Wednesday, February 18, 2015

To Name or Not to Name...That Was The Question

My husband was raised methodist, I on the otherhand was raised Jewish. We had a non-religious civil marriage ceremony and actually agree on all points of faith. The Jesus thing doesn't even come up. There are the occasional awkward moments when his mother says grace before a meal or my parents have us over for Shabbat dinner but other than that, in our own home, religion is never an issue.

We do a mennorah and a christmas tree and I have embraced the yule tide season with all the childhood glee barred from me as a Jewish kid on Christmas. However, we now have a three month old daughter and believe it or not, we have to make the decision now as to how she will be raised. Wehad long ago agreed to raise her Jewish. I should say "raise her Jewish" with quotation marks because my wonderful hubby didn't really have a clue as to what that meant or entailed...he just knew it was what I wanted. My parents have been suggesting a naming ceremony, which is a Jewish rite of passage where a baby girl is brought up in front of her new congregation and given a hebrew name, it is a ceremonial welcoming into the Jewish faith, much like a baptism would be for a Christian baby.

Our circumstances with our families is rocky to say the least. My parents straight up refuse to commingle with Matt's father and step-mother (there's a lot of bad history between them). So they wanted to do Lyla's naming at their temple with just my family and maybe invite Matt's other two parents. This unfortunately gave Matt and I so much anxiety that we originally decided to not do the ceremony at all.

Now, however, we both have realized that that is not an acceptable response to an awkward situation. So we are going ahead with the naming ceremony and the "raising her jewish" thing. My brilliant husband was actually the one who came up with the solution to the interfaith family issue as well as the naming ceremony. We are going to attend and become members of the Reform Jewish temple here in Charleston, not the conservative temple my parents belong to.

Reform Judaism is not how I was raised, I was raised more conservative, however, taking a step down to what I will call "Judaism-light" is just perfect for our little interfaith baby. As Matt put it, it doesn't make sense to raise our daughter how I was raised because she is completely different. She will be growing up in the South, for one, and with 90% of her family being non-Jewish. We plan to join the temple as a family and Matt will attend services with us but he will have no pressure to convert. I personally have no interest in Matt ever converting, or us raising our daughter without all the beautiful traditions of his side of the family. I think Lyla will benefit from an open and accepting upbringing that incorporates both of her parents religious backgrounds, while still "choosing a side" if you will.

This issue has caused a lot of anxiety for my husband and I and now we are on the same page and excited about joining a religious community as a whole family.


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