Mom Will Decide How Jewish We Are

Last night we sat at Art’s Deli (see how Jewish we are), and talked about our family schedule for next week. The kids have their first day of school on Wednesday, but Thursday is Rosh Hashana. My husband, Jane and Alexander all groaned in chorus.

“Do we have to stay home that day?” My husband asked.

Notice that no one asked if we had to go to shul. We’re not good with shul (Temple). We haven’t belonged to one in the last few years. The one we left simply wasn’t a good fit, and with the exception of Chabad the rest of them feel like a country club. You join, you pay, and maybe you network. Nothing about them felt particularly necessary to me, and my husband specializes in irreverence.

“We don’t have to stay home that day, we can go to Temple. The kids can go with Grandpa…”

And then there was more moaning. It’s the second day of school. They don’t want to fall behind before school starts. Alexander wants to organize his desk. The kids were understandably nervous about missing the second day of school.

And at that moment I wanted to cry. I felt like the ground was falling out from under me. We’ve not embraced the Jewish schools for a number of reasons academic and social. But at that one horrible moment, I thought, “Shit. This isn’t fair to my kids.”

My kids are in a Xtian school. It’s not Catholic, and it’s not *technically* parochial, but it’s on a church property, and they say benedictions and Lord’s Prayers, and things like that. To their credit they also sing John Lenon’s Imagine, so I’m not feeling like holy rollers are out to convert my kids, but it’s definitely not a setting for observant Jews. Dinner last night reminded me that we are not Observant Jews, and I feel badly about that fact.

My father is an observant Jew. My mother bought a house at a seance (not kidding). I’m comfortable in a conservative temple, but I’m not interested in joining one. My husband hates it, and frankly it’s too late for my kids. They don’t like it.

We’re not Kosher, we don’t observe Shabbat, and Jane will not be having a Bat Mitzvah.

I however felt the world close in on me when my husband said, “Mom will decide how Jewish we are.” And it was somehow a decision to be made. Do I honor Jane and Alexander’s desire to be in school? The guilt is extraordinary (waving hello to my Catholic friends). Rosh Hashana has always felt like the least moving of all Jewish holidays. I dislike having to purchase a ticket. It makes me feel like I’m off to a tent revival.

However, a small part of me wants my kids to have the experience. They’re growing up in a secular home, with a father who told them that there is no G-d, but who plays along with the Tooth Fairy.

To be very clear, I’m not necessarily in disagreement with my husband. I don’t really want to go to services next week, my kids don’t really want to go, but it’s a shanda for the goyim.

So I’m still deciding how Jewish we are. And I’m very hopeful that we can find a house in Beverly Hills soon so that my kids can go to a good public school that is closed on Jewish Holidays.

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