Sunday, July 13, 2008

Dad's (not suprising) response

Hi Abandoning Eden,

I see you cut your hair short. I guess one has to change one's looks once in a while to get a fresh start. You look good.

I guess both Mom and myself were surprised to hear the news of your engagement this past week. We, of course, want you to be happy and wish that your life turns out for the best. Just as we am concerned about your body and the DNA issue, for example, so too are we concerned for your spiritual side and the various immediate family members and future generations who will be directly impacted by your decision.

I understand that you would wish for us to attend the ceremony planned for next April. However, asking us to attend puts us in a direct conflict of our values. As you must know, based upon your upbringing, education and communications we have had in the past, we are very commited to an orthodox Jewish lifestyle. I've even completed three parts of a "smicha" program, most recently receiving a rabbinical certificate this past January at the Yerushalayim Kotel concentrating on Jewish marriage laws. Unfortuantely, as much as you say you love B, and I believe you do, Jewish law does not recognize a marriage between a Jewish person and a person of another faith.
Our attendance at such an event would be at the least a meaningless gesture and, at worst, might somehow convey the false impression that we recognize or sanction this arrangement.

Our hearts and home will always be open to you. You are always welcome and I hope you continue to maintain your relationship with us. If anything, we continue to hope that, as time passes, we will continue to foster an even closer relationship. We are not rejecting you as a person. However, with all due love and respect, we must decline your invitation to attend the planned April ceremony.

We can talk in person or on the phone more about this if you like.

Love,

Abba

32 comments:

  1. Yep, no surprise. It speaks to their ideology. But at least one of your brothers will attend.

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  2. Under the circumstances, I think that your father's letter was written in a very careful and sensitive manner. He kept stressing that he loves you and wishes you happiness, but is honest about his inability to ignore his deeply held beliefs. It would be easy to simply trash your parents and call them rigid or unreasonable, but it seems like every word of that letter aches with the pain of conflicting feelings. It seems that this is no easier for them than it is for you.

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  3. I would ask for clarification.

    Is B welcome in their home?

    If the answer is yes, then I would consider this a very reasonable statement; they can't come to the wedding for personal reasons, but they aren't being hurtful about it.

    If the answer is no, then I would inform them that when they can accept B as part of your life, you can again be part of theirs.

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  4. Well, clearly your dad hasn't learned as much as he thinks he has. It's not how much Torah you go through -- it's how much Torah goes through you.

    Anyhoo, your parents suck. I know you're probably hurt and pissed right now. And that's legitimate. They suck.

    I think we ought to just start sending them skeptic materials until they finally break down and admit that their religion is ridiculous :) Maybe we should start an annual publication, collected from the best of the Jewish skeptic blogs.

    I would ask for clarification... Is B welcome in their home?
    ... If the answer is no, then I would inform them that when they can accept B as part of your life, you can again be part of theirs.


    As someone who's in the same boat as you, Eden, I'd suggest that now is a good time to lick your wounds. You've just been rebuffed. Now might not be the right time to ask this question.

    It may never be the right time to "ask a question." You may just have to show up without asking, with B in tow as you say, and call everyone's bluff. I believe that although people talk a big talk, it is quite different when they are confronted with the real situation. The old human nature kicks in (which doesn't always happen over e-mails). Once you break the ice, things change.

    BTW, your dad might think himself a rabbi, but he's not allowed to pasken for himself even if he were one. He's talking emotion, not halakha... and he'd be far better off asking a rabbi. He's done enough damage as it is with his ignorant ideas about Judaism! Much like my dad (sigh... why do all Ortho middle-aged men have such an "Abraham" complex?).

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  6. Under the circumstances, I think that your father's letter was written in a very careful and sensitive manner.

    Nonsense. It was an embarassment... and he and all Jews should be ashamed of this crap.

    How long until our parents grow up? Seriously. THIS is what's wrong with the religion... people taking themselves WAY too seriously.

    it seems like every word of that letter aches with the pain of conflicting feelings.

    I didn't feel it. I thought it was like listening to a robot talk.

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  7. Dear abandoning eden,

    I find this letter very hard, even though your father tries to explain his point of view in a "positive" way.

    It's interesting: I'm in a symmetrical position to yours. I grew up atheist-rationalist-catholic and turned to orthodox judaism. My parents have exactely the same position as your parents: We accept you as a person, but we do not accept your religion.

    They claim to be very open-minded and tolerant.

    But as your parents, they are worried about my spiritual well-being and about the generations to come (You won't send them to yeshiva instead of giving them proper education, will you? Do you really want to force them to eat kosher, and to respect all these meaningless, meticulous prescriptions for Shabbat and others?)

