Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Still haven't written back...

It's been a week and two days since my dad sent me that letter, and I still haven't written back.

I thought that over time I would be less angry. And maybe that's still true. But it seems that before that happens, I'm going to be getting more angry. And I have been.

Today I am meeting up with my cousin, who is in town for a business conference. This morning I was thinking about his sister.

See, his sister is the same age as me. We're about 6 weeks apart. When she was 20 or 21, she decided to marry this guy who was 38. (no that's not a typo, it's 38 not 28). Now normally I don't have a problem with people marrying someone vastly different in age. Well, that's not true, sometimes I totally have a problem when the dude is much older, and clearly exploiting some young naive relative of mine.

So this cousin...she married this 38 year old dude when she was 20 or 21, and my parents went to Israel for the wedding. This dude had like a long beard that was half white already, was extremely creepy looking, and had only been dating my cousin for 2 months before they got married. They ended up getting divorced like 2 months after that, after the guy ended up spending all their money and then selling their wedding gifts for more money. No one will say what he was spending all that money on (my guess is coke)

I have another cousin who married a much older guy. When she was 18, newly graduated from high school, she spent a summer between high school and college in a different country doing kiruv (kiruv is like outreach to non religious jews to try to make them more religious). Anyways, the dude who interviewed her was this 32 year old rabbi. Over the summer he somehow manages to get with my 18 year old cousin, who he hired and is supervising over there, and when they come back they get married. I think they are now up to baby #5.

These situations are both extremely sketchy to me. And yet my dad went to their weddings. Cause the important thing there is that THE GUY WAS JEWISH!! No matter that one was some old dude with a white beard marrying a 20 year old girl who knew him for all of 2 months. And that the other one was a guy in a direct supervisory position to an 18 year old girl who got with her in a different country. Oh did I mention I was in high school when the second dude married my cousin, that the guy was a rabbi at my school, and yet he insisted I call him "rabbi ____" even after we were related to each other? Ew. Cause even though my cousin was only 2 years older than me, I couldn't call her husband by his first name (wouldn't be 'respecting my elders' I guess).

So apparently my dad condones and approves of those two marriages, but doesn't condone mine, in which my fiance is actually the same age as me, and we are starting off on somewhat equal footing. But B had the wrong parents, so our marriage must be the most terrible thing in the world!

My dad doesn't care about my welfare. If he cared about my welfare, he would actually meet B and see if he was some serial killer or something. I know if my kid was marrying someone, I would want to at least meet the guy to make sure he didn't set off any alarm bells for being super creepy. Like my cousins' husband and ex-husband did. But nah, none of that matters. What matters is showing to the world that he is a good jew, tows the line, and will pick judaism over all else, including his own daughter. As he said, he doesn't want to give the "impression that he condones our arrangement". All he gives a shit about is how he looks to other people, and what they might think if they see him going to his daughters wedding.

So yeah, I'm still not writing back to him. I have nothing to say that would change the situation in any way, and I am tired of beating my head against a wall. Maybe I'll just email him a link to this blog.

ETA: While I was brooding about my dad on the long walk to work this morning I had a thought:

Some previous commenter noted that my parents don't want a relationship with ME, but rather an image of me, and one in which they don't have to acknowledge my partner's existence. Which I agree with.

But maybe I do the same thing. Do I really want a relationship with my parents? Or do I want one with an image of my parents? An image of my parents in which they are loving and supportive of me. You know, maybe I've been excusing my parents too much. Maybe religion isn't the problem here. Maybe it's just their excuse for being bad parents.


  1. that's a wise decision. You asked if he came, he said no, so that's the end of the story, for the time being.

    He hasn't learned it through someone else, and this was the main aim of the whole exercise, as far as I understood it...

    All the best, keep smiling.

  2. "But maybe I do the same thing. Do I really want a relationship with my parents? Or do I want one with an image of my parents? An image of my parents in which they are loving and supportive of me. You know, maybe I've been excusing my parents too much. Maybe religion isn't the problem here. Maybe it's just their excuse for being bad parents.
    maybe it's just their excuse for being bad parents"..

