I was reading the book Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mom by Amy Chua. In this book she mention that her Jewish husband is not religious in the slightest but still when they got married insisted that the children where raised 'Jewish'. I'm curious what exactly to be raised Jewish means in a general sense (as opposed to what it means to Ms. Chua specifically), especially considering that it is important for non-religious Jews as well.

  • Thank You msh210 for helping me with getting this question up to standard.
    – Neil Meyer
    Jul 8, 2015 at 19:13
  • Of course if the children eventually do try to practice Judaism, they may be astonished to find that they are not Jewish (unless they convert). Jul 8, 2015 at 20:45

1 Answer 1


Being "Raised Jewish" in this context means that, to the degree that there is any religious experience in the home, it is of Jewish origin. So if they go to a house of worship, it will be a synagogue. If they do something of a religious commemoration in the month of December, it will be Chanuka, and most significantly if the child asks what religion they are, they will be told "Jewish".

The specific practices above are only common examples. Another very popular one in America is attending a Seder on Passover.

Jews, even if they don't particularly practice their Judaism, often have a strong identity as "Jewish" and can want to pass that identity on to their children. (See here for such an example). So exactly what form that takes will depend on what practices they were themselves particularly impressed with as children, but the general sentiment is this: They aren't particularly concerned with their children practicing the Jewish religion but they do want them to identify as Jews.

  • I agree with your point in general, but I am uncertain whether your final sentence is an accurate generalization of the motives of such people (though this motive certainly applies to a portion of these Jews). Perhaps, in many of their minds, the religion they want their children to practice has some inherent significance, and they would be unsatisfied if their children worshiped Christianity but maintained a strong cultural identification as a Jew (whatever that means, be it in the form of some Jewish religious practices in addition to Christian ones, or in the form of eating bagels and lox).
    – Fred
    Jul 8, 2015 at 19:44
  • @Fred, Christianity is probably a singularly bad example of that, but Buddhism probably isn't. I would say they want "Jew" to be at least part of their identity, but I agree they aren't always exclusive about it. I've never heard of someone who wanted practice per-se, with the exception of marrying someone Jewish (which is not the OP example or the other question I linked to).
    – Yishai
    Jul 8, 2015 at 19:50
  • 4
    Or as the old joke goes: So a Jew from an atheist household goes to church with his friend. The mother is furious and declares, "There is only one God, and we don't believe in him!"
    – rosenjcb
    Jul 8, 2015 at 20:30
  • So basically I dont care what religion our children are as long as it is not yours.
    – Neil Meyer
    Aug 21, 2018 at 17:23
  • @NeilMeyer, I think that the husband in your example would regard their identification as being Jewish. So they care what religion they have, and it is "Jewish" as they define it - nothing more than self-identification and possibly at major life events like weddings and funerals.
    – Yishai
    Aug 21, 2018 at 19:40

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