Thursday, August 30, 2007

Summer 2007- part 1

my summer starts in may, since that's when my semester this past summer, it started with my dad offering me a trip to israel that i declined, continued with me travelling to Indiana for a week at July 4th to meet B's parents and sister, and ended with my grandmother's funeral 3 weeks ago

so my dad has offered to take me along on a trip to israel with him for 5 days in july. (well it would be 5 days in israel, around 7 days including air travel). The trip would involve 3 days in Jerusalem and 2 days at my Aunt's house.

Positives to going:
1. free trip to israel (where i'll probably never go again if I don't take this trip, since if i'm spending my own money I'd probably go to a country i haven't already been to 6 times)
2. get to see my Aunt who may be dying of breast cancer
3. get to tour around israel for like 3 days
4. possibly visiting some friends in israel

negatives to going:
1. vacation with just my dad. Who, if you haven't been reading this blog, i don't get along well with
2. having to spend time with other israeli family members who i don't care too much for
3. B is unhappy about me going, and it already has caused like 2 fights between us

regardless of the negatives, i'm leaning towards going. My dad has said i don't have to hang out with him 24/7 which is a big plus (actually his exact words were "we don't have to hang out 24/7, as long as you don't call me drunk from the arab quarter at 3am asking me to pick you up.") Who knows, maybe me and my dad will actually work through our problems and learn to get along (yeah there's only a small chance in hell of that, but whatever). Plus it's freakin Israel, which is an awesome place to visit (except for the suicide bombings and such, but there hasn't been one of those in like 9 months)

called my dad yesterday to tell him i won't be going to israel. I've been thinking about it over the week, and while at first i was all excited about the touristy stuff, the more i was thinking about the reality of the situation the more anxiety i was getting about 1) traveling 12 hours each way in a plane (plus whatever the train would take to get to newark) and 2) spending time with my family. I'd like to see my aunt before she dies, but she's married to this douchebag who every time i see him gives me some self rightious preachy bullshit about how i need to save my soul. The thought of being locked in the west bank for a weekend being forced to be polite to him while i want to tear his eyes out gives me huge amount of anxiety. Also just the thought of spending shabbat with an orthodox family when i have no way of getting the hell out of there, cuase i'd be in an orthodox settlement in the middle of the freaking west bank that has no busses running on shabbat. So i'm not going to do it. My dad was all dissapointed and kept suggesting we could stay somewhere else for the weekend, but I don't think that would be fair to him, since it'd be my fault he'd be all seperated from his sister when the whole point of the trip was to visit her. Also I feel bad about leaving him alone to deal with my douchebag family (turns out the reason my mom refused to go is also cause of my douchebag uncle) but what can ya do.

Tuesday morning we drove around indiana some more and then went and played video games on B's parent's giant tv for a while. We went with his parents to the store to get some food for wednesday bbq, and i got a whole thing full of just pear jelly bellies. Later that day we went with his parents and his sister to this awesome seafood place where they tell you the temperature and the weather of the place where they caught the fish they were serving, from the day before. I tried shrimp and scallops from B, and had this ceder plank salmon with eggplants and grilled veggies and goat cheese. B's family is pretty cool..i like them a lot, especially his dad, who has the exact same sense of humor as B. His sister is also really nice, except kind of a religious nut...she works at a church and talked a lot about priests and stuff.

After the dinner, me and B drove around for 3 hours watching fireworks.

I like B's family...we were there for a week and in that week we had three different sit down dinners...we went to a resturaunt one night, july 4th they had a bbq, and friday night his parents made lasagna. And they all sat around talking and joking around. It was really nice. It's probably rare that his parents have both their children home, and that's probably why they made a point of having dinner together so many times...but it was really nice just the same.

My family is not like that. The last time I went home (for 5 days) it was fathers day, and my mom and one of my brothers refused to go out to lunch, so I ended up going to lunch with my dad and my other brother. I was there from saturday night until wednesday morning, and not once did i sit down and eat with my mom. In those 5 days it was fathers day, and my brother graduated from high school, but we never even had a meal all together to celebrate either of those two events.

In my family the food thing revolves around religion. So the only time my family sits down for a meal together is on the sabbath (friday night, saturday afternoon), or on jewish holidays. And thanksgiving. Even on holidays though, I'm rarely home (i was home for one jewish holiday- purim- in the past 3 years), and my brother is rarely home. I never come home for the sabbath, because i find the whole religion thing pretty intolerable. Thanksgiving is the one day a year all 5 of us actually sit down together for a meal, but even then there are usually other people around. The 5 of us never just have dinner alone together....

