Monday, December 6, 2010

letters I daydream about sending

Dear Abba,

I wish I could say mazal tov on your recent acquisition of a sefer torah, but I wouldn't want to give the appearance of condoning your decision, especially when that decision further increases the social distance between us. I've learned from you that it's more important to express my disapproval of your religious decisions than it is to feel happy that someone in my family is happy.

I do love that you've decided to include the name of an Apikores on your Torah scroll. Also glad to see from your photos of the Torah dedication (that you felt the need to send me) that you're still friends with that sexist douchebag S, whose constant put downs directed at me as a teenager (based on my gender) definitely contributed to my complete disgust with your religion and the members of it. The irony is delightful on so many levels. I also like that comment about this being a "family heirloom"- you might as well say it's a gift for E, since we all know that 2/3rds of your children are not religious and will not raise their children in your religious tradition. Well, at least you found some good use for the money you would have spent on my wedding if I had married a Jew.

No Love,
Abandoning Eden

P.S. Please stop sending me dvar torahs, I could not care less how a book of mythology written 3000 years ago can be interpreted to apply to contemporary issues. In fact, I can do without the pictures of religious ceremonies too- I don't send you pictures of my Christmas tree, and I would appreciate the same courtesy from you.

This is probably why I haven't been writing back to my dad's emails in the past few months.


  1. These things are one of the reasons why I find it hard to come out. They can't get over the religion hurdle.

  2. Maybe you should send it.

    I'm glad my family still has a relationship with our OTD/intermarried family. Like, a real relationship. We can respect each others choices without necessarily agreeing with them.

    Is that really so hard?

  3. well, I see: that's a hard head clashing against another hard head...

    and both intelligent, to boot

  4. God I love that letter though! Wait, can I say that word here? I wish he we effing just see what you're saying and it's just so well said here. So straight. If only. he. could. compute.
    I saw this book about how Judaism should make you happy and if it doesn't you're doing it wrong. Cause why the hell would God want you not to be happy eh? I'm totally ordering that book.
    I would just love to send your father a copy... Though I'm sure he'd simply disagree with it and burn it in some strange dark minyan cult-ish ceremony of self-righteousness. Once again, have to say it, your folks are the exact- EXACT, polar opposites of mine. EXACT!
    Such a damn shame! He's missing out on some serious daughter awesomeness :(
    Miss you!!!

  5. Rock on sista! I feel this way so often, and here I am not even intermarried! The truth is I feel so conflicted about the distance between me, my parents and all my religious siblings--which is currently all of them.

    Thanks for sharing with us some of the things we feel but can't articulate as well, though you may give me hope to try. Happy holidays! A longtime reader.

  6. seems like your dad is making some small moves towards connectedness and you're the one who is rejecting them.

    I'm not saying that you should be moving towards connectedness. Perhaps at this stage of the relationship, distance is the right decision. A move towards greater connection opens us up to greater vulnerability and hurt and the possibility that we may be burned yet again.

    But takes two to tango and maybe youre not being as self aware as you could be about your role in the dance.

    It is seldom as simplistic as good-openminded-daughter and bad-fanatic-dad.

  7. Like I said I don't know where the relationship stands exactly, but the thought occured to me that you should send this letter- not in this form, but in a different gilgul of it.

    A letter that omits the sarcasm and goes straight to the painful feelings that his letters evoke in you, and the reasons for them.

    Of course sending such a letter leaves you in an extremely vulnerable position so proceed with caution.

  8. Dear Mom and Dad, Ima and Abba (my inlaws),

    Thank you for not sending me email dvrai torah and sticking to youtube clips featuring the Macabeats and other things Jewish yet not annoying to me.

    With great appreciation,

    P.S. Can you tell Abandoning Eden's dad to cease and desist with the dvar torah sending too? Thanks.

  9. >We can respect each others choices without necessarily agreeing with them.

    How do you respect a decision when you absolutely disagree with it? If anything, they probably tolerate it, not really respect it.

  10. $20,000 on a sheepskin scroll of stories. What a waste of good money.

  11. curious: why do you celebrate christmas? isn't that a religious holiday? why wouldn't you treat christman with the same disdain as you treat jewish rituals? maybe you can write another post about that.

    I assume you celebrate it in a secular fashion, but if that's the case, you could have a secular appreciation of Jewish religious symbols as well.

    Answering my own question, I suppose that Christian religious symbols don't carry the negative family baggage that Jewish religious symbols do.

  12. Kisarita, I don't think that AE's father is doing the right thing. As you say, he's trying to connect with her (maybe) but he wants that connection to be entirely on his terms, he's making that connection a religious one. I think AE feels frustrated here because in so doing, he's completely disregarding the way she's chosen to live her life.

    It would be a bit like her trying to connect to him by sending him Jews for Jesus information on a weekly basis, if she was a Jew for Jesus. It just wouldn't be welcome, and it's no different when the tables are turned and it's a jew sending religious materials to an atheist.

