DD's absent dad is Jewish; should this influence how I bring her up?

(46 Posts)
DontWorryYoniMe Mon 27-May-13 19:34:50

I'm quite heavily pregnant at the moment and am about to be a single mum, all going well, to DD1. I have a lovely and very supportive family.

Little one's father lives quite far away, did not want a baby at all, and is not going to be involved in her life at all. He is Jewish, culturally but also practising. It is rather likely that little one will look quite Jewish (oddly, my family already do a bit, although we aren't).

I am not Jewish, I'm sort of... not religious. Parents brought me up with a mix of Christian, Buddhist and Hindu practices. I sometimes pop in to Quaker meeting for my fix of inner light, and will keep doing this with DD when she arrives.

But I'm aware that there's quite a strong cultural heritage here, and that it will be somewhat externally visible. I know next to nothing about Judaism - various family members are secular (very secular!) Jews, but this seems only to extend to a general fascination with the second world world, declarations of 'on no account should a rabbi be invited to my deathbed' and a vague liking for matzos at inappropriate times of year.

If babydaddy's heritage was, say, Catholic - I know I would probably make an effort to get DD to Catholic church on occasion so she knew a bit about it all. But that is slightly more familiar territory for me, and I might pop in to a local church and have a chat with the priest to see what he thought.

Hm, what is my question. I guess - what should I tell little one? Would it be appropriate or inappropriate for us to get involved with the local Jewish community, and if so, where to start? I just don't know how important this is or where to begin.

scottishmummy France Sat 15-Jun-13 12:29:21

tbh more important than faith is the pragmatic stuff,money.id be raising that
Jewish passes by maternal line.youre not Jewish,your baby won't be Jewish
I'd be seeing a lawyer ESP given he doesn't want family to know he to be a dad.

how on earth did you end up in a relationship with someone who did not want acknowledge your relationship or child.this has nothing to do with him being Jewish ,it has everything to do within being vile and underhand

you may want to open social contact with the grandparents,extended family but only if they kind and respectful to you and their grandchild.hopefully they have better moral compass and can value a loved child

DontWorryYoniMe Sun 02-Jun-13 15:52:18

WouldBeHarrietVane, that is a totally brilliant idea about an Israeli penpal when she is older! I will definitely keep that on the to do list, it would be a really good gentle connection.

I still remember my penpals from when I was little! Miguel in Spain and Hema in India smile

DontWorryYoniMe Sun 02-Jun-13 15:50:54

Thanks very much, everyone.

MareeeyaDoloures, yes I suppose part of me does wonder whether he will ever see her in future. I also just don't want to do the wrong thing by her, and leave her feeling disconnected from part of her heritage.

specialsubject, thank you for the 'ask a rabbi' suggestion! I am still not quite sure what I will do but I may well ask somebody again in future and see what they think about it all.

MareeeyaDoloures Sat 01-Jun-13 19:07:59

There are quite a few reputable 'ask the rabbi' sites online.

MareeeyaDoloures Sat 01-Jun-13 19:06:03

Do you have a mini-hope, rational or not, that he might (many, many years down the line) become a somewhat better absent-father if your dc is raised Jewish now? Or want/ need to understand Judaism yourself, as the expectant mother of a baby whose heritage will be 50% full-on-Jewish?

MrsFrederickWentworth Fri 31-May-13 23:27:05

And I look extremely like some Jewish people, get blessed in parks by kind chaps who are horrified my parents didn't teach ne Hebrew when young, have a cousin who is a dead ringer for Stephen Fry, but unless our great great grandmother in Glasgow was having a more exciting life than we have been led to believe, am not Jewish.

If you are Scots or Welsh you can easily look levantine.

MerryMarigold Netherlands Wed 29-May-13 15:37:11

OP, I know you feel it would be wrong and inappropriate to contact them, but I feel that if I were to have a grandchild, I would really want to know whether my son is irresponsible or not. It's something for you to think about. If your really want her to connect with her heritage, then it could be in that way. But I guess you would also need to be open to that rejection as well if they don't want to know. For me, a connection with that side of her family would be the only point of getting involved with Judaism.

Personally (although I don't speak from experience), I would forget the Jewish links as it somehow would be a reminder that he's not around and didn't want her (why do you do Jewish things when your Mum isn't Jewish?), that there's this huge part of her life missing rather than just letting it fade into the background and her Dad becoming unimportant. I don't know, maybe that is wrong and someone on here who had no Dad could tell you better the way forward. You may have a chance to start a new life with someone else one day and she may have other brothers/ sisters where you wouldn't want to be emphasising that she is different.

Just because she looks Jewish doesn't make any difference, I don't think. I look quite Jewish and I am half Asian!! (nothing Jewish in my family at all).

specialsubject Wed 29-May-13 15:19:08

I have to say that as he had sex outside marriage with a non-Jew, he is a little selective about his 'practising' and is unlikely to be Orthodox.

also be aware that if his parents are observant Jews, the sudden revelation of an illegitimate child with a non-Jewish mother will be a shocker. Not your fault, not your problem but be prepared for some bizarre reactions. That said, as so many Jews now marry 'out' or live together, the community as a whole is becoming somewhat more tolerant. Probably because everybody loves babies!

all this does not exempt him from paying for the baby.

your child will not be Jewish as you, his mother, are not, and should your child wish to become Jewish later he/she will have to go through the conversion route. Judaism is quite unusual in that it is quite hard to get in!

you might want to do some reading while you have time; the Jewish Chronicle ('News of the Jews') is online at thejc.com and there is an 'ask the rabbi' column with all sorts of dilemmas.

good luck - teach your child about what people believe and then he/she can make up their own mind.

