The First Day of Hannukah With My Not-Quite-Jewish FamilySierra Black
I’m not Jewish, but my father is. I’d like to keep that part of our family heritage alive for my kids, but it isn’t easy to do.
My father is Jewish. Since my mom is Catholic we’re not technically Jewish – it’s a matrilineal religion. We’re not practically Jewish either. My dad isn’t religious, and growing up we never celebrated any Jewish holidays, much to my grandmother’s chagrin. Celebrating Jewish holidays with my kids feels like a way to create at least a small link to that side of our family.
As an adult, I’ve become more interested in family heritage. My husband and I are Pagan, and that’s mostly how we raise our kids. We celebrate Christian holidays with my mom, though, and it’s a big treat for the kids to do Christmas and Easter. When they’re older I’ll probably take them to midnight mass.
I don’t want the girls to completely lose the thread of our Jewish he
ritage either. My dad was the only one of his siblings to have kids, so we’re the only keepers of his family stories and culture.
I wouldn’t even know where to begin raising my kids in Jewish traditions, but I do try to celebrate popular Jewish holidays, or at least mark them.
Usually we do this by celebrating with the girls godmother. She’s my oldest childhood friend, a fellow Pagan who was raised in a mixed Jewish & Christian household where they did ALL the holidays. We’ll be joining her in a few hours to light the menorah, sing some songs, and play some games.
How do you keep family cultural traditions alive? Do you have any that skipped a generation like this, that you’ve brought into your own family even though your parents didn’t celebrate them?