Sunday, August 14, 2011

How I went OTD and left the Jewish community for good: Part 1

Elsewhere in some of the several new facebook OTD (Off the derech - former orthodox jews) groups, people have been discussing their escape stories. How they escaped their parents. Some of these stories are incredible- people leaving home with nothing but the clothes on their back, moving across the country and staying with virtual (very kind) strangers so that they can get away.

My story is not nearly so dramatic, and took place over several years. Seven years to be exact. But I don't think I've ever fully told it in one place here. So here it is. In it's entirety. Well not exactly it's entirety, I wrote out the whole thing and it's *really* long so I've broken the story up into 6 posts which will be released over the next few weeks.

Part 1:

Like many OTDers, I was always a skeptic of those in authority, was always a bit of a trouble maker and rabble rouser, but I had never before turned my skepticism on religion until around my 15th birthday when I had an "out of the box" moment. Before that, everyone I interacted with regularly was an orthodox jew. I knew there were jewish people who were not religious at all, and I knew there were jewish people who were not orthodox but were part of another sect (which to us was also "not religious" since OJs love to confuse orthodoxy with religiosity), but the possibility of transitioning between these states just never occurred to me.

The weekend of my 15th birthday, which was towards the end of 9th grade, a friend from school invited me to her house for shabbas. That weekend changed my life in a number of ways. Her family being more "modern" orthodox than mine was, after dinner on friday night a bunch of her friends came over to visit- which included some young men.

So friday night after shabbas dinner all of us-a group of MO young men and women start wandering around the town, just talking and roaming around. Something that I was to repeatedly do for years afterwards- wander around on friday night talking to my friends, not really doing anything cause it was shabbas, not really going anywhere cause we had nowhere to go.

So we talked and walked. And one of the boys there, M, blew my mind with this information: He keeps shabbas, but sometimes if he comes up with a really good poem (He was writing poetry at the time as many teenage boys do) he will write it down on shabbas so he doesn't forget. Mind blowing! Here was a boy who was raised modern orthodox like me, but was actively violating a rule that I had never even considered violating! Within weeks I was tearing toilet paper on shabbas and eating vegetarian food without a hechsher at a hospital where I volunteered (the previous summer I had used my volunteer $5 lunch voucher to get horrible kosher hospital food. The non kosher food was still horrible, but much less so).

The other important thing that happened that weekend was that I met my first boyfriend, and had my first kiss, on my 15th birthday (the kiss occurred on motzei shabbas when the same group from friday night got together in someone's basement to watch a new Highlander movie that had come out). It wasn't M, it was a friend of his, let's call him "Avi" since that was his name, and it's generically jewish enough.

Avi was my first boyfriend. A few weeks after we first met and kissed, he came to my town for shabbas and stayed at the house of a boy my age who I didn't know. I told my parents I was going to visit a (girl) friend of mine and went over to visit him instead. That was my introduction to a group of people in my town who were also secretly OTD. The boy he was staying at turned the TV on when his parents went off to visit some friends on shabbas afternoon.

Throughout that summer Avi would come to some guys houses in my town for shabbas, I would go to his town for shabbas a few times, and my parents had no idea. I would tell my parents I was going to take the bus to the hospital I volunteered at, and more often than not I would take the bus the opposite way, to Avi's house, where we would make out while his parents were at work (never had sex with him though). I didn't tell my parents about my boyfriend because I knew they would not approve-they only wanted me to date for "tachlis" (marriage) and when I asked when I could start dating they said when I was 17. Since I was 15, I knew it wouldn't be a good idea to tell them. So I continued this secret relationship for a few months.

Eventually my parents caught on that something was going down and started being suspicious of my 'good friend' Avi, and in early August I went to visit my friend for shabbas, my dad made me sign some document saying Avi wouldn't be there cause he was so suspicious at this point (he was always making me sign written documents of things he wanted me to promise), Avi went to stay somewhere down the block from my friend and ate all his meals at my friend's house, my dad came to pick me up and my friend's mom was like "Oh can you take Avi home too?" So I was caught. That was a super awkward 40 minute drive home.

When I got home my parents grounded me indefinitely. No phone, no tv, no computer, no leaving the house or my room except for meals, and no volunteering either (I'm not sure if they knew I wasn't actually volunteering all the times I said I was, or if they were just trying to keep me at home). It was early August and school didn't start for another month, so the first month of what turned out to be more than 4 months of this, I was trapped in my house without even school for social contact. As you can imagine I fell into a depression and at one point towards the end of the first month when I felt like I was trapped in my room forever and I would never be able to be happy again, I ate a bunch of Tylenol to try to kill myself. I did not take enough and basically slept for 2 days and then woke up ok. As far as I know my parents didn't notice- since I was depressed and grounded, I was spending most of my days sleeping anyway.

