I concede that I haven’t worried too much about passing on my (new) Jewish culture to my children. With my family history, I’m more worried about giving them a loving, sane environment. I don’t worry so much about that environment being Jewish. But then again, I am spoiled. My husband is studying to be a rabbi. He gives really good public relations for Judaism. But then have you heard what they say about the rabbi’s children? Maybe I should be more worried.
I have seen others go through the painful process of watching their children become less and less religious and observant, of not wanting to be Jewish or identify as Jewish. And oy, was it painful to watch! Just thinking about it makes me feel like my heart is drying up into a little raisin-like shape. I can’t imagine how painful it is when the parents have worked their butts off to adopt Judaism as adults.
My convert friend worries that she might overwhelm her children with too much information “for fear of the children drifting from their Jewish roots.” I can see myself doing the same. Mommy will probably be too happy to help Baby learn Hebrew. (At least, until Baby’s understanding exceeds Mommy’s and then G-d willing, Daddy will take over Mommy will overdose on things like this because she didn’t get them in her childhood.) It would be heartbreaking if my children drifted and even more heartbreaking, if I could have avoided it somehow.
I like to think that if I can pass on how happy Mommy is with the culture and religion she’s adopted, that Baby will be happy, too. Because I’ve also seen what happens when the rabbi’s kid turns out great and loves Judaism with such a passion that it’s infectious. That’s the kind of passion I want to exude. That’s the kind of passion I hope my children will share. That’s the kind of stuff that keeps me up at night. Am I being passionate enough? How can I get more passionate?
And yes, I’m worried about explaining that though Auntie takes her celebration of Halloween very seriously, we’ll only be dressing up for Purim. But the craziest thing is that Auntie is pretty supportive of having Jewish nieces and nephews. She’d probably tell them Christmas wasn’t as cool as Chanukah because she’s celebrated both. And maybe, they’ll believe if it’s not coming from just me alone.
And I guess that’s just it. I have to hope. I have to hope that if I surround myself with the right people. The infectious sort. The kind that remind me why I wanted to be Jewish in the first place. That my children will make the same choice I made and they’ll want to be Jewish, too. You hear that G-d? No funny business. I don’t think my heart could take it.