So you might ask why I am looking for a Jewish grandmother. Because my kids are Jewish – at least I think they are as they were born to our wonderful Jewish surrogate. Quite honestly I’ve not broached the subject with a Rabbi so I don’t know technically if they are. But, according to Jewish law, children born to a Jewish woman are Jewish. The technicality doesn’t matter to me really. I’ll address that some other day.
So, on the cusp of the upcoming holidays, Christmas and Chanukah, I am ruminating about what I find important in my life and the lives of my children, and why. I am thinking about the fact that I was raised in an entirely different religion. And, that this one act: the act of having my twins via a Jewish surrogate has turned our world upside down in more ways than I can count and forced me to question everything about my life.
I am incredibly torn; my mind is so split and I am confused and quite honestly, scared. I’m not talking about the standard holiday depression; I am talking about my feelings towards the religion I was brought up in and practiced, and the belief system I find so compelling and, well, undeniably authentic – that is, Judaism.
In a perfect world, my Jewish grandmother would have taught me the prayers, the songs, the protocol, the importance and the delight that is… Judaism – a faith that I find myself drawn to daily. And, all because of the Zeitgeist of my Jewish surrogate, her Jewish mother, her Jewish aunt and cousins, the Temple, and all the Tot Shabbats I’ve attended for the past two years.
In my previous life, I believed something that never seemed to truly penetrate my heart; I never felt that yearning fire. I spent many days wondering where it was and if there was something wrong with me for not feeling it. I admittedly had more questions that I just couldn’t rely on faith to get me thru. I read Bible after Bible – Women’s Study, New King James, New Believers, Apologetics, the list goes on. I sat thru hours of home groups and sermons, raised my hands, and at times been brought to tears from the intense emotion during worship.
I met many wonderful people thru my travels in Christian churches, but also many hypocrites – I know, I know they are everywhere in any religion but I have found that I had to “give them grace,” acknowledge that “they are broken,” and admit that “we all are broken” and frankly I am just sick of it.
Further, I am sick of watching the passive animosity toward people who don’t fit the “right” conduct – I heard it preached many times until finally it drove me away from the church. But, this isn’t just about me anymore – it is about my children. I have a responsibility to raise them as reasonable, loving, compassionate and forgiving people – ones who hold learning, duty and obligation to what is good and right as their expression of their relationship with God.
So after much thought and soul searching, I have decided to keep them out of the Christian church. There, I said it.
But now what do I do? It’s Christmas. Christmas is fun! We get presents! Plus, I have lots of Christmas ornaments and decorations ready to hang in the house and on the tree.
For me, Christmas evokes warm, cozy and loving memories – a tradition that we always look forward to at the end of every year. But, now I have Chanukah, too.
Now, I know when it begins. I am studying the prayers. I have menorahs.
I even have candles. I have my “Mensch on a Bench” and learned how to bake babka and challah, which I have been told actually tastes pretty good.
2016, I know, will be a turning point in my life – when I carve my path forward and develop the foundation of learning and celebration for my children. I am getting the basics in my course on Judaism and the books I am reading on how to live a Jewish life. Hopefully, I can even learn the prayers and the songs to teach my children. Maybe I will even get brave enough to meet with a Rabbi as I contemplate this life changing decision toward possible… conversion.
Then, just maybe, one day I will be the Jewish grandmother?