Monday, August 3, 2015

Superficial Judaism

This blog post/rant was "inspired" by an article in the Forward:
Singapore wedding Derrick Ong Photography
My Son Won't Even Break the Glass at His Wedding
We have always been a Jewish family. We celebrate all the Jewish holidays, had our kids bar mitzvahed, sent them on Birthright trips, and occasionally attended shul.
My son is marrying a woman from Singapore and we adore her. They are having a secular wedding — which we have accepted — but I did ask my son if he would break a glass at the end of his ceremony. He has refused. We are all going to Singapore to participate in her family traditions, but he has said he doesn’t want us to throw him a wedding or reception here. I am heartbroken that he will not honor this one request to honor his roots as a person who was raised in a Jewish home. Am I being ridiculous?
Read more:
Please don't get me wrong. I do sympathize with the writer, but she is definitely on the wrong track. Here's the comment I left on the site:
Sorry, but breaking a glass won't make the wedding Jewish when the bride isn't. And it also won't help to dance a hora. Their children will not be Jewish, so if you want to interest them in Judaism, you have a long way to go and fighting with them now won't help.
Her son is marrying a non-Jew who treasures her family and traditions. It's an easy guess to say that she will make every effort to raise whatever children they have in those traditions, and it's pretty obvious that her son has no problem with it.

If she wants to create a situation in which future grandchildren and her son and daughter-in-law would want to live as Jews, then the best thing would be to increase her observance of genuine Jewish/Torah traditions, making them enjoyable and invite the family.

Judaism isn't a part-time religion. Every aspect of life has a Jewish connection. There are not only blessings before food but after, and there is even a blessing one says after normal "body functions" in the toilet.

During my most recent (last March) visit to New York, I was surprised to see a big poster for "traditional" sic Passover Seder food on the window of a traif non-kosher restaurant.

I just couldn't get over the absurdity of it. (That's why I took pictures of the windows.) I do admire the fact that many Jews, even those furthest from traditional Jewish life do try to to celebrate the Passover Holiday and others. And I do understand how the woman who wrote the letter is upset that her son refuses any vestige of Jewish tradition at his wedding.

A seder meal from an oyster bar is no more kosher than a wedding to a non-Jew that includes the breaking of a glass is Jewish. 

And even those Torah observant, Orthodox rabbis, such as Rabbi Shlomo Riskin, who promote easier conversions for those who come from paternal Jewish lines, it is only for those who fully identify as Jewish and want to lead full Jewish lives.
About conversion, he (Rabbi Riskin) said that for those with patrilinial (via the father) Jewish history/roots there is a concept of zera yisrael, Jewish Seed, which when recognized makes for an easier conversion, but a conversion nevertheless.
There is no automatic Jewish status for children of Jewish fathers and non-Jewish mothers to make the bubbe feel better.

And there is no guaranteed formula to automatically assure that all Jewish children will live as Jews, even here in Israel. May Gd give us all the wisdom to do the best possible for our families and loved ones.


Neshama said...
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Batya said...

Neshama, sorry but it's obvious that you didn't read this carefully. Here is a case in which the Jewish man is embracing his non-Jewish partner's culture. So there is no sign that any resulting kids would be interesting in living as Jews. This is not the case of the paternal line russian Israelis who live in a JEwish country and fight in the IDF. Please don't mix it up.

Judy said...

I remember going to Rabbi Rosenthal's shul (in which many traditional Jews prayed) when I was a young teen. The rabbi told a story about a woman who called him on the phone, crying. "My son is engaged to marry a non-Jewish girl, Rabbi. Do something!" Rabbi Rosenthal answered calmly, "Ma'am, you are simply calling me 18 years too late!"

Batya said...

Judy, that's for sure, but we must never give up.

Neshama said...
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Yakov Butterfield said...

Question: Did this woman provide her children with a Full time Orthodox Jewish Education, not just once a week Sunday School? If her son's only experience is just major events and Holidays, no wonder he is so turned off. Where is the shul, the Jewish learning, and most importantly Aliyah.

Leah S said...

Neshama, I don't understand at all what you are asking Batya. maybe you want to clarify your question.

Anonymous said...

This woman sounds like the typical 'Jew' of today where Judaism is really gefilte fish and chicken soup. It is very sad but according to what is written above, there is nothing to work with, as it seems not to bother her that the bride is not Jewish.
Everything is coming out into the open and believe this is all part of the cleansing at the end of days.

Batya said...

A, such irony in her choice of customs. The glass symbolizes the destruction of Jerusalem and the wedding is the loss of Jewish continuity from this son.

Neshama said...
This comment has been removed by the author.