My Non-Jewish Father and My Oh-So-Jewish Mother

When I first became frum, I wanted my parents to completely embrace my new lifestyle and take on the same things I was taking on but they were pretty much indifferent. I later moved away to a predominantly BT neighbourhood where people shared stories with me of parents who had disowned them or continuously fought with them about their frumkeit. I began to appreciate my parents’ indifference to my life. They didn’t have to be excited or angry or anything special about my new life. I was okay with that. I realized how great they both were in that they let me make my own choices and were happy if I was happy.

My mother’s biggest issue in the whole thing came very recently when she realized I didn’t have a TV. She actually cried over it and offered to buy me one. For some reason she felt I was losing my identity and that watching TV was such a normal thing to do. How could I give that up? I told her that if my identity was based on watching TV that was pretty sad. She agreed. It still bothers her and she makes a comment every time she comes to visit. Her latest attempt to get us to reconsider is her new favourite TV show….”Messages” It is a show that comes on weekly put on by Chabad as a form of kiruv. Each week they talk about different things and my mother loves to tell us what she has learned and we are always surprised at the things she tells us and she is quick to put in ”If you had a TV you could watch it too!!”. I don’t know that my mother will ever become frum but I do know that this TV show is one of the highlights of her week as is trying to convince me to get a TV and that is good enough for me.

As a child of an intermarriage I was very nervous about what my father would say when I told him,(my parents are divorced and my father lives a 5 hour drive away, so I don’t see him as often) but to my surprise he simply said if that makes you happy, great. I love my father a great deal and of course many people would and have said he isn’t really my father because he is not Jewish. I really haven’t spent very much time studying this issue. What I do know is this is the man that taught me to ride a bike and tie my shoes, this is the man that bought me ice cream in the summer and took me skating on the Rideau Canal in the winter. He is the only father I know, he has been there for me whenever I needed him and so although he may not be Jewish he is still my Daddy.

Over the years I have learnt to appreciate my parents for who they are and I love them both very much.

5 comments on “My Non-Jewish Father and My Oh-So-Jewish Mother

  1. Shalom Shirah:

    As a divorced father I realy appreciate your love for your father.

    I lived 120 miles away from my children and made every effort to stay connected with them.

    Although I am Jewish and my Children’s mother is Jewish it was a real change to stay connected becuase I became Frum

    Your Father is and always will be there for you and surely loves you from the depths of his soul.

    All the best to you.

  2. Shira,
    I also am a BT with a non-Jewish father. I’m sure that there are a range of opinions, but based on what I have been told, your non-Jewish father IS your father, and your friends who tell you otherwise are misguided and probably thinking of converts.
    This is a lot of misunderstanding and ignorance about frum people with non-Jewish fathers, even from other BT’s. They often think that our becoming frum was some sort of near-impossibilty, as if our non-Jewish last names automatically draw us to either Xtianity or Reform. As if their secular pork-eating upringings were somehow “more Jewish” ours.

  3. Shira,

    Kol Hakavod for maintaining a relationship with your father.

    I met a BT once who didn’t want to let his father (Jewish) let him motzei him in kiddush, since he wasn’t shomer shabbos. I found it really awful, and couldn’t imagine treating my own father with that type of stealth disrespect, though to be fair, this person did it discreetly.

    My brother is religious, but my father’s kiddush is still good enough for him. Even if he doesn’t sing the words during the “ki vunoo” part, he hums it with the rest of us.

    Anyway, best always,


  4. BS”D

    Wow! Beautiful conclusion about your father, but what I relate to most is your crying mother. My sister told me that both she and my mother had a mutual crying session over the fact that I was going to cover my hair. This happened when I was dating someone who I didn’t end up marrying. I’m glad they worked their feelings out over that guy and not my husband. This way, they got a few years’ preparation and were ready to see the sheitel my wedding day!

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