Do It For Your Son

Intermarriage and parenthood are great opportunities to re-evaluate your relationship with Judaism. Just because your parents’ Judaism didn’t resonate doesn’t mean that there isn’t another type that could enrich your life. There are more varieties of Conservative synagogues and other streams of Judaism than when you were raised. Instead of focusing your pregnant energy on convincing your parents or rejecting their ideals, use this special time to explore the many Jewish options that exist today.

Even if you don’t care about being Jewish, your son may care. Create a meaningful bris experience for his sake. Since you already plan to circumcise him, why not do it at home in the presence of a few loved ones and close friends? It does not have to be an elaborate ceremony nor a full-fledged party. You can design a personal gathering and keep it a casual affair, even a potluck. If you’d prefer the actual foreskin removal be done in private, take your baby into another room.

When my daughter was born, I read The New Jewish Baby Book by Anita Diamant to help me devise a brit bat (covenant of the daughter) that felt right in all respects. Years later, when Shira was in first grade, we created a presentation about it for “show and tell” at her school. Had I done nothing when she was named, there would have been nothing to share. Having some foresight is part of parenting.

Your child will still be Jewish no matter what you do or don’t do so you might as well give him a culturally significant welcome-to-the-world celebration even if religion per se isn’t the goal. Leave the door open for your son to have a stronger Jewish identity in the future if he so chooses. It may be a point of pride for him that it hasn’t been for you. You won’t regret having a bris; but you may very well regret not having one.

Dr. Keren R. McGinity is an intermarriage consultant affiliated with Brandeis University. Her books include the newly released “Marrying Out: Jewish Men, Intermarriage, and Fatherhood” and “Still Jewish: A History of Women and Intermarriage in America”, a National Jewish Book Award finalist. Learn more at

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Do It For Your Son

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