Between Two Cultures

Welcome to the "On Balance" guest blog. Every Tuesday, "On Balance" features the views of a guest writer. It could be your neighbor, your boss, your most loved or hated poster from the blog, or you! Send me your original, unpublished entry (300 words or fewer) for consideration. Obviously, the topic should be something related to balancing your life.

By Ann

I am Chinese-American. My husband is American-born Caucasian. When my husband and I first married eight years ago, questions about how to raise children, what cultural beliefs and values to instill in them, and what traditions to pass on to them never entered our minds. I had known for most of my life that I did not want children, and my husband was unsure, so we thought we would not have children.

Somewhere down the road, I changed my mind and my husband wanted to be a father. Now, as the parents of a seven-month-old boy, we are beginning to ask ourselves those questions and to seek answers on how to instill both cultures in our son.

Even though I came to the United States at a young age and grew up in this country, my family instilled in me traditional Chinese cultural values such as honoring my elders and doing something for the good of the family, not just for myself. Growing up, I was torn between being Chinese and American. I tried to honor my parents and respect their wishes, allowing them to dictate my life, including my academic and social life (which was next to nonexistent because of my parents' wish that I spend all my time studying). My American friends did not worry about "adult matters" such as health insurance or their parents' ability to communicate with others, but I was expected to act as translator for my parents on everything ranging from grocery story conversations to documents distributed at their workplaces.

I fought to be an individual and to do what I wanted. In elementary school, I pretended to my friends to celebrate American holidays, such as Christmas (by lying about what gifts I had received when asked) and Halloween. During high school, I lied to my parents on occasion, just so I could sneak out to see a movie or go to a party with my friends. In college I did not major in a science- or math-related field (against my parents' wishes), which is something stereotypically linked to Asians. I wanted to be like my American friends -- eat the same foods as they did, use the same utensils, read the same things, participate in the same recreational activities, join clubs, speak the same language, have the same eye and hair colors. I spoke English like everyone else, yet I couldn't do a thing about looking Chinese. No matter what I did, I felt like a fraud about to be found out.

My husband, on the other hand, had a fairly typical American upbringing. He and his family celebrated all the American holidays, participated in "American" sports like baseball and football, and traveled throughout the United States during the summers. My husband dated in high school, pulled pranks with his friends, went to his prom, participated in after-school activities, and tried new things to figure out who he was. His background was the same as everyone else around him, unlike me.

Now, with the birth of our interracial baby, we face many questions. We want him to learn about and experience his Chinese heritage, but also do not want him to feel completely different from his peers as I did growing up. We want him to learn to speak Chinese, but how much exposure to Chinese culture is "enough"? I did not grow up with the tradition of Santa Claus, but my husband did -- should we celebrate Christmas with our son? Do we want him to honor his elders or follow his own heart? Should we live in my native country for a few years to instill Chinese values in our son? Would that isolate him from his American peers once we return? In short, how "Chinese" or "American" do we want our son to be?

How do those of us with multiple ethnic and cultural backgrounds successfully straddle all cultural boundaries?


Today's guest blogger lives with her family in the Washington, D.C. area.


By Leslie Morgan Steiner |  July 24, 2007; 7:00 AM ET  | Category:  Guest Blogs
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Comments

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Great blog entry.

Posted by: bryn mawr | July 24, 2007 7:04 AM

"Do we want him to honor his elders or follow his own heart?"

The two are not mutual exclusive. You can honor your elders and still follow your own heart.

I know this will sound cruel, but I hope you get some therapy to work out your anger and frustration towards your parents.

Posted by: What the!!! | July 24, 2007 7:07 AM

To answer some of your questions:

"I did not grow up with the tradition of Santa Claus, but my husband did -- should we celebrate Christmas with our son? " - What do YOU want to do?

"We want him to learn to speak Chinese, but how much exposure to Chinese culture is "enough"?" - How much do YOU think is enough?

"Should we live in my native country for a few years to instill Chinese values in our son? " - Do YOU want to live in your native country?


It seems your parents did not teach you how to live your own life and answer your own questions. Please do NOT do that to your child. If you want your child to grow up with what to me seems like a subservient culture, by all means do to him what your parents did to you.

Posted by: What the!!! - again | July 24, 2007 7:14 AM

Perhaps the best way to approach this issue is to show the best of both cultures. Emphasize the parts of Chinese culture that you feel are positives, and at the same time do the same for American culture. Your family is blended from two societies; don't limit your choices but show your child both of them.

Posted by: John L | July 24, 2007 7:31 AM

I'm a male, so I guess my perspective will be different, but wow, I did not want Chinese Americans to be represented by this entry.

I also spent basically all my high school years at home to study and followed my parents' wishes regarding my social life. I followed my parents' wishes in college and studied Business. As an aside, the Asians studying math and science stereotype is really out of control, everytime I tell someone where I work, they assume I'm a computer programer or an engineer, but that's a tangent.

I was torn between following traditional Chinese values and the American values that was all around me. But eventually I decided for myself, because that's what growing up is about.

And no, while most of my friends are/were Caucasian, I did not want to look like them or have their skin color or eyes. I'm proud of my heritage and have never ever felt like a "fraud" because I wasn't "American" enough.

Finally, I'll echo the above poster, teach him whatever you two think is best, but above all, teach him to think for himself.

Posted by: Also Chinese American | July 24, 2007 7:40 AM

What does Chinese-American mean? You were born in China. Are you now an American citizen?

Posted by: Anonymous | July 24, 2007 7:56 AM

Take the best of both worlds. It is what most couples do whether they are multi-ethnic or not. My husband and I grew up differently. We made our own lives with our children--we take the best traditions--the ones we remember fondly--and the best foods and the best stories and lessons and we make our own lives and raise our children to know who they are and where they come from and give them the tools to choose where they are going. It is when people get hung up on stuff that problems arise--do you think it is Chinese and not American to respect your elders? It's not--and it isn't only Chinese for some parents to have trouble letting go and to let their children make their own decisions...just raise your kids to appreciate you and your husband and the rest will take care of itself.

Posted by: Chris1458 | July 24, 2007 7:59 AM

I echo other opinions that one of the most important things to teach a child -- no matter your culture -- is to think for him or herself. But how do you do this? It is especially hard with girls in a culture that sends many subtle messages that they should defer to male opinions.

I really identified with this Guest Blog. The cultural issue in my marriage is different religions. My husband is Jewish and I am Christian. When we were dating I agreed to raise our kids Jewish but once we actually had kids I realized that I couldn't ignore my own traditions, so we are raising them with both cultures.

What works for us is embracing both our cultural traditions and trying to teach our children to be open-minded about all faiths and how you practice them.

Posted by: Leslie | July 24, 2007 8:10 AM

"When we were dating I agreed to raise our kids Jewish but once we actually had kids I realized that I couldn't ignore my own traditions, so we are raising them with both cultures."

I other words, the kids are nothing! Nice going!

Posted by: Anonymous | July 24, 2007 8:13 AM

"When we were dating I agreed to raise our kids Jewish but once we actually had kids I realized that I couldn't ignore my own traditions, so we are raising them with both cultures. "

With many things, you can teach a child both "sides". However, with this, you can't. How can you teach your child that Christ was the Messiah (basic tenet of Christianity) and also teach your child that Christ wasn't the Messiah?????

Posted by: Anonymous | July 24, 2007 8:13 AM

As the father of two multi-cultural kids, I just want to say: relaaaaaxxxxxxxx. First off, remember that your child won't have the same translation responsibilities as you. Secondly, your choices aren't "all study" and "all play"- the best solution is a balance between the two, and that's true regardless of culture. If your husband likes Christmas you should celebrate Christmas, although you could de-emphasize it compared to the extravagance that others make it (again, this is a good policy regardless of culture). Food menus don't have to be only American or only Chinese- be creative and take the best of all worlds. Good parenting is all about balance. Your child is going to end up fine just because you care, so don't stress yourself out about the details.

Also, I would recommend "Does Anybody Else Look Like Me" by Donna Jackson Nakazawa, which I found very interesting

Posted by: Plays in Traffic | July 24, 2007 8:15 AM

Culture clashes can happen even if people come from what you think are similar backgrounds. My husband and I are both Indian, but our upbringing and family traditions could not be more different. Families all have individual ways of raising their children.

The key is a discussion between the two adults in the situation(you and your husband). I would suggest as other posters have done to pick those things you both truly cherish and pass those on. As an "Indian-American" I too had no Santa Claus, but never felt the lack as my parents emphasized the beauty and fun of our cultural and religious events. That is what I will do for my two girls.

I would also take the chip off your shoulder. "respect for elders" and an "emphasis on education" is not exclusive to the Chinese culture. I had my share of "typical American friends" with strict parents who wanted their kids to excel academically.

Posted by: Sunniday | July 24, 2007 8:18 AM

This seems like a very self-indulgent post. I grew up in two cultures - White and Korean. My mother (the Korean) worked hard to instill, not Korean values, but basic values of respect and hard work. She also taught us about her heritage. I never felt that my mixed background was a hindrance or a problem. I never worried that I wasn't white enough (or, when my dad was stationed in Korea, Korean enough). God willing, when my husband and I have children, it will not be a question of teaching them about their heritage, that's easy. But rather, instilling courage, respect, hard work, and self-confidence into our children. The rest will come. Have confidence in your children that they will have the curiousity to search out their heritage.

Posted by: K | July 24, 2007 8:18 AM

"How can you teach your child that Christ was the Messiah (basic tenet of Christianity) and also teach your child that Christ wasn't the Messiah?????"

Jews for Jesus!

The whole point is that they are not religious at all. Religion is a cafeteria, they pick out what they like on the menu and bypass the rest.

Hard to be proud of a mishmash of convenience.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 24, 2007 8:19 AM

have you considered exploring Chinese American cultural or community groups? there are others who face similar questions and as your child gets older he will see there are other families like his that celebrate Chinese and American traditions.
my mother is a Filipina and my father German-Irish. Growing up, it helped to spend time with each side of the family.
One odd thing is, my mother's relatives would say"you look so much like your father" and my father's relatives would say " you look so much like your mother," so the sense of being apart was emphasized . What helped was to meet others with similar multicultural backgrounds and see that my family was not so unique or unusual.

About living in China today, I wonder how you would find it because it lacks basic freedoms Americans enjoy and lack of consumer protections.

Posted by: find others like you | July 24, 2007 8:27 AM

Glad to see they didn't publish her full name and location. After last week's free-for-all with the real estate info, I'm not surprised. If parents have such a hard time finding balance, but have the time to pick over someone else's life, it makes me wonder where their prorities really are. If you have that kind of idle time, why not go spend it with your kids?

You know, be a parent?

Posted by: Good! | July 24, 2007 8:28 AM

Sorry to disagree, Leslie.
Exposure to both is OK, but you needed to choose one faith, and for both partners to support /respect the decision.

These are among the many hard decisions parents have to make through a child's lifetime.

btw... the Jewish tradition is for children to be raised in the religion of the mother.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 24, 2007 8:30 AM

I'm going to nitpick your choice of words. You referred to your baby as "interracial." I think that suggests a between-ness that leaves baby in an racial identity no-man's land. I prefer the term multiracial because it's more inclusive and allows that a person may be many things rather than stuck in between things. I wish the term multiracial had been used when I was growing up (70s and 80s). "Mixed" was the best I could do which was better than what some people called me. Too white to be black, too black to be white, and a little Cherokee thrown in for fun.

Posted by: Anon today | July 24, 2007 8:32 AM

I am the mother of hispanic children and my husband has always insisted on speaking Spanish at home. One child went through a period of refusing to speak Spanish and feeling ashamed of being hispanic. Solution--immersion spanish programs, weekend spanish school and frequent visits back to the home country. All of these are possible in this area for Chinese speakers. Find a weekend Chinese school now..most programs start for toddlers. Investigate the Chinese immersion school programs. Most importantly, you have to be consistent about language at home.

Sometimes I see how much stress this has added to family interactions but it is a basic need for my husband so the kids just have to get over it. They may not speak Spanish when they have their own kids, but until their father dies they will speak Spanish in our home. They enjoy family traditions that come with their father's culture as well as the rituals that my background brings but with the fun stuff comes some hard work and accepting that your parents are "different".

Posted by: relativelynewtoblog | July 24, 2007 8:37 AM

Ann, I'm glad you wrote this post. I also have a bi-racial child and planned to submit a guest blog but have never gotten around to it. It took some courage to write this (and some people won't understand that) because you're going to take some bashing from both directions. I'm sure you'll let it roll off.

That example will be a good one for your child and mine. When you can let these things roll off, you are better prepared to be an individual. It sounds like as a child you may not have been able to blend your responsibility to family with a sense of appreciation for your individual skills and talents. It will be important that your child(ren) be able to emphasize their individuality at an early age, because the world is going to challenge them on it. Some innocent 5-year-old is going to ask them what their race is and what their traditions are, and they need to be comfortable saying "I'm me and I don't need to justify that. I'm a complete person even though I'm different from my friends in some ways." If their friends can't understand that it will reflect poorly on their friend's parents, not on you.

I really think you (and I) have much more of a burden to raise self-assured children, because they will be more susceptible to the world eating them up if they have self image and self confidence problems. Teach them early that being different is OK (not superior, but certainly not inferior either) and you'll give them a jump on life.

And BTW, your first test will be to ignore today's posters who will choose to take shots at your family, your choice to procreate, your culture, scoff at you because you don't have everything all figured out yet (even though they don't either which is why they are here) and assert their moral superiority over your family unit. Their stuff will be veiled but ugly. Lets see how you handle it. :-)

Posted by: Proud Papa | July 24, 2007 8:39 AM

"But it is a basic need for my husband so the kids just have to get over it"

Welcome to America. Now speak English.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 24, 2007 8:42 AM

"I am the mother of hispanic children and my husband has always insisted on speaking Spanish at home."

Interesting. My mother called the shots in my house and she forbade my father to speak his native tongue in front his kids.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 24, 2007 8:44 AM

"Sorry to disagree, Leslie.
Exposure to both is OK, but you needed to choose one faith, and for both partners to support /respect the decision."

Why, 8:30? Because YOU say so? I'm sure we should all raise our families to your oh-so-high strategies....

Posted by: Anonymous | July 24, 2007 8:49 AM

I am a first generation American - my parents and older sister came to the US from Croatia so I too was the translator, spelling teacher, etc for my parents. I think it took a while but my parents have realized that no matter what they did (croatian classes every saturday, catholic church every sunday, spoke only Croatia at home, etc.), we kids are Americans with a Croatian heritage. I think its too much to expect for your kids to think/act like a native Chinese kid would, when the US is their home. Besides, my parents came to this country because they believe in American philosophies and not communist philosophies, so having a Americanized kid is not so bad....

Posted by: Anonymous | July 24, 2007 8:51 AM

"Hard to be proud of a mishmash of convenience."

Er...why, exactly?

Is it somehow less honorable to think for yourself?

Posted by: Anonymous | July 24, 2007 8:55 AM

In regards to 8:42's comment, "welcome to America. Now speak English," what is it with all the anonymous intolerance I am seeing in these comments?

It is frightening for me if this is really how the cross section of Washington Post readers thinks.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 24, 2007 8:57 AM

Bar Mitzvah for your son?
Bat Mitzvahs for your daughters?

Confirmation classes?

Posted by: Anonymous | July 24, 2007 9:02 AM

I agree with the poster who suggested getting in touch with a group of others that also share this situation.

I my case, my husband and I adopted a baby girl from Kazakhstan who has Asian features, so it is obvious that she is not our biological child. However, we are planning to incorporate her Kazak culture and traditions when she is old enough to understand, and we also plan to travel back to Kazakhstan so that she can see where she came from. We are involved with other families who also adopted children from Kazakhstan and will keep in contact with them so that our daughter is not alone or feel isolated about being different (Kazak and adopted), but that she is special and we will honor her heritage. If she develops a relationship with these other children, then they will share a common bond. The international adoption community is huge and a great support network, this will be our life to embrace. Right now, we will continue to celebrate Christmas and Easter and Halloween (and Independence Day since she is an American citizen), but will present the Kazak holidays to her and let her decide how involved she wants to be.

Posted by: D in MD | July 24, 2007 9:03 AM

To 8:49
previously wrote:
Why, 8:30? Because YOU say so? I'm sure we should all raise our families to your oh-so-high strategies....

btw, I did not see your recommendation, only. Do you have one to present?

No, because every parent should do what is best for their relationships, and their children.

Raising children in 2 religions is raising children in no religion.

Children need guidance.
If they decide later to follow another religion, so be it.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 24, 2007 9:03 AM

"Do we want him to honor his elders or follow his own heart?"

The two are not mutual exclusive. You can honor your elders and still follow your own heart.

************
Uh, no. It is not possible to honor your elders and follow your own heart when a big part of honoring your elders = obedience and deference. In some cultures, this is part and parcel of honoring your parents. Choosing your own way, when it goes against your parents' wishes, is seen as disrespectful and defiant by some cultures. Don't assume that all cultures have the same definition of honoring parents as Americans do. Americans are very laid-back about this compared to more traditional cultures. In the American mind, you can choose your own way but still love and honor your parents, even if you disagree with them. Other cultures don't always see it this way. I experienced this firsthand within my own family.

Posted by: Ana | July 24, 2007 9:05 AM

Great post today. I am American and my husband is from Lebanon. Our son is almost a year now and I've used English from the very beginning, while my husband uses Arabic (and a little French)--we are really emphasizing the bilingualism. We spend a lot of time in Lebanon, but we live here so I feel the American "traits" will come naturally to our son, so we really emphasize the Lebanese traditions--most are fairly fun anyway as they all involve food! For your son, if you decide to celebrate Christmas, why not have an equally festive Chinese new year? They're not the same type of holidays, but equally festive--your son will get the best of both worlds.

Posted by: AW | July 24, 2007 9:06 AM

I would say that the OPs problem doesn't seem to be that she has two cultures to sort out... more that she hasn't yet been able to become a confident adult. Since she didn't get to make any of her own choices during her adolescence/young adulthood, she is too paralyzed with self-doubt to start making them now.

FWIW, I don't think this has anything to do with being Chinese-American- I know plenty of non-Asian kids who also had very overbearing parents who have the same problems. I would personally recommend some therapy to discuss ways to make yourself into a more autonomous adult, so you do not have to spend the rest of your life feeling like a child. Good luck!

Posted by: va | July 24, 2007 9:08 AM

I would honestly encourage Ann and her husband to talk to other parents in multi-cultural relationships. If nothing else, it can be helpful to understand how others have dealt with the co-mingling of cultures.

I grew up in a household that was Jewish/Methodist and my parents very faithfully kept both sides of the equation open to our decisions. We celebrated both Jewish and Christian holidays, as well as the more capitalist holidays of Christmas and Easter. We were all baptised, I had a bris, my sisters and I were bas-mitzvah, we went to services in both synagoges and churches and we learned a great deal about religion in the process. My sisters are now definitively jewish (and more devout, in some ways, than my mother) and I am a secular humanist. The important part of this is that these are parts of our identities we chose for ourselves, with the information that my parents provided. Your children will make their own choices (sometimes in spite of you) so I would say it is best to prepare them, and yourself, for all possibilities.

Posted by: David S | July 24, 2007 9:11 AM

9:03, you have not presented any credentials to show you are any authority on how to "best" raise children in a religious setting. So you're pulling it out of your hind quarters just like everybody else.

I do have a recommendation to present: Mind your business.

Someone else's religious choice is probably the most sacred of choices, and you have NO standing to sit in judgement on someone's relationship with God.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 24, 2007 9:12 AM

Ann - Hopefully you won't make the same mistakes because you know the pitfalls. I guess you just have to reach a comfort level with your husband and not be so "set" on a path for your son. Flexibility is a wonderful thing to acquire as a parent.

Your questions are not unlike what many parents ask when they have children, but the bitterness I detect towards your parents and your upbringing could be the bigger issue.

Make your decisions and don't second guess even in the face of criticism - you have to trust yourself.

Posted by: cmac | July 24, 2007 9:14 AM

"It is not possible to honor your elders and follow your own heart when a big part of honoring your elders = obedience and deference. "

Then by all means, teach your child to be subservient and always do what somebody else wishes. It will make them a good subservient spouse after their family picks a spouse for them.


"Don't assume that all cultures have the same definition of honoring parents as Americans do. Americans are very laid-back about this compared to more traditional cultures"

This family is IN America. This family IS American. Therefore, this family needs to follow the culture of America (as you put it). If they don't want to, the go back to the native country where they will fit in.

Posted by: To ana (of 9:05am) | July 24, 2007 9:14 AM

"It is not possible to honor your elders and follow your own heart when a big part of honoring your elders = obedience and deference. In some cultures, this is part and parcel of honoring your parents."

Amen to that!

People, this is true of Christianity as well as "national" and "ethnic" cultures.

"He who spares his rod hates his son, But he who loves him disciplines him promptly." Proverbs 13:24

"Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child; The rod of correction will drive it far from him." Proverbs 22:15

"The rod and rebuke give wisdom: But a child left to himself brings shame to his mother." Proverbs 29:15

"Do not withhold correction from a child: For if you beat him with a rod, he will not die. You will beat him with a rod, And deliver his soul from hell." Proverbs 23:13-14

This passage quoting God's instructions to Moses (along with its restatement in Leviticus 24) is a particular favorite, especially among advocates of the death penalty. But it's never quoted in full -- it does get out of hand -- and nobody really follows through on the logic, which seems to demand stealing from thieves and raping rapists.

In fact, Yahweh isn't averse to such sentences, if they are practical. Nor does he object to capital punishment, which he demands not just for murder but for striking a parent or stealing a slave (but not for killing one of your own).

Do not permit your child to be weakened by becoming a permissive, self-indulgent American. Go with God.

Posted by: Preacher Jack | July 24, 2007 9:15 AM

We don't teach them theology -- an obviously serious conflict between Judaism and Christianity. Neither my husband nor I are members of a church or temple and we don't worship our religions in the traditional sense. We celebrate with Passover, Christmas, etc and have told the kids they are half Jewish, half Christian, and if they ever want to choose one religion they can when they are older. There are lots of Jewish/Christian families in DC so our kids feel pretty mainstream.

