Scale Back Your Domestic Ambitions

Your husband sounds like my husband and many husbands, Jewish and not, that I know. My husband actively participates in our religious home-life. He recites Shabbat blessings in Hebrew and English, takes adult education classes at our synagogue, drives Sunday school carpool, attends religious school parent presentations and welcomes friends into our home for holidays.

He doesn’t create invitations, meal plans, shop or cook. Except for enrolling himself in learning opportunities when he is interested, he doesn’t execute any aspect of our Jewish life.

But his lack of involvement in the preparation of religious activities has nothing to do with Judaism. He doesn’t implement any social or cultural things that we do.

I make birthday parties happen, plan vacations, coordinate social engagements and attendance at cultural and school events. I even ensure the Christmas tree is decorated. My husband’s dedication to his childhood tradition consists of purchasing the evergreen and putting it on a stand.

We’ve unconsciously adopted traditional male-female responsibilities and it sounds like you have too. It’s possible that your husband is dedicated to the holidays, but that implementation of them is secondary to his career. Conventional gender roles are strong. Even men who are invested in balancing work and parenthood find it difficult to be involved at home. Whether we like it or not, women continue to be the primary social organizers and exert a greater influence on a family’s religious engagement.

At times, this division of labor is frustrating, but it’s proven difficult to change. So, I’ve found ways to make holidays special while decreasing the work. Meals are potluck and store-prepared items and paper goods are sometimes used. Children’s activities have been simplified.

Remember, dedication is measured in more ways than the time invested in planning celebrations. Appreciate the other things your husband does to support your Jewish home and find opportunities to reduce holiday prep without sacrificing specialness.

Jane Larkin is the author of “From Generation to Generation: A Story of Intermarriage and Jewish Continuity.” She writes about interfaith relationships and Jewish living for Interfaithfamily and other outlets. She is a member of the board of directors of Big Tent Judaism. Follow her on Twitter @JaneLarkin6.

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Scale Back Your Domestic Ambitions

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