All Kinds Of Mothers
05/09/2011 - 15:08

A belated Happy Mother’s Day to all mothers, Jewish or not, who are raising Jewish kids!

And so as not to seem parochial, I will also add a belated Happy Mother’s Day to all mothers, regardless of what religion they are raising their children in, with the exception of monstrous child abusers like this family profiled in today’s New York Times.

Sorry for that very disturbing caveat, but I can’t get that story out of my head, even as I acknowledge that the overwhelming majority of moms out there, while all imperfect (except for me, ha ha), are doing amazing and very challenging work.

I won’t bore you with the details of my own Mother’s Day, except to say that we got to participate in a very inspiring family education program for Ellie’s second-grade Hebrew school class, enjoy the beauty of Forest Hills Gardens on a perfect spring day, watch my kids be entranced by picking dandelions and blowing wishes on them and eat an incredible vegetarian Middle Eastern lunch. Plus, the girls channeled their sibling rivalry into a Mothers Day present-making competition, which means I have amassed an enormous collection of pipe-cleaner jewelry, origami frogs and tissue-paper flowers now. (Oops, I guess I did bore you with all the details.)

Getting back to the topic of non-Jewish moms raising Jewish children — and segueing from there to non-Jews (and mostly women at that) engaging with Jewish culture — I hereby direct your attention to a marvelous article by my colleague Steve Lipman on a Passover seder he conducted this year in Poznan, Poland.

Steve was impressed by the many gentiles in attendance, most of them students in the Hebrew Language Studies program at Poznan’s Adam Mickiewicz University and most of them better versed in Hebrew and Jewish tradition than the Jewish participants:

Why are they studying Hebrew?
They were at a loss to say. Not for a career, because Hebrew fluency doesn’t lead to employment in Poland. Not because of Jewish boyfriends, because there are few Jews to meet here.
“We’re just interested,” one student offered.
Why are the Hebrew classes 90 percent female?
“Because we’re more ambitious” than the guys, one young lady explained.

While a regular comment-er to this site will no doubt insist, as she always does, that I’m writing about this because I think that gentile women are better than Jewish women (I don’t), I promise that is not my point. I am just saying that all sorts of people are drawn to Judaism and Jewish life, and that it is a good thing when we welcome, rather than discourage them.

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Nice sentiments but only Jewish women can give birth to and raise Jewish children. No amount of p.c. pro-intermarriage propaganda can change that fact.

I understand concerns about keeping Judaism distinctive and retaining its integrity, but I do think it's amusing that "sea of humanity" is considered a bad thing here. A "sea of inhumanity" or "sea of barbarism" I could see...

Well, if we "sink into a sea of humanity" because the rest of humanity learns Hebrew and converts to Judaism, then I'd have to say that wouldn't be a bad thing. I don't see how remaining a minority is better than having everyone else join us.

Not that I think Julie is suggesting we will "sink into a sea of humanity" in either case; that's just Anonymous completely misinterpreting Julie's words and going over the top. Again.

Come on Julie, why is it that "I am just saying that all sorts of people are drawn to Judaism and Jewish life, and that it is a good thing when we welcome, rather than discourage them."

It is a good thing for whom? For the Jewish people to disappear and be absorbed slowly but surely by the host culture -- even while the a few members of the host culture will go all multi-cultural on us and learn a few phrases in Hebrew?

We have been around for 3000 years mostly trying to navigate the experience of being a minority in a variety of dominate host cultures. But without trying to maintain our uniqueness, we will sink into the sea of humanity.

But I guess, in the end, that really is what you seem to advocate. Is that what you really want?