I actually think we are doing a good job of exposing them to a rich cultural life (based in reality).

Posted by: Leslie | July 24, 2007 9:16 AM

I'm a little perplexed about how you say you want to teach your child to "honor his elders," although you seem to be pretty bitter and angry about how your parents raised you in this regard. I really think you would do well to think hard about the relationship you had/have with your parents vs the kind of relationship you would like to have with your own child.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 24, 2007 9:17 AM

"Raising children in 2 religions is raising children in no religion."

This makes as much sense as "raising children in two languages s raising children in no language."

Posted by: jen S. | July 24, 2007 9:18 AM

Here's more help.

www.nogreaterjoy.org

Don't overlook, "To Train Up a Child".

Posted by: Anonymous | July 24, 2007 9:19 AM

Preacher Jack

Kinda early in the day for Bible thumping...

anon at 9:12 am

"I do have a recommendation to present: Mind your business."

There wouldn't be a blog if everyone minded their own business...

Posted by: Anonymous | July 24, 2007 9:21 AM

Successfully straddling all cultural boundaries can be made a bit easier for people with multiple ethnic and cultural backgrounds by practicing universal values and principles in life that transcend all societies. One such value encourage us to adopt to the occasion of the moment, as long as doing so is legal and morally upright. For instance, suppose that the group you're entertaining turns to a subject related to Christmas. Adopt by concentrating your input on the good will aspect of Christmas. Good will towards all humans is universally desired, and always in season. To lessen the chance of your child feeling completely different, why not encourage him to cultivate a group of friends consisting of people from diverse backgrounds? The experience will be socially enriching. Finally, don't worry about feeling different, because you are. Instead, teach your interracial child to treasure his different-ness. That's what makes him special. And that's why we created Cutlurevital - for people like you. www.freewebs.com/culturevital

Posted by: Culturevital | July 24, 2007 9:22 AM

These Pearls? From this book? Are you insane?

"How many licks?

There is no number that can be given. It would be better to administer more licks that are less forceful than to administer few licks that hurt severely. It is much more effective to administer chastisement or punishment in a slow thoughtful fashion. Our goal is to cause the child to voluntarily surrender his will. We want to impress upon him the severity of his disobedience. It takes time and thoughtfulness for the child to come to repentance. I have told a child I was going to give him 10 licks. I count out loud as I go. After about three licks, leaving him in his position, I would stop and remind him what this is all about. I would continue slowly, still counting, stop again and tell him that I know it hurts and I wish I didn't have to do it but that it is for his own good. Then I would continue slowly. Pretending to forget the count, I would again stop at about eight and ask him the number. Have him subtract eight from ten, (a little homeschooling) and continue with the final two licks. Then I would have him stand in front of me and ask him why he got the spanking. If his answer showed that he was rebellious and defiant, he would get several more licks. Again he would be questioned as to his offense. If he showed total submission, we put it all behind us, but if he were still rebellious, we would continue until he gave over his will."

Posted by: to Preacher Jack | July 24, 2007 9:23 AM

Jen S. this does not sound right.
Two religions with differening messianic viewpoints are vaslty different from being multi lingual.

btw, where are your credentials?

Posted by: Anonymous | July 24, 2007 9:23 AM

Ann,

Did you grow up in DC or another large diverse city?
It says you live in DC - that, right there, will make a world of difference in how your son identifies with his peers. There is so much diversity here, that I would find it hard to believe that your son would feel ashamed of being part Chinese.
I don't understand why you think one can't "respect" their elders while thinking for oneself. That's called a dictatorship, not respect. Respect is a mutual thing. Your son should obviously respect his elders, but the elders should respect HIM and his choices.
I would have no respect for parents bringing their children up so authoritatively and just plain mean! A child needs friends and activities outside of family and school. A child needs to learn how to get along in the world away from his/her parents.
So, teach your son of the history, pick a few special traditions you'd like to pass on, and pick some from your husband's side as well. Christmas and Easter can be holidays that celebrate family and not necessarily Jesus. Go to Chinese New Year in Chinatown, go visit China for a summer (instead of years), go visit the art museum on the mall, etc...

Posted by: SAHMbacktowork | July 24, 2007 9:26 AM


"Neither my husband nor I are members of a church or temple and we don't worship our religions in the traditional sense"

I'm confused. First you agreed to raise your kids Jewish, than you changed your mind because you are a Christian. And now the kids are being raised as nothing and can choose a religion down the road.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 24, 2007 9:29 AM

To preacher jack: This was re-done on West Wing, but it came originally from an email to a politician....

A talk show host defends calling homosexuality an "abomination" by saying that that is what the Bible says in Leviticus 18:22 (That verse, by the way, reads: "You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; such thing is an abomination.") This annoys President Bartlet who proceeds to ask a few pointed questions about just what one should accept from the Bible.

I'm interested in selling my youngest daughter into slavery as sanctioned in Exodus 21:7. She's a Georgetown sophomore, speaks fluent Italian, always cleaned the table when it was her turn. What would a good price for her be?"
My chief of staff, Leo McGarry, insists on working on the Sabbath. Exodus 35:2 clearly says he should be put to death. Am I morally obligated to kill him myself or is it okay to call the police?"
Here's one that's really important cause we've got a lot of sports fans in this town: touching the skin of a dead pig makes one unclean. Leviticus 11:7 If they promise to wear gloves can the Washington Redskins still play football? Can Notre Dame? Can West Point? "Does the whole town really have to be together to stone my brother, John, for planting different crops side by side? Can I burn my mother in a small family gathering for wearing garments made from two different threads?

"Think about those questions, would you?"

Posted by: Anonymous | July 24, 2007 9:30 AM

Not really sure how religion came into this discussion, since the OP said that she and her husband were uncertain about whether to celebrate it. If either of them were religious Christians, I don't think this would be an issue...

Posted by: Anonymous | July 24, 2007 9:34 AM

"If he showed total submission, we put it all behind us, but if he were still rebellious, we would continue until he gave over his will."

Nazi pig!
This is the sickest puppy on the blog yet. Sounds like a borderline sadist/wacko. Wonder how the spouse is treated.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 24, 2007 9:35 AM

I'm confused. First you agreed to raise your kids Jewish, than you changed your mind because you are a Christian. And now the kids are being raised as nothing and can choose a religion down the road.

Posted by: | July 24, 2007 09:29 AM

Who cares? Why is this your business? How is this even interesting?

I seriously doubt Leslie, or almost anyone here, is raising their children to lie, cheat, steal, run down little old ladies in crosswalks and steal canes.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 24, 2007 9:35 AM

"When we were dating I agreed to raise our kids Jewish but once we actually had kids I realized that I couldn't ignore my own traditions, so we are raising them with both cultures."

Are you familiar with the book by Steve and Cokie Roberts on how they managed the same situation raising their family here in the Washington DC area? It might offer additional useful insights for mixed-religion (or mixed-culture) couples trying to strike a balance with their children.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 24, 2007 9:36 AM

"Who cares? Why is this your business? How is this even interesting?"

Why put it out there in the first place? And not expect comment on this blog?

Posted by: Anonymous | July 24, 2007 9:37 AM

"I seriously doubt Leslie, or almost anyone here, is raising their children to lie, cheat, steal, run down little old ladies in crosswalks and steal canes."

The blackmarket for stolen canes is pretty good right now.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 24, 2007 9:38 AM

"If he showed total submission, we put it all behind us, but if he were still rebellious, we would continue until he gave over his will."

You'll be in for big shock when the kid dumps you in a crappy nursing home!

Then you'll be at the mercy of people who can beat you to give over your will!

Posted by: Anonymous | July 24, 2007 9:40 AM

I seriously doubt Leslie, or almost anyone here, is raising their children to lie, cheat, steal, run down little old ladies in crosswalks and steal canes.

Posted by: | July 24, 2007 09:35 AM

Well, igorance can be bliss, I guess. And don't you dare believe for one minute that because your kids don't attend an inner-city school, that there are no drugs, guns, bomb materials, etc. floating around.

Affluence does not equal freedom from these things. It's just a different backdrop for a common problem. Not to mention, easier financing for such things.

Posted by: Um.... | July 24, 2007 9:40 AM

"If he showed total submission, we put it all behind us, but if he were still rebellious, we would continue until he gave over his will."

Or, How to Raise A Serial Killer in 10 Easy Steps for Dummies!

Posted by: Anonymous | July 24, 2007 9:42 AM

I seriously doubt Leslie, or almost anyone here, is raising their children to lie, cheat, steal, run down little old ladies in crosswalks and steal canes.

Posted by: | July 24, 2007 09:35 AM

Well, igorance can be bliss, I guess. And don't you dare believe for one minute that because your kids don't attend an inner-city school, that there are no drugs, guns, bomb materials, etc. floating around.

Affluence does not equal freedom from these things. It's just a different backdrop for a common problem. Not to mention, easier financing for such things.

Posted by: Um.... | July 24, 2007 09:40 AM

Socrates:

"The children now love luxury; they show disrespect for elders and love to chatter in place of exercise. Children are tyrants, not the servants of their households. They no longer rise when their elders enter the room. They contradict their parents, chatter before company, gobble up dainties at the table, cross their legs and tyrannize over their teachers"

Posted by: Anonymous | July 24, 2007 9:43 AM

I am WASP to the core. I always envied those with some kind of ethnic tradition. Your child(ren) are very lucky.

As a bearer of the Protestant tradition, my only claim to ethnic culture if you can call it that, I believe strongly that children MUST be consciously instructed.

If you want your child to retain Chinese heritage or values they need to learn the language, read the literature, spend lots of time with their Grandparents, and maybe even travel to the country.

Likewise if your family is a blend of Christianity/Judaism those children need to attend religious school. Both varieties if need be.

Otherwise the American culture, such as it is, will prevail.

Many feel that the rise of various sects/cults (you know who you are!) is the result of generations from the "do your own thing" 60-70-80s, who were unschooled in more traditional beliefs.

As these generations came of age they went searching for meaning, and absent instruction in their legacy fell into these groups.

Later in life a child can choose, but early they need to be systematically introduced to their cultural and religious backgrounds. Otherwise "American culture" will prevail.

It's a winner as even if your child doesn't ultimately accept the traditional beliefs they're lives will be enriched. It'll also give you opportunities to connect with traditions and values that you may wish to rethink.

PLUS it makes great college application fodder -- just joking....

Posted by: RoseG | July 24, 2007 9:44 AM

My husband is American-born Caucasian

What does this mean? He has no ethnic background or have you not discussed where his family came from. Everyone comes from somewhere.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 24, 2007 9:44 AM

That people think they can force their children to completely sublimate their own will is idiodic. It may work for a while, but eventually one of 3 things will happen 1) the child/young adult will rebel, 2) the child will stop having a relationship with his parents, or 3) the child will continue to have a relationship with his parents, but it will be based on dishonestly since the child will withhold from the parents any information that might make them angry or about which they may have a different judgement from the child.

My husband falls into category #3... his parents were old-fashioned southern parents who beat him regularly for asserting himself. Today they admit this was a big mistake, and never did a thing to alter his behavior a bit. All it did was poison any meaningful relationship they could have had, both when he was a child and now as an adult.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 24, 2007 9:45 AM

"When we were dating I agreed to raise our kids Jewish but once we actually had kids I realized that I couldn't ignore my own traditions, so we are raising them with both cultures."

Posted by: Leslie | July 24, 2007 08:10 AM

You know, I always thought it would be hard to raise Jewish children with a non-Jewish mother. Little did I know it would be THAT hard!

I'm going to save that quote for when my children start dating.

Posted by: Bob | July 24, 2007 9:45 AM

In regards to 8:42's comment, "welcome to America. Now speak English," what is it with all the anonymous intolerance I am seeing in these comments?

It is frightening for me if this is really how the cross section of Washington Post readers thinks.


Look, if you want to speak it in your own homes, fine. But I hate that the expectation is that society will coddle your kids and BEND to speak your language. And other kids will need a foreign lanuage requirement to graduate high school, just to prove THEY can communicate with your kids!

And really, what's with this immersion crap? If it was so wonderful there, go back! But if you truly want your kids to have a better life, immerse them in the culture and country you came to to give them that better life.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 24, 2007 9:48 AM

You know, I always thought it would be hard to raise Jewish children with a non-Jewish mother. Little did I know it would be THAT hard!

I'm going to save that quote for when my children start dating.

Posted by: Bob | July 24, 2007 09:45 AM

Maybe it won't be if you take on the bulk of the responsibilities for keeping the household kosher and all religious instruction.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 24, 2007 9:48 AM

"When we were dating I agreed to raise our kids Jewish but once we actually had kids I realized that I couldn't ignore my own traditions, so we are raising them with both cultures."

Leslie, I totally feel for your situation, but if my husband had made a promise like this and then changed his mind it would have broken my heart and possibly meant the end of our marriage.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 24, 2007 9:49 AM

We just used our own best judgement.
We thought hard over 6 months, and prayed a lot for guidance before even trying to conceive.

We raised our daughters as Jews (wife), with expsoure to Roman Catholocism (husband). They had namings, Bat Mitzvahs, etc.

They understood that Xmas, Easter, etc. were the religious holidays from Dad's side of the family, and saw their cousins have First Communions, Confirmation, etc.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 24, 2007 9:49 AM

"Raising children in 2 religions is raising children in no religion."

This makes as much sense as "raising children in two languages s raising children in no language."

Posted by: jen S. | July 24, 2007 09:18 AM

If you don't see a difference between raising children to respect two antithetical belief systems and being able to communicate in two different languages, you are a dolt. Speaking Japanese doesn't conflict with being able to speak English. Worshipping Jesus as the Son of God is inconsistent with the Jewish view that Jesus was, at best, a good man, and, at worst, a heretic. Leslie's solution? They don't worship or believe much of anything. They like the wrapping paper and the parties.

Read Leslie's answer at 9:16. The kids are being raised with no religious beliefs, not two sets of religious beliefs. They are being taught that culture and tradition can be unmored from belief. Tradition without belief is empty and meaningless. This is an entirely different choice from raising children with two conflicting belief systems.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 24, 2007 9:50 AM

Relax, and don't plan too much re: what holidays to celebrate, Santa Claus or no Santa Claus.

I'm in a "mixed" marriage, too, and our kids are growing up bilingual and bi-cultural. It does create tension at times, but it also creates opportunities that people in monocultural families don't have. You have to embrace the whole package, and focus on the positive.

I'm not saying it's easy an I've had my moments of frustration (I'm the non-American part of the couple), but overall, it's been okay. You live in the US, and the DC area, for heaven's sake - not a super-homogenous village in southern Bulgaria. Don't make too much of it.

Posted by: Bicultural | July 24, 2007 9:51 AM

Look, if you want to speak it in your own homes, fine. But I hate that the expectation is that society will coddle your kids and BEND to speak your language. And other kids will need a foreign lanuage requirement to graduate high school, just to prove THEY can communicate with your kids!

And really, what's with this immersion crap? If it was so wonderful there, go back! But if you truly want your kids to have a better life, immerse them in the culture and country you came to to give them that better life.

AMEN

Posted by: Anonymous | July 24, 2007 9:51 AM

Great blog.

I'm also Chinese-American but born here in the States. I can relate to many things Ann wrote although my parents were not quite that extreme. We celebrated both Christmas (albeit the secular holiday) and Chinese New Year. My parents spoke Chinese but the kids did not. We visited both Taiwan and mainland China several times to see relatives but never lived there.

The thing is - children today are going up in a vastly different society. It's not so either/or (Chinese vs. White) - there are so many multi-national/racial people now. I think (I hope) it will make the world slightly easier for children.

As for how Chinese or American to raise your son - I agree with others. That's really up to you, your husband and child. It may be that your son will speak Chinese fluently throughout his life or he may rebel once he hits Kindergarten (speaking from personal experience) and never speak.

Don't think just because your husband had the all-American childhood that his childhood is like all the other Americans. Everyone had a different upbringing no matter their nationality or religion.

We're bringing up our children to be proud of their background. Currently, the "American" portion seems to dominate because I don't speak Chinese and little entry into the Chinese community in the DC area. But as my daughter has gotten older, she has requested more education in the Chinese culture. At her request, I enrolled her in Chinese School and we began celebrating Chinese New Year.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 24, 2007 9:53 AM

My husband is American-born Caucasian

What does this mean? He has no ethnic background or have you not discussed where his family came from. Everyone comes from somewhere"

Maybe his ethnic heritage is Russian from the Caucasus Mountain Region?

Posted by: Anonymous | July 24, 2007 9:53 AM

I'm Russian, my husband is American, and our child only speaks English. When he was a baby I was more comfortable using English with him, so he never assimilated any Russian (my husband doesn't speak it either), and as a toddler he was adamantly against learning it. Maybe later, when he wants to (if ever) he can go to some school to learn it, but for now it's not a priority.

The culture, on the other hand, he is interested in. History, folk tales, traditions. He is actually starting to get more amenable about learning the language now, when he knows that it's a useful tool. Spanish is much more practical in this country, unless one wants to be a spy, so he is taking Spanish at school. We don't care much about religion -- my husband occasionally goes to Christ the Scientist Church, the kid can tag along or not, his choice. I certainly don't steer hism towards my grandparents' Orthodox Christianity.

Posted by: No confusion | July 24, 2007 9:53 AM

You should have thought about that before you married an American.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 24, 2007 9:54 AM

They understood that Xmas, Easter, etc. were the religious holidays from Dad's side of the family, and saw their cousins have First Communions, Confirmation, etc.

Please learn how to spell Christmas. Your lack of spelling out the word says it all.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 24, 2007 9:56 AM

Maybe it won't be if you take on the bulk of the responsibilities for keeping the household kosher and all religious instruction.

Posted by: | July 24, 2007 09:48 AM

That's what I meant when I said that I always thought it would be hard to raise Jewish children with a non-Jewish mother.

I don't know if you have children or not, but that is one heck of a responsibility to shoulder. To always be the one to impart Jewish values, to seek out a schul, to find Jewish activities, to get the entire family out of been on a weekend to go enjoy said activities, to organize all holidays and festivals, Shabbat dinners, teach Hebrew, etc., etc., and always more etc.

I think that would get awfully tiring, and I doubt just one parent could do it effectively. "It takes a village...", but you only get the benefit of two parents. To cut that in half would definitely be to short shrift the responsibility. Every one of those items above would be a compromise instead of a given.

But what Leslie said was totally different. Not only did she refuse to support her husband's efforts to raise Jewish children, she actively reneged on her commitment to raise Jewish children in the first place. That what I meant when I said I never anticipated it would be "THAT" hard.

And that's why I am saving that quote for my children. They need to know what to expect.

Posted by: Bob | July 24, 2007 9:57 AM

"My husband, on the other hand, had a fairly typical American upbringing. He and his family celebrated all the American holidays, participated in "American" sports like baseball and football, and traveled throughout the United States during the summers. My husband dated in high school, pulled pranks with his friends, went to his prom, participated in after-school activities, and tried new things to figure out who he was. His background was the same as everyone else around him, unlike me."

Here's what I don't get. I was born and raised in the US to US-born parents. Nonetheless, my background is not like Ann's husband's and I have had many friends and acquaintances through the years whose backgrounds were not like Ann's husband's. America is not a monolithic society or culture. There are so many sub-cultures, regional differences, ethnic and country of origin influences, religious differences, that determine how a child will be raised and the values of the household. For example, like Ann, deference to adults and duty to country and family were the rule in my household growing up. I suspect China is not as monolithic as Ann suggests, either. At a minimum, the differences in rural vs. urban Chinese culture and values are well-known. Surely, there are other differences in values and culture that bear examination as part of Ann's decision.

So the question is, what are Ann's values? Her husband's values? Who are they - as thinking adults -- and how do they want to raise their kids? I can't tell because I don't think Ann knows. She has a lot of baggage that remains unaddressed. I was a bit baffled that, even though they didn't anticipate having children, they never discussed how children should be raised, purely as an intellectual exercise. If not then, there's no time like the present for a broad discussion of who they are and what they seek to pass on.

Posted by: OR mom | July 24, 2007 9:59 AM

*off-topic alert!*

I spotted the quote from Socrates so I'm here.

Anyone else read up on Alcibiades? Brr...

Re: today's blogger. It's incredibly difficult to put your past and present insecurities out in the open. I think she's brave for admitting what they are.

You can't go wrong with getting into the habit of telling your kid that adults are not infallible, and apologizing when you do mess up. Being really aware of what pushed your buttons growing-up, and thinking about how to try and handle it differently when it comes up in the future, that's important.

It's hard, but I think you're going to do fine. I'd vote for letting the grandparents have as much time with the kid as possible and practical, as long as you aren't too uncomfortable with the child's safety and your sanity. Remember, this is their opportunity to do it again (but without the sword dangling over their heads), only with less urgency.

If you can spend time in another country, why not? If it's not practical, well, I imagine you'll re-create the things that you loved best. Ditto for your husband.

Best wishes.

Posted by: Maryland Mother | July 24, 2007 10:02 AM

"When we were dating I agreed to raise our kids Jewish but once we actually had kids I realized that I couldn't ignore my own traditions, so we are raising them with both cultures."

I other words, the kids are nothing! Nice going!"


What does that mean? Christianity views Christ as the son of GOD and fully divine. Judaism does not. How can you raise them with both? I think the reply poster got it right.

Posted by: ???? | July 24, 2007 10:06 AM

9:48 and 9:51 probably wouldn't approve of me and my family then. I (American) live in my husband's country and speak English to our child, even though English is not the language of the country. I speak this country's language (German) fluently, work in the language and do all official business in the language- but when it comes to speaking to my child, it would not be natural to me in any language other than English. We use the OPOL method-- one parent one language-- in our case, I speak English to our child, my husband speaks German, and our child understands and speaks both.

I'm all for learning the language of the country where you live-- but I don't think anyone should feel like they can't speak their native tongue, at least within the confines of their home situation.

Posted by: American mom abroad | July 24, 2007 10:06 AM

I grew up with an American mother and Indian father.

My parents exposed me to some Indian culture, even a few trips to India, but overall, I think it was hard for them to find ways to immerse us in Indian culture. We were raised as Americans. However, it was the 1970s, and we were living in the South.

