Gwyneth PaltrowAnother day, another parenting choice by Gwyneth Paltrow that's making moms roll their eyes at the controversial actress. But is her decision to raise Apple and Moses in a Jewish environment really that weird? Even though she's said she doesn't "believe" in religion?

I'm going to venture out into treacherous waters here, not least because I'm supporting snooty Gwynnie for the second time in as many months (Quick, where's the thermometer? And the smelling salts?). But it's called culture, y'all. Deal with it!

The story goes that Paltrow, whose father Bruce is Jewish, discovered recently that she's descended from a long line of influential East European rabbis. Raised in a lucy goosey half-Jewish, half-Christian household, Paltrow married Christian Chris Martin and hasn't put much stock in religion as 7-year-old Apple and 5-year-old Moses have grown. But now she wants to inject a Jewish environment into her household.

So what's the big deal? Because it's Judaism? Sure, it's a religion, but it's a culture too. So how is this any different from learning that your great-grandmother was Mexican and throwing a Cinco De Mayo party for the kids? From learning your ancestors were German and buying your own spatzle maker?

In a country that's becoming increasingly obsessed with genealogy, it's increasingly common for parents to suddenly learn about bits of their bloodline that didn't factor into their own childhoods. But once you do know, it's hard to ignore the temptation to explore the culture, often mining the history books to find traits alive in our own kids. Is that high forehead just something from Grandpa, or is it common to the people of one particular village? Is that stubbornness their own or does it come from a line of heroes who used it to their advantage?

The joke in my family is that my daughter's klutziness is made up for by the hardness of her thick German skull, that she never met a pound of bacon she wouldn't devour because of the Teutonic appreciation for pork.

Teaching kids about the culture of their forefathers is what keeps it alive, especially in the great American melting pot. The real failure would be in ignoring our past.

Do you think Gywneth is right to suddenly inject Jewish flavor into her household?

 

Image via WEBN-TV/Flickr