My Child: Jew or Christian?
A Mother Struggles with a Dilemma
Soon I suppose another child will ask my son that simple question all children ask, “What are you?” I don’t know yet what my son will answer. He can’t say, “My father’s Jewish and my mother’s Presbyterian.” The world demands a more precise answer. “What are you?“ it insists on knowing. Thousands of us who have married out of our religious groups face the problem: where do our children belong? At this moment my husband and I are deeply involved in searching for an answer.
Although my husband’s background was Jewish, and his friends and business associates were largely Jewish, he had never been a temple-goer. Our marriage was performed on neutral ground, New York’s Municipal Building. After my marriage I moved to a different city, and I made no new church affiliations.
Even the birth of our child failed to force a decision on us. He simply was not baptized, and though he was circumcised, the operation had no religious significance attached to it. My mother once asked, anxiously, “Will you send him to a temple?”—adding: “I really don’t care, just so you give him some kind of religious training.” The remark was lost in the turmoil that accompanies the arrival of any baby. Then after a while we found ourselves with a child who could walk and talk and ask questions, and gradually we realized that our stemming from two different religious groups was not to be ignored out of existence.
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