Saturday, December 22, 2007

Stuff that's been going on

Weird progress and then regress with my parents.

Last sunday I was talking to my dad on the phone, and mentioned how i'm going to B's parent's place for 2 weeks for winter break/christmas (ahh the joys of working on a semester-based schedule), and he was like "so does this mean anything is imminent? Like marriage?" um, no. But to my dad I think going to an SO's parent's place for 2 weeks means we must be getting's a weird mindset.

But then the wierdest thing dad was basically like "so when do I meet with B?". What??? My dad, after a year of telling me that if I marry B i'm going to go to hell, all of a sudden wants to meet him? And i basically responded something like "well we can come visit in January when we get back, or you can visit us, whatever"

Anyways, then on Tuesday I saw my parents (breifly- for about 2 hours, when I took a train up to my little brother's graduation and then left right afterwards), and in 5 minute car ride from the train station to the graduation, my dad took it back. He was like "that was a weird conversation, it's like you're selling your soul and I would be shaking hands with the devil if I met B! I don't know, I think I should ask a rabbi" etc. So basically he took it back. But I think it's a sign of wavering/progress/good things to come. Maybe. I think it's a sign that he'll break and accept that I'm with B at some point, and not disown me! Or maybe that's just wishful thinking on my part.

In other news, I've been in Bumblefuck since Wednesday at B's parents house. I don't want to disclose too much info, but I'll say that it's in the midwest, there's corn fields everywhere (well, what will be cornfields in the summer), and it's an hours drive to the nearest city (if you could even call it that). Not a jew for states around us. It's kinda weird being in a very christian the bookstore there was, I swear, NINE rows of bookshelves on "christian interest" whatever that means. And last night a pickup truck thing with carolers in the back singing drove by. And pretty much every house has christmas decorations up, and they lean towards the jesus-y side. Weird.

Me and B also decorated a christmas tree with a bunch of ornaments (i went through like 12 big boxes of ornaments, and left off all the ones with jesus on them). His mom has 2 big one which we decorated, and another smaller one with only bird ornaments. She also seems to have about 1000 christmas themed sweaters. :) We also went shopping yesterday and bought some awesome presents for his parents and his sister and for each other, and I got a yellow submarine hoodie (yay!). I think later today we're going to wrap presents and maybe do a bit of last minute shopping.


  1. "Not a jew for states around us."

    If you need a minyan look at the yellow pages under neurologists. You might have to scramble a bit, but you'll probably be able to get one.

  2. lol, well a) i don't daven and b) i'm a girl so i wouldn't need a minyan anyway

  3. AE,

    I've been reading your very interesting blog for a bit and I want to say the following:

    1) I'm pretty damn Orthodox and you're not going to hell. Really.

    2) Your kids will always be Jewish no matter whom you marry. They might be a little lost, but they will ALWAYS be Jewish. Them's the rules.

    3) You have to cut your parents some slack because they grew up in an entirely different world and have an entirely different belief system.

    4) If you want to really get an informed opinion (informed as in knowledge of actual Jewish sources) about feminism and Ortho Judaism, let me know and I will point you to some of Tziporah Heller's writing. But you have to promise to open your mind a teeny, tiny bit.

    5) Nothing makes me question Orthodox society more than meeting non-Jewish people who are really decent, not loud, kind, generous, classy etc. I tend to do some comparing and contrasting, and my Brooklyn chevra tends to come up a little short. But just remember that things go a little deeper than that. ;)

    6) Chanukah is really cool. It's kinda sad that no one transmitted that to you when you were growing up, but you can still learn about it if you like. It's not just a Greek-Jew is much more profound than that. Actually, most of the Jewish holidays are deeper than the superficial crap you might have learned about them in HS.

    7) Judaism is all about questions, not dogma. Anyone who tells you differently is simply wrong. We embrace questions. We have a whole freakin holiday (Pesach) dedicated to questions. We are the People of the Book. So if you see something about Ortho Judaism that seems hinky to you, ask. Ask and ask. You are seriously not going to Hell, K? Hell, we don't even really believe in Hell.