The only thing I wish my parents had done differently is teach me Dad's native language, just because I think kids exposed early to different languages have an easier time learning languages later in life.

Posted by: skm | July 24, 2007 10:06 AM

Apparently you think you can be all or nothing. I think you need an eye-opener. Try visiting a Greek Orthodox church, a Hasidic neighborhood in NYC or even any Chinatown in any city. The great thing about America is people live, work, vote, attend school, vacation and live as what the way you seem to think all Americans should live, yet still celebrate their cultural identities. Being American is not a mutually exclusive deal. Hasn't been for a very long time.

Posted by: To 948 | July 24, 2007 10:07 AM

In regards to 8:42's comment, "welcome to America. Now speak English," what is it with all the anonymous intolerance I am seeing in these comments?

It is frightening for me if this is really how the cross section of Washington Post readers thinks.

What is truly frightening is people like you who think they should NOT speak English. If I move my kids to China, guess what? it's time to start speaking and learning Chinese-FAST. Same as moving to Mexico whatever.

Posted by: get a grip | July 24, 2007 10:09 AM

But what Leslie said was totally different. Not only did she refuse to support her husband's efforts to raise Jewish children, she actively reneged on her commitment to raise Jewish children in the first place. That what I meant when I said I never anticipated it would be "THAT" hard.

And that's why I am saving that quote for my children. They need to know what to expect.

Posted by: Bob | July 24, 2007 09:57 AM

Bob, Not all shiksas are the same. The key here was that Perry doesn't worship or believe much of anything either. If you raise your kids to believe and not just to go through the motions, they will be more likely to choose a spouse who, first, sticks to a commitment, and, second, is willing either to convert or to not muddy the waters by decorating a Hanukkah Bush every December.

Posted by: MN | July 24, 2007 10:10 AM

Not only did she refuse to support her husband's efforts to raise Jewish children, she actively reneged on her commitment to raise Jewish children in the first place. That what I meant when I said I never anticipated it would be "THAT" hard.

I imagine if he actually cared, he would have done something about it.

Leslie:

"Neither my husband nor I are members of a church or temple and we don't worship our religions in the traditional sense."

So, let the busy-bodies find you a nice Jewish girl. You know your mother is rarin' to go, right?

Posted by: to Bob | July 24, 2007 10:12 AM

"I think that would get awfully tiring, and I doubt just one parent could do it effectively."

Bob - I know of a few single parents who do it quite effectively. As with anything if it is important to you, you will do it. The main issue with a situation where the other parent isn't involved it can create a split in the family.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 24, 2007 10:13 AM

Jen S. -- very well put comparison between religion and languages. thanks.

think it was hard for my husband that i had a change of heart about religion once our first child was born. but i had to be true to myself. there are some extremely unexpected changes that come with motherhood. for me, one was that i needed for my children to be connected to my childhood and my family through our "religious" traditions like xmas, easter, etc.

i had a friend, also christian, who married into a jewish family. the condition was that she convert to judiasm. her in-laws were cruel and husband unsupportive -- the first high holidays of her marriage they all came to visit and she was put under great pressure to handmake every kosher dish. it was ridiculous and mean-spirited. my in-laws are nothing like that, but watching my friend made me think "why does one person have to give up their culture?" it doesn't make any sense.

so bravo, ann, for keeping your culture (and improving upon it as you see fit) without negating your husband's culture. if you and your husband are happy together, i am sure you son will be fine. in all likelihood this will be one of the smaller life challenges that he faces. ojala.

Posted by: Leslie | July 24, 2007 10:14 AM

I think Bob already has raised children in his faith.

So it will be up to his wife to find them spouses. Clearly, they doubt that their ethos has "stuck" well enough when thrown into the dating world.

Posted by: oops | July 24, 2007 10:15 AM

How many times the word "Jewish" was mentioned on this blog? Top 20, please...

Posted by: To Blog Stats | July 24, 2007 10:15 AM

after reading this blog everyday, looking for ideas on balance, this is my first posting. the negative, judgemental postings are just too much. it is alarming and disheartening that people can be so awful and negative.

please stop the bashing.

Posted by: done with this blog | July 24, 2007 10:16 AM

I actually think we are doing a good job of exposing them to a rich cultural life (based in reality).

Posted by: Leslie | July 24, 2007 09:16 AM

Welcome to the day's biggest copout. The real religion of Leslie and her husband is expediency. Sad, that neither of you have real faith in what you believe. What's next to celebrate the holiday of Dassera?

Posted by: mishmash indeed | July 24, 2007 10:17 AM

through our "religious" traditions like xmas, easter, etc.

Xmas is not a religious holiday.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 24, 2007 10:18 AM

Jen S. -- very well put comparison between religion and languages. thanks.

Actually it was a terrible comparison that is completely invalid. Languages have no passion, life instruction and views of good and bad and moral authority behind them.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 24, 2007 10:20 AM

What is truly frightening is people like you who think they should NOT speak English. If I move my kids to China, guess what? it's time to start speaking and learning Chinese-FAST. Same as moving to Mexico whatever.

Posted by: get a grip | July 24, 2007 10:09 AM

Rejecting your offensive and incessant need to scream, "Speak English" is not the same as saying that immigrants "should NOT speak English". Apparently, logic isn't your strong suit.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 24, 2007 10:21 AM

The Oxford English Dictionary documents the use of this abbreviation back to 1551, 50 years before the first English colonists arrived in North America and 60 years before the King James Version of the Bible was completed. At the same time, Xian and Xianity were in frequent use as abbreviations of "Christian" and "Christianity"; and nowadays still are sometimes so used, but much less than "Xmas".

Indeed, X-as-chi was associated with Christ long before X-as-cross could be, since the cross as a Christian symbol developed later.

Posted by: Xmas | July 24, 2007 10:22 AM

Rejecting your offensive and incessant need to scream, "Speak English" is not the same as saying that immigrants "should NOT speak English". Apparently, logic isn't your strong suit.

Not offensive in the least. You need to get a grip and a back bone.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 24, 2007 10:23 AM

Great guest blog!!!

On this: "Do we want him to honor his elders or follow his own heart?"

These are not mutually exclusive. He can do both.

This blog really touched me because I was born in another country, but raised here..so I grew up not really a part of either culture. The good thing about this is that you can be more critical, you tend to question things more instead of doing them because others are taking part.

Now, I'm married to a man from another country and he's Caucasian...so our children will be both multi-racial and multi-ethnic. I don't worry about what traditions we're going to follow as much as I worry about confusing the child because our languages (mine and my husband's) are so similar (both romance languages). We agree on parenting styles, we agree on the importance of family, we agree that culture is important, and we look at being between two cultures (in our child's case it will be three) as a positive, not a negative.

Posted by: MV | July 24, 2007 10:24 AM

Leslie, you mean they wanted her to observe their deeply held traditions, instead of wink, wink them away? No wonder you are comfortable with your potemkin religious beliefs.

Posted by: Leslie is off her rocker-again | July 24, 2007 10:24 AM

Rejecting your offensive and incessant need to scream, "Speak English" is not the same as saying that immigrants "should NOT speak English". Apparently, logic isn't your strong suit.

People like you think that this country should bend over backward and the individual make no effort. Logic is my strong suit, just as silliness is yours.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 24, 2007 10:27 AM

Rejecting your offensive and incessant need to scream, "Speak English" is not the same as saying that immigrants "should NOT speak English". Apparently, logic isn't your strong suit.

Not offensive in the least. You need to get a grip and a back bone.

Posted by: | July 24, 2007 10:23 AM

Hmm, no I think it qualifies as boorish behaviour. Obviously speaking English is a good thing around here, but so is being bilingual, or a polyglot.

I know of one family where the parents are each fluent in four languages (five between them), and so are the kids. The only drawback is that it was harder to have a quiet, private adult conversation that the children did not understand!

Posted by: Anonymous | July 24, 2007 10:27 AM

Hmm, no I think it qualifies as boorish behaviour. Obviously speaking English is a good thing around here, but so is being bilingual, or a polyglot.

Well, lovey howell,we all can't be a suave as you. What is boorish, here or abroad is thinking that you don't have to speak the native language.

Posted by: go take your three hour tour | July 24, 2007 10:30 AM

Hmm, no I think it qualifies as boorish behaviour.

Well, gee you just said it all. I guess we should all start speaking different languages and let the country collapse around us. That would not be boring.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 24, 2007 10:31 AM

Leslie, you mean they wanted her to observe their deeply held traditions, instead of wink, wink them away? No wonder you are comfortable with your potemkin religious beliefs.

Posted by: Leslie is off her rocker-again | July 24, 2007 10:24 AM

So, instead of helping her with all of this hard work, food, etc., they sat there and criticized and minimized her efforts.

Wow. Nice people.

Leslie,

How long before she realized this was a fatal flaw of personality and left him? It's one thing to have strongly held beliefs and rituals, it's another thing entirely to be so mean-spirited and downright cruel to a family member.

Remember people, this new wife and new convert-to-be was family due to the process of marriage.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 24, 2007 10:31 AM

"Bob, Not all shiksas are the same. The key here was that Perry doesn't worship or believe much of anything either. If you raise your kids to believe and not just to go through the motions, they will be more likely to choose a spouse who, first, sticks to a commitment, and, second, is willing either to convert or to not muddy the waters by decorating a Hanukkah Bush every December."

Posted by: MN | July 24, 2007 10:10 AM

Always with the "s-word". Can't we play nice in the sandbox? :)

I was in an extremely serious relationship with a non-Jewish woman once, but something inside me kept telling me not to go any further unless she converted. Clearly that was wisdom beyond my years.

------------------------------------------

"So, let the busy-bodies find you a nice Jewish girl. You know your mother is rarin' to go, right?"

Posted by: to Bob | July 24, 2007 10:12 AM

I found my nice, Jewish girl long ago--much to the relief of my mother. ;)

------------------------------------------

Bob - I know of a few single parents who do it quite effectively. As with anything if it is important to you, you will do it. The main issue with a situation where the other parent isn't involved it can create a split in the family.

Posted by: | July 24, 2007 10:13 AM

When I was writing about one person shouldering all that responsibility, I actually considered that single parents are able to do it. I decided to leave that comment in and not rephrase, because I was only asserting that it is extremely difficult, but not impossible, to raise Jewish children with a non-Jewish mother. This is in the same way that in is extremely difficult, but not impossible, to raise children as a single parent.

If I didn't have my wife to rely on, and she didn't have me to rely on, life would be much more difficult.

You have to enjoy the delicious irony here, though. Here we have the writer of a blog called 'On Balance' who is constantly trying to help parents achieve balance in life. And what does she do the delicate balance in her own home? "Honey, do you remember when I made a commitment to you to raise our children Jewish? Well, I'm breaking it now. Have a nice day."

Thanks for that, Leslie.

Posted by: Bob | July 24, 2007 10:31 AM

So, instead of helping her with all of this hard work, food, etc., they sat there and criticized and minimized her efforts.

Wow. Nice people.

Leslie,

How long before she realized this was a fatal flaw of personality and left him?


The flaw was HER'S in to not properly understanding what she was agreeing to. Leslie would have served them pizza and said that she was "exposing" them to a different culture.

Posted by: TAKE RESPONSIBILITY FOR YOUR OWN ACTIONS | July 24, 2007 10:34 AM

No, the fault was theirs for treating their DIL and her home as though it were a restaurant, rather than a family home and helping her if she needed the help.

Otherwise, she could have bought the store-made kosher dishes. They wanted them to be hand-made.

Did they insist on a mint on their pillow too?

Posted by: Anonymous | July 24, 2007 10:36 AM

Rejecting your offensive and incessant need to scream, "Speak English" is not the same as saying that immigrants "should NOT speak English". Apparently, logic isn't your strong suit.

Well now that don't make a lick of sense!

Posted by: dumb guy | July 24, 2007 10:36 AM

"Honey, do you remember when I made a commitment to you to raise our children Jewish? Well, I'm breaking it now. Have a nice day."


Mommy, why did you not bring me up in faith? Well Honey, i didn't feel like cooking any kosher stuff and your dad was too busy staying up and making deals at three am. We do worship one thing honey. What is that mommy? MONEY

Posted by: Anonymous | July 24, 2007 10:38 AM

If he cared, and it sounds as though he really doesn't, then he could have divorced her after child number one, found a nice Jewish girl and gone on to make more.

He opted not to do that. So Perry has 3 children, two of whom he knew in advance would not be raised Jewish. His decision.

Posted by: to Bob | July 24, 2007 10:40 AM

Bob

"Honey, do you remember when I made a commitment to you to raise our children Jewish? Well, I'm breaking it now. Have a nice day."

And, the kids will be "exposed" to all of the "bling" of Christianity, but none of the actual teachings of Christ. Hope this is enough for the kids to be "saved".

Meanwhile, you will never be home for dinner with the kids because of your job.
Ta, ta!

Posted by: Anonymous | July 24, 2007 10:40 AM

It is a little hard to understand so I'll parse it out.

"Rejecting your offensive and incessant need to scream, "Speak English"" - the beginning of this, somebody said "SPEAK ENGLISH" and this poster rejected that statement.

The original poster then came back and said something to the effect of "so, you think immigrants 'should NOT speak English'".

The second poster came back and said (basically) just because I rejected your racist yelling way of saying "SPEAK ENGLISH" doesn't mean I think they shouldn't speak English. I think they should be let's be nice about it.

Posted by: To dumb guy | July 24, 2007 10:42 AM

You people are really obsessed with Leslie and her life.

I don't see many people who addressed their thoughts and comments to "Ann" though. I think that is sad.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 24, 2007 10:42 AM

No, the fault was theirs for treating their DIL and her home as though it were a restaurant, rather than a family home and helping her if she needed the help.

Otherwise, she could have bought the store-made kosher dishes. They wanted them to be hand-made.

I am not Jewish, but they could have been orthodox and needed it handmade. She probably did not prepare for this and thought like LESLIE, oh well I will make it work. VERRRY Rude of her. Kind of like grilling steak for vegans and then telling them to get over it.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 24, 2007 10:44 AM

The second poster came back and said (basically) just because I rejected your racist yelling way of saying "SPEAK ENGLISH" doesn't mean I think they shouldn't speak English. I think they should be let's be nice about it.

Why is he racist b/c he said speak english? Maybe you are racist b/c you don't think they should have to.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 24, 2007 10:47 AM

My Dad is Chinese and my Mom is White American. I got some exposure to both cultures. You need to find a balance of both cultures. I saw the uniqueness and similarities of both.

Posted by: Matt | July 24, 2007 10:48 AM

"Many feel that the rise of various sects/cults (you know who you are!) is the result of generations from the "do your own thing" 60-70-80s, who were unschooled in more traditional beliefs.

As these generations came of age they went searching for meaning, and absent instruction in their legacy fell into these groups.

Later in life a child can choose, but early they need to be systematically introduced to their cultural and religious backgrounds. Otherwise "American culture" will prevail."


RoseG - what on Earth are you talking about? Religion has always been comprised of weird "sects". Every major religion started out as a cult. High enrollment numbers don't automatically disqualify religions from being cults! They are ALL cults.

Systematically introduced??? American culture will prevail?? Part of American culture that I abhor is traditional Christianity that permeates through American life. The American culture of sexism and homophobia that stems from Christianity in this country? Is that a nice American value that you would like to "systematically" introduce to our young children?
Kids are not robots.

Posted by: SAHMbacktowork | July 24, 2007 10:48 AM

I am not Jewish, but they could have been orthodox and needed it handmade.

Why didn't her husband tell her that, well in advance, if that were the case?

Personally, I'm willing to bet there is a lot that was unwritten about this little scene,

"i had a friend, also christian, who married into a jewish family. the condition was that she convert to judiasm. her in-laws were cruel and husband unsupportive -- the first high holidays of her marriage they all came to visit and she was put under great pressure to handmake every kosher dish. it was ridiculous and mean-spirited."

I don't get the impression that Leslie is a religion-basher. It does sound as though her friend didn't marry a nice person, though.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 24, 2007 10:51 AM

My Dad is Chinese and my Mom is White American

This is like saying my mom is yellow and my dad is German American.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 24, 2007 10:51 AM

"they could have been orthodox and needed it handmade."

There is no Orthodox Jewish religious requirement that anything at all be handmade. I have Orthodox friends with Oreo addictions. There may, however, be a cultural requirement in that family that all holiday dishes be handmade in the most painstaking way possible, which has absolutely nothing to do with their being Jewish.

Posted by: Lizzie | July 24, 2007 10:54 AM

The American culture of sexism and homophobia that stems from Christianity in this country? Is that a nice American value that you would like to "systematically" introduce to our young children?
Kids are not robots.


I always laugh at people who are not christians, who tell me what christianity say. Read a bible, get informed. Follow it's instruction and maybe your kids won't turn out like lindsay lohan and her ilks values

Posted by: ha! | July 24, 2007 10:54 AM

i had a friend, also christian, who married into a jewish family. the condition was that she convert to judiasm. her in-laws were cruel and husband unsupportive -- the first high holidays of her marriage they all came to visit and she was put under great pressure to handmake every kosher dish. it was ridiculous and mean-spirited.

Posted by: Leslie | July 24, 2007 10:14 AM

Being cruel and unsupportive is one thing, but what you describe sounded neither cruel nor unsupportive.

I'm sure there's more to the story than you posted, but from what you posted, that the new couple invited the in-laws for the high holidays, and that involved some cooking, sounds pretty normal to me. If she felt so overwhelmed, perhaps she could have asked for some help and/or purchased some prepared food for the occasion?

Assuming that there is more to the story, and your friend really did receive a cool reception, could it be for some other alleged fault the in-laws found with her? I ask, because I know many couples where one spouse is a Jew by Choice, and the Jewish family has always bent over backwards to embrace their son or daughter in law--if anything out of relief that he or she converted.

Posted by: Bob | July 24, 2007 10:54 AM

Mommy, why did you not bring me up in faith?

Well, baby, if you are smart enough to ask this question, you probably have some ideas of your own already. With all the information around available to you -- go and explore various options. That's called growing up.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 24, 2007 10:54 AM

Maybe the in-laws were just nasty jerks. That cuts across all swaths of society.

"her husband was unsupportive", how do you interpret that?

Posted by: Anonymous | July 24, 2007 10:57 AM

Leslie's story is missing two points of view-the woman's husband and the inlaws. Since most people paint themselves heroically and others as the bad guy. I would dismiss this story.

Posted by: other side please | July 24, 2007 10:57 AM

I've seen my in-laws historical revisionism and back-stabbing in action. I know perfectly well that they whisper nasty stories about me as they do it about one another, and everyone they meet. Appearances are more important than substance, no matter how loudly they proclaim their Christian virtues.

The only thing I can do is recognize vipers when I see them, refuse to engage in their "good times", and be grateful they live more than an hour away.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 24, 2007 11:01 AM

I think the two biggest surprises to me today are:

1) How many (mostly anonymous) people are willing to pass judgement on others for how they pass religion/spirituality on to their children.

2) How many (mostly anonymous) people are on the "if you live here you have to speak english" bandwagon.

I did think this blog was a little more live-and-let-live. I must be mad.

Posted by: Proud Papa | July 24, 2007 11:04 AM

I always laugh at people who are not christians, who tell me what christianity say. Read a bible, get informed. Follow it's instruction and maybe your kids won't turn out like lindsay lohan and her ilks values

Posted by: ha! | July 24, 2007 10:54 AM


Lindsay Lohan actually DID grow up going to church - so did Britney! Lots of good that did them. They were most likely in the camp of...you can do anything you want so long as you atone for those sins.

Ah, I love those who blindly believe in just one religion without questioning.

And, how can you possibly NOT believe that a lot of sexism/homophobia (a.k.a "tradtional" values) doesn't stem from Christianity? Whether these people are right or wrong in their interpretation, it is still very easy to use the Bible to "prove" homophobia or sexism.

Yes, I am informed. I don't blindly believe all things in one religion. That doesn't make me uninformed! Quite the opposite.

Posted by: SAHMbacktowork | July 24, 2007 11:04 AM

"Do we want him to honor his elders or follow his own heart?"

Ann,

I think the key here is the elders' expectations. Your parents expected you to do what they wanted you to do. Honoring them, for you, meant following their dictates.

However, with your own child, you're unlikely to make those rigorous and inflexible demands, so your child won't grow up thinking that he can honor his parents only by following their dreams instead of his own.

You and your husband sound like a thoughtful couple. You'll make good choices and decisions for your son until he's ready to make them for himself.

Posted by: pittypat | July 24, 2007 11:05 AM

"I've seen my in-laws historical revisionism and back-stabbing in action. I know perfectly well that they whisper nasty stories about me as they do it about one another, and everyone they meet. Appearances are more important than substance, no matter how loudly they proclaim their Christian virtues"

Wow! Sounds EXACTLY like MY family and DH's family. Pillars of the church and everything!

Posted by: Anonymous | July 24, 2007 11:07 AM

There is absolutely no Orthodox requirement that festival meals be homemade. In fact, Orthodox Jews would typically prefer that their food be prepared by somebody who is experienced in Kosher cooking to make sure that every last law was followed. In other words, the in-laws would have preferred to help, or eat prepared food from a Kosher establishment.

My guess is that the DIL felt she had something to prove and bit off more than she could chew. Hosting a festival is a lot of work, and she should have asked for help or purchased prepared food.

Regarding Leslie's husband, those of you who think he should have just left her probably have no children. The fact is Leslie put him in an extremely difficult position, and he chose the lesser of two evils in order to maintain a relationship with his children. "Just leave her!"? Puh-leeze.

To those who are trying to troll me with comments about money, what time do you get home from work? Probably later than I do. I do not have a balance between work and family. Family comes first.

Posted by: Bob | July 24, 2007 11:09 AM

"I guess we should all start speaking different languages and let the country collapse around us."...

Posted by: | July 24, 2007 10:31 AM "


And the winner of the Blowing This Way Out of Proportion Award goes to..... 10:31!!!!!

Posted by: Anonymous | July 24, 2007 11:10 AM

2) How many (mostly anonymous) people are on the "if you live here you have to speak english" bandwagon.

