how can i practice judaism if my family doesn’t?

dear heather,

My family is Jewish and I follow the religion, but some of my family doesn’t anymore. It’s hard to be completely devoted when my family doesn’t practice with me. I can’t keep kosher because they don’t follow any dietary laws. How do I make it known to them that I still want to practice?

I can see how having a non-observant family can really pose challenges for you as an observant person. I urge you to talk to your parents about this. If you simply state that you would like support around this without putting down their choice, they will probably listen and may even make some changes to accommodate you. But it might be unrealistic to expect your family to change completely.There are things you can do on your own, though. Attend Shabbat services on your own, and participate in activities that make the day holy for you. Accept invitations to Shabbat dinner at the home of observant families or offer to make Shabbat dinner for your own family. And do your best to keep kosher-eating a vegetarian diet at home may help.

Since there seems to be a renaissance in religious practice among Jews, take advantage of the countless groups and activities designed for those who are interested in deepening their connection to Judaism. Getting to know a rabbi in your community would help, too. He or she will be able to counsel you in ways that I cannot, and may even help you communicate with your parents.

With you as an example, I wouldn’t be surprised if some of your family members start to revisit their own feelings about their religious commitment. Ultimately, they may not decide to be as devout as you are, but I hope they will respect your choice and try–to the extent possible–to help you.

take care,

Posted in: Family, Help Me Heather
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