Raising a Jewish daughter v. raising a daughter Jewish-ly?
I am Jewish, so is her father. We live a life within the Jewish community. At seven months, she has never gone for longer than two weeks without attending services. All objective facts point to Z being raised in a Jewish home. However, I hesitate to say that we are raising a Jewish child, simply because we are raising a child jewish-ly. (Just as I hesitate to assume she will choose her birth gender – nevertheless for now she is a girl).
Z may not always be Jewish and this does not worry me. I worry that she may not find her voice in spiritual practice or progressive faith communities will fail her, that she will one day go to college and run into the likes of AISH, a super-conservative Jewish outreach organization and like it.
I wish for my daughter a deep and satisfying spiritual practice that rest tentatively on the edges of justice – today those edges are most clearly characterized by acceptance of homosexuality. The edges are likely to be different for her, and when she finds her way to the edges, I will be immensely joyful if her spiritual practice is pushing her there. If she does not identify herself as Jewish because her spirit leads her in some other direction – be it Buddhist, Christian, Pagan, etc…., I do not think that this will cause me any grief.
Within the progressive religious context, requiring fidelity to a natal religion does not compute, except perhaps for culture (more on this to come).
Much of what I love about Jewish practice is the ritualized meals on Shabbat: inviting, cooking, serving, praying. Lengthy multi-course meals reoccurring every week.
It would be wonderful if she adopted these traditions – but this is a wish for me, not a wish for her, because I do not see an absolute value in Judaism.
I would guess that many other progressive Jews feel the same way; then why worry about our children identifying as Jewish when they grow up – instead we should worry about our children joining Jewish religious communities that are non-egalitarian, homophobic and otherwise reactionary.