    I agree with the first part of it, but not with the second. Let's start at the end and end with the beginning.

    First I do not think that they were such bad parents. You seem to be a brillant young lady and you had to get it from somewhere.

    Although they were religious, they also gave you a good general education, and you can build a secular life on this (and of course on your own merit and your own pursuit of your studies).

    You still love what your mother cooks, and as far as I understood, you agree with her on "healthy eating".

    I do not think either that religion is an "excuse" for them. They do sincerely beleive in it.

    I'd rather say that religion keeps them right now from being as tolerant as you wish them to be. This means that your particular problem would not arise if your parents were not religious-orthodox.

    But it would be wrong to conclude from this that this would solve the problem. Because with different parents, you would have different conflicts.

    (I had such tolerant parents and still found the one thing that would make them go crazy: to practice an "intolerant" religion.)

    On the other hand: Yes, we all project ideal images of our parents, and when we grow we have to find out that they really as perfect as we thought them to be...

    This is very painfull. It also means that we have to let go an image and accept reality.

    I came to this conclusion at 39, you see it 15 (?) years earlier.

    But there is one question for which I have not yet found an answer.

    If it turns out that our parents are really completely different persons than what we always thought, can we keep up the relationship with them?

    To me, right at this moment, it looks like deception. They deceived me all through the earlier years and hid their negative caracterstics from me. So why should I accept them now, especially if the are really the contrary of what they preached?

  3. "Do I really want a relationship with my parents? Or do I want one with an image of my parents? An image of my parents in which they are loving and supportive of me."

    [Whether they can't do it] or [you can't feel it, if they feel they're doing it], doesn't matter as much as the fact that you actually had that thought does, imo. 'cause you may be able to get somewhere from there.

    Like by accepting that they're human and you're human and parentally, try as they may feel they do, they're simply not willing/able to meet your needs. So you can cry about it if you want, 'cause that can suck, but when you're done, you realize you're over 18 and if they can't do it, the ways to fill that gap are to 1. parent yourself the way you wish to be; or 2. get yourself some good mentors of both genders to help fill in those blanks.

    And then, if you choose to love them unconditionally (as it seems you wish them to do for you), maybe you can deal with them better by regarding them as blind or deaf (not literally), but simply unable to see, hear, do, be, whatever it is you may need, and rather than hoping that they'll be something they're not willing/able to be for you, you can just give them your compassion, 'cause, as you say, they are so brainwashed, etc. (I'm not saying orthodox people are brainwashed, I'm just acknowledge that sometimes some people's behavior might give that impression.)

    I hope that made any sense at all.

  4. something like unconditional acceptance has to swing both ways, even if it means accepting their limitations, self-imposed or not. I know how hard this is, on another level, and I'm sorry, 'cause it's totally teh suck, sometimes. I try not to think about it.

  5. All of the issues that you bring up are not part of the central issue. My grandparents were 20 years apart in age and were married about 50 years.

    Wasn't Yaakov 77 when he became betrothed to Rachel who was 5? I suppose what I am saying is that there certainly is a preceidnet for large age gaps between couples in Jewish tradition, despite whatever "eeewww" factor might creep into it in today's times.

    A better comparison/question would be - has your father ever attended a wedding between a Jew and a non-Jew before? If he has, then yes, he is being hypocrytical by refusing to attend yours. If he regularly socializes with mixed couples and holds your relationship as the exception to what he will tolerate - you might have a point to make with him.

    However, if your father holds this standard for himself and those around him, you are asking him to give up a value that's important to him. You are asking him not to be true to himself and what he believes to be right.

    You want to be true to yourself and your heart as well. However, you might have to accept that your father and you might never see eye to eye. You need to be willing to get married knowing that your family might not be there or support your decision. You need to be strong in your own belief that religion shouldn't matter when it comes to two people in love, enough so that you are willing to forego a future relationship with your folks. It doesn't mean they don't love you, it simply means that they can't be drawn into your married life when it goes against everything they hold dear.

