Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Religion can bind families together, but it can also - sadly - be ultra-divisive

Laurie Dinerstein-Kurs, of East Windsor, N.J., is a mother of two and grandparent of ten. She and her husband identify themselves as Conservative Jews, though Mrs. Dinerstein-Kurs says she’s a bit less observant than her husband, Steven. Their son is raising his three children as Reform Jews, while their daughter and her seven children are Orthodox. As Dinerstein-Kurs told the website grandparents.com last year, her daughter’s strict beliefs mean restricted contact with her grandchildren:

Dinerstein-Kurs’s daughter’s children attend single-sex, strictly-segregated Orthodox private schools, so she can only attend events at the girls’ school; her husband can only attend events at the boys’ school. And while the Dinerstein-Kurs, who are Conservative Jews, do follow kosher dietary rules, her daughter and son-in-law will not come to their home for the Jewish holidays. (Many Orthodox Jews do not travel during major holidays, and many will only eat in other homes that follow a particularly strict interpretation of kosher dietary laws.)

“You sit around the table on a holiday and she’s not there,” she says. “It’s almost like a death.”

Further, the couple will not allow the children to go to their grandparents’ home for a sleepover, in part because the grandparents aren’t equipped to say all of the daily blessings an Orthodox family would normally say. “While I do my best to connect with them, there’s something to be said for having them one-on-one. I can’t take them out for the day alone; no overnights, no baby-sitting, and no vacations. There’s so much I can’t do with and for the kids.”

Read the full article here.

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