Bringing Up (Secular, Jewish) Baby

Is there more to it than Hebrew and hummus?

The night after the Pittsburgh shooting, I was trying to get my then-15-month-old daughter to sleep. As I sat there in the dark room, I thought about Robert Bowers, the attacker who had killed eleven and injured six at the Tree of Life synagogue. I thought: he would kill me and my daughter because we are Jewish. It might seem narcissistic, to read about such tragedy halfway across the world and think about yourself in it, but I couldn’t help it. It seemed so very personal.

 

The day my daughter was born, a bundle of red limbs slick with vernix dumped unceremoniously by the midwife at my breast, one of us – I can’t remember who – said to the other that wasn’t it strange that our baby, only a few hours old, was already a Jew. Two Israeli Jews had fallen in love and had a child, and immediately she was Jewish. In that early haze of parenthood this idea seemed abstract in the extreme. We are Jews and she is a Jew. And now what?

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