Monday, June 8, 2015

My chosen people are a little too choosy

It's just me, I suppose. Or maybe not.

I am Jewish, and I'm a little disappointed just now with our cultural tendency to talk about inclusion while failing to practice it. As a culture, you'd think we'd know better.

The other day, I received an e-mail blast (with a few details obscured) -- and was asked to help spread the word of an event:

By Fast Forward Event Productions,
via Wikimedia Commons
Dear Library Moms,

Please join us at “Moms Make It, Take It, Over Chocolate and Wine” on Thursday, June 11, 2015 at Temple Beth Zion from 7 – 8:30 PM. The event includes making Jewish summer activities, a presentation on turning regular moments into Jewish ones, and lots of good wine and chocolate!

What’s wrong with this message?

I'm a Jewish dad. And I'm not invited.

The message assumes that Jewish households in our community rely on moms alone to ensure a heritage-rich upbringing. It infers that the fathers have a diminished role in providing a Jewish life. Or that there’s no father figure involved.

Or maybe they just want the wine and chocolate for themselves.

Why does this trouble me? I was very engaged in my children’s religious lives. Together with my non-Jewish wife, we made sure the kids experienced many Jewish and non-Jewish activities. I drove my kids to Hebrew school on Sunday mornings, even when no one wanted to go. My wife was very involved, to be certain. But I’m the Jewish parent, and I took it as my responsibility.

The organizers of the “Moms Make It” party seem to disregard fathers like me. Would it ruin this event to open it to parents of both genders? (Or explain, for that matter, exactly what they're making and taking?)

It's a confusing message, at best: "Moms, come indulge on chocolate and wine. We'll talk about Jewish activities. Don't bring dads."

If the event’s organizers exclude dads, they risk alienating dedicated parents. Or they’re simply not thinking of their broader constituencies. Either way, it’s no way for a non-profit organization to build support for their program.