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September 15, 2004


I'm in a mixed marriage. I have no complaints, but have to admit that everything my mother warned me about has come to pass as far as losing touch with my Judaism. I have to remind myself to light a menorah every year and this is the second year in a row I completely forgot to make arrangements for High Holidays. It was determined that since my stepsons celebrate Christian holidays it sort of made sense for my new son to follow that path as well. Not a huge deal, but I can't help but be a little bit sad as I see myself moving further and further away from something that was such a big part of my youth.

My personal views on religion aside, I always try to respect other beliefs as long as they are not dangerous to society or individuals.

When Seth is older, he will come to his own conclusions about religion in general and Judiasm. The only thing I hope is that he understands the importance of bridging the gaps among the various religious groups and cultures that have divided this planet for far too long.

Yep, Christians are the same way. Paul's born again cousins who have their own ministry and the other relatives who work for either Focus on the Family or the Salvation Army think we're the devil and only tolerate us because of Paul's mom, who they think is a saint. (If they only knew...)

Paul's brother used to be the same way, but now that he's been back-stabbed by people in a congregation he helped start (v. long story) and other so-called "good Christians," he realizes that family is stronger and more important than anything.

I'm sure there are other secular Jews that feel the same way and want that sense of roots, family, tradition and belonging. You just have to find where they're hiding.

P.S. Is it during the High Holy Days when you say "Good Yontif"? (exuse my spelling) I think that's what my dad used to say. Since he grew up Jewish in Brooklyn during the Depression, he knew quite a bit of Yiddish.

So if that's right, Good Yontiff to you!

"The snobbery that drove me away is still out there....Too many disdain novices or 'secular Jews' like me and would be annoyed to share a pew with me. They’ve already written me off. I’m not Jewish enough for them and never will be. Are Christians like this? I suspect so. I don’t think Jews have a monopoly on self-righteousness."

They (often) are, and it's sad. Christianity is supposed to be a religion of outreach to others, but there are many times when a congregation will turn inward, tolerating those who show up on Christmas and Easter but waiting for things to get back to "normal."

You mention the need for a babysitter. Do synagogues not have child care? Just curious.

P.S. Thanks for your recent thoughts.

Gooch: As the kidlet and step-kidlets get older, maybe you'll find opportunities for some cross-cultural celebrations? They're going to learn about some of the Jewish holidays in school anyway, which will provide some "teachable moments" for Dad to show off. I have two cousins who married "shiksas", and while both wives were determined to raise their kids Christian, they also made sure the kids weren't ashamed of their Jewish heritage, which was kind, thoughtful and, well, very Christian of them.

Anne-Marie: Good Yontiff to you too! It means Good Holiday, so it's a generic greeting, good for Passover and Hannukkah and all those other ones I can't spell. Sorry to hear about your brother-in-law's trouble, that must've been painful for him and a bit humbling.

OE: I figured as much (about Christmas and Easter) but didn't want to make assumptions. Sometimes you really just want to slap the snobs in the next pew, y'know? But that wouldn't be cool in either of our religions, I suppose.

As for babysitting, I checked with the one in Pomona and they do indeed provide babysitting for a nominal fee. Plus they're eager to squeeze me in for Yom Kippur, but can't alter their policy of reserving seats for dues-paying members. They asked if I can come up with something, anything, however meager, and Plosh and I are still debating their offer.

Of course, I can drop in on Sabbath services anytime I want, for free. Kids welcome.

I remember my first year in Orange County where I made arrangements to go to Rosh Hashana/Yom Kippur at the closest conservative synagogue for a price well over $200. I couldn't help but wonder, spiritually cleansing or not, shouldn't synagogue tickets cost less than a U2 concert? I started going to the (much cheaper) JCC following that experience.

Anne, I was interested to read about your Jewish identity and how it influenced your life. To be honest it hadn't occured to me that you belonged to any religious tradition in particular. I'm a Christian although I feely hold up my hands at admit to being a very poor one. Whatever, our beliefs though, I would say that religious faith was important as a means of shaping our identities and helping us to make some sense of the complex - and often confusing - world in which we live.

Gooch: Isn't it obscene that they charge at all? In Florida, my friends and I used to sneak past the guy at the door collecting tickets. Is it any wonder that only 20% of U.S. Jews say they belong to a synagogue? (I can't remember which organization sponsored the survey.) The minute you step in the door, they're picking your pocket. But I'm trying to be nice and not dwell on it. Grrr.

Adrian: That's a very sweet sentiment and I agree. Unfortunately, religion can divide us as often as unite us, as evidenced by the wackos who fly planes into buildings. I would hope that most people today draw strength from their religion, while those who use it as a pretext for hate are in a minority. At least, that's my hope.

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