  13. Isn't it interesting how religious parents just want their kids to be a duplicate of themselves? They don't understand that their child can actually think differently, and thats okay.

  14. kisarita,

    as you noted, I do celebrate christmas in a secular manner. I don't think you can appreciate jewish religious symbols in a secular manner, since they are specifically attached to a religion, but Christmas is a mishmash of many different religions and traditions, and the way we (we as in me and my husband) celebrate it has nothing to do with religion- we have a tree with some non religious ornaments, put up some lights, go to visit my inlaws and have a big meal and exchange gifts with each other. None of those traditions can be traced back to jesus christ.

    In part we celebrate it because it's my husband's family tradition that he likes to celebrate...I tend to think of it as more of a winter solstice holiday than a religious tradition... people have been having winter solstice holidays for most if not all of human history, where they exchanged gifts with other tribes back when we were hunter gatherers), and had lights because it was the darkest nights of the year. Plus the lights are pretty, and having a tree in the house is awesome, and i love giving (and getting) gifts. If i didn't marry someone whose family celebrated christmas I prolly wouldn't celebrate it though- I certainly didn't before I met my husband.

    As for jewish religious holidays, yes they have bad associations for me, but I don't completely reject them...i occasionally celebrate jewish holidays in my own manner, usually involving traditional food (like making matza ball soup for pesach, having challah and pomegranites and apples with honey for rosh hashana, hamentashen for purim). But it really doesn't do much for me- the reason I like christmas so much is that it's now a big family holiday for me, where I get to hang out with my in-laws for a week or so. Jewish holidays are just a reminder that my own family has rejected me, and would never invite me and my husband for holidays.

    chanukah in particular is a holiday about the more religious jews winning over jews who wanted to be more secular and assimilated into greek culture, so that particular holiday is not one that i, as someone who has rejected religous life to 'assimilate' into american culture, feel is appropriate to celebrate.

  15. oh and as for getting in touch and sending my dad this letter...why would i send a nasty letter to him in response to him trying to share part of his life with me? That won't help anything. I'd rather just not respond at all.

    And yes, my parent's arn't the only ones to put distance into our relationship, and I am very aware of that- basically at this point I don't like my parents very much, and I prefer to keep my distance and not have much of a relationship with them. They are the ones who decided to cut off our relationship, but I certainly did not fight it as hard as I could have, and I haven't worked particularly hard at reconciling with them...

    We haven't gotten along since I was 15, them freaking out over my husband was just one instance in over a decade of them freaking out over everything i do, and even before they cut off our relationship we didn't have much of a relationship to speak of- when someone freaks out over everything you do, it's hard to talk about more than just work or school, since anything more personal than that just led to more freak outs. So why would I try to reconcile with them, when I know it would be more of the same- that in order to have a 'relationship' with them, it would have to be some BS impersonal relationship.

  16. I host a public access cable TV show in Manhattan entitled "NYC Atheists Live!(On Tape)." If you're ever in the NYC area I would love to have you on as a guest on my show.

    Very best.

    Dennis Horvitz

  17. I can completely relate to you and your so-called family. I am in the same position. After my mother died, my father remarried in 11 months and moved to Israel. 2/3 of my sisters have married rabbis. None of them have anything to do with me. I havn'y spoken to them in over 3 years.

    I was even told by my biotch sister, Jennifer, that MY SON is a bad influence for her children because he is an atheist too.

    This is what happens when you a person chooses orthodoxy and lives in a self-imposed ghetto.

    I am constantly depressed and upset over my lack of family - expecially my father. I wouldn't recognize my 12 neices and nephews if I saw them on the street today.

    It is unbelievable that this religion that they proclaim is sooooo awesome, isolates their own daughter. ---- AND THEY ARE OKAY WITH THAT. They are the sad ones.

    But yet, here I am still pining and crying over things that I cannot change.

  18. It wasn't me who said you should send a nasty letter- it was me saying you should share something about yourself. Specifically your feelings upon receiving the letter.

    Of course I don't really know if even that is an appropriate step to take given the relationship dynamics; just a thought.

  19. Families? Oh yeah, mine is all screwed up. Some good eggs and many scrambled eggs.

    I am following. I am a Christian who loves people even if they have a different belief, or no belief whatsoever. I enjoy the occasional debate, but I am not out to hog the blogs.

    I find humor in most every situation... I like to laugh, and I like to make people laugh.

    Everyone is welcome to visit my blog... it's satire, humor, goofy & silly. You will see the occasional religious endorsement (right now my banner mentions Christmas and the Savior), but I think it's got something for everyone. I like to say I am an equal opportunity offender, though it's all in good fun.

    I found this site through AE's husband, B's site.

    Y'all take care (I'm in the South too... Alabama).

    - Wally J

  20. I hope y'all don't mind a little spam for your holidays. ;-)


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