Newish words for me... New in that I am 41, and have only understood them for 15 years. My mother thinks it is ironic that I married a Jew, and am raising my kids as Jews. Because this California girl, called her upon sighting Orthodox Jews walking home from temple on a Saturday, and exclaimed, "I just saw Amish people." At that moment, my mother felt she had failed me. My cultural up-bringing was a miss.
I am Jewish by association. I know the prayers. I can make the food, better than my MIL, according to my kids. But I think they say that because they want me to make matzoh balls more often. I drive the kids to religious school. I am teaching a class at religious school this year. Ask my kids, what are you and they will all tell you they are Jewish. When my husband is not home, I take the kids to temple, by myself. I am the one who remembers to light the candle on Holocaust Remembrance Day. (Can't spell out all the Hebrew.) I think my household is more Jewish than many of my Jewish friends. Yet, I am not a Jew.
Yet, people have an issue with the fact that I am not Jewish. That I married a Jew and did not convert. Our Temple, which I love and is great, will not marry an interfaith couple. I think that this is wrong, because 1) Interfaith couples are going to get married anyway, so wouldn't it be wise to embrace them, as the Temple I got married in did, so that the non-Jewish spouse has a good first experience? 2) It belittles the contribution and sacrifice of the non-Jewish spouse.
As we embark on a New Year, for those of us who identify ourselves as Jews, take a minute to think, there are non-Jewish people making a positive contribution to Judaism. I hope that next year, the people that think interfaith marriage is wrong, stop for one minute and recognize that there are some of us who are working hard to create Jewishness within our homes, despite our own origins.