|photographer: Rhiannon Newman|
Before Jon and I got married, I told him that one of my non-negotiables was the religious education of our hypothetical future children: I wanted them to be raised Jewish.
This might seem like a funny time for semantics but I do think that it's really important to clarify a few things - at least as I understand them - about being Jewish in America today.
First and perhaps most importantly as anti-Semitism is on the rise in the United States and across the world, know that one doesn't have to practice Judaism in any traditional way to be considered Jewish by others and targeted by anti-Semites. In Nazi Germany, remember, people counted as Jewish and therefore as deserving of extinction if they had a single Jewish grandparent.
Second, there are so many ways of practicing Judaism and of living a Jewish life that it's counterproductive to quantify or de/legitimize anyone's Judaism. (Unlike in Christianity, very few branches or denominations of Judaism today consider others to be heretical.) Judaism isn't just a religion; "clearly," researchers Barry Kosmin and Arielle Keyser write in a 2012 article, "there is more to the Jewish experience in America than religion... [and] the idea that the Jews are a 'people' and not just a faith is ancient." Judaism is a culture, too, one that flourishes rather than withers as increasing numbers of Jews marry non-Jews and create interfaith households.