Saturday, May 1, 2010

Interfaith Families

You did not think that I would let the recent ruling the Reyes case go without comment?  You don't know me very well if you did!

For those not in the know, Joesph Reyes sued his ex-wife for the right to take is preschool aged daughter to Easter and Christmas services.  Their custody arrangement stated that Mr. Reyes would not expose their daughter to non-jewish religious activities.  Apparently, the judge didn't think this was harmful and altered the original agreement.

Sometimes, I think parents use the courts as a way to punish each other, but that is a blog post for another day.  What I want to talk about is raising an interfaith family.  There was another article in today's paper where the author says that her interfaith family is doing things right, raising the child in both religions, and it is working out just fine.  Granted her child is still an infant, so let's just wait and see, but with that, and the court ruling, I felt the need to dust of my soap box and climb on up.

Here is the deal, you can NOT be a Christian Jew.  It just doesn't work that way.  Either Jesus Christ is your savior or he isn't.  You can't have it both ways.  It makes me crazy when folks say, well, I am going to expose my child to all that is good of both and let them choose.  Who is the parent here?  You are going to make your child choose because you are too wimpy to make the decision yourself?  Yeah, that is good parenting.

I whole-heartedly agree that there is more than one path to G-d.  This is why I was comfortable being in an interfaith marriage to begin with, but I was not ok letting my kids choose their identity.  So much so, I felt that we needed to sort this out before we got married, because once you married and have kids, it is a little late for the discussion.  I realize that I am an exception, and am not trying to toot my own horn.  There is wisdom in making this decision before you get married, because face it folks, it is a deal breaker.  Better to know before than after... who needs to pay divorce lawyers.

We chose to raise our kids as Jews.  There is a myriad of reasons why we made the decision, and that isn't really relevant.  If some other family chose to raise their kids as Catholics or Baptists or Hindus that is great.  I just think letting them choose when they are older is the cowards way out.  It is your job as a parent to give your kids a foundation and an identity.  You can not be both, so you have to pick.  If my kids decide to become born-again Christians when they are adults, so be it, but for now, they are Jews.

Oh, but you are denying the other parent from sharing their heritage too... at least that seems to be the prevailing argument in the Reyes case and in the current article.  My kids are well aware of my background.  They know about Christianity, but the fact remains is that they aren't Christians.  If you ask them, all three of them will tell you they aren't Christian.  But, that said, I am not left out, nor is my heritage ignored and my kids don't have to make a decision that I was too wimpy or scared to make.

It frustrates me that the court is allowing this parent to fundamentally alter his child's identity.  It just isn't the right thing to do for the child.  Poor kid, I hope she turns out ok, in spite of her parents.


  1. i agree about consistency and not having parents contradict each other about religion. even within the same religion, there are people who can't see eye to eye on how to raise their kids. there's even a book called "two jews are still a mixed marriage." it talks about how if jews from different sects get married, there are still going to be disagreements on how to observe judaism.
    on another token, no matter how observant or what religion a child was raised, that could change when the child is an adult. see my blog about being raised reform and where i am now, if you have any questions. i've also heard about it going the reverse direction. (someone being raised frum and then giving it all up as an adult.)

  2. It was great to find this post in my Google Alerts--I use them to find writers for, where we provide Jewish resources for interfaith families. If you think you might like to write for us, drop me a line at