  4. "lol, well a) i don't daven and b) i'm a girl so i wouldn't need a minyan anyway"

    Yeah, but in case the thing with B doesn't work out, you'll have something to fall back on.

  5. AE,

    I hate to bring you down, but I don't think your parents are going to accept him in the current situation. Statements like "I'll have to talk to a rabbi" about seeing your SO totally give your dad away: he's forsaken his own reasoning/brain for that of the community. I think this is a trademark of many orthodox jews: they need to consult the rabbi on everything (as if the rabbi is an expert on everything).

    A similar thing played out in my family many years ago. My uncle was dating a non-jewish woman. My family would not accept her, until my uncle married her and basically presented the situation as a "take it or leave it". She did nominally convert to judaism, but the kids are not raised jewish, nor do they know anything about it, nor does she do anything jewish. His wife comes to You Kippur for the last 10 minutes and that's it. Having said that, my uncle and his wife seem to be happy together, the kids are very well adjusted and are all grown up and doing just fine.

    I guess what I am saying is that your parents do not accept because they don't have to right now. If you were to marry him or even get engaged, the dynamic would change completely.

  6. Webgirl,

    I disagree with you on #7. Judaism may be all about questions. But orthodox judaism is ALL about dogma. There is no discussion there about anything that involves drawing outside the lines.

    Like the blog owner, I grew up in similar kind of environment (but not quite as bad) and have seen plenty of people looking at various rabbis with glazed expressions.

    I've seen only once when someone really challenged a rabbi and was immediately shouted down by the gallery. Typically, people just sheepishly ask rabbis questions and accept their answers without an argument..

  7. webgirl- Hi! I've been reading your very interesting blog too :) (as you can probably tell by the comment i left)

    I know my kids will always be jewish according to halacha no matter what I teach them (and I plan on teaching them a bit about judaism- like at least about jewish history if not about the actual religion). I pointed that out to my Dad, and he said something along the lines of "but their souuls will be tainted because their father won't be jewish and as a result they won't get their place in the world to come". I don't know where he got that weird idea from (unpure babies don't go to heaven? That sounds like a pretty christian idea to me). But I'm not worried. My view on the whole heaven thing is that if there is a God, and there is a heaven, you probably get there for being a good person to other people. And I fully intend on teaching my children to be good people :)

    I'd be interested in the ortho-feminism stuff. Can you email me something? My email addy is arielletk @ gmail

    Anonymous 3- It's weird about the consulting a rabbi thing. My dad has specifically questioned rabbis in the fact he left his shul and started going to the lubav shteibal (sp?) because the rabbi gave what he thought was really bad advice to my dad's friend (my dad's friend's wife was pregnant with quintuplets after getting fertility treatements, and she asked the rabbi if it was ok to get a selective abortion, since the dr's told her if she didn't, none of the babies would surivve. The rabbi delayed giving her an answer until it would be too late to get the selective abortion, and when he finally did his advice was something like "god will work it out." She ended up getting the selective abortion before getting the rabbi's heter becuase he took such a long time, and her family and my dad's family and a few others ended up leaving the shul because of it).

    So yeah, I think it's weird that he would question the rabbi on one thing, but when it comes to his kid, he has to consult a rabbi. And as I pointed out to him- he's a Rabbi! :)

    But anyways, who knows what will happen in the future. And i think you're right about when it comes time for serious things to happen, he might come around...after all, he asked if he could meet B right after I told him I was going to B's parents for 2 weeks (which in my dad's mind meant we are on the brink of engagement...which we're not, but it's interesting that when he thought that he suddenly suggested that he should meet B)

