Remember my post back in December about what NOT to do when you discover an intermarried Jewish family member has a Christmas tree in their house?
Now I’d like to share what NOT to say when you encounter a mom who tells you she is not Jewish but has agreed to raise her kids as Jews:
“As a matter of fact, you know, your kids are not Jewish’” — referring to matrilineal descent, the traditional Jewish law that says someone is Jewish only if he or she is born of a Jewish mother or undergoes a formal conversion.
A woman relays being told this on more than one occasion in an excellent article that appeared in last week’s New Jersey Jewish News. The article by Johanna Ginsberg does a nice and thorough job of exploring the ups and downs of being a gentile mom raising Jewish kids and the influence these women are having on their families and their communities. Check it out, but be forewarned: some of the comments posted below the story are a little hostile.
We really need to come up with a good shorthand way of describing gentile moms of Jewish kids, because GMRJK and GMOJK and NJMRJK just doesn’t sound very appealing. Yes, I suppose my regular commenter/fan “Anti-Intermarried” will pipe up and suggest “shiksa.” But seriously, anyone care to offer a friendly term to describe these ladies?
Also, while I’m getting all interactive here, anyone care to share more examples (preferably culled from your own experience) of what NOT to say to intermarried Jews, their spouses and their kids? Perhaps, if I had some video-making skills, we could put together a “Sh*t In-married Jews Say" a la the whole "Sh*t White Girls Say" meme craze that's spawned everything from "Sh*t Jewish Mothers Say" to "Sh*t Frum Girls Say" to "Sh*t Vegans Say."
On a related note, while Googling to make sure no one had already made such a video, I discovered this excellent post by Erika Davis. Which led me to Erika’s own blog, “Black, Gay and Jewish” (which I’m embarrassed to say I hadn’t seen before). And which I will add to my blogroll as soon as I figure out how (yes, video-making isn’t my only 21st-century media shortcoming).