Join The Conversation With Mishpacha's Weekly Newsletter



All in the Family

Gila Arnold

It’s the classic Jewish mother’s kvell: “My son, the doctor…” Yet curiously enough, there’s many a mother who can boast of “My son … and daughter … and son-in-law … and cousin, the doctor.” Do careers run in families? What sort of family produces what type of professional? Family First explores this unusual intersection between work and home.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Several years ago, the Times of London reported an interesting, emerging phenomenon. People exploring their family trees on genealogy websites were discovering that their chosen professions were reflected in the professions of ancestors they’d never known existed. While some attributed this trend to a genetic predisposition toward certain talents or personality traits (such as the man who discovered he was a fifth-generation watchmaker and attributed it to a strong familial quality of patience), sociologist Eric Harrison disagreed.

Maintaining that it had more to do with what he called “inherited cultural capital,” he explained that there is a set of knowledge and values nurtured in every home that a child absorbs unconsciously.

The Rothschilds and banking. The Kennedys and politics. Certain families are synonymous with their profession. While books have been written analyzing these famous families, many of us know less glorified cases of families who keep having members take up a single profession. There are even cases of clans whose married-in members also share the family career. Unlike a family business, where there is often an expectation that ensuing generations, including sons-in-law, will join in, these family members chose their fields independently, and are sometimes working in different cities, or even different countries.

Which begs the question: was the injunction to become a lawyer absorbed in their childhood? Was the mantra “you will go to medical school” played one hundred times in their ears every night after they went to sleep? All families have their unique traits, their charming quirks (not to mention their embarrassing stories and “interesting” relatives). But when you see a family whose ranks are predominantly employed in a specific career, you have to ask yourself, what special confluence of heredity and environment existed to create such a statistically improbable situation?

In a quest to learn more about this phenomenon, Family First spoke to several such families. Perhaps you will recognize your own family in the prototypes presented below.

 

To read the rest of this story, please buy this issue of Mishpacha or sign up for a weekly subscription.

Share this page with a friend. Fill in the information below, and we'll email your friend a link to this page on your behalf.

Your name
Your email address
You friend's name
Your friend's email address
Please type the characters you see in the image into the box provided.
CAPTCHA
Message


 
Out with the Girls
Yonoson Rosenblum Another progressive revolution that eats its own
And I Will Glorify Him
Eytan Kobre Herman Wouk “made G-d a bestseller”
What You've Learned
Alexandra Fleksher Allow me to let you in on what school is all about
Going Broke
Mishpacha Readers Reader feedback for “The Kids Are Going to Camp..."
Top 5 Ways Jews Try to Lose Weight
Rabbi Dovid Bashevkin Gaining weight and talking about losing weight
He Soaked Up Our Pain
Rabbi Yaakov Klein A tribute to Reb Shlomo Cheshin ztz”l
Leaving on a High Note
Rabbi Ron Yitzchok Eisenman And then it happened. I knew it would
Family Matters
Baruch S. Fertel, MD, MPA, FACEP Not the answers they teach in medical school
Play the Night Away
Riki Goldstein May we all share simchahs, no strings attached!
Fast Thinking
Faigy Peritzman How we react when we're exempt from a mitzvah
Baalat Teshuvah
Rachel Karasenti Don’t ask, “So how did you become frum?”
Confessions of a PhD Graduate
Sarah Chana Radcliffe When it comes to parenting, we’re always learning
Dear Favorite Little Sis
Anonymous I ended up wanting to be like you
Who's Making My Phone Calls?
Sara Eisemann Should I be upfront that I’m calling for myself?