So, now speaking English in America is being on a bandwagon, nice.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 24, 2007 11:10 AM

I was so interested to read this guest blog, and hoping for a good discussion. But as usual, the haters and the loonies have gotten here before me, and now it's all polluted.

On the off-chance there are still any rational folks reading along, I'd be interested to know if there are any social groups in the District for multiethnic families. My husband and I are about to have our first child, and I would love the opportunity to get together with other couples who are balancing two cultures.

Posted by: WDC | July 24, 2007 11:11 AM

Lindsay Lohan actually DID grow up going to church - so did Britney! Lots of good that did them. They were most likely in the camp of...you can do anything you want so long as you atone for those sins.


They actually grew up in a hollywood atmosphere, with hollywood values,pimped by their moms to achieve success. Lots of good that did them. You should keep reading, (if you ever started), the bible is not sexist. As far as homosexuality, it lists it as a sin, which it. If opposing sinful behavior is homophobic to you than guilty as charged. I will takes God's teachings over pop culture.

Posted by: keep reading and learning | July 24, 2007 11:11 AM

I was so interested to read this guest blog, and hoping for a good discussion. But as usual, the haters and the loonies have gotten here before me, and now it's all polluted.

On the off-chance there are still any rational folks reading along, I'd be interested to know if there are any social groups in the District for multiethnic families. My husband and I are about to have our first child, and I would love the opportunity to get together with other couples who are balancing two cultures.


Posted by: WDC | July 24, 2007 11:11 AM

WDC - go to dcurbanmom.com
They have a Playgroup section where most are looking for ethnic counterparts.

Posted by: SAHMbacktowork | July 24, 2007 11:13 AM

And the winner of living in a box until everything is written in Spanish and we are all living like they live in Mexico goes to..... 11:10 AM

Posted by: Anonymous | July 24, 2007 11:13 AM

"Languages have no passion, life instruction and views of good and bad and moral authority behind them."

Hmmm-- judging from the number of comments here insisting that people speak English, it seems that there is actually as much passion behind languages as there is for religion!

And I suppose I'll sound like a "dolt" for saying this, but I feel there are lessons in morality in learning the rules of grammar in languages. I felt this especially with Latin, but I've heard of this experience with other people too. Learning these rules gave me a new way of looking at things beyond just a way of communicating. Latin in particular strengthened my skills in analysis and logical reasoning. I think it definately sharpened my views of what is good or bad. I'm certainly a long way from perfect, but every bit helps-- whether that comes from learning foreign languages, or from learning about multiple religious teachings.

Posted by: jen S. | July 24, 2007 11:15 AM

As someone who has no real ethnic background, i must say I am glad. I am an american, not polish american, chinese american etc. I have no ethnic hatreds, old world values to reconcile etc. I can live my life and enjoy being an american. This country is a fresh start country and that is how the guest blogger should view it.

Posted by: proud to be free | July 24, 2007 11:18 AM

"You should keep reading, (if you ever started), the bible is not sexist. As far as homosexuality, it lists it as a sin, which it. If opposing sinful behavior is homophobic to you than guilty as charged. "

Whoa! The blog just jumped the shark!

What a shock! Who knew a discussion of "Between Two Cultures" could prompt such venom? Never in my wildest dreams was this a possibility! Talk about unintended consequences!

Posted by: Anonymous | July 24, 2007 11:19 AM

Leslie derailed this blog today. Since she is the high prietesss of balance, that is her right I guess.

Posted by: Lowly peon | July 24, 2007 11:21 AM

Okay, someone intelligently write a few sentences explaining why to have some of our citizens opt to speak different languages would result in:

1) "let[ting] the country collapse around us."

2) "all [Americans] living like they live in Mexico"

Then, for bonus points, please tell me how this is not Xenophobia.

Thanks!

(PS - Leslie I am not generally in favor of censorship, but these types of marginally-offensive posts are why other WaPo blogs require people to log in. Why not require log in on the days where you discuss controversial topics???)

Posted by: Random Guy | July 24, 2007 11:23 AM

They actually grew up in a hollywood atmosphere, with hollywood values,pimped by their moms to achieve success.

So? If God was real and strong enough, it wouldn't matter where they grew up, or with whom, because God would have been in their churches and would have kept them safe, sane and whole.

The church has kept itself going for 2000 plus years, in harsher environments than Hollywood.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 24, 2007 11:25 AM

"There is absolutely no Orthodox requirement that festival meals be homemade."

Bob,

A lot you know.

First of all, the Jewish high holidays are not festivals. They are the most sacred holy days of the year. (Festivals, like Hanukkah, are celebrations -- totally different.)

Second, from your earlier post, you showed a woefully ignorant understanding of kosher meal preparation. It is incredibly complex and would, indeed, overwhelm someone not brought up in the tradition.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 24, 2007 11:27 AM

Nice blog today. Brings back memories of being the only kid with an accent in high school and trying to fit in, much like Ann.... In my experience, immigrant families with identical cultural and ethnic traditions can also disagree on how much of the cultural heritage should be passed on to children. I am a naturalized American citizen who came here in the 70's as a political and religious refugee from communism. I am thoroughly Americanized, bilingual, and, aside from a slight accent, as American as apple pie. My husband is also a political and religious refugee from the same country. We speak the same language and are both Jewish. I really don't care about passing the traditions of the old country to our children. As far as I am concerned we were never welcomed there in the first place. My husband has a more tolerant view of the "motherland". His side of the family constantly harangues me about teaching the children the mother tongue. I think that languages are important but one language should not get a priority over another. It is my preference that my children speak Spanish, French, and then my native language, because I think it is more practical. My kids, interestingly enough, are not interested in speaking anything but English, despite the fact that multi-culturalism is taught in their school and is all around us in DC. As for the Jewish traditions, I am much more inclined to give a strong Jewish identity to our children than my husband. I instigate trips to synagogues on major holidays and family celebrations. He goes along but does not seem to care one way or the other.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 24, 2007 11:28 AM

Random Guy

"(PS - Leslie I am not generally in favor of censorship, but these types of marginally-offensive posts are why other WaPo blogs require people to log in. Why not require log in on the days where you discuss controversial topics???)"

The WaPo blogs don't enforce the log-in rules ina any event.

Culture & religion topics typically are spirited on this blog.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 24, 2007 11:29 AM

I was neither born here nor a native English speaker - I do agree, though, that one should speak English if one chooses to live here. Not necessarily at home, mind you, but the growing number of signs/pamphlets/posters in, for example, Spanish, bother me, too.

The host culture should not have to "bend over backwards" to accomodate newcomers who don't make an effort.

Posted by: For the record | July 24, 2007 11:29 AM

I do not have a balance between work and family. Family comes first.

Posted by: Bob | July 24, 2007 11:09 AM

In other words, "I earned my money the old-fashioned way, I inherited it!"

Posted by: Anonymous | July 24, 2007 11:31 AM

11:10, You said:

