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    I have been separated from my ex-wife for over five years and have custody and primary residency of our son, age six, since he was two years old. Neither myself nor my ex-wife are religious but my ex-wife does celebrate some of the Jewish cultural activities. She claims that our son is Jewish and demands that he miss school on days that are Jewish Holidays, Does she have the right?
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    Yes, if she truly practices Judaism Canadian law technically gives you the sole
    right to decide the child's religious upbringing since you are the custodial parent.
    However, it curiously also gives the access parent, in this case the mother, freedom to
    enjoy her religious traditions and to introduce her religion to the child on her time with
    him, even if it appears to contradict you religion. Normally, these seemingly inconsistent
    rules are interpreted to mean that the mother can take the child to synagogue and
    introduce Judaism with the child on her time and you can introduce your take on religion
    in any way you want when the child is with you. The reason is that Canada is a
    multicultural country and the courts show great deference to this tradition ensconced in
    Canada's constitution, particularly Article 27 Canadian children are not, in fact contused
    by their parents' differing religious positions if the parents are tolerant of each other and
    don't allow their differences to upset the children. The Courts enforce this principle by
    allowing the access parent maximum freedom when it comes to religious instruction,
    subject only the rare situation where a child could be in some physical danger, e.g.,
    Jehovah's Witness cases where a parent refuses to allow blood transfusions for a
    seriously ill child. In your case I suspect that a Court would likely give your wife extra
    access to you child on her religious holidays, which by definition means that she could
    remove the child from school on those days. However, if she simply demanded that the
    child stay home from school without spending time with him on those same religious
    days then she may well have a problem. She cannot ask you to practice her religious for
    her because she is imposing her religious traditions on you. In other words, if she wants
    her child to act as a faith-based Jew then she must obey her God as well. For further
    information consult my book, Religion and Culture in Canadian Family Law (
    Butterworth's, 1992), available at some libraries.

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