Dear Ms. Clinton:
On behalf of everyone at Big Tent Judaism/Jewish Outreach Institute (JOI), I would like to congratulate you and your husband on your pregnancy. I like to say: having a child is no big deal; it just changes your whole life. As a parent—and grandparent—I am excited for you and your family.
I would also like to be the first to welcome your baby into the Jewish community. While you may not yet have decided in what faith you will raise your child, I want you to know that we consider women who have married into the Jewish community to be unsung heroes when they make the effort to raise Jewish children. As a result, we want to make sure that you are welcomed and celebrated. It is one of the reasons we developed The Mothers Circle. Sometimes raising a child in the Jewish community without the benefit of a Jewish background is like living in a foreign country without the benefit of foreign language skills. The Mothers Circle suite of free programs provides you with what you may need to help navigate the Jewish community.
I know this is a big decision to make, but I hope you will consider the benefits of bringing Judaism into your child’s life. The Jewish community is collaborative and supportive. During a person’s happiest and saddest moments, the community joins together with the individual and family. As a Jew, your child will become part of the narrative story of the Jewish people and will gain a roadmap of how he or she should live his or her life. Judaism also provides an education that helps individuals acknowledge their moral responsibility to others. Furthermore, Judaism holds high regard for the doing of sacred tasks that, as a result, bring its followers closer to God. Finally, while there are many customs and practices that make up the tapestry of Jewish life, Judaism encourages questioning and debate in the hope that seeking deeper understanding helps to strengthen faith and character.
Please know that my door—and the door of the Jewish community—will always be open to you. In the Jewish tradition, we wish pregnant parents b’sha-ah tovah—may your child come “at a good time.” And may you enjoy all the blessings of parenthood you so richly deserve.
Dr. Kerry Olitzky
Big Tent Judaism/Jewish Outreach Institute