MrsFrederickWentworth Tue 28-May-13 22:50:29

And both DSis and I had 4 gps each. Sounds normal to.me.

MrsFrederickWentworth Tue 28-May-13 22:47:43

We gave Ds masses of gps because we are elderly parents and wanted him to have masses of adults around if anything happened. So he has 6. With a range of talents and interests. Some are more engaged than others. That's on top of the aunts etc..

The more the merrier, say I , apart from the think you letters.

WouldBeHarrietVane Tue 28-May-13 17:48:38

Glad the thread helped smile

I just had another idea - would it be nice if your dd is interested when she is old enough for her to have a pen pal in Israel? Would be a nice way for her to make contact with a Jewish child of a similar age.

DontWorryYoniMe Tue 28-May-13 14:44:41

Gosh, thank you so much for such fantastic responses.

WouldBeHarrietVane, thank you so much for your comments. It is really interesting to hear from somebody with a similar background for whom it is important and I really appreciated your recommendations. On the dad thing, yes, I've told the father that I will tell DD the truth about who he is and so he knows it is possible she will come looking for him later on. I think it probably sounds easier to him to postpone a difficult moment than to tackle it sooner!

Zzzenagain, I just can't contact the family, they don't know me at all and it would be so inappropriate - and they're abroad, so I don't think it would be helpful in any case. If the situation was slightly different I'd think this was a really good idea though! Thank you so much also for the AISH.com site recommendation.

MrsFrederickWentworth, what a lovely lovely anecdote to hear. I am thinking carefully about sponsors/godparents and planning on giving DD a double dose - four rather than the usual two - to make up for the lack of parent smile

MrsFrederickWentworth Mon 27-May-13 22:14:14

On the father fucked off line, two friends from v diff backgrounds have said in terms to the dc, he never wanted a child with me and he wasn't interested in aong term relationshipbut when I realised I was having you I really really wanted you.

And then they point out what a wonderful family the dc has and they have both given the dcs fabulous adult friends as sponsors aka godparents ( should prob not say that as I am one of the gp to one of the dcs...not a brilliant one but the other gps/ sponsors are ). So the dcs have great adult role models who are engaged in dcs lives.

AFAIK, dcs fine. Children v accepting of the status quo if said with conviction and love.

ZZZenagain Mon 27-May-13 20:50:11

I don't think it is inappropriate for you to contact the family. Why should your dc be deprived of his grandparents? However it is tricky and if I did it, I think I would wait til after the birth and write enclosing a couple of photos.

Stuff him if it doesn't suit him. It is just awkward because you can't really speak negatively about him to his family, so I'd avoid saying much about him.

Consider it, they know about Judaism and they'll care about her. Bit different to a bunch of strangers in some organisation

WouldBeHarrietVane Mon 27-May-13 20:44:36

Quint, I don't know about how other Jewish people would feel, but it's certainly something a lot of dubious people would feel!

There is a general prejudice within some branches of Judaism about conversion, as I understand it and it is extremely hard to convert to become Orthodox.

I think also within all ethnic groups people feel entitled to poke fun at their own shortcomings, but don't want others doing it.

WouldBeHarrietVane Mon 27-May-13 20:42:11

Is it worth pointing out to him that you will tell dd his name so she will be able to track his parents down herself as a teen, should she choose to, so it might be more sensible for him to just tell them now??

I know WouldBe, I was very surprised. Is this a common view?

Justfornowitwilldo Mon 27-May-13 20:36:11

I don't know if I'd accept him not telling his family. I think it's very unfair for him to make that decision for his parents.

QueenOfIndecision Mon 27-May-13 20:32:02

hi, can't really help much with your question but just wanted to say that you sound like you will be a superb mum to your DD. Congratulations and don't worry too much about the absent Dad.

WouldBeHarrietVane Mon 27-May-13 20:30:38

That sounds quite racist, Quint, even if they said it first.

A Jewish friend of mine said "The last thing the world needs is more Jews, considering the massive problems we have as a People". Said in relation to people converting.

WouldBeHarrietVane Mon 27-May-13 20:28:30

Judaism is both a religion and an ethnicity, so it is a heritage. No one in my Jewish family has been religious for at least 70 years, but the heritage is still important to me.

ZZZenagain Mon 27-May-13 20:26:48

I think being Jewish is more than adhering to a religion, it is also to do with being part of a cultural tradition beyond the religion. So some people feel no real draw to the religion but do feel a part of Jewish culture. At least that is how I understand it.

WouldBeHarrietVane Mon 27-May-13 20:26:10

I think you are a lovely mum for even thinking about this.

I think you would want to look into reform or progressive / liberal Judaism and start doing some research. I am similar in heritage to your dd (dad is around though) and I like knowing about where I come from.

I think it's very important to understand your genetic makeup, so at the very least I would tell her in the early primary years about her exciting genetic heritage and maybe eg read a book about Jewish religious holidays and tell her about Jewish food.

If you happen to live anywhere near Marble Arch there is a lovely Jewish nursery there where my friends send their kids - at least half of the children are not Jewish and it is Ofsted outstanding.

sunshine401 Mon 27-May-13 20:24:13

Religion is not a heritage. It is a personal choice. All children should be raised understanding all religions, therefore in a position when they are old enough they can chose which (if any) religion they believe in and want to follow/practice.

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now