2) How many (mostly anonymous) people are on the "if you live here you have to speak english" bandwagon.
~~
So, now speaking English in America is being on a bandwagon, nice.
~~~

I can't believe I'm going to address this particular troll, but I have a moment, so what the heck?

That is about the most obvious perversion of my statement that you could possibly make. Bill O'Reilly and Tony Snow could take lessons from you. The most significant part of my sentence is "have to". Let me use it in a sentence for you:

There is no text in the Constitution or Bill of Rights that says you HAVE TO speak English while walking our soil, whether you are a citizen or not. Those who think my choice to say Gracias to the some of the people I meet each day will result in the country's downfall HAVE TO be crazy wackos.

Posted by: Proud Papa | July 24, 2007 11:32 AM

"There is absolutely no Orthodox requirement that festival meals be homemade. In fact, Orthodox Jews would typically prefer that their food be prepared by somebody who is experienced in Kosher cooking to make sure that every last law was followed. In other words, the in-laws would have preferred to help, or eat prepared food from a Kosher establishment."

Aha. Bob was the in-law in question, and here's his response.

Not to mention his complete lack of experience in actually preparing those Kosher meals, particularly for a high holiday! It must literally be a snap for him--honey does it!

Posted by: Anonymous | July 24, 2007 11:34 AM

"The church has kept itself going for 2000 plus years, in harsher environments than Hollywood."

Yes, by intimidation, bullying, threats, and torture -- all of which tactics, apparently, still result in compliance.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 24, 2007 11:34 AM

Ann, I was raised in the US to immigrant parents - my parents and brother moved here when he was a toddler. We are South Asian. We celebrate all of our Hindu holidays (Holi, Diwali, etc.) with friends and family. We also celebrate American holidays like Thanksgiving and 4th of July (best holidays ever) with traditional fare - turkey and stuffing, hotdogs and watermelon. We also celebrate Christmas - the tree, the lights (a hangover from Diwali), the presents, Santa, etc. - a lot of the more secular trappings. It's fun for my kids and fun for us. I always worry that really devout Christians would abhor my co-opting of their holiday for my personal, fun reasons, but all the ones I know are really excited that I celebrate Christmas (except for the whole Jesus's birthday part). I love it - I think there are many valuable lessons in Christmas, regardless of religion, like generousity and giving, honoring family, celebrating love, thinking of those less fortunate, being grateful for what you have. Don't forget the magic of Christmas - the beauty of decorations, Santa, the music, the whole spirit that envelopes the country. These are all the reasons why I celebrate Christmas and want to impart to my kids. Easter is much more religious to me, so we don't do much there - maybe egg decoration, but not too much else. Part of being in the US is getting exposure to lots of different cultures, from St. Patrick's Day to Orthodox Christmas to Ramadan. I've never met anyone who hasn't wanted to share their culture with an outside. I say go as far as you're willing to with your son - and make new traditions. It's a lot easier to fit in when your parents know the culture too. My parents knew it better for me than for my older brother, and it's made a huge difference in how we felt growing up here.

Posted by: MplsMama | July 24, 2007 11:34 AM

You're right, Proud Papa. Nobody HAS to speak English here; I guess you guys have no "official language". I do think, though, that it would make things a little smoother if people who actually live here spoke enough English to get by.

Just the other week, I stood in line, and things were delayed by about 15 minutes, because a non-English speaker had misunderstand some requirement about getting a driver's license, and it took a long time to get a hold of somebody to translate.

Just seems inefficient to all involved.

Posted by: For the record | July 24, 2007 11:36 AM

It's called assimilation.

"let[ting] the country collapse around us."
How will any work get done if we are all speaking different languages? If I go to the store and the people there speak Russian and I speak Spanish, how will I get what I need?

2) "all [Americans] living like they live in Mexico"

Go to the Midwest or down south where they are driving down blue collar wages. America cannot support all the low-skilled, workers who come here looking for work and free medical care. Sooner or later, if we keep taking them in, our country will look like their country. Doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure that out.

As for the xenophobia question: What would happen if a bunch of white and black people started immigrating illegally to Mexico?

Posted by: Anonymous | July 24, 2007 11:43 AM

On the same subject as "for the record". I don't know another country where people who don't speak the language are treated with the same level of respect and patience as in the US. Have you ever tried to get something official done in France, or Italy, or Spain, or Germany without a fair knowledge of the language? Bureaucrats there don't have much patience for people who can't make themselves understood....

Posted by: Anonymous | July 24, 2007 11:45 AM

THE LAWS OF KASHRUS
Rabbi Binyomin Forst
6" X 9", 456, $26.99 hardcover; $22.99 paperback
This dense reference is not for the faint of heart, but if you're serious about setting up and maintaining a kosher kitchen, you need it or something like it. The Laws of Kashrus is found on many a conversion syllabus.

JEWISH COOKING FOR DUMMIES
Faye Levy
7½" X 9", 332, $19.95 paperback
I'm a fan of the Dummies series, and this one does not disappoint. The book is more than a series of recipes, with its coverage of Jewish traditions and many general cooking suggestions. There are sections covering the holidays, noshes, meat and fish meals, and pareve dishes. The recipes are more culturally balanced than the ones in The Mensch Chef, with Israeli and Sephardi inspired recipes as well as European ones.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 24, 2007 11:46 AM

Random Guy

"(PS - Leslie I am not generally in favor of censorship, but these types of marginally-offensive posts are why other WaPo blogs require people to log in. Why not require log in on the days where you discuss controversial topics???)"


This guy is a virgin, if he thinks these are offensive posts here. Maybe you should scurry back to a cooking blog. It's not safe here, scary! scary!scary!

Posted by: lol | July 24, 2007 11:46 AM

Ann: My children are not multicultural so I can't speak to that aspect of your blog. But reading your questions I did get the sense that you are feeling overwhelmed and would like to develop answers to all of your questions right now. And I do have experience with the feeling of being overwhelmed by the quantity and quality of childrearing decisions I'm expected to make. So if possible I suggest that you try to relax and trust your instincts. Focus on the here and now and figure out the rest later. For example, maybe at some point you'll want to live in China but do you need to make that decision right this minute? On the other hand you probably should decide now whether you want to speak Chinese to him on a daily basis so that he learns it as a native language.

Posted by: m | July 24, 2007 11:47 AM

More of the same, "You are not one of us", via food!

General Rules
Although the details of kashrut are extensive, the laws all derive from a few fairly simple, straightforward rules:

Certain animals may not be eaten at all. This restriction includes the flesh, organs, eggs and milk of the forbidden animals.
Of the animals that may be eaten, the birds and mammals must be killed in accordance with Jewish law.
All blood must be drained from the meat or broiled out of it before it is eaten.
Certain parts of permitted animals may not be eaten.
Fruits and vegetables are permitted, but must be inspected for bugs
Meat (the flesh of birds and mammals) cannot be eaten with dairy. Fish, eggs, fruits, vegetables and grains can be eaten with either meat or dairy. (According to some views, fish may not be eaten with meat).
Utensils that have come into contact with meat may not be used with dairy, and vice versa. Utensils that have come into contact with non-kosher food may not be used with kosher food. This applies only where the contact occurred while the food was hot.
Grape products made by non-Jews may not be eaten.
There are a few other rules that are not universal.

Separation of Meat and Dairy
On three separate occasions, the Torah tells us not to "boil a kid in its mother's milk." (Ex. 23:19; Ex. 34:26; Deut. 14:21). The Oral Torah explains that this passage prohibits eating meat and dairy together. The rabbis extended this prohibition to include not eating milk and poultry together. In addition, the Talmud prohibits cooking meat and fish together or serving them on the same plates, because it is considered to be unhealthy. It is, however, permissible to eat fish and dairy together, and it is quite common (lox and cream cheese, for example). It is also permissible to eat dairy and eggs together.

This separation includes not only the foods themselves, but the utensils, pots and pans with which they are cooked, the plates and flatware from which they are eaten, the dishwashers or dishpans in which they are cleaned, and the towels on which they are dried. A kosher household will have at least two sets of pots, pans and dishes: one for meat and one for dairy. See Utensils below for more details.

One must wait a significant amount of time between eating meat and dairy. Opinions differ, and vary from three to six hours. This is because fatty residues and meat particles tend to cling to the mouth. From dairy to meat, however, one need only rinse one's mouth and eat a neutral solid like bread, unless the dairy product in question is also of a type that tends to stick in the mouth.

The Yiddish words fleishik (meat), milchik (dairy) and pareve (neutral) are commonly used to describe food or utensils that fall into one of those categories.

Note that even the smallest quantity of dairy (or meat) in something renders it entirely dairy (or meat) for purposes of kashrut. For example, most margarines are dairy for kosher purposes, because they contain a small quantity of whey or other dairy products to give it a buttery taste. Animal fat is considered meat for purposes of kashrut. You should read the ingredients very carefully, even if the product is kosher-certified.

Utensils
Utensils (pots, pans, plates, flatware, etc., etc.) must also be kosher. A utensil picks up the kosher "status" (meat, dairy, pareve, or treif) of the food that is cooked in it or eaten off of it, and transmits that status back to the next food that is cooked in it or eaten off of it. Thus, if you cook chicken soup in a saucepan, the pan becomes meat. If you thereafter use the same saucepan to heat up some warm milk, the fleishik status of the pan is transmitted to the milk, and the milchik status of the milk is transmitted to the pan, making both the pan and the milk a forbidden mixture.

Kosher status can be transmitted from the food to the utensil or from the utensil to the food only in the presence of heat, thus if you are eating cold food in a non-kosher establishment, the condition of the plates is not an issue. Likewise, you could use the same knife to slice cold cuts and cheese, as long as you clean it in between, but this is not really a recommended procedure, because it increases the likelihood of mistakes.

Stove tops and sinks routinely become non-kosher utensils, because they routinely come in contact with both meat and dairy in the presence of heat. It is necessary, therefore, to use dishpans when cleaning dishes (don't soak them directly in the sink) and to use separate spoon rests and trivets when putting things down on the stove top.

Dishwashers are a kashrut problem. If you are going to use a dishwasher for both meat and dairy in a kosher home, you either need to have separate dish racks or you need to run the dishwasher in between meat and dairy loads.

You should use separate towels and pot holders for meat and dairy. Routine laundering kashers such items, so you can simply launder them between using them for meat and dairy.

Certain kinds of utensils can be "kashered" if you make a mistake and use it with both meat and dairy. Consult a rabbi for guidance if this situation occurs.

Additional Rules
There are a few additional considerations that come up, that you may hear discussed in more sophisticated discussions of kashrut.

Bishul Yisroel
In certain circumstances, a Jew (that is, someone who is required to keep kosher) must be involved in the preparation of food for it to be kosher. This rule is discussed in depth under Food Fit for a King on the Star-K kosher certification website.
Cholov Yisroel
An ancient rule required that a Jew must be present from the time of milking to the time of bottling to ensure that milk from kosher animals did not become mixed with milk from non-kosher animals. Milk that is observed in this way is referred to as Cholov Yisroel, and some people will consume only Cholov Yisroel. However, in the United States, federal law relating to the production of milk is so strict that many Orthodox sources accept any milk as kosher. You will sometimes see high-level discussions of kashrut address whether a product is Cholov Yisroel or non-Cholov Yisroel. See a more complete discussion under Cholov Yisroel: Does a Neshama Good on the Star-K kosher certification website.
Mevushal
Most kosher wines in America are made using a process of pasteurization called mevushal, which addresses some of the kashrut issues related to grape beverages. See The Art of Kosher Wine Making on the Star-K kosher certification website.

Posted by: Orthodox food dogma | July 24, 2007 11:50 AM

I think the two biggest surprises to me today are:

1) How many (mostly anonymous) people are willing to pass judgement on others for how they pass religion/spirituality on to their children.

2) How many (mostly anonymous) people are on the "if you live here you have to speak english" bandwagon.

I did think this blog was a little more live-and-let-live. I must be mad.

Posted by: Proud Papa | July 24, 2007 11:04 AM

Proud Papa, I comfort myself with the knowledge that a volume of anonymous posts all shrieking the same uninformed message doesn't necessarily indicate that there is more than one, worked-up, flake out there who rams home his or her particular view for hours in multiple postings. For example, each and every one of the English-only idiot posts have the same tone and style, and most of the anon religious posts share that tone.

I can only speak for myself and say that it doesn't matter to me what religious instruction a person chooses, per se, but I do consider that a promise such as the one Leslie made often is a deal-breaker for the other spouse and should not be disregarded on the basis of, "now that I have kids, I miss that dang sparkly tree." A promise not to have kids, or to live in certain city, or take care of a MIL in her advanced age or disabled sibling would have similar importance.

Bob, I suspect the anti-money posts are neither directed toward you nor toward other Jewish folk. One anon troll has been bent for some time about how much Perry Steiner works, and misses no opportunity to comment on it. btw, I'm a shiksa (although not the proto-typical Nordic blonde) and considered the term appropriate to the topic :>)

Posted by: MN | July 24, 2007 11:53 AM

Language is a culture. I think an even more important cultural element than religion.

Posted by: Leslie | July 24, 2007 11:56 AM

"Don't forget the magic of Christmas - the beauty of decorations, Santa, the music, the whole spirit that envelopes the country."

Christmas in the U.S. is all about commercialism and greed. There's no magic.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 24, 2007 11:59 AM

Language is a culture. I think an even more important cultural element than religion.

Posted by: Leslie | July 24, 2007 11:56 AM

That is not surprising, given your posts

Posted by: Anonymous | July 24, 2007 12:00 PM

Has anyone read The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri? It captures the heart of the immigrant experience in the United States and demonstrates how parents work to instill their "foreign" culture in a new-to-them land. Teaching children about ethnic culture, heritage, and yes, religion, has a loooong development time before it comes back to the parents. Typically what is being taught becomes fodder for argument once teen & identity issues emerge, and then it goes latent until the kids become parents themselves. As parents with a unique experience, share it! In grade school I loved being involved in my vietnamese-american family's celebrations. Bring Chinese New Year to play group/daycare/school. We all are enriched.

And addressing the Jewish/Christian issue, almost everything about Christian faith and celebration/church services are based on Jewish practice. Jesus was Jewish, and may have been a rabbi. Do not dismiss multi-faith families based on gross oversimplifications. They are working very hard to convey two heritages, while children in single-faith families (and the adults they grow up to be) may remain ignorant about what else works in the realm of faith and spirituality in the rest of the world.

Posted by: slazar | July 24, 2007 12:01 PM

There is no text in the Constitution or Bill of Rights that says you HAVE TO speak English while walking our soil, whether you are a citizen or not. Those who think my choice to say Gracias to the some of the people I meet each day will result in the country's downfall HAVE TO be crazy wackos.

Posted by: Proud Papa | July 24, 2007 11:32 AM

*claps* *whistles*

Posted by: MN | July 24, 2007 12:02 PM

"As for the xenophobia question: What would happen if a bunch of white and black people started immigrating illegally to Mexico?"

Given that the American immigrants would have a shltload more money than the Mexican immigrants, Mexico would be thrilled.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 24, 2007 12:03 PM

In other words, "I earned my money the old-fashioned way, I inherited it!"

Posted by: | July 24, 2007 11:31 AM

I love how amateur psychologists and investigators seem to know it all. Both of my parents (and my wife's parents) are still living, thank God, and hopefully will be alive to see their great grandchildren someday.

To forestall the obvious, I'll answer right now: No, we do not live off of a trust fund, either.

-----------------------------------------

First of all, the Jewish high holidays are not festivals. They are the most sacred holy days of the year. (Festivals, like Hanukkah, are celebrations -- totally different.)

Second, from your earlier post, you showed a woefully ignorant understanding of kosher meal preparation. It is incredibly complex and would, indeed, overwhelm someone not brought up in the tradition.

Posted by: | July 24, 2007 11:27 AM

I'm not sure how to respond to this other than to inform you that you are simply wrong. Of course the High Holidays are festivals. I just didn't use the term "Chag" or "Yom Tov" because most people in the US don't speak Hebrew, and I wanted to be understandable.

Perhaps you could have paid more attention in Hebrew school? Where did they teach you to spread misinformation with such confidence?

Regarding Kosher meal preparation, what you said is exactly my point. An Orthodox Jew would not want someone who is inexperienced in Kosher cooking to prepare food for them. That is why I kept suggesting to purchase prepared food or enlist help from someone who is experienced in Kosher cooking.

I have no idea why you accuse me of lack of knowledge of the laws of Kashrut, but considering you don't even know what a festival is, I'm going to assume you don't know what you're talking about on that point as well.

-----------------------------------------

Aha. Bob was the in-law in question, and here's his response.

Not to mention his complete lack of experience in actually preparing those Kosher meals, particularly for a high holiday! It must literally be a snap for him--honey does it!

Posted by: | July 24, 2007 11:34 AM

Cute. Again with the armchair psychologists.

First of all, my children are not yet old enough to be married, so I am not the unaccepting in-laws.

When my wife and I host festivals in our home, we share the responsibilities of planning, cooking, and cleaning. In addition, our family and friends typically offer to bring food and help clean up, which we gladly accept.

Posted by: Bob | July 24, 2007 12:05 PM

slazar

"They are working very hard to convey two heritages, while children in single-faith families (and the adults they grow up to be) may remain ignorant about what else works in the realm of faith and spirituality in the rest of the world."

How do you know what all people are doing? Children brought up in one or two heritages can also be ignorant about other heritages! Duh! What a bozo! Pray give me more instruction!

Posted by: Anonymous | July 24, 2007 12:07 PM

Thanks to all for your feedback. I've skimmed through most of the responses so far, and it's certainly interesting and eye-opening to look at things from so many different perspectives. Not only have I learned how other people with multi-cultural families handle raising their children, but I've also received some ideas that I've not thought of! This just confirms my instinct that everyone's life and viewpoints are different, and that my husband and I should just do what we feel is best for our family.

As a first-time mother, I admit I have a tendency to second-guess the decisions that I make for my son, wanting to ensure that what we do is the best for him, and wanting to know all the answers right away. But as someone pointed out above, I don't have to have everything figured out right this moment, and I constantly remind myself to just relax, enjoy my baby, and he will naturally learn my and my husband's values/traditions through what we do.

And to Proud Papa -- you have hit the nail on the head about me not having the chance to explore my individuality early on. Add to that the constant teasing and name-calling I received from other children about my cultural differences (despite living in a VERY diverse area), and you have a child with very little self-assurance and confidence. As a college student, I learned to embrace differences in people and in myself. Like you, I want to ensure that my child is self-assured and proud of his heritage, and know that being different is OK.

Publishing my thoughts for all to comment and read has been a very interesting experience, indeed. :)

Posted by: Ann | July 24, 2007 12:10 PM

They are working very hard to convey two heritages, while children in single-faith families (and the adults they grow up to be) may remain ignorant about what else works in the realm of faith and spirituality in the rest of the world.

Posted by: slazar | July 24, 2007 12:01 PM

Conveying a heritage is different than conveying a faith. A child raised in a dual-faith household learns that neither faith is true and that spirituality is optional. If that's the goal, then don't be surprised that people who actually believe something may point out that kids raised in such households often do not end up having a faith of their own, or that faith, for them becomes merely synonymous with tradition and no more important than eating fish on Fridays.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 24, 2007 12:10 PM

"Those who think my choice to say Gracias to the some of the people I meet each day will result in the country's downfall HAVE TO be crazy wackos."

Ok, well this implies that it is a choice, and that you have given yourself the option to speak in more than one language.

But not all do that. This is what it boils down to. You can't tell me you'd feel differently if you were involved in an accident, or someone needed help, but you didn't exactly know what was wrong or what to do, because they're ONLY able to speak in their language.

Sorry, we should not be expected to carry around the little translation books in our pockets just to coddle and appease those who have CHOSEN to come here.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 24, 2007 12:11 PM

I think George Orwell had it right,

"All animals are created equal; some are more equal than others." -Animal Farm

Good luck, Ann. You don't have to have all the answers right now. You'll figure out many of them with time.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 24, 2007 12:12 PM

"Don't forget the magic of Christmas - the beauty of decorations, Santa, the music, the whole spirit that envelopes the country."

Christmas in the U.S. is all about commercialism and greed. There's no magic.

Posted by: | July 24, 2007 11:59 AM

That says more about you and your beliefs than the U.S., generally.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 24, 2007 12:12 PM

9:44 wrote:

"My husband is American-born Caucasian

What does this mean? He has no ethnic background or have you not discussed where his family came from. Everyone comes from somewhere."

I am also American-born Caucasian. "Everyone comes from somewhere." Yes, but my ancestors that we've traced back were already in America in the 1700s. Based on surname only, we believe my Mother's ancestors were orginally from Germany and my Father's from England. Over the span of 200+ years, they intermarried with people of other cultures and any sense of national heritage of any European country was lost. I am a white bread American, Heinz 57 mutt, with no other cultural identity. I don't know how many generations ago my ancestors stopped being raised in their native culture. There are a lot of Americans in my situation, who do not know the country of origin of their many ancestors and/or were not raised in the traditions of those other cultures.

Posted by: carrot | July 24, 2007 12:15 PM

You know, all those who are stroking out about immigrants really need to look at the historical data. The U.S. has had higher rates of population born outside of the U.S. in the past. We've done fine.

http://uspolitics.about.com/od/immigration/l/bl_immigration_population.htm

Lou Gehrig spoke English with a heavy German accent, by the way.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 24, 2007 12:18 PM

It may come as a surprise to a lot of you that non=Jews are quite offended at the slang terms you use for us. We have a few choice names we could call you, but it would be incorrect. What makes you think you can get away with it but not us? If I see that shiksa word, or goyim, or any other name I'll start spewing words at you. The road runs both ways.

Posted by: Not a Jew | July 24, 2007 12:21 PM

But not all do that. This is what it boils down to. You can't tell me you'd feel differently if you were involved in an accident, or someone needed help, but you didn't exactly know what was wrong or what to do, because they're ONLY able to speak in their language.

Sorry, we should not be expected to carry around the little translation books in our pockets just to coddle and appease those who have CHOSEN to come here.


Posted by: | July 24, 2007 12:11 PM

You're not expected to carry translation books and they are not expected to be English-fluent from the moment they arrive. The problem is that it's all about expectations for you.

Were I involved in an accident and I could not communicate with the driver of the other car, I'd do what anyone would do with a communication problem, work through it, and hope to god the man or woman is insured and that no one is injured. Many times in life we don't know exactly what is wrong or what to do and we don't get all whacked out because of a communication problem. I find it most curious that you feel the need to project your attitudes and hang-ups on others. Insecure much?

Posted by: Anonymous | July 24, 2007 12:21 PM

"You know, all those who are stroking out about immigrants really need to look at the historical data. The U.S. has had higher rates of population born outside of the U.S. in the past. We've done fine.

http://uspolitics.about.com/od/immigration/l/bl_immigration_population.htm

Lou Gehrig spoke English with a heavy German accent, by the way."

So what? What is your point?

Posted by: Anonymous | July 24, 2007 12:23 PM

I am a "non-ethnic" American who married a first generation Greek-American. My husband grew up speaking Greek at home. His parents have become fluent in English, but they and their friends feel more comfortable speaking in their native language when they are together. This is their right.

I do have a major problem, though, when people use language as a weapon. My in-laws have been known to suddenly switch from English to Greek during a conversation specifically so that they could say things (usually critical comments) to my husband without me understanding. I used to get very angry with my in-laws over this rudeness, but soon found it easier to insist instead that my husband immediately translate these comments for me, making it clear to my in-laws that they would not be allowed to cut me out of conversations while I was sitting in the same room with them.

My best advice for Ann is to make sure that you and your husband present a united front to family members about controversial decisions. Make it clear that your decisions are final and not subject to debate or negotiation. And do not apologize for making decisions that your parents may not like. Only you and your husband can decide what is best for your marriage and for your children.

Posted by: MP | July 24, 2007 12:27 PM

It may come as a surprise to a lot of you that non=Jews are quite offended at the slang terms you use for us. We have a few choice names we could call you, but it would be incorrect. What makes you think you can get away with it but not us? If I see that shiksa word, or goyim, or any other name I'll start spewing words at you. The road runs both ways.

Posted by: Not a Jew | July 24, 2007 12:21 PM

Have a barbecued pork sandwich and step back from the ledge. I'm not quite sure what you seek to "get away with", Not a Jew, but insulting a large group of people because you're annoyed at the language choices of one who is not even a member of that group is not "incorrect" but rather is immature and silly. I'm Not a Jew, Either and Am Quite Comfortable with the Term, "shiksa". Neither Bob nor anyone self-identified as Jewish used it today.

Posted by: MN | July 24, 2007 12:29 PM

1. "Raising children in 2 religions is raising children in no religion."

"This makes as much sense as "raising children in two languages is raising children in no language."

I don't see how you can seriously "raise" a child in two religions, unless you regard religious tenets, practices, and effects as on the same level as choosing an exercise program or the like. Wouldn't it tend to devalue religion into mere custom?

In general, the longer one is stuck between two cultures the more one may realize that in some ways they are antithetical, rather than complementary, especially regarding basic values about what "counts". It takes time to sort these issues out until one can truly choose your own priorities from each, and it can be lonely. It is a good idea, in addition to acculturizing the child in the "non-American" tradition, to provide opportunities for them to have meaningful relations with various people of multi-cultural backgrounds, since those people will understand this internal struggle.

Posted by: Diane, Baltimore | July 24, 2007 12:30 PM

"You know, all those who are stroking out about immigrants really need to look at the historical data. The U.S. has had higher rates of population born outside of the U.S. in the past. We've done fine."

"History is a vast early warning system." ~Norman Cousins

Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it. Just because the numebrs are lower now, does not mean it will stay that way.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 24, 2007 12:30 PM

"My in-laws have been known to suddenly switch from English to Greek during a conversation specifically so that they could say things (usually critical comments) to my husband without me understanding."

Sounds like a fun group!

Posted by: Anonymous | July 24, 2007 12:31 PM

If someone can get their Jewish knickers in a twist over the English use of the word "dreck" (as opposed to the Yiddish usage), then I don't see why "shiksa" is okay. Someone is offended by it, so we should knock it off.

Right?

Posted by: Language as a weapon | July 24, 2007 12:32 PM

This is a record day for me on the blog.

Most posts of absolutely no interest!

Posted by: Anonymous | July 24, 2007 12:35 PM

Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it. Just because the numebrs are lower now, does not mean it will stay that way.

Posted by: | July 24, 2007 12:30 PM

Right. And remember how many of those immigrants or their children became citizens since the 1830's. My goodness, a vast majority of us! The earth hasn't stopped spinning. Last time I looked, people could eat saurkraut again (vs. "liberty slaw" or whatever it was called in the 1940's).

Immigration is as old as humanity.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 24, 2007 12:35 PM

Posted by: | July 24, 2007 12:10 PM:

Thanks, that was what I was trying to say.

Posted by: Diane, Baltimore | July 24, 2007 12:37 PM

Immigration is as old as humanity.

Yes, but there is a difference between immigration and illegal immigration.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 24, 2007 12:39 PM

Publishing my thoughts for all to comment and read has been a very interesting experience, indeed. :)

Posted by: Ann | July 24, 2007 12:10 PM

I bet!

Posted by: Anonymous | July 24, 2007 12:42 PM


It may come as a surprise to a lot of you that non=Jews are quite offended at the slang terms you use for us. We have a few choice names we could call you, but it would be incorrect. What makes you think you can get away with it but not us? If I see that shiksa word, or goyim, or any other name I'll start spewing words at you. The road runs both ways.

Posted by: Not a Jew | July 24, 2007 12:21 PM

First, I think if you read over my comments, you'll find that I have already asked someone not to use the term "shiksa" because it's rude.

Secondly, I find it funny that the term "goy" is considered pejorative. I understand that it is, but whomever decided that it was obviously does not speak Hebrew and has not read the Torah.

The Hebrew word "goy" simply means "nation" or "people" (as in "The People of China", not "two or three people"). ANY nation. Including Jews. Indeed the Torah refers to the Jewish people as a "goy" just as it refers to other nations as "goyim".

In fact, the Torah even goes so far as to call the descendants of Abraham (a.k.a. the Jews) a "goy gadol"! The word "gadol" means "large".

So, "Not a Jew", I hate to burst your easily-offended bubble, but while you may be a "goy", I will always be a bigger "goy" than you. ;) (Unless you decide to convert to Judaism which, given your desire to bash us, seems an unlikely scenario.)

Posted by: Bob | July 24, 2007 12:42 PM

Lou Gehrig spoke English with a heavy German accent, by the way."

So what? What is your point?

Posted by: | July 24, 2007 12:23 PM

The point is that your English-only, send 'em all back home, argument ignores the reality that, 70 - 100 years ago in the U.S. language difficulties, collequialisms, and accents impeded communication between our Irish, Polish, Czech, Russian, Greek, Slav and Italian great-grandparents on a daily basis and somehow they found a way to conduct business and go about their lives. Today, New Yorkers claim not to be able to understand those with a Southern accent. Cubans claim not to be able to understand Minnesotan tourists in Florida. Birmingham residents claim not to be able to understand anyone from New Jersey and blame their inability on, "Yankees talk too fast". Japanese tourists visiting Elvis' grave in Tennessee are routinely treated by Tennesseans as if their English speech is incomprehensible. There is little more ignorant and small-minded than blaming the speaker for our inability to understand what he seeks to communicate rather than seeking to find a solution. Think of the snooty waiter in Paris who pretends not to understand your attempts to order in French - what a role model.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 24, 2007 12:43 PM

"Christmas in the U.S. is all about commercialism and greed. There's no magic.
Posted by: | July 24, 2007 11:59 AM"

"That says more about you and your beliefs than the U.S., generally.
Posted by: | July 24, 2007 12:12 PM"

Don't think so.

Why do "Christmas" catalogs start arriving in August? Why does every major retail outlet, small business, bank, mall, and city street have "holiday" (read: Christmas) decorations up in October? Why can't you go into a shopping mall after early October without hearing "holiday" music? Why do all the media outlets focus on buying, buying, buying? Why do people camp out overnight in front of Wal-Mart to get first shot at the "must-have" presents each year? Why are we bombarded with the message that we have to spend a lot of money to show our loved ones we really care?

I stand by my statement.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 24, 2007 12:46 PM

Bob

"So, "Not a Jew", I hate to burst your easily-offended bubble, but while you may be a "goy", I will always be a bigger "goy" than you. "

And I will always have a bigger penis than you!

Posted by: Anonymous | July 24, 2007 12:46 PM

Immigration is as old as humanity.

Yes, but there is a difference between immigration and illegal immigration.

Posted by: | July 24, 2007 12:39 PM

Please. It was pretty easy to get in illegally during the 19th century, too. Probably even easier than it is today.

Besides, if you read the article you would see that many of today's illegal immigrants started out as legal ones.

The only mode of escape was emigration. Starving families that could not pay landlords faced no alternative but to leave the country in hopes of a better future. And thus the steadily scaling number of Irish who entered the U.S. between 1820 and 1830 skyrocketed in the 1840s, nearly 2 million came in that decade. The flow persisted increasingly for another five years, as the first immigrants began to earn the means of sending for relatives and friends. The decade after 1855 showed a subside in the movement, but smaller numbers continued to arrive after the Civil War. Altogether, almost 3.5 million Irishmen entered the U.S. between 1820 and 1880.

Emigrating to the U.S. wasn't the magical solution for most of the immigrants. Peasants arrived without resources, or capital to start farms or businesses. Few of them ever accumulated the resources to make any meaningful choice about their way of life. Fortunately for them, the expansion of the American economy created heavy demands for muscle grunt. The great canals, which were the first links in the national transportation system were still being dug in the 1820s and 1830s, and in the time between 1830 and 1880, thousands of miles of rail were being laid. With no bulldozers existing at the time, the pick and the shovel were the only earth-moving equipment at the time. And the Irish laborers were the mainstay of the construction gangs that did this grueling work. In towns along the sites of work, groups of Irish formed their small communities to live in. By the middle of the nineteenth century, as American cities were undergoing rapid growth and beginning to develop an infrastructure and creating the governmental machinery and personnel necessary to run it, the Irish and their children got their first foothold- on the ground floor. Irish policemen and firemen are not just stereotypes: Irish all but monopolized those jobs when they were being created in the post-Civil War years, and even today Irish names are clearly over-represented in those occupations (Daniels, 1990). Irish workmen not only began laying the horsecar and streetcar tracks, but were some of the first drivers and conductors. The first generations worked largely at unskilled and semiskilled occupations, but their children found themselves working at increasingly skilled trades. By 1900, when Irish American mend made up about a thirteenth of the male labor force, they were almost a third of the plumbers, steamfitters, and boilermakers. Industry working Irish soon found themselves lifted up into boss and straw-boss positions as common laborers more and more arrived from southern and eastern Europe- Italians, Slavs, and Hungarians.

Spotted a trend, again, anonymous xenophobe?

Posted by: Anonymous | July 24, 2007 12:47 PM

Immigration is as old as humanity.

Yes, but there is a difference between immigration and illegal immigration.


Yeah, like certain border check points going completely unmanned, post 9-11.

I'm all for adopting a policy like what Austrailia has. For a non-native to live there, they have to show proof that they will be contributing something positive to society.

Unlike here, where we let everyone in on the premise that they will have better opportunities, and yes, many do. But many also drain the resources and find that to be the best opportunity of all.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 24, 2007 12:48 PM

Cubans claim not to be able to understand Minnesotan tourists in Florida.

That's because many of the Cubans don't speak English. Nice try though, the immigrants of the past assimilated and learned the language.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 24, 2007 12:49 PM

Isn't religion always the hot button. The thing is, people will find and follow the beliefs that suit them best. Getting exposure to as many religions and belief systems as possible is a positive thing. Same thing with cultures and traditions. It's a big world, with a lot of things going on, and the more you're exposed to, the better.

After all, as far as religion goes, a person's spirituality is intensely personal. It's a choice, too, and I don't think the kids are going to be terribly confused by being exposed to more than one faith. Even if they're raised Jewish, for example, they're still going to have questions about Christmas. Just walk in the malls in September, and you'll see the decorations.

If it works easier, start out with one faith, but give the kids exposure to other belief systems. They've got a good chance of picking something entirely different when they grow up anyway.

I'm in full agreement with whoever it was who said present a united front to the rest of the family. Everyone's got an opinion, but it's the parents who have the final say over what's best for their kids.

Posted by: Sitka | July 24, 2007 12:50 PM

"Today, New Yorkers claim not to be able to understand those with a Southern accent."

Who can understand a Southern accent?

Posted by: Anonymous | July 24, 2007 12:51 PM

Why do "Christmas" catalogs start arriving in August?

Umm, because the date changes year-to-year? That's it, right? I mean, that has to be why they see fit to start the drumbeat before I've even sent my kids back to school.

It's not greed, it's for the greater good. It's ALTRUISM.

Unless you're talking about St. Nicholas' Day (December 6th), or the date for the Orthodox Christians to celebrate Christmas (Jan 7).

Posted by: Anonymous | July 24, 2007 12:52 PM

"Why do people camp out overnight in front of Wal-Mart to get first shot at the "must-have" presents each year?"

Yeah, and in some cases, some real shining examples of 'parents' display the wonderful behavior of beating up and/or killing other parents to get their kid the damn gift. Fine behavior that is!

These are often the parents who freak me out at kid's games. Forget the "it's just a game" mentality. Kill your opponent! And if your kid doesn't, belittle them publicly for not doing so!

Yeah, teh stoopids do breed a lot!

Posted by: Anonymous | July 24, 2007 12:53 PM

Cubans claim not to be able to understand Minnesotan tourists in Florida.

That's because many of the Cubans don't speak English. Nice try though, the immigrants of the past assimilated and learned the language.

Posted by: | July 24, 2007 12:49 PM

Generally speaking, it took more than one generation. Even for those who were English-speakers (see Irish), it still took one to two generations before they were accepted as American "enough".

Posted by: Anonymous | July 24, 2007 12:54 PM

Cultural events such as St. Patrick's Day were regarded by most Americans as evidence of the separateness of these immigrants, but helped hold the Irish culture together.

See? More evidence of immigrants corrupting our pure American psyches. Immigrants must be stopped at all costs.

Posted by: Minute Man | July 24, 2007 12:55 PM

Why are we bombarded with the message that "we have to spend a lot of money to show our loved ones we really care?

I stand by my statement."

Go to church, you will find the true meaning of christmas. You have been swallowing madison ave's take on christmas. Last time I checked we were human beings with free will. use it and stop complaining

Posted by: Anonymous | July 24, 2007 1:02 PM

Minute Man

"Immigrants must be stopped at all costs."

Right. We should have never let in Cary Grant, Bob Hope, or Lorne Greene - a foreigner AND a Jew! Sake's alive!!


Keep out the leeches and the parasites who dilute the "real" American! God bless America!

Posted by: Yankee Doodle Dandy | July 24, 2007 1:04 PM

Yikes. A touchy subject, for sure. I am (by appearance) 100% Caucasian, so I haven't had to deal with this, but people I've been close to have.

I had a serious relationship with a half Korean/Caucasian man some years ago, and he got a lot of flak from his Korean aunts and uncles (rather, his mom did, since she married a white man). My friend, at the time, didn't seem to have many racial identity problems, but his Korean family members often made comments about how he wasn't "real" Korean or was impure. They seemed to make it very tough on his mom, which was weird, considering that outwardly, they appeared very close-knit.

My current boyfriend is Japanese, and if we end up married with children, I'm not sure how or if we will have to handle their cultural issues. He's fourth-generation, so while he looks Japanese, he's about as American as you can get. Our children would probably grow up in a racially diverse setting, so I can't imagine a whole lot of teasing with regards to mixed race (aside from the normal amount of teasing every child endures). We will probably continue our American traditions, although he has indicated some desire for Japanese traditions, which I would happily welcome. I guess you would call our presumed future household a hybrid.

Truthfully, our culture clashes have nothing to do with race. He's from an upper-middle-class family that never appears to have any dirty laundry; no one's ever gone to jail, had a child out of wedlock, or been in an abusive relationship. My white-bread family is Appalachian, and all of the above have been experienced by various family members on a relatively regular basis. Our problem is cultural, not racial, and if we ever do end up married, I am picturing how my family's shoes will look at the front door: dirty, covered in mud and motor oil, tossed in a misshapen pile, while his family's Gucci shoes are lined up neatly without a speck of dirt.

If we have children, I think their identity issues will relate to their parents' cultures rather than their races. How will they identify with their perfect Silicon Valley family while still managing to stay close to their unkempt, highly flawed West Virginia family?

Posted by: Mona | July 24, 2007 1:07 PM

"Why are we bombarded with the message that "we have to spend a lot of money to show our loved ones we really care?"

It's marketing hype, not a gun to your head! Sheesh!

Posted by: Anonymous | July 24, 2007 1:08 PM

"Today, New Yorkers claim not to be able to understand those with a Southern accent."

Who can understand a Southern accent?

Yea, speak inglish, like de do in Joisey

Posted by: Anonymous | July 24, 2007 1:08 PM

"Go to church, you will find the true meaning of christmas. You have been swallowing madison ave's take on christmas. Last time I checked we were human beings with free will. use it and stop complaining

Posted by: | July 24, 2007 01:02 PM"

What makes you think I've swallowed it? You clearly didn't read very carefully.

Furthermore, as to finding the "meaning of christmas [your lc "c"] in church," it was actually "the church" that originally resisted the celebration of Christmas.

Read your American history!

Posted by: Anonymous | July 24, 2007 1:11 PM

There is a big difference between the Irish and the Hispanics who leap across the border. The Irish made their own way, didn't ask for help from anyone and assimilated. You are truly a stupid person if you can't see the difference.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 24, 2007 1:11 PM

Don't think so.

Why do "Christmas" catalogs start arriving in August? Why does every major retail outlet, small business, bank, mall, and city street have "holiday" (read: Christmas) decorations up in October? Why can't you go into a shopping mall after early October without hearing "holiday" music? Why do all the media outlets focus on buying, buying, buying? Why do people camp out overnight in front of Wal-Mart to get first shot at the "must-have" presents each year? Why are we bombarded with the message that we have to spend a lot of money to show our loved ones we really care?

I stand by my statement.

Posted by: | July 24, 2007 12:46 PM

Stand by it all you want, but everything you've described is generated by businesses seeking to sell things. That's what businesses do. They are not there to sell or encourage belief in Christianity.

You, however, have a choice about whether you are going to listen to only one voice or many. For you to reach a conclusion about the meaning of Christmas to Americans based on restricting your ears to the message of the mass retailers, and ignoring the many competing and different messages communicated by others, is silly. To do so is the equivalent of concluding that all Americans are right-wing xenophobes based on restricting your cable viewing to the broadcasts of Ann Coulter and Fox News.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 24, 2007 1:11 PM

The Irish also didn't protest in the streets carrying signs that said "white racists go home this is our continent."

Posted by: Anonymous | July 24, 2007 1:13 PM

To do so is the equivalent of concluding that all Americans are right-wing xenophobes based on restricting your cable viewing to the broadcasts of Ann Coulter and Fox News.


or liberal, cut and run cowards if you just listen to moveon.org....

Posted by: Anonymous | July 24, 2007 1:14 PM

"Yes, but there is a difference between immigration and illegal immigration."

Sure there is, but I thought the topic of discussion was English-language fluency which doesn't have squat to do with the manner in which someone arrives. Changing accusations now?

Posted by: Anonymous | July 24, 2007 1:17 PM

"There is a big difference between the Irish and the Hispanics who leap across the border. The Irish made their own way, didn't ask for help from anyone and assimilated. You are truly a stupid person if you can't see the difference"

Ha, ha! In some parts of the U.S. the Irish were the highest percentage of: criminals, paupers, prostitutes, and inmates of insane asylums! The Irish received a LOT of help in this country while they were being assimilated and sobered up!

Posted by: Anonymous | July 24, 2007 1:17 PM

Wow. Just. wow. When I read the guest blogger's post I was going to say that we're all much more aware of cultural differences thanks to TV & the net and that it might not be so crazy for her children.

But the comments are crazy so I have to revise my opinion.

Anyways, I presume you and your husband do share some common values and that's the foundation for your marriage... I would focus on those and let your kids pick how to express them. So you say "it's a hard thing to balance your own needs and respect for your parents. We both value living your life where you take both into consideration. Your dad chooses X and I choose Y."

I think by sharing your own conflicts (not when disciplining, I mean just saying "wow we have this invitation and that invitation, how will we choose?") you can show your kids HOW to solve these issues rather than trying to hand them The Answer and that may help them out.

Posted by: Shandra | July 24, 2007 1:23 PM

I've seen the word "assimilation" used here repeatedly today, and this is unfortunate.

Current-day sociologists will tell you that the concept of assimilation as an ideal objective has long since been replaced by other immigrant-adjustment models that allow for a comingling of home-country cultural traditions with the more mainstream behavior and values of contemporary American society.

Perhaps even more importantly, research has revealed that different ethnic origins and cultural backgrounds predispose people to ways of adjusting that vary widely.

Nowadays, assimilation is considered tantamount to erasure of one's heritage and eradication of one's points of reference. Further, there is no one-size-fits-all formula for immigrant adjustment.

Posted by: pittypat | July 24, 2007 1:23 PM

Wow, lots of negativity on the blog today.

Immigration, legal and illegal, is an integral force in America. It should be supported, and the laws should be made more lenient (5 years to renew a visa is ridiculous, for example). But I do agree that immigrants who do not speak English should be learning English. I think they also see the value in it, but it's not always easy or affordable to just take a class. If you want them to learn so badly, why don't you offer free English lessons at your local community center?

WRT religion, it can be polarizing. If parents who want to raise their children in two religions focus on the similarities instead of the differences, then there should be no problem. At their cores, most religions teach humility, "the Golden Rule," and other basic morals. For some, that's all they really need religion for, so they can ignore the pomp and ritual.

Ann, I don't have much advice because, although we're only second generation Americans, we look like Americans, so we didn't have some of the issues you did. I will say that if you want your child to learn something (the language, the culture), surround him with it at home. It will also be easier if you seek out other children who are learning the same thing. Your child might be more open to it if other kids are doing it too.

Posted by: Meesh | July 24, 2007 1:23 PM

"There is a big difference between the Irish and the Hispanics who leap across the border. The Irish made their own way, didn't ask for help from anyone and assimilated. You are truly a stupid person if you can't see the difference"

Oh, please. You have not cracked open a history book in your life, and must not have any Irish heritage. Allow me.

Irish immigrants came from a rural lifestyle, including mud huts in many instances, and landed in cities like New York with no idea how to survive, no manufacturing skills, and little if any education. They often crowded into homes that were intended for single families, or cellars, attics and make-do spaces in alleys.

A lack of adequate sewage and running water in these places made cleanliness nigh unto impossible. Disease of all kinds (including cholera, typhus, tuberculosis, and mental illness) resulted from these miserable living conditions. When the Irish families moved into neighborhoods, other families often moved out fearing the real or imagined dangers of disease, fire hazards, unsanitary conditions and the social problems of violence, alcoholism and crime.

Sounds familiar, doesn't it? Everything you are saying about immigrants was said in the 1880s and 1890s about that wave of immigrants, then in the 30s and 40s about the next wave. Everyone wishes the borders had closed one day after their grandparents arrived. The "real" America changes with each wave, bub. I'm sure you would have wanted to prevent my grandpa from arriving, what with his Italian surname, lack of education and dark skin.


Posted by: Anonymous | July 24, 2007 1:27 PM

"Sure there is, but I thought the topic of discussion was English-language fluency which doesn't have squat to do with the manner in which someone arrives."

That's funny. I thought the topic of discussion was mixed-race or mixed-culture families? Or has the conversation turned to religion and immigration so thoroughly as to exclude the original post? Never mind, I've read the comments, I know the answer. A shame, because I would have enjoyed discussing the ACTUAL original topic, rather than hearing more "Go home, Mexican!" "No you go home, racist!"

Posted by: Mona | July 24, 2007 1:38 PM

Nowadays, assimilation is considered tantamount to erasure of one's heritage and eradication of one's points of reference. Further, there is no one-size-fits-all formula for immigrant adjustment.

Posted by: pittypat | July 24, 2007 01:23 PM

By some sociologists, assimilation is viewed as you state. To suggest that it is uniformly viewed with disdain is overreaching. For example, many of us encourage assimilation by the Hmong as a solution to spousal abuse and as one way to eradicate the "cultural defense" otherwise known as "I didn't commit a crime because what I did it not a crime in MY country". In other words, assimilation can offer the best opportunity for immigrant women to improve their education and lives, generally.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 24, 2007 1:39 PM

"That's funny. I thought the topic of discussion was mixed-race or mixed-culture families?"

Soon to turn to mixed-breed families.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 24, 2007 1:42 PM

Did the parents of Alberto Gonzales enter the U.S. legally?

Posted by: Anonymous | July 24, 2007 1:44 PM

"Sure there is, but I thought the topic of discussion was English-language fluency which doesn't have squat to do with the manner in which someone arrives."

That's funny. I thought the topic of discussion was mixed-race or mixed-culture families? Or has the conversation turned to religion and immigration so thoroughly as to exclude the original post? Never mind, I've read the comments, I know the answer. A shame, because I would have enjoyed discussing the ACTUAL original topic, rather than hearing more "Go home, Mexican!" "No you go home, racist!"

Posted by: Mona | July 24, 2007 01:38 PM

Mona, Since when did you see the light and become an on-topic, only, purist? Bashing those who agree with you is an unusual approach to restoring the topic.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 24, 2007 1:46 PM

"That's because many of the Cubans don't speak English."

Your ignorance on this topic is simply limitless. Here's a clueby4: if we offered to give you $100 for any Cuban you can find in Miami who isn't fully fluent, you'd starve no matter how long you had. Can't be done. If you don't understand the difference between those in the Cuban exile community and Hispanics who have immigrated to the US from countries other than Cuba, you are woefully ill-equipped for this debate.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 24, 2007 1:52 PM

1:46, I wasn't bashing anyone, just pointing out the irony in a statement that leads one to believe that its author wants to stay on topic, when s/he doesn't stay on topic her/himself.

I'm not an on-topic purist. But this is a rare topic that isn't about SAHM-WOHM mommy wars, public breastfeeding, FMLA, or going back to work after ten years out of the work force, so it is a precious, relatively new topic, and I think it deserves some discussion. Of course, if posters don't agree with me, they'll go their own way. But my pointing out that the original topic was not, in fact, English-language fluency doesn't mean I'm bashing anyone.

Posted by: Mona | July 24, 2007 1:52 PM

01:27 PM nothing was said about how the Irish lived, the post was about how they came here, mostly through Ellis Island and what they did with themselves when they got here. It's nice that you know history because you sure can't read.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 24, 2007 1:53 PM

Strange how the blogger only mentions HER heritage and how they will deal with HER in laws etc. What is his heritage? english, irish, polish, ukranian ?. Kind of similar to him writing" I am russian-american, my wife is asian. how will we keep our russian heritage and customs" How will they deal with his inlaws who may not be thrilled with an asian child given their backgrounds. Same as if she brought home to china a blue eyed bond haired boy.

Posted by: goes both ways | July 24, 2007 1:59 PM

The only person who used the work "shiksa" on this blog identified themselves as being non-Jewish.

I am Jewish, and this is not a word I use. It's rude- just like calling non-hispanic people "gringo" is rude. It's a pejorative term, plain and simple. Incidentally, I know no Jewish people who would ever call someone by that epithet.

What does it say about you, though, that you take one non-Jewish person's use of that word as an excuse to be verbally nasty to Jewish people who haven't said anything to you at all, hm?

Posted by: va | July 24, 2007 1:59 PM

"I don't know another country where people who don't speak the language are treated with the same level of respect and patience as in the US."

Funny you mention this, I don't recall getting a lot of respect and patience when I go to the post office...and I'm fluent in English!!!

Also, I've lived in Italy, so you have no idea what you're talking about.

Posted by: MV | July 24, 2007 1:59 PM

"01:27 PM nothing was said about how the Irish lived, the post was about how they came here, mostly through Ellis Island and what they did with themselves when they got here."

The federal immigration facility at Ellis Island opened in 1892. Quite a few Irish arrived in America before 1892!!!!! And fought for the Union in the Civil War!!!! Duh!!

Posted by: Anonymous | July 24, 2007 1:59 PM

Compare the lot of someone of Chinese or part-Chinese ancestry growing up in the USA, with the lot of someone of English-American or part-English-American ancestry growing up in China (whether Red China, Taiwan, or a future Free China).

Then teach your children to thank Heaven that they were born and live in the USA. As Vice President Al Gore '69 told the citizens of Milwaukee in 1994, "We can build a collective civic space large enough for all our separate identities, that we can be 'e pluribus unum' -- 'out of one, many.'"

Many ancestries; many ancestral languages (but your children will speak the English language that unites the USA); many religions. This is the wonderful country conceived and built by the people whose images you see on our coins (next to "e pluribus unum" -- or was it "ex uno plures"?) -- Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln, Franklin D. Roosevelt '03, John F. Kennedy '40. We just finished celebrating Independence Day. See how the faces in the parades reflect the mosaic that is America! Baseball, hot dogs, apple pie and Chevrolets!

My ancestors wandered through three continents before settling here, with my own mother getting off the boat as a 3-year-old girl. My children and your children can all sing together, "This land is your land, this land is my land."

Thank you, America! Thank you, USA!

Posted by: Matt in Aberdeen | July 24, 2007 2:01 PM

"In other words, assimilation can offer the best opportunity for immigrant women to improve their education and lives, generally."

Unfortunately, it's not as simple as that.

One of the huge obstacles in achieving what you describe is that women from some cultures -- particularly those from cultures that isolate and repress them and refuse them education -- will cling to the familiar rather than take the enormous risks involved in striking out on their own.

