I live in an area where many of my friends are in mixed-religion marriages. On my block alone, three lovely lady friends are married to Jewish men. At my neighborhood book club the other week, two more friends mentioned that they’re married to Jewish guys. (People do say that Jewish men make the best husbands. I wouldn’t know! But my dad is a great guy.) This is common: Interfaith couples make up nearly 40 percent of marriages these days.
Anyway, several of these friends, also moms, have begun experimenting with spirituality with their kids. That sounds New Age-y: What I mean is, they’ve enrolled in learning programs, started attending services on occasion or participated in other community events through local temples (usually Temple Isaiah, nearby). Nothing stringent or overwhelming. Just wading in.
I’ve begun thinking about doing the same with my kids, but a few things are making me hesitate. I didn’t grow up in a religious household at all, and so I don’t even know where to begin.
1. Commitment. I want my kids to have context about religion, and some history and education, but I also don’t know that we can structure our weekly lives around attending services the way, say, my parents did growing up (or the way my husband, who resentfully attended CCD as a kid, had to). Is there a place for people who just want to “learn more”? Is that a cop out?
2. Imposter syndrome! This sounds dramatic, but my grandparents on my mom’s side were Catholic, and that’s part of our identity, too. So I want to make sure to balance their religious education properly instead of over-identifying with one side or another. I love my Nana!
3. Sheer, outright cluelessness. As I mentioned, I wasn’t raised in a religious household whatsoever. I worship Roz Chast and Larry David. Will I feel like an outsider or an interloper?
These things aside, I’m going to give it a try, even though I kind of feel like a middle-schooler wading into a crowded cafeteria. We’re going to try the Tot Shabbat at Isaiah, I think, which sounds somewhat manageable for squirmy kids (only 30 minutes!), and it’s tough to go wrong with food.
Right? Anything else I should know? Why do I feel like I’m 13 years old and about to start junior high school?
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