Jewish Relationships Interfaith issues have cropped up over weddings and circumcisions

He spent his life trying to escape his Jewishness, and now he sees me as some kind of Jewish curse, coming back to haunt him. I need the financial support to have a nice wedding and I want him involved, but I'm really conflicted.

–Too Jewish

Dear Too Jewish:

Your father apparently didn't succeed at extinguishing the spark of Jewish identity. Even if your father is correct that your interest in your Jewish roots is partially motivated by a normal adolescent desire to create an identity in opposition to those of your parents, your sustained interest in learning about Judaism and your choice of a Jewish husband suggest you have developed a sincere commitment to your Jewish identity and a Jewish life.

While we support your efforts to get your father involved in your wedding, if he is opposed to supporting a Jewish wedding, finding some way to pay for it without his assistance may be the cost of your own "Declaration of Independence." This is after all your and your fiancé's wedding, and it should reflect the commitment to each other and to Judaism that you feel. You might try letting your father know that you understand his opposition but hope that his love for you would allow him to set aside differences so you can all enjoy this special occasion.

One last thought: In deciding to create a Jewish family, you may have to deal with the fact that most Jewish communities may not consider you halachically Jewish. While patrilineal descent would not be a problem for you in a Reform synagogue, the fact that you were not raised as Jewish might be a social and cultural issue. In Conservative and Orthodox communities, you would not be considered Jewish unless you went through a formal conversion.

Dear Docs:

I am Jewish and my wife was raised Catholic. When we first discussed marriage, I told her that I didn't care if she converted, but it was extremely important to me to raise our children as Jewish. She agreed, but now we're having a crisis about the issue — three weeks before our first child is going to be born. We know it's going to be a boy, and I took it for granted that we would have a brit. She said she never thought raising children as Jewish included any kind of circumcision. Help!


Dear Dad-to-be:

The most difficult task for most of us is to imagine ourselves in the future. So when the two of you agreed to "raise your children as Jewish," maybe you didn't spend enough time talking about what the idea of having "Jewish children" would really be like. Many couples are anxious about being specific because they are frightened that if they do, insurmountable differences might arise.

Don't despair and don't panic. The most important thing now is to begin to talk more deeply about your concerns. If either of you feels coerced into a quick solution by the other, you all may pay for it for a long time.

While the traditional brit milah takes place when a boy is eight days old, you may need more time to work things out. Remember that your baby can be given a brit at any time, when you both feel ready, and the child will be just as Jewish. Our new book, "Fighting for Your Jewish Marriage," gives lots of suggestions about how to discuss these kinds of difficult issues. Understanding your expectations about religion and your family may take time, and you may want professional help to really explore the issues. Your child's emotional and spiritual well-being rely on the two of you working out your differences. But please, just remember — half a circumcision is not a viable option.