And, given that domestic abuse of American-born women is still so often a hidden condition because abused women frequently are afraid to report or press charges against their abusers, it's hardly any wonder that women from other countries who have no language skills and no way to earn a living here continue to be prisoners of their situations.

Assimilation is not possible for people who cannot separate from their family of origin for fear of reprisal or a life of homelessness and starvation.

Posted by: pittypat | July 24, 2007 2:01 PM

A lot of people illegally crossed the border into the U.S. via Canada people.

That's how a good portion of my ancestors appeared. First they were "sailors of opportunity", then they were forgetting to go home to Canada.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 24, 2007 2:02 PM

"My ancestors wandered through three continents before settling here, with my own mother getting off the boat as a 3-year-old girl. My children and your children can all sing together, "This land is your land, this land is my land."


What a twit!

Posted by: Anonymous | July 24, 2007 2:03 PM

01:52 PM maybe they can speak it, but they just don't want to, which is worse.

http://www.boston.com/news/nation/articles/2004/10/17/in_miami_hispanic_majority_takes_hold/

Posted by: Anonymous | July 24, 2007 2:04 PM

""I don't know another country where people who don't speak the language are treated with the same level of respect and patience as in the US."

Funny you mention this, I don't recall getting a lot of respect and patience when I go to the post office...and I'm fluent in English!!!

Also, I've lived in Italy, so you have no idea what you're talking about.

Posted by: MV | July 24, 2007 01:59 PM"

I have limited experience, MV, but I'm with you. When I visited foreign countries (only a couple), many people spoke English or at least attempted to. When I was in Paris, I saw none of the snobbery they are supposedly famous for, except when a tourist asked a tour guide at the Louvre to get out of the way so he could have an unobstructed view of Venus de Milo (I'd have responded with similar haughtiness, so I can't blame her!). The only time I noticed any hostility was at a train station on the Northern coast--and I think the woman thought I was English, because the English visited that small coastal town in droves that time of year. A resident of that town showed me how to use the washing machines in the laundromat (yes, I know how to use washing machines, but she was just trying to be helpful), and didn't speak a word of English, and I spoke only a little French, but she used gestures to help me out. So, in short, I don't believe the US is the only country friendly to those who speak other languages.

Posted by: Mona | July 24, 2007 2:08 PM

During the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries, immigration policy was essentially open borders, and, at times, immigrants were even recruited to come to America.

To duh and others.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 24, 2007 2:08 PM

It's nice that you know history because you sure can't read.

Posted by: | July 24, 2007 01:53 PM

Sure vs. surely: Sure is an adjective; surely, an adverb.

Unintentionally humiliating: using "sure" improperly while asserting that another poster is unable to read.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 24, 2007 2:10 PM

Truthfully, our culture clashes have nothing to do with race. He's from an upper-middle-class family that never appears to have any dirty laundry; no one's ever gone to jail, had a child out of wedlock, or been in an abusive relationship. My white-bread family is Appalachian, and all of the above have been experienced by various family members on a relatively regular basis. Our problem is cultural, not racial, and if we ever do end up married, I am picturing how my family's shoes will look at the front door: dirty, covered in mud and motor oil, tossed in a misshapen pile, while his family's Gucci shoes are lined up neatly without a speck of dirt.

If we have children, I think their identity issues will relate to their parents' cultures rather than their races. How will they identify with their perfect Silicon Valley family while still managing to stay close to their unkempt, highly flawed West Virginia family?

Posted by: Mona | July 24, 2007 01:07 PM

Mona, I completely agree. My husband and I are both pretty much 100% Irish, yet our families could not be more different, to the point where it is an issue. You should've seen our wedding - yikes!
My husband's family is from a not great part of the city, wih some in trailer parks, etc..in areas not so desirable. My family is mostly upper middle class, college educated...It got very difficult during the planning the wedding/baby shower/event stage where the differences were stark.
I have a wonderful friend from childhood (african american) who was made fun of constantly by his cousins who lived in the "ghetto". They made fun of him as "white" and those things.
I do agree that it's about a class system, not race.

Posted by: SAHMbacktowork | July 24, 2007 2:16 PM

SAHMbacktowork - if you don't teach your children what you think is real and important someone else will.

So parents can make a choice. They can take the time to teach their children what they value, or they can let them be instructed by the "cultural" media.

If you read the "Namesake" then you remember that the boy rejected his parents' culture and heritage. He took up with Ms. American culture, who was actually Ms. East-Coast Elite.

But when push came to shove he fell back on what he'd known as a kid. Kids aren't robots, but they are blank slates.

You can send them into life with nothing, and hope that whatever cable-channel evangelist they encounter is sane, or you can bother to teach them your own traditions.

Posted by: to SAHMbacktowork | July 24, 2007 2:17 PM

Current-day sociologists will tell you that the concept of assimilation as an ideal objective has long since been replaced by other immigrant-adjustment models that allow for a comingling of home-country cultural traditions with the more mainstream behavior and values of contemporary American society.

-pittypat

Sociologists can say all they want to about assimilation, but the general population doesn't have to listen. While it may not be the ideal in the academic world anymore, people generally want the people around them to be like them. IMHO, this desire is not something that can be eradicated by making the people who believe in it feel as if they are "wrong".

I agree that assimilation that totally eradicates the home culture is bad but I believe that a group of people who make no effort to embrace some of our culture (i.e speaking english) is just as bad.

Posted by: devils advocate | July 24, 2007 2:21 PM

I know this is late but I have some insight into this, being happa myself, and married to a biracial man (my kids are WAAAAY mixed!) My advice is not to spend too much time worrying about it or over-analyzing this issue. Your child will be who he is naturally because of who you and your husband are. We just ate rice at the dinner table with the meatloaf because my mom liked rice and my dad liked beef.

In truth, you child will just grow up to be American and will never be Chinese, because he will grow up in this country. Even if you move to China for a few years, he will not be Chinese because in China they will not embrace him as one of their own. Plus how can you teach him what it means to be truly Chinese when you yourself aren't? He will never be fluent in Chinese unless he spends years committed to learning the written language, which I guarantee he won't want to do until at least college, maybe high school at best (by which time his identity will be formed). At best, he'll have some basic conversational skills so he can chat with the relatives (although he will probably always sound like a kid, even when he is 30). Oh sure, he'll have some Chinese customs and will probably like the food and some of the fun stuff like New Years, but his mindset will always be American. That is what it means to be an immigrant--to have first your children and then grandchildren move ever further away from the immigrant's original culture. You can't prevent that from happening. Trust me, your grandkids will not be Chinese in any way.

Instead, accept that he is what he is, and teach him whatever you believe is right, without reference to the origin.

And don't worry, he will grow up in a country full of people just like him, and ever more so, and it won't be a big deal. He can marry my English/Irish/Norwegian/Swedish/Japanese/Puerto Rican/French daughter.

Posted by: mamasan | July 24, 2007 2:24 PM

to MV and Mona
I did not write about experiences of a tourist and the rude locals who ignore you and the great urban myth of rude Parisians. I don't like to write about things I know nothing about, especially in a public forum. I also lived in Northern Italy and Southern France and I know a little bit, maybe less then you, about those societies. A member of my family has lived in Germany for over 30 years. He says to us that although he is fluent in German, he is obviously not a native speaker and often feels that he is treated differently. When I lived in Italy and had to register in questura as a foreigner, I did not see any signs in any languages other than Italian, which I speak, so I had no problems. Same goes for an Italian police station where I had to go to file a police report after somebody broke the into my friend's car. Compare this to a school meeting in Montgomery County, MD, where interpreters in no less that five language will be provided. Or Post Office and DMV where there are signs in at least two languages. The only country in Europe that I had visited and saw signs and official notices in more than one language was Switzerland.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 24, 2007 2:31 PM

SAHMbacktowork - if you don't teach your children what you think is real and important someone else will.

So parents can make a choice. They can take the time to teach their children what they value, or they can let them be instructed by the "cultural" media.

If you read the "Namesake" then you remember that the boy rejected his parents' culture and heritage. He took up with Ms. American culture, who was actually Ms. East-Coast Elite.

But when push came to shove he fell back on what he'd known as a kid. Kids aren't robots, but they are blank slates.

You can send them into life with nothing, and hope that whatever cable-channel evangelist they encounter is sane, or you can bother to teach them your own traditions.

Posted by: to SAHMbacktowork | July 24, 2007 02:17 PM

When did I ever say that I wouldn't teach my children the values I hold important? I just so happen to not prescribe to one religion. A lot of people don't believe in having spirituality without an organized religion - I am not one of those people. I believe in family, community, and being a part of something (society) larger than yourself.
I believe something greater exists, but I am no fool to place a name or an identity with this greater thing/person/God, what have you. I don't dare to believe that only one religion is the right way in which to live.
This doesn't make me without values or morals.
I am heavily involved in/love politics, yet I am neither Democrat or Republican. This doesn't make me less of a political activist. this doesn't stop me from fighting for policy I believe in.

Posted by: SAHMbacktowork | July 24, 2007 2:33 PM

Matt in Aberdeen,
Yes, I agree.

Posted by: Diane, Baltimore | July 24, 2007 2:35 PM

Compare this to a school meeting in Montgomery County, MD, where interpreters in no less that five language will be provided.

So? The information must be important and "adult" enough that bringing the kids to translate isn't feasible. They want the parents involved, they want them to know what's going on, they provide interpreters in order to reach out to those parents and keep them in the loop.

I thought parent-involvement in school was a good thing. Are you saying it is, but only for certain parents?

Posted by: Anonymous | July 24, 2007 2:36 PM

Posted by: mamasan | July 24, 2007 02:24 PM

Well put. That is how America is designed. President Reagan watched the USA olympics in 1984 and said that he immensely enjoyed watching asian, white, hispanic, black athletes representing the US because that was essentially what the us was about. You can come from anywhere and be american. The only place on earth.

Posted by: USA-all the way | July 24, 2007 2:39 PM

The only country in Europe that I had visited and saw signs and official notices in more than one language was Switzerland.

In Switzerland as well as Luxembourg, it's expected that the citizenry will speak more than two languages. In fact, Luxembourg has three official languages. Switzerland--four (German, French, Italian, and Rhaeto-Romansh).

Somehow, Switzerland continues to thrive and prosper.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 24, 2007 2:42 PM

Top 10 languages spoken in Switzerland, according to the 2000 census. In English. Numbers for "main language of resident population":

German: 4.640.359
French: 1.485.056
Italian: 470.961
Serbo-Croatian: 103.350
Albanian: 94.937
Portuguese: 89.527
Spanish: 77.506
English: 73.425
turkish: 44.523
Romansch: 35.095
Other languages: 173.271
Total: 7.288.010
Note: the census does not differentiate between Swiss dialects of German, French or Italian and their official versions, or between Serbian, Croatian and Bosnian.

Posted by: trivia | July 24, 2007 2:44 PM

In Switzerland as well as Luxembourg, it's expected that the citizenry will speak more than two languages. In fact, Luxembourg has three official languages. Switzerland--four (German, French, Italian, and Rhaeto-Romansh).

Somehow, Switzerland continues to thrive and prosper.

_____________________

Largely by being applying strict banking secrecy laws that involve not asking anybody where they got the cash nor telling anyone else how much cash you have.

Swiss banking laws are very good for the gun-runners, arms-traders, drug-smugglers, and others who really don't want their wealth or its sources too widely known - and the Swiss do quite well by taking a cut of the money in exchange for the secrecy.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 24, 2007 2:54 PM

Ann,

It's like population genetics. There is more genetic diversity within a "race" than between various "races". Substitute the word culture, it works pretty well that way too.

He's going to be more similar than different from his larger community. That's okay, particularly if you don't make a huge stink about it. That just gives "I hate you! Leave me alone" more traction later. As you know, first-hand. If you keep him reined in too tightly, he's going to pull away from you. You still need to have a feel for him though--don't throw the reins away entirely!

Trust yourselves as parents more. It's a big world, most of us turn out okay, relatively speaking. Don't be afraid to ask your family for their advice, experiences and opinions. You are not obligated to USE it if it feels wrong. Believe me, they'll be THRILLED to ask and it will minimize meddling.


Posted by: Anonymous | July 24, 2007 2:55 PM

"The only country in Europe that I had visited and saw signs and official notices in more than one language was Switzerland."

Have you been to any other countries in Europe?

Every train ride, every plane ride, I've taken throughout Europe - all announcements were made in 3 or 4 different languages - and 1 of them was always English.

Even the homeless people know multiple languages in Europe!

We Americans are so ego driven that we wouldn't deign to think we'd need to/like to learn another language. There IS a world outside of America, isnt' that amazing??

Posted by: Anonymous | July 24, 2007 2:55 PM

In Switzerland as well as Luxembourg, it's expected that the citizenry will speak more than two languages. In fact, Luxembourg has three official languages. Switzerland--four (German, French, Italian, and Rhaeto-Romansh).

Somehow, Switzerland continues to thrive and prosper.

Good in the past to know the language of those who might invade you....

Posted by: Anonymous | July 24, 2007 2:56 PM

In Switzerland as well as Luxembourg, it's expected that the citizenry will speak more than two languages.

This is true in much of Europe, outside of the UK. They put Americans to shame.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 24, 2007 2:57 PM

Hey! I never knew this, and what a shame that she felt she had to hide this information from anyone, EVER.

Carol Channing lived as white only revealing when she was 81 that her father was a light skinned African American.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 24, 2007 2:57 PM

Good in the past to know the language of those who might invade you....

Posted by: | July 24, 2007 02:56 PM

Try good now to know the languages of those you might want to do business with.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 24, 2007 3:02 PM

So, you're impugning an entire country by implying that the citizenry are actively supporting or engaged in larcenous activities.

And how did you deduce this and smear a country with a population of 7,288,010? Personal experience? Are you typing to this blog from your bolt-hole?

Posted by: to 2:54 | July 24, 2007 3:02 PM

I believe Russia has at least a dozen languages widely spoken, even after several of the border states split off into their own countries.

Posted by: John L | July 24, 2007 3:05 PM

"I feel there are lessons in morality in learning the rules of grammar in languages. I felt this especially with Latin, but I've heard of this experience with other people too. Learning these rules gave me a new way of looking at things beyond just a way of communicating. Latin in particular strengthened my skills in analysis and logical reasoning. I think it definately sharpened my views of what is good or bad. I'm certainly a long way from perfect, but every bit helps-- whether that comes from learning foreign languages, or from learning about multiple religious teachings."

Posted by: jen S. | July 24, 2007 11:15 AM

I agree with Jen S. For me, the biggest eye-opener was not Latin, but Korean. Having grown up learning Aryan and Semitic languages with all their parts of speech, including nouns, verbs and adjectives, I was surprised when Prof. Wagner and Miss Kim taught me that Korean does not have adjectives as we know them. So, instead of the adjective, "blue," there is a verb meaning, "to be blue." The closest Korean gets to adjectives is participles of such verbs. How does this affect the Korean vs. the Western way of looking at the world? Do Western adjectives imply more permanence than the corresponding Korean participles? Dunno.

Posted by: Matt in Aberdeen | July 24, 2007 3:06 PM

Carol Channing lived as white only revealing when she was 81 that her father was a light skinned African American.

Posted by: | July 24, 2007 02:57 PM

True. Given the traditional US one-drop rule, she would have been discriminated against in her youth. Her mother only told her when she was about to get married, in case she should have a child who looked strongly African-American. Channing's father was a well-respected Christian Science reader.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 24, 2007 3:06 PM

To USA all the way: I appreciate your supportive comments, but hope my own aren't misinterpreted as a "just be American and get over it" type of comment. I am American, true, but there is a small part of me that is Japanese and always will be, because that is who my mother is, those are the faces in the old family photos, in kimonos, not pants. My ancestors were samurai, I carry that in me, how could I not? When I step off the plane in Japan I am also, in some odd sense, home. The food smells like my own mother, the voices are familiar. My only point to the poster was that this wasn't something my parents had to work to instill in me, it just is what is is because that is who I am, it is my birthright. I am American, but an American of a certain heritage, and it is deeply part of who I am. It doesn't override my "Americanness" if you will, but it is there nonetheless.

Don't think that while embracing your Americaness, you cannot also suffer a very real sense of loss of culture, especially if you are just a generation or two removed from the old country. You gain, but you lose too, by coming to this country, and I think it is natural to mourn that loss. It is just inevitable, but it can be bittersweet nonetheless.

All great American literature is, at its heart, about a search for home, a search for place. Why is that? I think it is because we are still a baby culture, relative to other countries. We don't have the kind of strongly ingrained traditions that exists in cultures that are thousands of years old, with strongly ingrained values and beliefs. It is this freedom from expectations and boundaries that makes this country great, that makes it a land of opportunity, but at the same time, we cannot deny that there is a real cost to this as well.

Being an immigrant is much like being a parent. You love your baby, you live for your baby, you would die for your baby, but that doesn't mean that, on some level, you don't mourn the loss of your single, childless, carefree days as well. That doesn't make you a bad parent, that just makes you human.

Posted by: Mamasan | July 24, 2007 3:08 PM

In Switzerland as well as Luxembourg, it's expected that the citizenry will speak more than two languages.

This is true in much of Europe, outside of the UK. They put Americans to shame

Of course as usual here there is no perspective. europe has many peoples with many different languages living right next to each other. We live thousands of miles away from them, have one country with 300 million people, stretching over 3000 miles. We have little need to learn two or three languages.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 24, 2007 3:10 PM

Who cares, maybe they were an illegal immigrant just learning English.

Posted by: sure vs. surley | July 24, 2007 3:12 PM

I am a product of the marraige situation described above. Chinese from China mom (though she came to the U.S. as an adult) and caucasian American dad. I don't have the answers, but you've found me at the time of my life where I'm starting to analyze how I grew up.

Some things I regret:
-Not learning Chinese. I've never been able to have a conversation with my grandmother who lived with us. Luckily nowadays there are classes for non-native speakers, including children. Don't have to wait until college to learn.

-Not knowing more about my Chinese heritage. I look Chinese on the outside so people ask me questions that I can't answer, but I wish I could. I have to call up my mom and ask her.

-Not going to China/Hong Kong/Taiwan when I was an older child or teenager. You might not have to live there, but I think visiting is important. It was hard to get away to Asia due to money and distance (much easier to visit dad's ancestral home in Mass.), but I think it would have been worth much more in the long run.

I could go on and on (holidays: anything that my mom or dad celebrated, we celebrated... there were A LOT of holidays), but I didn't want to interrupt too much of the arguing.

Posted by: alexandria, va | July 24, 2007 3:12 PM

It used to be considered a good thing in the U.S. to learn more than one language, not including Latin. What's changed, and why? Dumbing down now that we're being "inundated by 'those' people"?

This strikes me as being a really cowardly attitude.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 24, 2007 3:12 PM

>Same as if she brought home to china a >blue eyed bond haired boy.

Oh, that would have been just dandy...

Posted by: Been there, done that | July 24, 2007 3:15 PM

europe has many peoples with many different languages living right next to each other.

Bwaahaahaa!

You haven't been outside of your bunker recently, have you? Read today's posting where someone is complaining about interpreters being needed in Montgomery County, MD at school meetings. The horror! The horror! (insert eye roll)

How does the old joke go...

There's this butcher shop in Toronto, and hanging from the sign is the name of the place in seven different languages.

The joke is, "Who speaks all those languages?"

"The customers."

I grew up in an urban area and I am comfortable with hearing more than one or two languages in my presence. Maybe it helped hearing more than one language spoken by my grandparents in their semi-rural town too. Those damn Norwegians, still speaking it despite over a hundred years of citizenry.

(another eye roll!)

Posted by: Anonymous | July 24, 2007 3:18 PM

"It used to be considered a good thing in the U.S. to learn more than one language, not including Latin. What's changed, and why? Dumbing down now that we're being "inundated by 'those' people"?"


What changed?: Education for the masses. When education, specifically higher education, was exclusively for the upper classes, it was required to learn more than 1 language. Any IB (or more traditional education methods) still do this.
It's from educating everyone that we lost the ability to dabble in "silly" things like languages and the arts. It became teaching to the lowest common denominator instead.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 24, 2007 3:20 PM

"Incidentally, I know no Jewish people who would ever call someone by that epithet" (shiksa)

Actually, I know a lot of Jewish peopel ( primarily females ) who use this word quite often, as in "that shiksa stole my boyfriend" or "he always had that weakness for shiksas"

And "goy boy" (a non-Jewish person who does work for them on Saturday ) is a very typical expression. Or what, you'll tell me "oh, those are just redneck Jews"?

Posted by: insults, for sure | July 24, 2007 3:20 PM

We Americans are so ego driven that we wouldn't deign to think we'd need to/like to learn another language. There IS a world outside of America, isnt' that amazing??

Posted by: | July 24, 2007 02:55 PM

No, America and Europe are two different places. In Europe, there are many countries with different languages all within a days drive. In America, there is no need to learn another language because most people will never talk to someone who speaks a different one (other than their gardener, maid, etc). It has nothing to do with ego and everything to do with the fact that the US is a huge counrty with a single language.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 24, 2007 3:22 PM

Matt in Aberdeen, that is very interesting about the Korean language! Seems like a very "zen" way of looking at the world. And if that is true, is it that the cultural philophy of that culture is reflected in the language, or is it that the language influenced the development of the cultural philosophy? dunno. Maybe when I reitre, I'll go back to school and ponder this stuff!

Posted by: Jen S. | July 24, 2007 3:29 PM

In America... most people will never talk to someone who speaks a different one.

But maybe they SHOULD!

Posted by: Anonymous | July 24, 2007 3:29 PM

"europe has many peoples with many different languages living right next to each other.

Bwaahaahaa!"

umm, been to europe? I HAVE and once again you ninny, ----europe has many peoples with many different languages living right next to each other.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 24, 2007 3:30 PM

Posted by: | July 24, 2007 03:22 PM

Don't confuse them with facts and logic, their most ferverent dream is to turn america into europe

Posted by: Anonymous | July 24, 2007 3:32 PM

But maybe they SHOULD!

Posted by: | July 24, 2007 03:29 PM

Maybe they should, maybe they shouldn't, but the fact the they don't isn't an issue of arrogance or ego as stated by the posters above.

You know if the people of NY, NJ, NC and DC all spoke different languages, Americans would speak them all.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 24, 2007 3:36 PM

". . . Bishul Yisroel . . ."

Posted by: Orthodox food dogma | July 24, 2007 11:50 AM

One hundred three lines in "Dogma's" post! And they say my posts are too long.

"In certain circumstances, a Jew (that is, someone who is required to keep kosher) must be involved in the preparation of food for it to be kosher." (Dogma)

OK, so suppose new Daughter-in-law is in the process of Judaization, but has not yet completed her conversion. And suppose Son is the sort who just sits back and lets his wife do all the food preparation and cooking, without his taking any part. Then according to Dogma's post, that sumptuous roast turkey with trimmings and gravy fit for King Solomon would not be kosher. On the other hand, if DIL is now a NJG, why can't she bring home prepared High Holy Day delicacies from Seven Mile Market like everyone else?

"This rule is discussed in depth under Food Fit for a King on the Star-K kosher certification website." (Dogma)

A plug for Baltimore! Go, O's!

Posted by: Matt in Aberdeen | July 24, 2007 3:37 PM

shiksa is a yiddish word which means a non-jewish woman. How is that offensive?

Posted by: shiksa | July 24, 2007 3:38 PM

Mamasan, you have a way with words, and I appreciate your perspective. Very beautifully written, and you really opened my eyes. Having no experience as an immigrant, I am largely ignorant to how they would feel about their home countries vs. where they live now, and after reading your post, I can empathize with those who want to maintain a connection to their past. "If it's so great, why don't you go back?" never seemed like a really valid argument to me, and you expressed yourself in such a way that it's possible to understand how one can love their new country yet still feel connected to the old one and think of it as home.

Posted by: Mona | July 24, 2007 3:39 PM

Your posts are too long Matt, but hope springs eternal.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 24, 2007 3:40 PM

OK, so I found this book called "How to be a Jewish American Princess" full of advice on using credit cards, manipulating your doctor boyfriend into getting you the biggest diamond, Shopping 101, joining the right sorority, nose jobs, interior decorating Jewish style, all the things stereotypically JAP. It was written by a Jewish person and is supposed to be funny. If it were written by a non-Jew it would be anti-Semitic. Lighten up, people.

FWIW, my family originally owned the ship that became the Exodus 1947.

Posted by: Not a Jew | July 24, 2007 3:42 PM

Good point about English signs on trains. Last time I back packed in Europe and took a train was in the late 80's when there were no English signs unless you were in an English speaking country. Rented cars since then, so forgot about trains.

The point about MCPS was actually to show how open we in the US are to all different languages and help non-English speakers understand how they are kids are going to be educated. So, don't roll your eyes. This was not a criticism.

I know that out of all of the countries I have lived in, the US is one country where I could survive easily without speaking English or at least good English. I could just live in the ghetto of my community.


Posted by: europe and us | July 24, 2007 3:45 PM

Good point about English signs on trains. Last time I back packed in Europe and took a train was in the late 80's when there were no English signs unless you were in an English speaking country. Rented cars since then, so forgot about trains.

The point about MCPS was actually to show how open we in the US are to all different languages and help non-English speakers understand how they are kids are going to be educated. So, don't roll your eyes. This was not a criticism.

I know that out of all of the countries I have lived in, the US is one country where I could survive easily without speaking English or at least good English. I could just live in the ghetto of my community.


Posted by: europe and us | July 24, 2007 3:45 PM

"btw, I'm a shiksa (although not the proto-typical Nordic blonde) and considered the term appropriate to the topic :>)"

