue exactly. I told him I’m not raising my children Jewish just so they can say they are Jews, but because I want them to be religiously and spiritually Jewish. He knows that I expect him take the lead on this and I will support him in any way I can. I have learned how to make challah, how to prepare for Passover, what Jewish holidays mean so I can be his support system.

July 14, 2010 at 9:43 pm #4867

Dawn Kepler

Thanks for the article, Jennifer.  My one frustration is that this is a finding that keeps being rediscovered.  I do wish we would read the studies we pay for.  But perhaps it can’t be stated enough.  Yes, it’s 2010, but women still run the household and raise the kids.

A Catholic woman on a  panel program I had was asked, “Do you care whether your kids (now 24 and 26) continue to be Jewish, marry Jews and raise Jewish kids?”  She replied, “Yes!  I worked very hard to raise them as Jews.  I want to see that it mattered.”

Some of the most powerful relationships I see are those where women are helping women.  Doesn’t matter whether they are both Jewish, doesn’t matter whether one is 68 and the other 34, they connect and get the job done.  And as you point out, Jennifer, the job is frequently raising children.

July 15, 2010 at 1:43 pm #4868

Dr. Jennifer Thompson

Cassie, your comments reflect what I’ve heard from a lot of women. Good for you! Dawn, the reason that we keep rediscovering women’s importance is because public discourses about intermarriage have continued to reiterate the same “truths” over the past few decades even when they don’t reflect the actual experiences of intermarried couples or the educators and clergy who work with them. This gap between discourses and experience is the subject of the book I’m working on.

July 20, 2010 at 4:07 pm #4889

Chris

As a Catholic mother of two Jewish children who bakes challah for holidays, hosts Seders for Yom Kippur and recently planned all facets of my daughter’s Bat Mitzvah including the service, this article really hits home for me. While my husband may be Jewish by birth, I am the person who is creating Jewish traditions and life in our home. This makes it more hurtful when my husbands family, Jewish friends and or clergy at the local temple tell me that my children “aren’t really Jewish” because I am not. It is comforting to know that others have the same issues.

July 21, 2010 at 8:07 pm #4911

Debbie B.

Jennifer,

I think that researchers who have looked at intermarriage have often framed their studies and interpretations based on their own pre-conceived ideas. For example, I have seen references to statistics about divorce in intermarriage, but there is not usually a careful analysis of other contributing factors. There could be some other factor that correlated with intermarriage that led to an increase in divorce rather than the interfaith aspect of the couple. Or the way in which the sample pool was chosen may have preferentially identified intermarried couples who divorced. These kind studies seem to be very poorly done in general and neglect the important and difficult part of the analysis, but rather seem to jump to conclusions. And there is the usual focus on the negative statistics, such as in the above example, dismissing as not interesting all the couples who did not get divorced.

I think it is usually clear that the researchers did not start with a positive view of intermarriage, so it is not surprising that their conclusions support the negative views they started with. And the one factor that these studies invariably ignore is the negative response of other people to intermarriage (which people in in-marriages do not have to deal with). When people are rejected and criticized and treated poorly, is it a surprise when some of them have what might be seen as negative reactions in turn? It is definitely a “blame the victim” situation.

I hope that you will continue to share your findings with Interfaith Family. A lot of people in interfaith families appreciate being able to learn about other families like their own, whether for tips on managing issues or simply the emotional support of knowing that there are others in the same situation.

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