Sakura Matsuri was when my husband would try out his new photographic equipment. The Brooklyn Botanic Gardens was his lab and playground. And where better to get into conversations with world experts on photography than at the Japanese Cherry Blossom Festival?

That's where I met them one Sunday, an older Jewish couple who, trying to look unJewish, were a bit taken aback by our very—to them, startlingly—obvious Jewishness: black hat, beard, tzizit dancing in the breeze...hard to blend in unobtrusively.

They have a son, they told us, and he's going out with non-Jewish girls. They're terrified he'll marry out. Have we any solutions? Yup, just like that, standing in front of the Bonsai exhibit, in fifty words or less they sought the solution to keeping their son within the nationhood of Jews.

I, very much expectant and with young children holding onto both hands, sought out a bench and she joined me. While our husbands talked technology and G‑d, we talked about Jewish motherhood.

She and her husband both had been raised in what was then the Soviet Union. Knowing always that they were Jewish, and knowing always this She recalled seeing some letters to her father from his mother reminding him to teach his children to be Jews. meant derision and persecution, they grew up nonetheless with a strong sense of Jewish identity. Needless to say, their formal Jewish education was non-existent; in their respective homes there were symbols of their heritage—an old siddur from his grandfather, a tiny elaborately embroidered infant's outfit, for a 'brit milah', he said—from his grandmother; she recalled seeing some letters to her father from his mother reminding him to teach his children to be Jews.

The fact of being Jewish was there; the living Jewish was not. And when they immigrated to America, and met in Little Russia, USA, they knew that no matter what, they'd impart this to their children. Jewish identity. If not actually pride, at the very least identity.

The children went to the local public school where there were many other Russian Jewish children. On Yom Kippur they insisted that the entire family go to synagogue. And they even took their children to the Jewish Museum. So how could it now be that their son was dating non-Jewish girls?

Mother and father both were devastated. What to do? And, of course, someone must be to blame. This, she said, was what, after thirty years of comfortable marriage, was finally pulling them apart.

He was always too strict, she said, not allowing the children to have normal American traditions like brightly lit evergreen trees, or partying on Halloween, or going to their friends' confirmation parties.

She was way too liberal, he said, thinking that in America they were safe, that no one was out to get them. Trying to be as American as the Americans, and pretending that Easter games were just good, clean American fun.

He said: "I'm kicking him out of my house if he's going to marry a non-Jew." "He's our son," she said, "and our home is his home."

He wouldn't talk to his son except for instructions for the car; she asked about his girlfriends, were they pretty, were they smart...

"From morning to night…," she said, the recriminations on both sides. Trying to find the cause, they found themselves insisting on blame. Each blaming the other. "Our warm home was now a cold house," she said. "How," she asked me, "are we ever to get back our marriage?"

We spoke, the two of us, with the background music my children's little Jewish ditties. I watched our men; they were, clearly, talking about photo angles and lenses and lighting—that was apparent from their gestures and my husband's camera being handed back and forth to demonstrate.

Then I saw my husband take his tzitzit in his hands, stroking the strands, clearly talking about them...and then, his right hand up to his forehead...moving to his left bicep...and then motions as if winding something around his left arm..."Tefillin," I realized, "he's talking about tefillin." And her husband listening...listening.... the camera now on the little bench beside them.

The sun hadn't stood still, so we were now uncomfortably warm on our bench. And the men, still talking, followed us into the gazebo where the four of us continued our now being about living Jewish.

How could we be sure, he asked, that "this little one" — pointing to my obvious soon-to-be born — will not decide to marry a non-Jew?

"We cannot ever know," my husband replied, "what the decisions of someone else will be. We only know what our decisions will be. And we know this: our children will be breathing Jewish "We cannot ever know what the decisions of someone else will be. We only know what our decisions will be." oxygen. They will open their eyes to a mezuzah on their door, to the sound of a mother saying modeh-ani. Their earliest memories will be of their father in tallit and tefillin, and their mother studying Torah. They will hear a blessing before the spoonful of baby food reaches their mouth, and will count each day to Shabbat. They will see, every single Friday night of their childhood years, Shabbat candles and hear kiddush. They will know the word kosher before they even know their own name, and will giggle as they drop a nickel into the charity box long before they have any concept of charity...they will be surprised, as toddlers, to see another father at the museum without a covering on his head."

For the next hour my husband and I spoke of creating an environment of Jewishness that was as much a part of them as was inhaling and exhaling. And then they'd grow up. Become adolescents...and then teenagers...and then adults....And with the information and instincts and habits of their formative years, they will make decisions.

Their own. Independent of us. This, after all, is the goal of raise their children to make informed, wise, and self-respecting decisions.

Was it the trees' shadow, or sadness on their face? "You can't make your son's decisions," we said. "They're his. But you can create for him an environment. Be who you are, so he can get to know who he is.

"Be Jewish parents. Let your son see tefillin and Shabbat candles. Put a mezuzah on your front door, and a few tzedakah boxes around the house. Buy a prayer book and Jewish books for your living room. Make a decision to refuse non-kosher food entry to your home.

"And, encourage each other. Support each other. The way you have all your life, bring that back into your marriage. Know that you are, again, working together towards a common dream—a Jewish home."

Retrieving the camera, my husband framed them surrounded by cherry blossoms in his viewfinder...they smiled for all eternity...and he clicked.