At that time I pulled out a calendar and started adding up the days until I turned 18. I naively thought that my 18th birthday would be the day I would finally be free of my parents and religious life forever.

To be continued...

Read Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5 and Part 6

85 comments:

  1. Wow, my heart breaks for you for the way your parents treated you. Grounding for four months?? NOT NOTICING a suicide attempt? Not to mention the endless manipulation and controlling behavior. You deserve to have parents who are thrilled at the way you turned out, which is, as far as I can tell, stupendous.

    My own tame story can be found here.

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  2. Your strength and courage are inspiring. You had to spend a few years in shitty neighborhoods, but you ended up with a profession, a husband and, most important, your freedom and integrity.

    Not many can say as much.

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  3. Wow! I am appalled that your parents were so extreme in their punishment, and that they were not concerned that you were depressed enough to attempt suicide? They were clearly abusive. I can understand better now why your relationship with your parents is so strained. They owe you an apology!

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  4. As far as I know they still to this day don't know I ever tried to commit suicide. I never told them. I also cut my hands up a few times while I was grounded, and they didn't notice that either (although my friends at shul and school did, since it was the back of my freakin hands). If they did notice they never said anything to me.

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  5. Were they just clueless in general?

    What was your relationship like with them before this happened?

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  6. we had a pretty good relationship until I turned 15 and this all went down. I mean they were somewhat more protective than the parents of some of my friends (very strict rules about curfews, tv watching, hanging out with boys, etc.).

    But things were pretty much fine when I was younger and still following all the rules. My brother was more of a troublemaker then so they paid a lot more attention to him. I think they were good parents to young children, but couldn't handle it as well once I started NOT doing everything the way they wanted me to do it.

    I don't know if they were just clueless in general. My dad is actually a professional psychologist, so you would think he would recognize the signs of depression. But he also worked very long hours 6 days a week (and worked nights every day except friday/saturday), so wasn't around much except to take us on special trips every once in a while on sunday morning.

    My mom read a lot of books and left us to fend for ourselves for the most part during the week. We would eat dinner together and then all go do our own thing.

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  7. One good thing about this grounding which I haven't mentioned is that I became super close with my brother(the troublemaker now OTD one), since he was the only person kinda my age around to talk to. We didn't get along before the grounding, but after that were basically BFFs and now are still really close. :)

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  8. I guess that cliche about the shoemakers' kids is true...

    It's interesting to read your story, because I find myself doing it with 2 perspectives. Obviously, your voice is coming across, but as someone 10 years older than you with kids, I also wonder about your parents. [My oldest is 12, and I can see myself worrying if I found out that she was sneaking off to be with a boy in 3 years.]

    As a kid, I'm sure they came across as super-strict and unresponsive. In reality, I'm wondering if they were clueless and scared - if they sort of coasted through the childhood phase, bought into the surrounding myth that creating an insular environment would eliminate problems, and then went into a complete panic that eliminated common sense when you hit normal teenage rebellion?

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  9. It's perfectly possible. I mean I am the oldest, so I'm the first teenager they had to deal with. :) They might have done a better job with my brother (the OTD one who is a year and a half younger than me)...except in reality they didn't, they didn't punish him and go all crazy the way they did with me (I think I was treated more harshly because I was female), but he was doing the exact same things I was -sneaking off to meet up with secret girlfriends and even in adulthood he has kept all his girlfriends secret from my parents. He was just always better at keeping secrets than I was.

    So I think it might be something more. My parents were so disapproving of what I believe to be normal teenage behavior (yes it may have been rebellious in the charedi orthodox community they originally came from but in EVERY OTHER COMMUNITY- including the modern orthodox community they chose to raise us in- teenagers hooking up is just NORMAL TEENAGE BEHAVIOR) that they made it impossible to tell the truth to them.

    I also almost never had friends over because my parents would criticize them so much afterward for everything, and make us all hang out in the living room WITH my parents, so we just went to other people's houses. I think among my friend's parents, my parents were definitely the strictest.

    But it's hard to say, I question this all the time- like were my parents normal and I was just super rebellious and annoying as a teenager? Or are they actually un-normal? It's hard to compare, because I don't really have a reference point...

