Give your chil­dren the gift of re­li­gion

The Buffalo News - - LIFE COLUMNS - – From K, a con­fused and dis­ap­pointed mom

Q: My daugh­ter is Jewish and is the grand­child of Holo­caust sur­vivors. She has as­sured me that af­ter they marry, she and her Catholic boyfriend will have kids who are Jewish. How­ever, her boyfriend wants his chil­dren bap­tized. As long as they are bap­tized, he agrees that the kids will be Jewish. That seems con­tra­dic­tory to me. If it is a boy, he will have a bris AND be bap­tized? How should I tell my hus­band? Her boyfriend was an al­tar boy and is the only child of a large Ital­ian Catholic fam­ily. I am sure that his mother has spo­ken to him about this. I have never put pres­sure on her, but I told her that the ba­bies will be Jewish due to her be­ing Jewish. Any ad­vice? Thank you.

A: Dear K, both my late God Squad part­ner Fr. Tom Hart­man and I agreed that among the ba­sic rights ev­ery child pos­sesses are the rights to be safe, fed and loved, have books to read (of the e-kind or pa­per kind) and have a chance to learn what they love and what God made them good at. They also have a right to have a home team to root for. But among all these ba­sic rights, one of the most ba­sic and most im­por­tant is the right to be able to walk into a church, sy­n­a­gogue, mosque, Tem­ple, or any other house of wor­ship and look around and say, “I am home here.” The right to feel rooted in some re­li­gious iden­tity is ba­sic. Once, a lit­tle girl named Jen­nifer came up to us and said, “My daddy is Chris­tian and my mommy is Jewish but they did not raise me up to be any­thing. Do you know how I could be raised up to be some­thing?” I do not want, and you do not want, Jen­nifer’s ques­tion to be your grand­daugh­ter’s or your grand­son’s ques­tion. As long as your daugh­ter and son-in-law agree to raise their chil­dren in one faith, you should be happy. You want more. You want no trace of Chris­tian­ity in their home, but that is not pos­si­ble for them. Be grate­ful for the fact that your grand­chil­dren will be raised to be some­thing.

Thank you, dear readers, for your many thought­ful mus­ings in re­sponse to my home­work as­sign­ment to share what you think dy­ing is like.

This is what sis­ter M wrote to me and to us all:

“Dear Rabbi Marc, In re­sponse to your in­vi­ta­tion con­cern­ing thoughts on what dy­ing is like, I want to share with you what a child of 11 years shared with me when I cared for pediatric AIDS pa­tients. A boy very ill with the dis­ease said to me, ‘My mom is not here now and Iwant­toasky­ouwhatis it like to die?’ I re­sponded, ‘What do you think it’s like?’ He said, ‘I think it’s clos­ing my eyes to sleep, and then wak­ing up in God’s arms.’ I only re­sponded, ‘Javier, God al­ready told you the answer.’ He smiled and died a few days later.”

Our con­ver­sa­tion is over. No more home­work on this topic. The answer to the ques­tion of what dy­ing is like has been defini­tively an­swered by a child named Javier, may his mem­ory be for a bless­ing.

Dy­ing is like fall­ing asleep and wak­ing up in the arms of God.

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