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Advice on how to deal with anti-religious parents

Context: My parents are both secular Israelis who immigrated to America about 4-5 years before I was born. I was atheist throughout my childhood, and immediately became religious once I started to develop my own opinions. At first I was very attracted to wicca (something I’m a little embarrassed to admit here) but once I matured a little, I realized that I was Jewish and that polytheism was not for me. I’m still not fully able to practice Judaism the way I would want to, which is why I have the “reform” flair (I plan to be conservative in the future).


One of my parents is very atheist and is constantly talking about how Judaism is stupid and criticizing/mocking me for believing in it.

Every single dinner, he’s talking about some kind of reason that someone important in the Torah was a horrible person, talking about reasons why the Tanakh was fabricated for political reasons, talking about how stupid orthodox Jews are and how they waste all of their time on nonsense and how they don’t really understand the Tanakh (he studies Tanakh secularly), and generally speaking cynically and derisively about Judaism.

This is all despite him working with multiple orthodox Jews. He also is always trying to convince me to work on Shabbat, refusing to accommodate things I need to be observant (like turning off the refrigerator light during Shabbat) and generally making my life harder.

He offers to read Tanakh to me (I understand Hebrew but can’t read it very well), but then the entire time he’s reading the secular commentary and talking about why this and that couldn’t actually have happened and how this and that was a myth from multiple cultures of the time and how it’s all fiction created by authors with ulterior motives.

My other parent isn’t nearly as bad, she offers to help me with certain things and she has religious friends, but she does still criticize Judaism a lot, saying things like “all Hasidic sects are cults” and “Religion is only good if it makes you a better person, but not turning on lights during Shabbat is crazy and there’s no reason for it”.

Both of them make orthodox Jews sound like barely human cultists that spend their whole lives buried in books and never have any fun or do anything nice or even think about anything secular at all. I know that all of this is not true because I have met several orthodox people, and also see one daily who is good friends with many secular people and is very interested in secular subjects (he isn’t even modern orthodox).


My point is: how do I get through this without alienating them, but still retaining my faith? They aren’t horrible people, they just come from an echo-chamber perspective that makes them have very strong opinions on these things. One of the main factors that I think influenced them to be like this is that one of my aunts khazra betshuva (became haredi) a long time ago (before I was born) and she changed a lot and caused a lot of problems for my family.

I’ve tried before to set my boundaries very firmly, but it doesn’t help. I’ve been very faithful for a very long time, and have been exposed to the most convincing of atheist arguments and haven’t felt my faith be threatened, but I feel like the time when I’m supposed to be finding my relationship with G-d and growing as a Jew is being stifled and ruined by this constant bombardment of atheist rhetoric and anti-Jewish sentiment. I feel like if my parents weren’t Jews, what they were saying would be indisputably antisemitic, and to me, the fact that they are Jewish doesn’t change how that ‘antisemitism’ affects me.

Anyways, thank you for listening to my rant, any advice would be greatly appreciated. I’ve talked about this with my therapist (who is religiously Jewish), and she’s helped me a little, but I felt like I needed to release this to a larger space and see what a larger diversity of people might have to say about it.

submitted by /u/Catsybunny
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