jewish identity

Hoping Your Toddler Will Be Inspired by Judaism

synagogue

I was raised as a Conservative Jew. It suited my family and me well. Hebrew school a few times a week and services a few times a month. I was very active in my youth group and I always knew that being Jewish was not just a religion to me, but a part of who I was at my core.

As I got older, I stopped going to synagogue as much. I remember finding a local shul near college and going during High Holidays but I did not attend much more than that.

When I met the man I was going to marry, he was not Jewish. He’s still not! We had a discussion early on about how I accepted his background, but Judaism was something that mattered to me and that would matter to me if we had children. He understood that and had no issue with it at all. I think he liked that I felt so strong about my faith.

So, we had an interfaith-friendly Rabbi marry us and it was a beautiful ceremony. My husband stomped on the glass like a pro and many were surprised that he did not grow up watching that tradition his whole life!

We adopted our daughter four years ago. We contacted the local synagogue and inquired about how to get her converted and how to go about a baby naming. Even though we were not current members, they helped us tremendously and our daughter is now considered as Jewish as I am. She enjoyed the experience at the mikveh, too.

This year, we have all gone to the same synagogue for the two Bat Mitzvah’s of the daughters of two of my oldest friends. Friends from Hebrew School and USY. Sitting there, listening to the familiar chants and songs, I was transformed back to the girl I once was.

I cherish being Jewish. I love the tradition and the spirituality and the rush I get from the sound of Hebrew being spoken.

I loved introducing that world to my daughter. Although she is a bit young to start her formal Jewish education, the services we attended were a good extension of what we are building on at home.

My daughter told anyone who would listen, “I am going to synagogue because I am Jewish!” She was so proud, even though she had no idea why.

I listened to the sermons by the rabbi and he made sense to me in a new way, a grown-up way. When I was younger, I did not have the capacity to sit through the “boring” parts. As an adult, I realized there were no boring parts!

I hope my daughter learns to love our religion and culture and understand that it’s part of the fabric of who she is. I also hope that she never has to worry or fear that she is different or alone because of our background. Instead, I hope she finds a peace in it like I did.

This year, I watched two girls become adults in the Jewish community. Two girls who I remember from the days of diapers and naps and birthday parties and playing. Two girls who made me so proud to know them and to be a part of their lives.

My daughter will be one of these girls someday. Her whole life is ahead of her and I hope, and maybe even pray, that she will realize how important Judaism is to her just like I know it is to me.

The opinions expressed here are the personal views of the author. Comments are moderated, so use your inside voices, keep your hands to yourself, and no, we're not interested in herbal supplements.

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