Private Practice: The Secret Lives of Intermarried Jewish Moms

Thanks to Panteha Aronson of Hod Hasharon for sending me this article about the tragic lives of intermarried Jewish moms, who hide away their Jewishness from their husbands… A must read!

Private Practice by Elizabeth Cohen

We were invited to a Shabbat dinner, my daughter and I. It was at a brand-new home in a brand-new development in one of those suburb-of-a-suburb places where streets curve off one another in a seemingly infinite fashion, creating the sort of pattern you imagine might look like a leaf if viewed from space.

When we arrived we found ourselves in a group of seven; three moms and four children aged 2 through 11. Where were the men? Playing golf, working, making art, anywhere but here. The men in this particular configuration are not Jewish, but we, their wives, are, hence our Shabbat evening out, a Judaic experience that felt a little sneaky, like a backroom poker game. Nobody to see us, nobody to witness, just us women, our offspring, a loaf of challah, and some wine, marking the holiday as we did as children but cannot do or do not do in the presence of our non-Jewish spouses. Our husbands don’t object to the keeping of Shabbat; they just don’t care about it. They would all prefer not to look on.

You might wonder how we ended up married to men, so a-Jewish, so Jew-avoidant. Simple: When you are young you think you can handle anything. You think you can climb tall mountains, starve for your art, marry for love. What you don’t think of is what it’ll be like when you have children and want them to experience the same relationship with Judaism that you enjoyed as a child. Suddenly, having lived for art, married for love, climbed mountains, you find yourself living a paradox. Hiding your Judaic thoughts, objects, even your prayers…

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Photoillustration: Tablet Magazine; photos: iStockPhoto.

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