Bar mitzvah pressures from in-laws

I feel so much pressure and I believe religion is personal. One can commit but not by someone else's pressure. All this came because of my son's bar mitzvah. What do you suggest that I do?

Dear friend,

At some point, you have to begin living your own life, accountable to your own conscience and to God. While your concern to please your in-laws is praiseworthy, it sounds to me like it has gone too far.

As painful as it may be to live with their rejection, I don't see how one can convert through Orthodoxy unless that way of being Jewish accords with your own belief. To act Orthodox without conviction is, to my mind, a sham and is offensive to God. The Talmud wisely teaches, "God wants the heart."

It sounds to me like you and your family are living a rich Jewish life as an observant Conservative Jew. I would arrange to celebrate your son's bar mitzvah at your own (Conservative) synagogue, let your in-laws know that they will be most welcome to join the celebration, but that ultimately their choice about whether or not to participate is in their hands.

Whether or not to attend is the full extent of their choice. They don't get to pick the locale, the rabbi or the synagogue. And they certainly don't get to impose their faith on you or your children.

God bless you and mazel tov on your son's simcha!

— Rabbi Bradley Shavit Artson