Thursday, February 27, 2020

UK: ‘My family doesn’t feel Jewish any more’

Anonymous @ The Jewish Chronicle:
This past December, somewhere between the first night of Chanukah and the last vestiges of Yuletide excess, it dawned on me that despite both my spouse and I coming from halachically Jewish families, we are the only ones among our generation of British-born siblings and cousins (most of us now in our thirties and forties) who don’t celebrate Christmas. Unsurprisingly, we are also the only ones who married within the faith. […]

The sad reality is that our traditions are too onerous, too alien, and often, frankly, too boring for non-Jews to ever truly embrace (except for those who have undergone the equally onerous process of an Orthodox conversion). Who can blame non-Jewish spouses for picking hot cross buns over hamentashen or pumpkins over prayer books when many of us secretly yearn to do the same?

Sometimes, though, it’s worse than simple disinterest. I’ve encountered non-Jewish partners who harbour downright hostility towards our customs. During my son’s bris, when an aunt tried to comfort me by reassuring me the procedure carries life-long health benefits, a non-Jewish relative by marriage interrupted to pooh-pooh her, declaring loudly that scientific studies had debunked any perceived health advantages of circumcision. It was tactless at best, deliberately offensive at worst — and don’t even get me started on the subject of Israel.

So while I admire [Karen] Glaser’s optimism — “If you throw your lot in with the Jews, you become Jewish by osmosis,” she wrote — forgive me for not sharing it. If anything, my heart breaks a little every time I hear of another Jewish friend or cousin or even celebrity marrying out. The rise of Corbynism only reinforced my despair, particularly in the run up to last year’s general election when Facebook was awash with non-Jewish relations singing the Labour leader’s praises. Attempts to explain the very real fear we felt for the future of British Jewry under a Corbyn-led government were met with disinterest and even derision. 
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