    I guess I could have just followed the rules and not dated him, but I liked him and he liked me back! And I wanted a bf! And I think that's completely normal for teenage girls!

    The reason I was ultimately grounded for 4 months was NOT that I was sneaking away to spend time at his house unsupervised- they never even knew about that.

    The reason I was grounded was because after I told them avi would not be at my friend's house, I went to a friend's house for shabbas, avi (and my friend's bf) went to another person's house for shabbas in the same neighborhood, and we met up for meals in a SUPERVISED household and also went to shul together. Oh and maybe after dinner we walked around the neighborhood holding hands and kissing a little bit. THE HORROR!!!

    I'm not a parent yet, but if I have a 15 year old walking around with a bf I would think it would be cute, not reason for imprisonment. The teenager next door has a bf come over and they hang out on the front porch and I think it's freakin adorable.. :)

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  10. Were they originally charedi? I thought you said something about your father being raised Conservative.

    I'm asking, because BT parents sometimes have no idea what "normal" is. They basically reject the model with which they were raised. They fall in love with this new religious model of family life, but don't have the real-life experience of having been raised that way. In this mindset, it's also easy to reject even the good parts of one's less religious upbringing, and not realize that not everything in the religious world is perfect. I also know that the Orthodox world has been getting more intentionally insular.

    With teens in general, I often see problems with self-fulfilling prophecies. For example, a child will misbehave, and a parent (due to their own life issues) panics and assumes that the child is heading straight for jail. The child then gets the message that the parent believes that they are a budding criminal, and may start to see themselves that way.

    I'm not defending your parents actions, just trying to figure out how and why they went wrong.

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  11. "The other important thing that happened that weekend was that I met my first boyfriend, and had my first kiss, on my 15th birthday (the kiss occurred on motzei shabbas when the same group from friday night got together in someone's basement to watch a new Highlander movie that had come out)."

    Girl wants sex. Girl becomes atheist. Why aren't I surprised?

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  12. I kissed a boy at 15 and went on to become Orthodox. Go figure.

    I read something interesting in "Raising Roses Among the Thorns" by Rabbi Noach Orlowek. Rabbi Orlowek is a "yeshivish" rabbi who generally advocates a fairly sheltered approach (no TV, etc.) However, he has a chapter on "trust", and specifically makes the point that parents should take opportunities to demonstrate to their children that they trust them. He gives an example of a woman who had gone to a meeting of a secular group in pre-war Europe, and had someone inform her father of this fact. She remembered that her father responded with, "no, my daughter knows our values, and she wouldn't do that." The daughter was moved by her father's trust in her, and didn't want to break it after that. I thought it was interesting that he advocates trust in your children over measures designed to either punish or keep them under surveillance.

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  13. Also, just by the way, if you really had taken a lot of Tylenol (according to your body weight) you would have been very sick.

    http://www.emedicinehealth.com/acetaminophen_tylenol_poisoning/page3_em.htm

    Tylenol is not a sleeping pill; ODing on it is very painful. You're poisoning your liver.

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  14. jrkmommy- long convoluted story, but basically my paternal grandparents were chassidic before the holocaust, afterwards were "traditional" and attended a conservadox shul. But they sent my dad to an orthodox yeshiva for HS, where he became a BT and charedi. He later met my mom, who grew up in a black hatter snag family. They got married and lived in brooklyn for a while until I was around 2 years old, and eventually got tired with charedi society and moved to an MO town in NJ and started raising us modern orthodox and going to an MO shul. My mom didn't cover her hair outside of shul and wore pants (Which she didn't in brooklyn). Then when I was around 10, my mom went to some amazing rabbi shiur or something, and came home and got rid of all our pants and started covering her hair whenever she left the house for any reason, and when strangers were in the house. The whole town they lived in drifted right over the years. So they ended up pretty much where they began, minus as many black hats.

    JP: I didn't become an atheist until I was around 22, years after I started having sex. Also, I didn't have sex with my first bf in this story. If you are saying hooking up is the same thing, well then I was hooking up with him before I even went OTD in any other way, and plenty of my modern orthodox friends hooked up with people but in all other ways were frum and believed in god and stuff. So that wasn't an either/or choice for me.

    I don't think I took enough Tylenol to actually OD on it, so not ODing on it is probably not as painful. IIRC I had the "not feeling well" and "Nausea" and "not being able to eat" part, I usually sleep when I don't feel well or feel sick which is probably why I slept through most of the next 2 days.

