Journal entry from parent perspective
From the perspective of my mom
Date: A day back when Jonah was in Elementary School
Today started out like any other day. I woke up, I showered, I got dressed, and I brought my children to school. After I brought my children to school I cleaned the house, and then was able to relax for a while. However, shortly after I picked up my children from school the day started to seem unusual.
When I brought my children home I told them to start doing their homework. They all started to do their homework, but Jonah looked really depressed. I asked him what was wrong, and he responded by saying “nothing”. I knew something had to be wrong by the look on his face so I told him “You look upset. Tell me what is wrong.”. He then responded by saying, “In class today we were talking about where our families are from, and everybody knew where their family was from, but I didn’t. Where is our family from?”. I then responded by saying, “Your family is from New York, and you are Jewish.”.
After I told Jonah this he seemed happier. He “knew” where his family was “from”, and he couldn’t wait to share his newly found knowledge with his friends and classmates. However, I did not fully tell him the truth.
What my son does not know is that although we are a Jewish family in New York, our family’s roots are not in New York or Judaism. I come from an Italian father, and a French and British mother. My husband comes from a Russian mother, and a Polish father. Although my son is Jewish, his familial background is in Europe which is important information in regards to his nationality.
Although it may look like I am hiding this from my son, I have reasoning for doing this. I chose not to tell my son the full information about his nationality because my husband and I decided to raise our children using the Jewish religion as a culture rather than ethnic culture. We chose to do this because my husband and I are of many different ethnicities so it would be hard to pinpoint a specific culture to raise our kids with. As a result of this we decided to raise our kids as Jewish, but not as a religion. We taught our children that being Jewish was there ethnicity, and used the Jewish holidays as our cultural celebrations. This seemed only natural considering Judaism was something my husband and I both grew up with, and we both had Judaism as a part of our daily lives.
Another reason why we didn’t fully tell Jonah the truth is that he just wouldn’t fully understand. All of Jonah’s living relatives were born in New York, and these relatives never bring up their ethnic culture. As a result of this Judaism is the only form of familial culture that our son has ever known, and we don’t want to shock him by explaining to him his ethnic identity. I will tell him one day when he’s old enough to understand his ethnic background without it being a shock to him.
After my conversation with Jonah the day became pretty much normal. The children finished their homework, and shortly after that my husband came home from work. After that, I cooked dinner which we ate at the dining room family as a family (like always), and then I told the children to go to bed. Then my husband and I decided to watch some television on the couch in the living room since we finally had some time alone. When I was sitting on the couch later with my husband I decided to tell him about the conversation that I had with Jonah. I told my husband that Jonah was very curious about where his family was from after to talking to other kids in his class, and he asked me about where our family was from as a result of this. My husband seemed really nervous about how I may have responded to this question.
My husband immediately asked me first, “Well how did you respond? “, and I told him that I told him that he was Jewish and that his family was from New York. Then he asked me, “Was he satisfied with that response.”, and I replied by saying that he seemed really happy to find out where his family was “from”. My husband told me that it’s good that he was satisfied because we are raising our children in a Jewish household with no foreign culture really present, and Jonah may have been upset if he understood that this was different than the way his classmates were being brought up (being raised with the culture of their ethnic background). I agreed with my husband, and we both proceeded to go to bed and fall asleep.