"coming out" as dating B
I'm reading this great book for my family comprehensive exam right now called "Families we choose: lesbians, gays, kinship" (By Kath Weston). And as I'm reading these stories about coming out to parents, it's incredible how much I identify with what these people are talking about.

For instance, the author talks about how coming out exposes the social construction of kinship ties as "blood ties"; that is, how there's this idea that you're family gives you unconditional love because they are related to you by blood. and to come out to them (as gay) can sometimes show how these ties are merely a social construction that can be rescinded in case of certain behavior.

Then there's stories about people who came out, and their parents still talked to them, but refused to talk about their partner, or invite their partner over for holidays, or anything.

When I told my parents I'm dating B(who is not jewish), my parents bascially flipped out and told me that if i marry someone not jewish, it'll be the same as if I was a murderer. I would always "be their daughter" but they wouldn't be able to associate with me. This coming from my mom, who when I was a teenager and I wanted to hang out with my friends instead of going to some family thing would always go on about how "blood is thicker than water" and "they may be your friends but they're not your blood, and friends will go away while blood will always be there" etc. It's interesting how this discourse of blood kinship was maintained by my mother until I did something that "crossed the line", at which point it was exposed as a social construction.

Now whenever I talk to my mother (which has become a lot less frequent) if I mention something about B, she either talks over me, or doesn't respond, and tries to change the subject. The last time I talked to her in fact, i called her on this, and she responded "I won't talk about something I don't support". It goes without saying that B is definitely not invited over for holidays. My dad will listen to me talk about him, but when I said I was going to Indiana he started going on about how B's family will never accept me, because I'm Jewish, and they are definitely going to be anti-semetic or whatever. Which they weren't. And I haven't "come out" to my extended family at all; i'd rather not have to deal with dozens of crazy jewish people telling me how wrong I am. I'd rather just distance myself and live my own life. Which is a response of many people in this book as well.

So yeah, in conclusion, not to belittle any gay or lesbian experiences (which i'm sure for many gay and lesbian people is a lot worse than mine) but there's a lot there that I identify with.


  1. Right, dating someone non-Jewish and murder. Same thing.

    One of my friends recently got married and her in-laws would not write "Mr. and Mrs. So-and-so" on the invitations of those of their relatives who were married to non-Jews. And the relatives refused to come to the wedding. I didn't blame them. Oy.

  2. It's really a shame about how your parents totally freaked out about that. What are they worried about, the Future of the Jewish People, or is it more that this will embarrass them in their Orthodox community?

    As for the first, perhaps they might be reassured by the story of my sister, who married a non-Jewish guy over 20 years ago. Not only did they raise their kids as Jewish, one of them is now living in Israel. Of course, they affiliate Reform, because of the less than welcoming attitude of the other denominations (though the Conservatives have become more accepting over the years), but you can't have everything.

  3. I do think the embaressment factor might be pretty high for parents are involved in their community, my dad is a rabbi (he doesn't have a congregation and that's not his job, but he has smicha, and he had a weekly gemarah shiur at his house that he runs on shabbas afternoon), and all their friends and friends kids are orthodox. When I first brought up the notion that i might date someone not jewish (in march, after I already had been dating someone not jewish for 2 months) one of the things my mom said is that if I married someone not jewish she would have to move out of her community. I think she was being a littl eoverdramatic there, but it does point to the fact that they would be embarresed by me, and I wouldn't be suprised that if I DID marry B, my parents just wouldn't tell anyone in their community that I had gotten married.

    Similarly, when I mentioned to my dad that my (male) friend might be moving in as a roommate (again, after he had already moved in), my dad flipped and said "Everyone will think you're sleeping with him!!!!". It wasn't my friends he was worried about...

  4. I found this post quite interesting (and your blog in general)-I've felt the same way as far as identifying with homosexuals as far as "coming out" to your family. I'm actually in the opposite situation though-I'm from a fundamentalist Christian family, left home for college, dated an Israeli Jew, learned about Judaism and converted reform, broke up with him (too secular for me, haha) and now orthodox. The two of us have moved in opposite directions, but I identify with the pain of family/religious issues-my mother insists that I'm really unhappy (even though I'm happier and more fulfilled as an Orthodox Jew than I ever have been, and it's been 5 years already, so NO it's not just rebellion!), that I need to find j.c. again, and she (and my crazy grandmother who just sent me an Easter card and saying that I'll "always really be a Christian," oyoyoy!) have some embarrassing pre-conceived notions of Jews that are ridiculous and hurtful. Anyhow, I feel your pain and hope things get better-one of the best things (besides G-d for me) is to have supportive friends who really care about you and can be there for you when things get hard. Best of luck, may we both see better days where our biological families are concerned.


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