I've taken a few days to digest your response. This isn't what I expected to discuss, but I do believe you're offering your honest opinion and thinking of my step-son Vincent's interests. I really love him - and my husband and I both want to do the best for him, even where it may be hard for us - so thank you for trying to be helpful. But I couldn't disagree with you more.
The Jewish mother here was adopted from Episcopalian birth parents. You believe her formative childhood experience with people who took the time to raise her as a Jew supercedes her ethnicity and makes her "Jewish enough" that her own biological child should be considered ethnically Jewish, despite having no blood ties to the Jewish people. So far, I agree with you!
But how, then, can you completely discount the importance of Vincent's childhood religious guidance? His mom chose, as an adult, not to practice Judaism, save a minor degree of superficial cultural identity (eating bagels and challah bread and throwing around a few Hebrew words - things I also enjoy doing, as a Catholic!) and celebrating just the "fun" holidays, Chanukah and Purim. Even those, she was willing to trade for Christmas and Easter, during years when those close to her were all Christian. She chose to marry and make her son with a goy (whom she led to believe she was Christian) and agreed to let him raise the boy Catholic (yes, including baptism). Even after the divorce, when she traded her Christmas tree and Easter bunnies back in for a menorah and Purim costumes, she still never went to Temple, nor taught Vincent anything about the history or religious meaning behind the holidays she celebrated, much less about the more religiously significant Jewish occasions, like Yom Kippur. So, to Vincent, Judaism is simply a couple of fun holidays and some group his mom "belongs" to (but whose "meetings" she blows off), not something profound and spiritual, defining his connection to God and "his people" all the way back to the beginning of time! (And that is by his Jewish mother's choice, not because my husband or I have denied him something. It was never ours to give.) So - realistically, not theoretically - what value would there be to Vincent in going through the motions of a bar mitzvah? Just a club initiation? What meaning would there be for him in having a Jewish wedding? Just one more style he could choose from, along with "destination", "rustic" or "black tie"?
Meanwhile, you say that my husband - who does practice a religion and does have something profound and spiritual to offer his son during these important, formative childhood years - should not only withhold that gift, but should avoid even discussing his own beliefs about Jesus, for fear of contaminating his son's mind with ideas that would screw up Vincent's "membership eligibility" as a Jew?
If Vincent's mom were not affectionate, should my husband also withhold affection, to keep Vincent from feeling closer to his dad than his mom? Should we wait until Vincent is 18, to ask whether he wants to learn to be literate, or charitable, or a responsible steward of the environment, so we don't "push values on him" he may prefer not to embrace? To people who truly believe the tenets of their faith (whose "religion" is not just about cultural identity, or personal style, or a set of fun/familiar/comforting rituals), sharing those beliefs with their children is every bit as essential as sharing affection, sharing other household values, or teaching them to read! I do not believe you could find a rabbi or priest who thinks religious guidance during childhood is unimportant, and who advocates teaching a child nothing until they're 18, then expecting them to care enough about one faith or the other to want to start studying it then.
Furthermore, Vincent - as the child of a Catholic father - is just as much a Catholic! If you are as open-minded and tolerant of religious diversity as you sound, why is Vincent's "Jewishness" more important, in your mind, than his "Catholicness" - especially when only his Catholic relatives are willing to put in the effort to give him a religious education?
Two more things, just to be clear:
#1- All religious beliefs aside...for years, when Vincent's mom said she wanted to celebrate Christmas and Easter with him, it was a lie with the sole purpose of denying my husband the joy of spending those High Holy Days with Vincent. However, she may very well realize that Catholicism will only become a bigger part of Vincent's life now that he's living with us 4/5ths of the year and she may legitimately want to go back to celebrating the holidays that mean the most to her child. If that's the case, I know we should not deny her Christmas Day with Vincent, just because she's not as religious as we are.
#2- My frustration with her absolutely does not spill over into any negativity about Judaism. Fully half my closest friends are Jewish and I was so moved by what I saw of their faith, with their families, that I briefly considered converting as a teen. (Of course, instead, I made more effort to understand the history, beauty and value of my own parents' religion.) If it had ever been important to Vincent's mom to raise him as a Jew, I would have a different position...although Vincent also would not exist, because my husband would not have married and had a child unless the woman was OK with him raising the child as a Catholic.
One woman in a house full of men: my soul mate: or... twin sons:(HS juniors) ... step-son: (a freshman) ... our little man: (a kindergartener) ... and there is another female in the house, after all: our.