  8. Anonymous, Let me correct myself. I should say, my experience in Ortho Judaism has led to believe that it is not a religion of dogma, but a religion where questions are encouraged. I guess your experience and AE's experience were different (and I wish that weren't the case). I grew up FFB (Frum from birth) in NY and went to a Modern Orthodox Yeshiva for 12 years. There were no evil rabbis spouting dogmatic You Must Dos or Don'ts. It simply wasn't like that. In contrast, I have asked questions my entire life and sometimes I get answers that make me happy and sometimes I get answers that are just crap, and sometimes I don't get answers. That doesn't mean the questions are bad. It also doesn't entitle me to dismiss what I am questioning. I think if you are going to be intellectually honest and you give a damn about your Jewish heritage, you need to keep pursuing knowledge. To write off your religion because you don't like or don't understand some of the stuff seems really foolish to me. Can you imagine doing that in any other area of your life? Keep questioning!

    Regarding the Rabbi thing...there is something called "Da'as Torah" which is, very, very loosely translated, the assignment of Rabbinic authority. It means that if a person has learned enough and acquired enough information through Torah/Judaic sources, he may serve as the halachic authority for other people. This sometimes extends into "life questions" i.e., can I go to my cousins wedding, even though she is marrying a non-Jew, let's say.

    The problem with Da'as Torah is that sometimes, very unqualified people assume the Rabbinic mantle. What I'm trying to say, gently, is that sometimes, Rabbis are morons. They are completely oblivious to reality or really are NOT knowledgeable enough to render ANY decision, let alone important life decisions. I have encountered quite a few of these idiots in my journey. The destruction that they leave in their wake is tragic. I am fortunate to be blessed with a Rav who is not a moron. Actually, he is a great, bright guy who is not afraid to say "I'm not sure" or "let me look up some sources" or "let me get back to you" or "let's discuss it some more...I need more information from you." He also actually explains halachic or hashkafic decisions to me. I am coming to realize what a rarity he is. Halachic authority or Da'as Torah can actually be a great thing if delivered properly and by the right Rav.

    AE, what your Dad said about your kids is coming from his heart, not halacha. Fact is, Judaism aside, you will be totally breaking your parents' hearts if you marry a non-Jewish man. Now you can say that they'll get over it, and that's fine. You can say that since their pain arises from something irrational, that's not your problem, and that's also fine. But bottom line, you will hurt them. You just need to be able to deal with that, that's all.

    BTW, just my $.02, but your kids do not need any Judaism to learn how to be good people, yes? I'm only saying that because I think that if you are not going to lead a halachic life and you plan on transmitting your beliefs to your children (that you don't believe in God), you might not want to muddy the waters and confuse them.

    I'll be very happy to send you some Tziporah Heller stuff. She is, in many ways, my mentor, btw. I wrote about her on my blog. Just promise me that if she's not your cuppa tea, you will let me know.

    Keep writing. I'll be honest with you...I generally don't enjoy atheist blogs, as there is no part of my mind or heart capable of grasping atheism or denying God. I simply can't understand how anyone can come to that conclusion. But I enjoy reading AE (and also Lubab No More) because they are very well-written. Kudos.

    Enjoy your time with your bf, AE, and Merry XMas to him.


  9. webgirl- i know i will be hurting my parents, and that's something I struggled with for a long time. I don't remember how much of this I've written here (since I started writing this many months after starting to date B), but when I first started dating him I didn't really mean to start dating him...we met, and I liked him a lot the second i met him (instant sparks!), but as it started getting serious, I started freaking out. I thought about it for a long time, and ultimately I've decided that what matters to me is that when I'm 80 I don't want to look back on my life and think about how I gave up someone who made (and makes) me incredibly happy because I didn't want to hurt my parents feelings. I don't think it would be fair to do that to myself.

    I think even though I'm not living a halachic life it's still important that they know they are jewish and what that means. Judiasm is not only a religion, it's also a culture and a people with a long history, and I'm not going to raise my kids in absense of that history. Just like B is probably going to tell them about his families history, even though he won't raise them to be catholic. And if they end up becoming religious for whatever reason, I'm not going to hate them for it. :)


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