You Need to Figure Out Your Priorities First

You can’t begin to help him navigate this until you and your spouse know exactly what you are trying to accomplish. As an observant Jew, I have a clear goal to raise my Jewish children as Jews, with all the richness, beauty and meaning that Judaism can offer them.

You also have a Jewish child. But what is your goal? Have you and your spouse decided to raise your child in both with the hope that he will grow up practicing some of both? Or, as is more typical, are you raising your son in both to avoid choosing a religion, with the expectation that your son will choose one when he gets older? Do each of you secretly hope he will pick your religion? Or is any choice he makes fine with you?

How you answer will determine how you help him navigate this. You ask if he can be both Christian and Jewish. No matter what anyone says (including in The Seesaw) – no, he cannot. There are many intermarried parents ostensibly raising their children in both, and communities have even formed around the “being both” concept. However, in those contexts, children aren’t fully practicing either religion. They can participate in something resembling a comparative religion course, with sanitized versions of each religion presented, inconvenient differences papered over, and everyone’s holidays celebrated with potluck dinners in a “Kumbaya” fashion. But to actually be a Christian in the full sense of that word while simultaneously identifying and practicing unambiguously as a Jew – no, that you cannot do.

It is hardly surprising that your son came back from a Christian camp wanting to be more Christian. Had you sent him to a Jewish camp, he would want to be more Jewish. And that’s the point. You will reap what you sow. But first you need to know just what you wish to sow.

Harold Berman is a professional content writer, and founder of the popular blog, ontheroadto50.com, about his adventures running multiple marathons and lessons learned for transcending our limits. Harold is a former Federation Executive Director, the founder of J-Journey.orghttp://j-journey.org/ (providing mentoring to intermarried families exploring the possibilities of observant life), and the co-author of “Doublelife: One Family, Two Faiths and a Journey of Hope,” about his “intermarriage gone Jewish.”

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