Honor the Heck Out of Her in Non-Religious Ways

There are so many blessings that come from the open, interfaith world in which we live; what you describe, though, is one of its more difficult vicissitudes. We’ve created a world in which children choose their religious path, and the hard part is that they do – often away from the parent who empowered them.

Obviously, this is hard for parents, exactly in the way you describe. Even as they are entirely supportive of their children’s choices, there is a strong, instinctual desire to have your children keep on your religious traditions. We seek continuity – the feeling that we’re not the last in the chain.

Though there will always be twinges of difficulty for her, in my experience, this feeling of impending loss diminishes with time. As she sees that you are still her daughter, that you are still connected – it will assuage her concerns.

But what I’ve said is predicated on the reality that you remain closely connected. Honor the heck out of her. Find the things that she has passed on to you that supersede religion, and consciously emphasize them. Remember her holidays, even if you don’t celebrate them. Make sure that she has a place at your Jewish table.

There isn’t a replacement for continuing her traditions. But the thing that comes closest is making sure that you see her, and those things that are valuable to her – as she wishes them to be seen. Let her know that your gaze is on her, and it will go a long way.

Rabbi Scott Perlo is a rabbi at Sixth & I Historic Synagogue in Washington D.C, a unique institution that reaches out to Jewish and “Jewish adjacent” young professionals of all denominations and backgrounds.

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Honor the Heck Out of Her in Non-Religious Ways

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