Being a Jewish American Parent
A peek into the contemporary Jewish American world of parenting
Mass migration of Jews to America happened between the late 19th century and the early 20th century. Most Jewish American parents in the United States today are 5th-, 4th-, and 3rd-generation descendants of these immigrant families. Unlike their parents who adhered to a strict parenting style and were extremely religious, despite suffering from an identity crisis (whether they were simply Jewish or American Jews), the modern Jewish American world of parents is confident of its identity. This is reflected in their flexible and liberal parenting styles.
Contemporary Jewish American culture can be called an experimental form of Judaism where old Jewish traditions are merged with American values. Unlike their parents who thought keeping a close eye on their children was a must, modern Jewish American parenting has become a lot more open and permissive. Consequently, they don’t mind sending their children to a 1-month summer camp, which was almost unthinkable once.
Delaying or saying no to circumcision is yet another new trend. For thousands of years, the life of a Jewish boy used to be marked by the bris ceremony (the practice being rooted in Genesis) on his 8th day after his birth. Bris, or Brit Milah, refers to circumcision performed by a ritual circumciser, or a mohel, and included naming the baby. Some modern Jewish American parents find this ritual too traumatizing to the child and an unnecessary mutilation or infliction of pain. In turn, some opt out of this ancient ritual and choose medical circumcision instead, while other parents give circumcision up completely.
Do you know of any other Jewish American parenting trends in the US worth mentioning? Share them in the comments section below. Find me on my Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads and visit my website at www.dianayacobibooks.com/blog to learn more interesting parenting techniques.
Greenberg, Zoe. 2017. “When Jewish Parents Decide Not to Circumcise.” New York Times, July 25. Accessed June 5, 2018. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/07/25/well/family/cutting-out-the-bris.html
Kellner, Vered. 2013. “When Summer Camp Liberates American Jewish Parents.” HAARETZ, July 31. Accessed June 5, 2018. https://www.haaretz.com/opinion/.premium-vered-kellner-myths-of-us-jewish-parenting-1.5315125