About Me · Family

Didn’t Your Non-Jewish Parent Have Problems With Your Being Raised Jewish?

A common question I (and other kids of intermarriages) get asked is: “How did your non-Jewish parent feel about your being raised Jewish? Didn’t s/he object?”

Hmmm, interesting… So, the assumption here might be that the non-Jewish spouse will be hostile (or even have an anti-Semitic slant) towards Jews, Judaism, or Jewish ‘culture’ and still have married a Jew? Sounds like a hard thing to have accomplished unless the Jewish spouse is a self-loathing Jew (of which there are many), is involved in an abusive relationship, or simply didn’t see who they were marrying. All of which are possible, although perhaps not so likely for those who are conscious about their status of a “border-crossing” marriage.

In fact, I have witnessed more ambivalence towards Judaism and the concern for being “too Jewish” from Jewish parents more often than not. This is the same whether it is one or two Jewish parents. The outcome is that kids of two Jewish parents who both feel ambivalent or hostile towards being Jewish grow up with that intense ambivalence themselves. I have heard of a lot more intermarried families where the non-Jewish spouse was the more adamant or supportive one to instill a sense of Jewish identity in the child.

My parents? They are committed humanists, which makes them incredible curious and accepting people, particularly of their spouse’s cultural, historical, and ethnic backgrounds. My mother has made it her profession to be an expert on my father’s culture and language and my father reads up on a lot about my mother’s people, culture, and historical languages. When my father goes abroad, he looks for the local museum on my mother’s people.

Hostility towards Jewish people and Judaism? I witnessed a lot more from secular Jews with two Jewish parents than from most non-Jews except for anti-Semites.

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