When my husband read an early draft of this essay, he asked, "Why doesn't her partner have to support our daughter? After all, they agreed to raise children as Jews." What does it mean to raise a Jewish child?Go To Parenting
I met Wyman Brent on Twitter–he’s a librarian, which already biased me in his favor. Today he posted to tell his Twitter followers, “Tomorrow at 12 I sign agreement for Vilnius Jewish Library. 1st real Jewish library in Lithuania since war.” In an article in the Baltic Times, “Making the Vilnius Jewish Library a Reality,” he explained,
“It’s kind of strange because I’m not Jewish and I’m not of Lithuanian descent,” said Brent.
There is still a small Jewish community in Vilnius, once called the Jerusalem of Lithuania. (In Yiddish, it’s called Vilna.) This is very interesting to me as a person working for an organization that serves interfaith Jewish families, since most of the small remnant of the formerly vibrant and large communities in Eastern Europe are in such families. And also — it’s Vilna, where Hirsch Glik wrote the stirring song of resistance with the chorus, “Mir zaynen doh” — we are here.
Another web resource about small Jewish communities is the Small Synagogues website, http://www.smallsynagogues.com/. It contains the sweet stories of synagogues in small towns like Abilene, Texas and Sheboygan, Wisc. I really liked the warm tone of Sherry Levine Zander’s articles. That, too, has overlap with the lives of a lot of children of interfaith families who grew up as the only Jews in small towns.
Today is Yom HaShoah, Holocaust Remembrance Day. I learned while I was doing the research for our Jewish Holidays Cheat Sheet that the reason it falls now is that the Israeli government wanted the commemoration of the Holocaust to be tied to the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. I just read a beautiful book about Catholic Poles who hid Jews in Warsaw during the war, The Zookeeper’s Wife, and another, more recent book about the heroic effort of archivists to preserve a record of the Warsaw ghetto, Who Will Write Our History? by Samuel Kassow. The story of something as huge and overwhelming as the Shoah is only accessible in small piece, individual stories.
Such a story is contained in the film Out of Faith, a documentary about the life of a Holocaust survivor and her relationship with her grandchildren in interfaith marriages. When the film was first released, we published a review of the film, an essay by the director of the film, Lisa Leeman and an essay the producer of the film, L. Marc DeAngelis. They had contrasting perspectives on interfaith marriage and how the Jewish community should deal with it. Leeman is herself the child of an interfaith marriage. Continue reading