The things that will never make it in the baby books and other musings from a stay at home mom

Friday, June 24, 2005

Happy Habbah

Julia was all excited in the car on the way to camp today. "It's almost Shabbat," she kept repeating, "and the whole camp is going to celebrate together. I hope we get to sing Bim Baum." By the time we got to the temple, even Evan was screaming "habbah" over and over, his enthusiasm intense despite the fact that he had no clue what Shabbat was.

Our car ride home at the end of the morning was equally enthusiastic. Julia described the camp Shabbat celebration in full detail as we all munched on fresh Challah, torn from the loaf we'd picked up at the temple as part of a camp fundraiser. "Maybe we'll take Evan to Tot Shabbat with us this summer," I suggested to Julia. "Do you think he's old enough?"

"I think so," she replied, "but he might still be a little young for the art project. "Will Daddy come, too?"

"No, Daddy doesn't got to temple," I replied. "He'll probably take advantage of the opportunity to sleep in that day. But I know he'll be happy to hear all about it when we get home."

"Yeah," Julia agreed. "I'll sing all of the songs for him and show him the art project. He'll like that."

"He will," I agreed. And for the thousandth time, I felt intensely grateful to my husband. It can't be easy raising your children in a faith that you don't share. Even I, as the Jewish parent, sometimes feel a little overwhelmed by how incredibly "Jewish" Julia seems after a year of temple preschool. To Paul, it must be terribly hard to remain enthusiastic and supportive as his 3 1/2 year old embraces a belief system he doesn't himself believe in. And yet, he patiently reads her the books of Jewish stories when she pulls them from the bookshelf and discusses the 10 plagues or the shape of Haman's hat with her whenever she wants to talk about those things. He'll even sing Bim Baum with her if she wants or ask her how to say things in Hebrew. In reality, my own Jewish father was far less involved in my Jewish upbringing than my gentile husband has been in our children's. It's a sign of how very much Paul loves his children and how involved he wants to be in every part of their lives. And I guess it's a sign of how much he loves me, too.

Paul's kept his part of the interfaith bargain a million times over, and I remain intensely grateful to him for allowing me to pass my religious culture and heritage on to our children. I'm proud of the fact that my children share my pride in Judaism. But I'm also starting to feel a bit guilty about how hard this must all be on my husband. I hope that if my children some day decide to abandon their faith that I can take it as gracefully as he has. In the meantime, we've saved him some Challah... he may not buy into the God thing, but he's a sucker for Jewish food.


At 3:43 PM, Blogger Kristy said...

Hey, I'm all about the Challah, too. I admit, I chuckled a little over "Bim Baum." Sorry, but I couldn't help but think of Dooce's Boo to enlighten me as to what it *really* is? (I know, Google would suffice, but it really wouldn't be as fun...)

I enjoy reading your posts on this topic. While yours is a different struggle (not quite the right word) entirely, I can't help but feel this topic is one we also have in common -- despite all the apparent evidence to the contrary.

At 2:01 PM, Anonymous Gretchen C. said...

Judaism is a rich culture, and Julia could do a heck of a lot worse. I agree he's a great dad to recognize this and support it. And it's true: the food is to die for. Oh, latkes, kugel, borscht, a good knish . . . sometimes I'm sorry I didn't marry my Jewish boyfriend some years back.


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