Posted by: MN | July 24, 2007 11:53 AM

Not a nice word. The derivation comes from the Biblical noun, "sheketz," which comes from the Biblical verb, "shikeitz," meaning "abhor, abominate, detest, reject." The dictionary gives the feminine form of "sheketz" as "shiktza," whence the Yiddish word.

If America is to be the place where everyone is welcome -- remember, "e pluribus unum" -- Americans should not be calling themselves or others "detestable" or "abhorrent."

Posted by: Matt in Aberdeen | July 24, 2007 3:47 PM

oops! THEIR not they are....

Posted by: europe and us | July 24, 2007 3:49 PM

"europe has many peoples with many different languages living right next to each other.

Bwaahaahaa!"

umm, been to europe? I HAVE and once again you ninny, ----europe has many peoples with many different languages living right next to each other.

Posted by: | July 24, 2007 03:30 PM

Yes, I have been to Europe. Have you dropped into your neighborhood diner recently? Get the wax out of your ears!

Did you read the entire post before braying long and loudly?

'"europe has many peoples with many different languages living right next to each other."

Bwaahaahaa!

You haven't been outside of your bunker recently, have you? Read today's posting where someone is complaining about interpreters being needed in Montgomery County, MD at school meetings. The horror! The horror! (insert eye roll)

How does the old joke go...

There's this butcher shop in Toronto, and hanging from the sign is the name of the place in seven different languages.

The joke is, "Who speaks all those languages?"

"The customers."

I grew up in an urban area and I am comfortable with hearing more than one or two languages in my presence. Maybe it helped hearing more than one language spoken by my grandparents in their semi-rural town too. Those damn Norwegians, still speaking it despite over a hundred years of citizenry.

(another eye roll!)'


Posted by: Anonymous | July 24, 2007 3:52 PM

Read today's posting where someone is complaining about interpreters being needed in Montgomery County, MD at school meetings. The horror! The horror! (insert eye roll)

Someone has to pay for them moron. Maybe the middle class and the poor of this country are tired of paying for other people.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 24, 2007 4:07 PM

OK, so suppose new Daughter-in-law is in the process of Judaization, but has not yet completed her conversion. And suppose Son is the sort who just sits back and lets his wife do all the food preparation and cooking, without his taking any part. Then according to Dogma's post, that sumptuous roast turkey with trimmings and gravy fit for King Solomon would not be kosher. On the other hand, if DIL is now a NJG, why can't she bring home prepared High Holy Day delicacies from Seven Mile Market like everyone else?

Posted by: Matt in Aberdeen | July 24, 2007 03:37 PM

As you can see, the laws of Kashrut are extremely complex, and that is why an Orthodox Jew would not likely eat food prepared by someone inexperienced in Kosher cooking. It's very difficult to follow every single law without extensive experience.

As you note, because of the laws of Bishul Yisrael, a non-Jew could put the time and effort into learning each law of Kashrut, could practice for years, and yet still not be able to cook certain foods so that they are Kosher.

Assuming that this wife was in that category, but simply hadn't yet completed the conversion process, she would have 3 choices:
1. Make her husband get off his lazy tuchas and light the stove for her. (That constitutes supervision.)
2. Only cook foods that are not subject to the laws of Bishul Yisrael.
3. Obtain the foods subject to Bishul Yisrael from a Jewish source (the in-laws, 7 Mile Market, etc.) and cook the remaining foods herself.

Anyhow, somehow I doubt this was the problem in that relationship.

Posted by: Bob | July 24, 2007 4:13 PM

Anon @ 3:02: "So, you're impugning an entire country by implying that the citizenry are actively supporting or engaged in larcenous activities.

And how did you deduce this and smear a country with a population of 7,288,010? Personal experience? Are you typing to this blog from your bolt-hole? "

From the CIA World Factbook:

https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/sz.html#Issues

"a major international financial center vulnerable to the layering and integration stages of money laundering; despite significant legislation and reporting requirements, secrecy rules persist and nonresidents are permitted to conduct business through offshore entities and various intermediaries; transit country for and consumer of South American cocaine, Southwest Asian heroin, and Western European synthetics; domestic cannabis cultivation and limited ecstasy production"

Posted by: Anonymous | July 24, 2007 4:14 PM

Bob, the fourth is...

NOT even trying which sounds like what should have been done.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 24, 2007 4:16 PM

"Carol Channing lived as white only revealing when she was 81 that her father was a light skinned African American."

What do you mean, "lived as white"? As though a drop of any other race's blood makes her not white?

She was as entitled to "live as white" as she was to "live as" African American. You make it sound like she was getting away with something.

You may not have meant for your comment to come across that way.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 24, 2007 4:19 PM

Carol Channing was old enough to have lived in the time of legal discrimination . Living as white meant she was allowed to try on clothes in stores, sit where she wanted on buses, live in any neighborhood, etc.

In a way she was getting away with something she was avoiding the legal discrimination that until the middle of the 20th century existed in this country.

Study your history

Posted by: to 4:19 | July 24, 2007 4:25 PM

I grew up in an urban area and I am comfortable with hearing more than one or two languages in my presence. Maybe it helped hearing more than one language spoken by my grandparents in their semi-rural town too. Those damn Norwegians, still speaking it despite over a hundred years of citizenry.

(another eye roll!)'

Posted by: | July 24, 2007 03:52 PM

But I am sure they speak English too, don't they?

The issue is not that immigrants speak their native tongue, it is the fact that they don't respect American culture enough learn the language.

If I go to France and make no attempt to speak French, it is looked upon as not showing repect to the French. If a

Posted by: Anonymous | July 24, 2007 4:26 PM

Read today's posting where someone is complaining about interpreters being needed in Montgomery County, MD at school meetings. The horror! The horror! (insert eye roll)

Someone has to pay for them moron. Maybe the middle class and the poor of this country are tired of paying for other people.

Posted by: | July 24, 2007 04:07 PM

If their kids are in the school, then it's likely they are taxpayers and are funding this, same as the rest of the county.

Besides, aren't there plenty of hidden taxes in addition to your 1040?

Posted by: Anonymous | July 24, 2007 4:28 PM

Those damn Norwegians, still speaking it despite over a hundred years of citizenry.

(another eye roll!)'

Posted by: | July 24, 2007 03:52 PM

But I am sure they speak English too, don't they?

Ehh. Heavily accented. The community is still predominantly Norwegian descent, so it's not a necessity.

Spoke with some Amish or Mennonites recently? Many have a pretty heavy accent too. Sometimes it's hard to catch their meaning.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 24, 2007 4:31 PM

What do you mean, "lived as white"? As though a drop of any other race's blood makes her not white?

Do the math. The woman was born during Jim Crow, therefore a drop of any other race's blood DID make her non-white, and subject to discrimination. Not to mention danger. It could have made her first marriage illegal (miscegnation).

Posted by: Anonymous | July 24, 2007 4:34 PM

Since we are discussing the use of collective nouns (and other terms) which to some people are offensive while to others are not, here's a question I've been pondering for some time.

The term "people of color" is widely accepted nowadays as the respectful label to use in referring to anyone who is not white. The term "colored people" was banished in the 1960s as being disrespectful to African Americans.

However, in the same way grammatically that people of wealth are "wealthy people," people of beauty are "beautiful people," people of honesty are "honest people," and people of wit are "witty people" ... people of color would be "colored people."

So why should the term "people of color" be acceptable today when its grammatical inversion was (quite rightly) decried 40+ years ago?

Posted by: Anonymous | July 24, 2007 4:38 PM

Ehh. Heavily accented. The community is still predominantly Norwegian descent, so it's not a necessity.

Posted by: | July 24, 2007 04:31 PM

In other words, yes, they do speak english too.

If and when they go outside the community, do they expect a Norwegian interpreter?

I would bet they don't, which is why they learned English in the first place. They had enough respect for American culture to learn its language.

Why does multiculturism require we show respect to every culture but our own?

Posted by: Anonymous | July 24, 2007 4:39 PM

The issue is not that immigrants speak their native tongue, it is the fact that they don't respect American culture enough learn the language.

Maybe they're so busy working hard just to survive and raise their kids that they don't have the luxury of spare time to take English courses. Plus it's a lot harder to start learning a new language in adulthood.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 24, 2007 4:40 PM

"So why should the term "people of color" be acceptable today when its grammatical inversion was (quite rightly) decried 40+ years ago?"

Oh, you are PC naive aren't you? It never makes any sense. Much like how blacks spout the N word back and forth at will then get offended if some old white fart says nappy headed ho's. It's just the PC world we live in.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 24, 2007 4:40 PM

"btw, I'm a shiksa (although not the proto-typical Nordic blonde) and considered the term appropriate to the topic :>)"

Posted by: MN | July 24, 2007 11:53 AM

Not a nice word. The derivation comes from the Biblical noun, "sheketz," which comes from the Biblical verb, "shikeitz," meaning "abhor, abominate, detest, reject." The dictionary gives the feminine form of "sheketz" as "shiktza," whence the Yiddish word.

If America is to be the place where everyone is welcome -- remember, "e pluribus unum" -- Americans should not be calling themselves or others "detestable" or "abhorrent."

Posted by: Matt in Aberdeen | July 24, 2007 03:47 PM

I am well aware of its derivation, Matt, but your conclusion is a bit over the top. To equate the use of self-deprecating slang with making America a place where some people aren't welcome is beyond the pale. For the person who says no Jews use the term, I recommend she get out more. It is in common usage in Rockville, Bethesda, Potomac, Reisterstown and Short Hills, NJ, for a short list. Or we could bury our heads in the sand and engage in a sanitized conversation about a topic that I and many others consider important - the continued threat of intermarriage to the already small and declining Jewish community.

Posted by: MN | July 24, 2007 4:42 PM

"Oh, you are PC naive aren't you? It never makes any sense. Much like how blacks spout the N word back and forth at will then get offended if some old white fart says nappy headed ho's. It's just the PC world we live in.

Posted by: | July 24, 2007 04:40 PM"

Excuse me. No, I did not mean for my question to reel in bigots like you.

I'm interested in knowing whether this aspect of the term was ever considered or if possibly it was coined too hastily. I'm not bashing PC-ness here (didn't even use the term PC). I'm looking at the question of respectfulness and how respectful labels are chosen/adopted.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 24, 2007 4:46 PM

the continued threat of intermarriage to the already small and declining Jewish community.

Aren't you Methodist or Episcopalian
or something? Why is this important to you?

Posted by: Anonymous | July 24, 2007 4:47 PM

The issue is not that immigrants speak their native tongue, it is the fact that they don't respect American culture enough learn the language.

Maybe they're so busy working hard just to survive and raise their kids that they don't have the luxury of spare time to take English courses. Plus it's a lot harder to start learning a new language in adulthood.

Posted by: | July 24, 2007 04:40 PM

Or maybe they just don't want to. There are other ways to learn English than taking classes, you know.

But you are willing to call Americans egotistical and arrogant for doing the same thing.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 24, 2007 4:50 PM

Excuse me. No, I did not mean for my question to reel in bigots like you.

What was bigoted? Do you deny that blacks use the N word freely and it is common to do so? Do you deny that some old white guy was fired for racially offensive talk while black rappers are not? It is PC and that is why some terms are ok for some and not for others. PC ness has no rhyme or reason

Posted by: Anonymous | July 24, 2007 4:51 PM

Or we could bury our heads in the sand and engage in a sanitized conversation about a topic that I and many others consider important - the continued threat of intermarriage to the already small and declining Jewish community.

Posted by: MN | July 24, 2007 04:42 PM

Sort of like the threat of intermarriage to the white race?

Posted by: Anonymous | July 24, 2007 4:53 PM

"What was bigoted? Do you deny that blacks use the N word freely and it is common to do so? Do you deny that some old white guy was fired for racially offensive talk while black rappers are not? It is PC and that is why some terms are ok for some and not for others. PC ness has no rhyme or reason

Posted by: | July 24, 2007 04:51 PM"

If you can't read the racism and bigotry in your comments, which are all focused on black people using words that are unacceptable if whites use them, then I couldn't expect you to understand what I'm saying.

Or maybe your experience is just too limited. It's quite common for there to be words that are acceptable when used within an ethnic or racial minority but not when used by outsiders.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 24, 2007 4:57 PM

Just saw that Michael Vick is not going to training camp. The sad thing is I bet he still thinks he did nothing wrong.

Posted by: dogs deserve better | July 24, 2007 4:57 PM

the continued threat of intermarriage to the already small and declining Jewish community.


Aren't you Methodist or Episcopalian
or something? Why is this important to you?

Posted by: | July 24, 2007 04:47 PM

I cannot imagine how the denomination with which I worship has any relevance or limiting impact on either my politics or social concerns. Being Jewish is far more than a worship choice. Are only the Sudanese concerned about genocide in Darfur? or only gays concerned about access to gay marriage? To act or think only in one's own group's self-interest strikes me as a sad and narrow way to live.

Posted by: MN | July 24, 2007 4:58 PM

It's quite common for there to be words that are acceptable when used within an ethnic or racial minority but not when used by outsiders.

Posted by: | July 24, 2007 04:57 PM

Duh! Just because something is common doesn't mean it is right.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 24, 2007 5:00 PM

Or maybe your experience is just too limited. It's quite common for there to be words that are acceptable when used within an ethnic or racial minority but not when used by outsiders.

That is PC exactly, how can it be right for one but not the other? Why does the color of your skin make it ok? A bad word is a bad word regardless of who uses it. Maybe you should look at yourself and hold all people accountable for what they say.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 24, 2007 5:01 PM

Do you suppose Michael Vick will sue everyone in sight with deep pockets, like the NFL, the Falcons, the Humane Society, anyone he thinks caused his problems (rather than looking in the mirror, where responsibility lies).

Posted by: To dogs deserve better | July 24, 2007 5:01 PM

I cannot imagine how the denomination with which I worship has any relevance or limiting impact on either my politics or social concerns

well, it does. That is a strange cause for a non gentile to be worried about. Is someone close to you jewish?

Posted by: Anonymous | July 24, 2007 5:03 PM

Sort of like the threat of intermarriage to the white race?

Posted by: | July 24, 2007 04:53 PM

since there is no such thing as "the white race", I fail to see your concern or the nature of the perceived "threat".

Posted by: MN | July 24, 2007 5:03 PM

should have wrote "gentile"

Posted by: Anonymous | July 24, 2007 5:04 PM

"A bad word is a bad word regardless of who uses it."

But there is no universal agreement on what constitutes a "bad" word. Unless you can absolutely define it, then it's a matter of opinion. So your claim is baseless and untrue.

What may be a "bad" word to one person may not be at all "bad" to another due to differences in cultural norms.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 24, 2007 5:05 PM

"A bad word is a bad word regardless of who uses it."

Words aren't bad. They may be offensive, vulgar, inappropriate, etc., but not "bad". Words merely communicate thoughts.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 24, 2007 5:07 PM

Sort of like the threat of intermarriage to the white race?

Posted by: | July 24, 2007 04:53 PM

since there is no such thing as "the white race", I fail to see your concern or the nature of the perceived "threat".

Posted by: MN | July 24, 2007 05:03 PM

What you said sounded just like what the KKK used to say about inter-racial marriage. And if Judism is considered more than just a religion, (i.e. a race/culture), it is no different.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 24, 2007 5:09 PM

"The term 'people of color' is widely accepted nowadays as the respectful label to use in referring to anyone who is not white. The term 'colored people' was banished in the 1960s as being disrespectful to African Americans.

"However, in the same way grammatically that people of wealth are 'wealthy people,' people of beauty are 'beautiful people,' people of honesty are 'honest people,' and people of wit are 'witty people' ... people of color would be 'colored people.'

"So why should the term 'people of color' be acceptable today when its grammatical inversion was (quite rightly) decried 40+ years ago?"

Posted by: | July 24, 2007 04:38 PM

The answer is contained within the poster's first paragraph. "Colored people" referred only to African Americans. "People of color," as the poster writes, refers to "anyone who is not white." This includes those of Asian and American Indian ancestry too, and is frequently used to include Latina/os. So, "people of color" is not just the "grammatical inversion" of "colored people."

The archaic phrase, "colored people," lives on inside the still-widely-used abbreviation, "C.P.T."

Posted by: Matt in Aberdeen | July 24, 2007 5:11 PM

But there is no universal agreement on what constitutes a "bad" word. Unless you can absolutely define it, then it's a matter of opinion. So your claim is baseless and untrue

that's quite a leap. I doubt you would make that argument saying the n word in the middle of compton. Excuse me Mr. Crip but that is not a bad word because we cannot absolutely define it, therefore your claim is baseless and untrue. good luck with that

Posted by: Anonymous | July 24, 2007 5:13 PM

"The answer is contained within the poster's first paragraph. "Colored people" referred only to African Americans."

No, Matt, I think this is too simplistic an "answer." I thought of it, too, but it doesn't explain why African Americans would be willing to be labeled by the grammatical inversion of a term so very painful to many generations.

If you take your argument a step further, then African Americans would be willing to be labeled "colored people," since the term would no longer apply only to them. And, of course, that's absurd.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 24, 2007 5:18 PM

I am white and think colored people is a bad phrase. I would not want to be called "pasty people" or something like that. Black seems the best becuase it is more accurate.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 24, 2007 5:23 PM

Anon at 2:31...I get what you're saying, but the reason that you won't see translators in Italy is because Italian is the official language in Italy. Correct me if I'm wrong, but last time I checked, English was not the official language, there is no official language in the US (I know there was a bill to amend this, but I don't know if it has passed). Perhaps your push should be towards getting this bill passed?

Posted by: MV | July 24, 2007 5:45 PM

I've heard that another reason for why "persons of color" is a great improvement over "Colored people" is because the primary word is people and the secondary word is color. It reflects that the general humanity of the population referred to is more important than the pigment in their skin. That plus the negative history behind the phrase "colored person" makes the newer phrase palatable even though it is really merely a grammatical "flip" of the old term.

Posted by: Jen S. | July 24, 2007 5:50 PM

"Or we could bury our heads in the sand and engage in a sanitized conversation about a topic that I and many others consider important - the continued threat of intermarriage to the already small and declining Jewish community."

So what do you propose to address this? Arranged marriages, conversion?

Posted by: MV | July 24, 2007 5:50 PM

I'm the person who rarely hears the word "shiksa." Maybe I do have my head in the sand, or maybe I just don't choose to be friends with people who talk like that. Or maybe people don't use that word in front of me because I don't have a Jewish mother, and by their definition I'm a "shiksa" also.

And I think it's ridiculous that people really think that intermarriage is causing the declining numbers of Jews in the world. It's the failure of parents and congregations to engage Jewish kids and adolescents in the first place... most people have pretty much given up on the whole thing once they hit 13 and aren't forced to go anymore. But instead of trying to figure out what *they're* doing wrong, rabbis, parents, and "Jewish organizations" are blaming intermarriage. If Judaism is important to people, they will raise their kids Jewish and find partners who will be happy to do that (whether they are Jewish or not). So the real question is, why isn't being Jewish important to these people in the first place? Why are parents and congregations failing to make Judaism appealing and important to young people?

The intermarriage thing is just a big, fat red herring.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 24, 2007 7:21 PM

So what do you propose to address this? Arranged marriages, conversion?


Posted by: MV | July 24, 2007 05:50 PM

It's not for Gentiles to propose a solution, only to listen and appreciate the challenge.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 24, 2007 10:19 PM

The worldwide Jewish population is 12.9 million Jews. Jewish population growth worldwide is close to zero percent. From 2000 to 2001 it rose 0.3%, compared to worldwide population growth of 1.4%.

In 2001, 8.3 million Jews lived in the Diaspora and 4.9 million lived in Israel. Just about half of the world's Jews reside in the Americas, with about 46 percent in North America.

The number of Jews in the world is declining with a net loss of 300,000 American Jews in the last decade, according to the Jewish Agency's Institute for Jewish People Policy Planning.

The birth rate among intermarried Jews tends to be lower than among in-married ones. Nearly three-quarters of children raised in intermarried families go on to marry non-Jews themselves, and only 4 percent of these raise their own children as Jews. As for their links with Jewish life, only a minority of children raised by dual-religion parents identify themselves with Judaism or with the institutions of the Jewish community. Although a number of adult children of intermarriage do express "somewhat" of a connection with the Jewish component of their identity, such feelings are rarely translated into behavior. Like their parents, most tend not to join synagogues, contribute to Jewish causes, visit Israel, or participate in Jewish rituals nearly as much as do the adult children of in-married families.

from simpletoremember.com

Posted by: to 7:21 | July 24, 2007 11:16 PM

"Maybe I do have my head in the sand, or maybe I just don't choose to be friends with people who talk like that."

Whether or not you choose to be friends with someone, they speak within your range of hearing about others. I had a Jewish friend who was blonde and appeared Swedish. She used to have to go out of her way in bars to make sure that the Jewish boys knew she was Jewish. Otherwise, she'd have been quite lonely.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 24, 2007 11:23 PM

It was truly disappointing to see the ugly bigotry, xenophobia and downright nastiness towards others today.

I really thought that this blog was about helping people. It turns out that Leslie is content to stand by and watch the nasty stone throwing.

As was pointed out earlier, there are WaPo blogs that require log-in. AND they are moderated via the ability to flag a comment as offensive. It is ugly and cowardly to allow days like today where 50% of the posts are offensive (probably made by a total of about 5 ugly people).

Leslie and WaPo, you let us down today. This could have been a great topic.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 24, 2007 11:34 PM

So the Jews only want their little princes and princesses to marry other Jews. Stick with your own kind, right? Isn't that the very opposite of diversity? Suppose we told all the Asians to stick with your own kind. What about all the interracial marriages/relationships between black and white? We would be labeled 'bigot' if we told them to "stick with your own kind" but it's OK for the Jews to do it.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 25, 2007 8:42 AM

Dreck!

Posted by: Anonymous | July 25, 2007 8:42 AM

So the Jews only want their little princes and princesses to marry other Jews. Stick with your own kind, right? Isn't that the very opposite of diversity? Suppose we told all the Asians to stick with your own kind. What about all the interracial marriages/relationships between black and white? We would be labeled 'bigot' if we told them to "stick with your own kind" but it's OK for the Jews to do it.

Posted by: | July 25, 2007 08:42 AM

"Chosen people".

Posted by: Anonymous | July 25, 2007 9:17 AM

So the Jews only want their little princes and princesses to marry other Jews. Stick with your own kind, right? Isn't that the very opposite of diversity? Suppose we told all the Asians to stick with your own kind. What about all the interracial marriages/relationships between black and white? We would be labeled 'bigot' if we told them to "stick with your own kind" but it's OK for the Jews to do it.

I am sure you did not intend it this way but sounds anti-semitic to me. I don't think that parents are labeled bigoted if they would rather prefer that their children marry within their faith. Of course, parents have to respect their children choices and accept their S.O. If they don't do that, then you might be justified in calling them bigoted. Love is unpredictable, right? We are Jewish and very much prefer that our children marry within the faith or at least marry somebody who would not be opposed to raising their children in the Jewish faith. Maybe my feelings are colored by the fact that members of my immediate family were murdered by the Nazis. I don't know of any way of "requiring" that my children marry other Jews other than raise them Jewish and make them appreciate our troubled history.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 25, 2007 9:54 AM

"I don't think that parents are labeled bigoted if they would rather prefer that their children marry within their faith"

"We are Jewish and very much prefer that our children marry within the faith or at least marry somebody who would not be opposed to raising their children in the Jewish faith."

That is bigotry. So "those people" are good enough to work with, for, or be friendly towards, but not good enough for any of your children to *gasp* marry.

UNLESS they are in favor of raising their children in your faith. If not, then what? Treating them like pariahs? Making certain they know how you view them with disfavor, if not outright distaste?

Posted by: Anonymous | July 25, 2007 10:06 AM

I disagree. Bigotry is calling people derogatory names. And I did not use the word "unless". Ultimately, I love my children and I will respect their choices of a partner. Being a DIL of a very narrow minded and petty MIL, I don't think I will ever treat my future DIL and SIL they way that I have been treated.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 25, 2007 11:41 AM

"In short, how "Chinese" or "American" do we want our son to be?"

"Chinese" and "American" are not mutually exclusive--your son can easily embrace both aspects.

Inevitably, it will come down to your son's choice as far as how much he wants to learn about his multi-cultural heritage. It would be beneficial to expose him to language and familiarize him with more traditionally Chinese aspects, but the fact remains, unless you and your husband fully embrace modern Chinese societal norms, there is no reason to spend years raising your son there, especially since it will not be just your son, but your husband as well who will have to adjust.

I wonder if the actual question is your own sense of self-identity. Perhaps the question remains sorting out what you consider "Chinese" and "American" or if there is a "Chinese American" culture that you can embrace. With fluent English speaking parents that have grown up in this country, there are markedly fewer cultural hurdles your son will face, multiracial or not.

Posted by: Another Chinese American | July 25, 2007 12:19 PM

That is bigotry. So "those people" are good enough to work with, for, or be friendly towards, but not good enough for any of your children to *gasp* marry.

UNLESS they are in favor of raising their children in your faith. If not, then what? Treating them like pariahs? Making certain they know how you view them with disfavor, if not outright distaste?

Posted by: | July 25, 2007 10:06 AM

It's not bigotry to appreciate that the very survival of the Jewish people depends upon producing more Jews. It's reality, particularly because of the loss of lives attributable to the Holocaust. What is now a relatively small worldwide community faces genocide at its own hands by the choices of individuals. It doesn't mean that a Jew who marries a non-Jew is committing some sort of moral wrong. It means that educating Jews about the consequences to the Jewish people of marrying a non-Jew is imperative if there is to be a Jewish people in another 200 years.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 26, 2007 9:18 AM

I think ultimately you child will be a product of who you and your husband are, were you celebrating Christmas before the baby was born, did you consider going to China? How much reverance did you give to your Chinese culture. He will take cues from how you live your life. My advice, not that anyone asked for it, is not to make every decision based on your child, but live naturally, and let things work themselves out.

Posted by: James B | July 26, 2007 10:47 AM

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