Editor’s note: The letter below comments on the original headline of Jodi Rudoren’s Nov. 19 “Looking Forward” column. That headline was changed shortly after publication, unrelated to this letter.
If Jewish leaders really want to support interfaith families and help them stay connected to Judaism, they must match their rhetoric with action.
For starters, it’s creepy, Susan Katz Miller writes.
Your son is going to be excited about Santa, if only for a few years. And the way I see it, there’s nothing you can really do about this except to work to get comfortable with the idea.
Keep your mother company at her holidays. Your future kids can handle it.
Millennials are far more experienced and comfortable in relationships that cross traditional race, culture, and religious boundaries. And our culture is much more supportive of such families than it was. So you do have many advantages, heading into this marriage, over the interracial and interfaith couples from earlier generations.
Your question pushes us straight to the center of the tension between Judaism as an exclusive tribe with some inherited “birthright” component (with ongoing debates about patriliniality/matrilineality), and Judaism as a practice and belief system open to any and all.
You must honor their decision, or risk breaking up the relationship and having your daughter blame you for her unhappiness.
Being both Christian and Jewish spans a huge spectrum of beliefs and practices. Encourage your son to continue his exploration, and try to offset any external pressure he may feel to choose one religion, at this tender age.
Tell them. Tell them so that they can engage with the reality that many interfaith children, whether or not they were raised with Judaism, whether they have a mother or father (or grandparent) who was Jewish, want to be part of the Jewish community. Tell them, because demographically, a significant percentage of their clients, staff, and donors in the future will come from interfaith families. Tell them, so that they understand the ways in which you are an asset to their organization, because you provide an increasingly important perspective.