Dear Savvy Auntie,

I have a two year old niece who lives some ways from us, so I don't get to see her as often as I'd like. My question is this: I've recently decided to embrace my Jewish roots (mom is Jewish, dad isn't, wasn't raised Jewish). This seems to have caused some discomfort amongst my in-laws. My sister-in-law has gone as far as to say that she is an atheist. How do I go about introducing my niece to my beliefs without infringing on my sister-in-law’s beliefs?

Jewish Auntie

Dear Jewish Auntie,

I think you know the answer to your question and would like a different answer. I can’t offer it to you. Religious beliefs are the bailiwick of the parents of very young children. I can understand your wish to share your new-found connection to Judaism with your niece, but you must respect your in-laws’ beliefs at this stage.

If you are thinking about giving a gift to your niece for Chanukah, I suggest you speak to your sister-in-law and ask her if that would be all right. If you are thinking of teaching your niece about Judaism I would suggest you wait until she is old enough and once again to ask your sister-in-law. Keep in mind that Judaism prohibits proselytizing. Of course, you can show your enthusiasm in a way that a two-year-old can grasp, which would be mainly via seasonal holiday songs.

As she gets older and your in-laws hopefully feel more comfortable with your religious beliefs, you might be able to tell her some of the biblical stories relating to holidays, special foods, and observances. In the meantime, you can establish your own non-denominational traditions with your niece so that your relationship has its own unique connections.

Good Luck,
Natalie Robinson Garfield
TheSenseConnection.wordpress ,

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