Family life

The nature and purpose of family and family life has changed considerably during the past century. Attitudes towards marriage, divorce, family life and homosexuality in the United Kingdom have all changed too.

What does Judaism say about family life?

Raising a family is a sacred duty to Jews, and a way to express loyalty to Judaism.

In Jewish families, parents and children are responsible for each other as a way of honouring God. Parents are seen as partners in God's creation of each human being, so to honour one's parents is to honour God.

In the same way, to disrespect, or show violence toward one's parents is to do so to God.

…honour your mother and father.Exodus 20:12

Children should learn to respect their parents as well as caring for them when they are old. Likewise, parents have a duty to care for and educate their children.


The Torah tells parents to teach their children about Judaism and their duties as Jews. Most Jewish parents want to raise their children to be a mensch, meaning a kind, responsible and honourable person.

Parents are expected to feed, clothe and educate their children and encourage them to support themselves.

Faith and spiritual development

Family life is regarded as a training ground for the Jewish way of life. Children receive their earliest education in the home. Parents show them how to live as Jews. Jewish parents are expected to make the home a place where Judaism is alive. They can do this through acts of Jewish worship, such as the weekly Shabbat celebration or marking the Jewish festivals.

From the time the child first speaks, they are often taught the Shema. A boy may begin his religious study at the age of three.

The family is sacred to Jews and raising children in a Jewish home and teaching them the Jewish values is an important job for parents.