    Actually, with their stubborn opposition, my parents achieved exactely the contrary of what they wanted. Instead of driving me away from judaism, it strengthened me. If I am ready to let them throw me out of the house for being shomer shabbat, I am also ready to make "less important" sacrifices for "my conviction".

    I swore to myself that if I have children (but I doubt that this will be the case), I will not do this to them.

    So if your parents are "chozrei bitshuva" (are they?) and took advantage of religious freedom in order to become more orthodox, they should respect your religious freedom (which is enshrined in the universal declaration of human rights) and leave you the choice of following a different path than them.

    This is my opinion. (Not very orthodox).

    All the best, keep your head up, everything you go through now will strengthen you for the future and make you different and more of a personality than the people you grew up with.

    Shosh

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  8. Attending his daugther's wedding is a meaningless gesture?

    BULL!

    It obviously means something to you, and as your father, it should mean something to him as well.

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  9. PS: Perhaps we should propose our parents to switch daughters?

    My parents want a non-religious daughter, so you would perfectly suit them.
    Your parents want a jewish orthodox daughter, so I would suit them?

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  10. I'm so sorry. :-(

    He is in a bind between his love for you and his (admittedly ridiculous) religious beliefs. He is exactly the sort of person I'd like to convince Orthodoxy isn't true, because this is just so freaking unnecessary.

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  11. candy man- i felt the letter was very impersonal and formal (robotic?) as well. It felt like a business letter.

    sosh- my dad is a baal tshuva..kinda of. his parent's were "traditional" jews (kept allt he holidays, and most of kosher, most of shabbas) who went to a conservative shul, but sent him to yeshiva for high school, and he became more religious than them. My mom is FFB.

    Me and B talk all the time about how we are not going to be like my parents, especially if our kids turn out religious (which would be the equivalent situation).

    Frozen star- yeah, that statement was especially hurtful, aye?

    everyone- thanks for being so nice :)

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  12. dave- I have asked my parents several times if they would be willing to meet b, including when I told them we were engaged, when my dad came to visit me a few months ago, and when were both at a conference near my parents. The answer to that has always been no, and that was all on 'neutral ground' so I highly doubt B would be welcome in their home.

    Now that we are engaged, I would not feel comfortable going to their house without him. In fact, I went there a month or two ago (after B had moved in) and felt extremely uncomfortable about going there without him.

    But I already have plans for that...the one time a year I always went to my parents was thanksgiving...but this year B's parents offered to fly me out to their family's big thanksgiving dinner in Chicago (with all their extended family), and I'm going to take them up on that.

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  13. You know, as a mother, I can not imagine the circumstances in which I would not offer my love and support to my children. I would be that mother whose child is on death row saying, "But he's really such a GOOD boy."
    Seriously.
    When I hear about things like this- parents rejecting their children (and no matter how sensitive that letter was, it was a rejection) for any reason- for leaving a religion, for being gay, whatever...- I am at a loss for words.
    How can any philosophy or religion or belief be as strong as our love for our children?
    I do not get it.
    I'm sorry, Eden. This must be incredibly hard for you.

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  14. In that case, I'd be explicit.

    Let them know that until they can accept B as part of their family, they will not be part of your life.

    Depending on how they react to things, you might want to note that at least your children will have a relationship with one set of grandparents.

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  15. I agree with Dave -- that's what I would do.

    For more advice and support, a good place to go would be the gay community (and gay blogs). There you'll find tons of real-world experience with dealing with parents who say "Sure we love you and want you to attend our family gatherings [but alone, and only if we can pretend your family doesn't exist]."

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  16. Abandoning Eden don't listen to those who tell you to ignore and doubt the love and intentions in the letter. It was there just as much as the inevitable answer as to the invitation. Imagine how you would have felt if you were told you are cut off. You would have asked to at least not be cut off and have the door always open and the love always there, things that were put in the letter.

    CandyMan her father isn't paskening as a rabbi. Her father is doing the same thing as he would be doing not as a rabbi. If AE took your advice her relationship would be more damaged instead of what both her and her father's letter aimed to do. There is a conflict of interest here. You have an ideology opposite her father and so you give advice based on that. That's not fair or responsible to her well being. Good luck with everything AE.

    Rabban Gamliel

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  17. I don't even know how to respond. It's really sad that they wont attend. I'm honestly on the fence with this. While it is HEARTLESS not to attend, it would be somewhat adovocating a view that is in complete contradiction of their beliefs. The best I can say is...I'm sorry

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  18. Something just occured to me. What is not-attending the wedding if not a "meaningless gesture?"

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  19. This is very upsetting for me to just read about, I can't imagine how you feel. But, I'm going to shut up now and not say anything hateful about your father.

