In their survey of readers this past month, the Jewish Daily Forward found that women are the force that makes Passover happen in our homes. Their article, Thanks for Passover Mom, opens with this sentence, “Let’s begin with gratitude to our mothers, grandmothers, sisters and aunts.” They found that 80% of the heavy lifting for the holiday is done by womenfolk. Now before we get gender angst going I’m going to confess that I personally love being in charge of Passover. I’ve loved being primarily in charge of much of my home. Yes, I have a job but the home front still feels like my territory. Once when I was buying new flatware my husband got a bit huffy when I said that his opinion of kitchen items was, shall we say, marginal.
“You pick other things,” I told him.
“What!?” he asked.
“Cars,” I said, “I don’t care what car you buy.”
Every couple breaks down the territory so that someone is primarily responsible. Hopefully it is into segments that people prefer doing and are good at. This lessons the overall workload. But what is a woman’s workload, how is it influenced by societal norms and does she want all that is foisted upon her? In an interfaith relationship the norms can be diddled with by religious differences. It is reasonable that a Christian woman might say, “I’ve agreed to raising the kids Jewish but I know nothing about that so it’s on you to make it happen.” But it is equally reasonable for her to say, “These are my children too and I intend to learn all I need to know to do the religious homefront work. However, I want your full support, back-up and engagement.”
Studies show that women, rather than having a fight-or-flight response have a tend-and-befriend response to stress. Women are more likely to care for others — to form alliances, to create carpools, and set up playgroups. Given this positive impulse, how can mothers-in-law, grandmothers, sisters, women-at-large (whether Jewish or not) support each other when it comes to running a Jewish home for an interfaith family?
This is what we discuss in the program Women in Interfaith Relationships. Feel free to call or email me if you want to learn more.