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Frequently Asked Questions and Answers

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< Q21.9.1 TOC Q21.9.3 >

Question 21.9.2:
Coping with other religions: My child's non-Jewish grandparents have asked her to help trim the tree. What do I do?


Some parents would say "yes" immediately; others would issue an outright refusal. The child knows her grandparents are not Jewish, and it might be helpful for her to see how they practice their religion and what sorts of things are important to them. But this must also be weighed against the potential for identity conflict and confusion in the child, who may begin to feel as though she is "sort-of" Christian, or Christian in some "honorary" kind of way. For young children (under 10), it is probably not a good idea, as their Jewish identity is not yet fully-formed and they will definitely absorb the confusing message that Christianity is somehow just as much a part of them as their own religion.

Note that this answer does not address some of the potential underlying reasons for the question; it assumes the child is being raised Jewish by both parents (one, quite likely, a convert, although there are situations where it is the grandparents that left Judaism after the children were born). The question gains significance if there is an attempt to raise the child with multiple faiths. Most of the main Jewish movements (Reform, Conservative, and of course Orthodoxy) do not believe that is possible, and recommend raising the child within Judaism only. However, the issue is quite complex, and some of the texts in the Intermarriage and Conversion reading list, in particular, the "After You've Done the Deed" section, are appropriate. URL:

The FAQ is a collection of documents that is an attempt to answer questions that are continually asked on the soc.culture.jewish family of newsgroups. It was written by cooperating laypeople from the various Judaic movements. You should not make any assumption as to accuracy and/or authoritativeness of the answers provided herein. In all cases, it is always best to consult a competent authority--your local rabbi is a good place to start.

[Got Questions?]Hopefully, the FAQ will provide the answer to your questions. If it doesn't, please drop Email to The FAQ maintainer will endeavor to direct your query to an appropriate individual that can answer it. If you would like to be part of the group to which the maintainer directs questions, please drop a note to the FAQ maintainer at

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