  6. You know, maybe I've been excusing my parents too much. Maybe religion isn't the problem here. Maybe it's just their excuse for being bad parents.

    Maybe the religion and their treatment of you are symptoms of an underlying problem, like fear. Fear of a world without clear rules, fear of a world where God doesn't look down on every person, etc. Isn't that the basis of most fundamentalism?

  7. Is there some shortage of Jewish women, which explains why older men marry younger women, or were the 2 cases you mentioned out of the ordinary? I was reading this and thinking about those Fundamental Later Day Saints in Texas, who had their children taken away a few months ago. In that case, with them practicing polygamy, there were too many men, and not enough women (to support polygamy) that's why the men with power and money went after young girls.

  8. the bottom line here is that her parents are treating her like a nazi treated a jew. Are some ppl better than others because of their ethnicity or religion? Did her parents not learn anything from the past? They don't have to be happy with the man she chooses and clearly they are not EVEN THOUGH THEY NEVER MET HIM..they just condemned him..but it is UNACCEPTABLE how they treat and hurt their own flesh and blood. My heart hurts for AE. I am a mother with 3 children and I cannot imagine any of this. They are controllling and the problem here is they need to control and they need to feel they are doing right religiously. They are so wrong. I don't believe God would condone such behavior as God is God for ALL PEOPLE. We are all children of God. I am jewish, not religious but extremely spiritual. I too believe religioun is man made..but I truly believe in God and my spirituality is strong. Lighting shabbos candles friday night is not religion to me...it is spirituality. Well we all have our own personal beliefs and I respect you for yours. Never say never Eden..you are hurt and Angry AND rightfully so..but it is unfortunately out of your control. I would love for you to send them a link to your blog..your words read in this blog will open their eyes wider than any talking you will ever do to them.
    Good luck!!! Remember, you are not alone.

  9. JewishAtheist hit the nail on the head with this one, in my opinion. I am wondering. . .with all of this going on, what "healthy," if any, components of your relationship with your parents are you still holding on to? If there is nothing and you are still hoping that they "see" you, maybe you are just hurting yourself over and over again. You deserve better. This is your life. They brought you into the world but they don't own you. You have done NOTHING wrong is the eyes of anyone in this world other than the tiny little percentage of the world that your parents live in. They love you "unconditionally," they want to share in your life - at this point, if it were me, I would let them do something about it. You've done all the trying and adjustments. They have done nothing.

  10. well I had a really profound comment but after reading all these others I would just like to say "ditto".

    I am sad for you because you know your parents will most likely not change and not accept your man. The sooner you can move on and be at peace with this the better for you and your relationship.

    My man's family is from India and his mother (thankfully not his dad at least) has only met me once in over two years and that was an awkward chance meeting. Evidently I am just the wrong colour. It is sad and very disappointing but I have had to let it go....most of the time.

  11. I am 39 year old and have left the orthodox community 19 years. I met a nice goy at U of M where I was studying and marrying him within 10 months of knowing him. My parents excommunicated me (put me in cherem) which I expected to happen.
    It hurt me a lot but I did not have any "taynes" (grudges) againt them because I knew from day one what the consequences would be. The cards were on the table all along.
    I since divorced and I would die to have a relationship with them but for me it will never be an option. So I have moved on with my life.
    It is time you do the same.

  12. ha, just caught up on this thread and i gotta admit, these stories about marrying older guys is creepy!

    I've often noticed the same hypocrisy in my parents, especially my grandmother. The kicker is, they cut off our beaus without even meeting them. They'll give Jews with flaws the benefit of the doubt a million times, but a non-Jew they won't even have the decency to meet a single time.

    This all goes back to Jesus. The man was right on a lot of things. But his biggest lesson was, see the forest for the trees. It's not what comes into our mouths that makes us unholy; it's what comes out. If only our parents could internalize that lesson, instead of seeking out the racist identity bullshit like moths to the flame.


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