One of the most significant principals of Jewish marriage is sholom bayis, peace in the house. Jewish texts allow spouses to tell white lies to preserve the peace. The Talmud suggests that sholom bayis is more important than ritual practice. In , the rabbis state that if you can only afford enough oil to either light your house or light the Hannukah candles, you must light your house to avoid the unpleasantness that could arise within your marriage if the house is left dark.
If you view your in-laws celebration of their culture as a confrontation, it will be a confrontation. And your children will be forced to choose between your wife’s traditions or yours. That is not fair to any of them.
I believe you mean well when you suggested that you should bite your tongue, but the condition you presented alongside this — the balancing their Catholicism with some Jewish stuff — is not something that will lead to peace in house. The problem with it is that it involves wielding your will without concern for others. There are other options out there besides acting on your own and telling them you’ve had enough. And the best way to discover these options is through working with your wife.
When you married your wife, you implicitly agreed to a beautiful challenge: a multicultural home. That means getting to know her culture, as well as sharing yours with her. As a first step, I did a little New Testament reading, and I am struck by Romans 14:19, “Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification.” Peace takes work, and it is a shared task. In pursuit of sholom bayis, you will need to do the work of peace with your partner. I wish you success.
Benjamin Kamine is a New York-based stage director, primarily focused on new works. His recent credits include productions at The Goodman Theatre in Chicago, The Flea Theater in New York, and development work with companies all over the country. He was a 2014-15 Fellow at LABA: A Laboratory for Jewish Culture, and is currently working to expand his knowledge of Jewish texts.