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  20. That is harsh - and sad. But I do understand where he's coming from, even if I don't agree with it. He is a product of the centrist Orthodox community, where all of life is guided by halacha. Your parents believe that every part of life is ruled by normative halacha and they believe that what the rabbis have decided is a direct line back to Moshe and therefore to God and they dare not go against the currently accepted opinion that forbids attending a wedding of a Jew to a non-Jew. (And you'll always be a Jew in their book, by virtue of your birth.)

    I follow a halachic lifestyle, though I don't toe the line in every single matter. But I am also a human being who accepts people for who they are and wants to see them happy. Some rules that evolved over the past few centuries and were probably not part of original Judaism would not keep me from attending weddings or other celebrations of friends just because the current prevalent ideas in Orthodoxy frowns upon the particular lifecycle events being celebrated.

    It's a shame that your parents are not willing to think for themselves and realize that they can still be halachically committed Jews and also attend their daughter's wedding.

    Your father says that their attendance "might somehow convey the false impression that we recognize or sanction this arrangement."

    Convey to who? Who in their community will be there or even hear about their attendance? And they've already made it quite clear to you that they disapprove of the nature of the match - it's not like you'll suddenly take their attendance as wholehearted approval.

    Take joy in your real family now, meaning B, and if you still want a relationship with your folks a few years down the road, you can bribe them with grandchildren. I suspect that would overcome their qualms about being around you & B together.

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  21. DYS

    Do you think this is just about halacha? That the reason they are not going to the wedding is simply because the shulchan aruch says XYZ? Perhaps they are not going to this wedding as other parents before them have not to other childrens weddings. And that is very simply because intermarriage is the first door to pass before exiting the Jewish people.

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  22. HH,

    If you read AE's blog through, you will see that she has pretty much already left the Jewish People as most Jews would define it. She doesn't celebrate any Jewish Holidays. keep Shabbat, or eat any version of Kosher. She is an atheist and she's happy and in love. So in what way is her intermarriage "the first door to pass before exiting the Jewish people"? I don't think her life will change in any way. Note that her fiancee's an atheist too and won't be influencing her to join some other religion.

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  23. I understand that.

    But we are talking from her parents POV. What she does or does not do is her business, but they do not feel they can attend an event that in their eyes destroys the continuity of the Jewish people

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  24. I would observe that a marriage between two atheists isn't an intermarriage.

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  25. What she does or does not do is her business, but they do not feel they can attend an event that in their eyes destroys the continuity of the Jewish people

    And if they said "we can't come to the wedding, but you are still part of our lives, and when you are married, B will become part of our lives as well", rather than pretending he doesn't exist, you might have a case.

    But as long as they are going to pretend that that part of her life isn't real, there isn't any real point to a relationship with them.

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  26. >I would observe that a marriage between two atheists isn't an intermarriage.

    You're nitpicking. Clearly she is still a Jew and adrabba to her parents.

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  27. >But as long as they are going to pretend that that part of her life isn't real, there isn't any real point to a relationship with them.

    Where do you see that is what they said? They know its real and they will eventually, emotionally accept it. (or at least thats what I hope)

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  28. You're nitpicking. Clearly she is still a Jew and adrabba to her parents.

    But by that token, the marriage of a Ger who was raised Muslim to a Jew would also be intermarriage, since Islam also doesn't allow conversion out.

    I think the only honest way to approach that is to look at the beliefs of the participants.

    Where do you see that is what they said? They know its real and they will eventually, emotionally accept it. (or at least thats what I hope)

    The fact that they won't meet B, talk to B, or have him in their home? That should be a pretty big clue.

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  29. >But by that token, the marriage of a Ger who was raised Muslim to a Jew would also be intermarriage, since Islam also doesn't allow conversion out.

    maybe to the other side. so?

    >I think the only honest way to approach that is to look at the beliefs of the participants.

    So then what are you saying, she no longer is a Jew?

    >The fact that they won't meet B, talk to B, or have him in their home? That should be a pretty big clue.

    Things change over time as parents start realizing the reality. My wifes family went through this when an uncle became christian

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  30. So then what are you saying, she no longer is a Jew?

    Religiously? She's an atheist.

    Ethnically? She's Jewish.

    Just as someone from an Irish family raised Catholic who becomes an atheist is still of Irish heritage.

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  31. Madam you should have more respect for the people who raised you. Posting this rather private letter in public and embarassing your parents is disgusting IMHO

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  32. why? it's anonymous (just like your comment), so no one is exposed. We speak about a general problem using an example taken from real life without exposing anyone.

    Perhaps it's better to think it over in this forum rather than being rude and reacting emotionally.

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