American Jewish Children

Commentary by Dr. Ursula A. Falk


Reprisal / Dafke


In this, the modern world, raising a Jewish child is a difficult task.  We are few in this the modern age. We are fewer and fewer in numbers.  If we find Kosher products, they are costly compared to the meat products of the general population.  The younger generation believe in the scientific world, which finds no fault in eating products that we as believing Jews label “trefe,” not kosher, not clean, not edible by our  kosher or “clean” brothers and sisters. We are taught the scientific realities and the non kashrut keeper looks at our laws as ancient, fanatic, restrictive, compulsive unrealities.  The cost in itself has caused the unbeliever to question the rationality of the kosher eating Jew with the combination of all the other restrictions that are practiced by the orthodox Jewish person.  The cost of kosher food and the restrictions of the Schabbat and holy days often compels the “true believer” to have to forego the proteins that he would have been able to afford but cannot under his financial circumstances. In spite of all that, the orthodox family forgoes much and feels gratified to follow the rules, restrictions, and celebrations that his forebears have believed and carried out. They gain so much from practicing as they believe and were taught from birth that they are not unhappy. They carry out as many as their “Caryagim Mitzwot” as they possibly can.    

There are fewer and fewer Jewish people in our world today.  Our United States of America, the land in which many of us are fortunate enough to have raised our children, has brought a change in our numbers and sadness and losses of our identity as Jews.  Our young ones, of whom we were so proud, have left us.  There are many reasons for this.  It is easier to find non Jewish mates; they are much more available. It is easier to live in a non religious world without all of the restrictions.  It is less expensive to have a tref (non kosher) household and many restrictions and “idiosyncrasies” have been lifted.

There is the Jewish child who wants to be the proverbial boss as he grows.  He will show his parent that he is in charge of his life and disbelieves what his mother and father have taught him.  He will be what he wants and marries a non Jew. To make it even stronger he will marry a Mongolian. He may even take her to a “Rabbi” who will in one or two sessions declare her to be Jewish.  This is a “favor” to his parents and they now have a “Jewish” daughter in law.  It is one way of exhibiting his so called adulthood and deposit his childhood beliefs into the proverbial garbage can.  If his parents are angry, he insists that if they loved him “truly” they would welcome his spouse.  It is fashionable to show that he is an adult and owes nothing to his parents.  They are “wrong, prejudiced,” and much more. 

There are those of our Jewish brethren who deny their Jewishness. It is one way that they feel they will be accepted by their fellow men.  In their minds, they believe what the anti-Semites have told them, and they want to be accepted by them or they believe in their own inferiority and can shed their religion through self-denial. They are often people who dislike themselves. They have lost their identity; they do not know who they are. 

It is essential that we like our Jewishness, our strengths, our abilities.  We see many examples of such among our people. We have a higher percentage of physicians than non Jews, and more college graduates. When we have doubts about our importance, we must remember who we are as a people. We must remember just a few: the physicist, the genius Albert Einstein, or the many notable physicians like Jonas Salk, who invented the polio vaccine, saving thousands of people’s lives.  We have Jewish soldiers who are brave and strong and have protected our people in Israel. Let us be proud of who we are and be a healthy and proud example to our children.


 Dr. Ursula A. Falk is a psychotherapist in private practice and the author of several books and articles.

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