Raising Israeli Jewish Girls VS Palestinian Israeli Boys, Part 2
This is Alice and Goody Two Shoes, back again to talk about some issues we have faced with our 6 children:
Goody Two Shoes: My 4 boys were born into a Christian believing family. This makes them a severe minority almost anywhere they live, but especially here in Jerusalem.
They were registered at birth as Christian and both they and us, as their parents, had no choice in the matter. There is no separation of religion and state. It is decided for you by the Interior Ministry and it is very, very difficult to change this. Despite the labels given, my husband and I tried to teach them that God created everybody in his image and loves everybody equally. We mixed them with people of all religious backgrounds from an early age, encouraging relationships based on equality.
Alice Through the Looking Glass: My children are registered as Jewish because their mother is Jewish. Nothing else matters to the Interior Ministry. The fact that we are believers is not really a question that was asked us or given attention. In school, my kids have to attend normal Bible instruction as a course, from 1st through 12th grade, and pass a test on it to graduate. Some of the instruction is from the Old Testament. The rest is rabbinic commentary, which often conflicts with our beliefs at home. My husband and I spent many hours of reading and discussing the scriptures at home, Old and New Testaments, in order to give the girls our understanding in hopes they would find it makes sense to them as well.
Since most Messianic congregations in Israel would not allow a girl to read from the Torah (forget Orthodox Synagogues), we decided NOT to have a Bat Mitzvah for our girls. They had not yet decided whether they wanted to be believers or not, so we felt the spiritual aspect (the most important part) was missing. Instead of feeding 200 people dinner, we decided to let the girls each choose a European country they wanted to visit, figuring that opening their eyes to other cultures was also helping them become mature.
Goody Two Shoes: As Christians, we celebrate the Christian feasts (all of them-both Eastern and Western). As children attending Jewish schools, they also celebrated Jewish feasts. They brought home Hannukiahs (candle holders for 8 candles) they made at school and I duly lit them, secretly hoping they would drop to pieces afterwards, which they often did, not because I was against the Jewish holiday but because I did not have anywhere to store them! They attended Passover meals, dressed up for Purim, rode bikes on Yom Kippur, visited neighbours at Eid Al Athar, respected Ramadan, hung up Sukkot decorations and I even made a Sukka (booth) out of old sheets and washing lines. As a family, we enjoyed and decorated our own house for Christmas and Easter for our own festivals and paid attention to others on theirs.
Alice: My girls had all the Jewish feasts at school and at home. Pesach was always a central theme in our house, as we explain the symbolism that points to Yeshua's last meal with his disciples and the different symbolisms in the meal for redemption. L'ag B'Omer was never celebrated at our house (the celebration (?) of the burning of Jerusalem and the Second Temple-bonfires are lit all over Israel, so much so that there is a pollution warning the next day) since the tradition of celebrating a FALSE MESSIAH leading the people to destruction is too much for me to bear. Hanukkah at our house meant 8 presents - one for each night - though they were often books or socks. Christmas was celebrated at the homes of friends, which we totally enjoyed and to which we looked forward every year.
Goody Two Shoes: Because there is no separation of religion and state in Israel, if you are born a Christian, you marry a Christian and only then can you be legally wed in the country. Marry anybody from a different religious background and you find yourself forced to legally marry outside the country. This makes marrying somebody from the same religious background much easier and consequently easier for the children as far as legal requirements go.
I would like my children to marry people of similar faith and if the religious background matches as well, then great! However, I have realised a long time ago I have zero influence in this area and it is far better to keep my opinions to myself, pray and save up!
Alice: My husband and I agree to support the girls' choices for husbands no matter the ethnicity. We prefer they be believers, although our community in Israel is miniscule. Now, if they choose a Palestinian (even if they are believers), they would be better off not living in this country. They would have a bulls eye on their backs, and never know from where persecution might come. Similar to an interracial marriage in the 60's in the USA, it would not be safe for them. Additionally, they would have to either give up citizenship and move to the West Bank, at which time they also give up the laws of Israel that protect them as women, OR apply for family reunification to move their husbands to Israel. This is granted in approximately 1% of the cases, and then their spouse would not be able to drive or work in Israel.
Alice and Goody Two Shoes: We have many areas of difference and many of similarity. May we celebrate, commiserate, enjoy, pray for each others children, supporting each other in mutual friendship till we reach old age and can relax and look back ...Tell us, readers of the golden age, does that ever happen?
We repeat our mantra: Together we stand divided we fall. We of the same faith and different backgrounds hold each other up in the shaky times and dance together when we celebrate. And we plan to dance at 6 weddings in the coming years, either the Hora or the Dabka!