Raising Jewish Children if you are not Jewish

This is a guest post by Barb Rudnick, Program Manager for Family Life Education at JFCS.
What’s it like to be raising Jewish children when you are not Jewish?
For many women in our community, it’s like this….
Imagine yourself living in a foreign country, different from any place you’ve ever known before. You moved here because this is where your partner needs to be and you’ve known for a very long time that you would be living here as a family. For lots of reasons you are committed to this choice and have made necessary sacrifices.
Perhaps you have prepared yourself by reading guide books, listening to music, visiting at special times, tasting unique foods, asking your partner lots of questions, and even taking some classes to familiarize yourself with the language and the culture. But as the saying goes, “Having children changes everything!” Now, as a mother, you find yourself feeling lost in this strange place and overwhelmed at the reality of raising your children here when you still feel like an outsider.
These are common feelings expressed by women who are not Jewish themselves but are committed to having a Jewish home, raising Jewish children and wanting to be welcomed and included in our Jewish community. If you are a non-Jewish mother, raising Jewish children, you are not alone. The Mother’s Circle is for you.
The Mother’s Circle is a free class offered by the Sabes Jewish Community Center (JCC) with the participation of Jewish Family and Children’s Service of Minneapolis (JFCS). It is a program created by the Jewish Outreach Institute (JOI) to educate, support and appreciate non-Jewish mothers raising Jewish children in a respectful and non-judgmental way. The curriculum covers basic information including celebrating holidays, traditions and rituals, and goes deeper to explain the confusing nuances of Jewish culture.
Difficult and sensitive questions are addressed. For example, “How do I talk to my children about G-d when our beliefs are different?” “What role can I have in their Jewish life when I’m not Jewish?” “How do I respond to the uncomfortable comments from my extended family suggesting that I convert?
The class also looks at the lighter side of things with activities like taste-testing challah, field trips to Jewish stores, sharing recipes, and so much more.
This affirming class meets on the first Monday of the month from October to May and is taught by Barbara Rudnick, JFCS Family Life Education Program Manager. The first session is on Monday, October 3, from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. and will meet at the Sabes JCC.
For more information or to register, please contact Barbara at [email protected] or 952-542-4825.