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  15. JRK mommy-

    What I forgot to mention in the above comment- my dad was BT and charedi (as much as he could be, cause he lived with his parents until he married my mom) from age 14ish to age 30ish, so over half his life by the time we moved to the MO community. And my mom was charedi FFB. So that's what I mean by the community they originally came from. :)

    Also, I think as a psychologist he had a very skewed view of the world, since he saw people with a lot of problems in his practice (some court ordered to see him, some from the local public HS), and figured that everyone was messed up and involved in crazy things like these people were. I think that made him very overprotective of me, especially as a girl (and he, like many orthodox people, has VERY traditional ideas about gender) and as the oldest.

    I also think he just has a very controlling personality in general, completely separate from religion (just wait for the next few parts of the story!). Or maybe that's what attracted him to a more extreme version of religion? Judaism does involve a lot of self control...

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  16. Abandoning, you really go to sleep when your sick and nauseous? Ok.

    About the sex thing, look at it like this. The hundreds of thousands of European Jews who were baptized in the 19th century, it really had nothing to do with admission to university, higher paying professions, etc? It was all about Jesus Christ, nothing to do with money? I'm not too sure.

    Same thing with Jews turning to atheism today. It's all about sex.

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  17. >just wait for the next few parts of the story!

    Yaaaaa, that, at least for me is what troubles me so much about this post, and your particular penchant to drive your parents in the dirt with everyone else applauding what a great and strong person you are. Guess what? Your parents are human. They make errors. As all our parents have. Since become a parent I know realize just how much I took for granted when my parents raised me. What they went through. The balancing of their lives, while raising kids. Knowing when to show compassion and knowing when to be a disciplinarian. There is no job harder on earth than that. And know I realize it. But what IS easy, is spitting on your parents behind their back, under a curtain of anonymity.

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  18. JP- Indeed I do, I should get my husband to come confirm, but when I get sick I tend to hibernate in bed for insanely long periods of time.

    HH-This isn't a story to spit on my parents or whatever, this is a story about how I went OTD and escaped the jewish community. My parents figure prominently in that story, since they were the main force keeping me religious (at least in some practices) for several years.

    I understand my parents are human. I never said they weren't. In fact I think I've made clear that I think they are human, and I've tried to come up with explanations for their behavior because I have for the most part gotten over this stuff. But I do think they are controlling, and I do think the next few parts of the story will show how controlling they are. Is that wrong somehow?

    I'm just telling the truth of how things happened. I'm not sure what you would want me to do, just keep my mouth shut and not talk about the things that have happened in my life, that have had deep impacts on how I live my life today? This is my blog, which I use to write about such things as a way to work them out for myself, to cathartically tell the world things I have never told anyone about my life, and move on from them. Sorry if that doesn't meet your approval.

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  19. >But I do think they are controlling, and I do think the next few parts of the story will show how controlling they are. Is that wrong somehow?

    >I'm just telling the truth of how things happened

    They may in fact be controlling. You may in fact be telling the truth. (Though nobody here has ever heard their side). Point is, why is it anyone else's business to hear how horrible your parents are? Since you HAVE been blogging for quite some time now, and everyone knows you are no longer OJ, what do you get by once again rehashing to the world how bad they were? What's the goal? Since you have started moving forward in your life, what is the purpose of going back now once again to share these particular details? And like you just admitted...you have plenty more to share with all of us. What are you going to hear now that you haven't heard a thousand times before? More pat on the backs? (ie, JA and Suzanne) More "give them another chance." ?

    There are great ways to move forward without doing what you do to them here. Your feelings are still hurting....as I am sure theirs are too. It is always easier for a child to move forward then it is for a parent. I somehow doubt your mom hasn't cried herself to sleep, but flip it around and ask yourself how you would feel had your mom opened up an anonymous blog with anonymous people discussing how bad of a daughter you were. There is a qualitative difference between discussing your troubles intimately with a friend, vs. shouting out into the internet universe for all to hear. Though you may not have much positive to say about them (and that can be understandable) that shouldn't mean you have to spread the negative either.

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  20. "I didn't become an atheist until I was around 22, years after I started having sex. Also, I didn't have sex with my first bf in this story."

    These things take time; people don't go from sober to homeless addict for example overnight either.

    I can prove it's all about sex.

    Imagine for a moment that secular American society was extremely Puritanical. Imagine that secular Americans lived something like the way Saudi Arabians live – with the most extreme restrictions and anyone breaking the rules is imprisoned or killed. [This is not difficult to imagine. For example, the Soviet Communist Party actively encouraged chastity as well as atheism. The two may be compatible.]

    On the other hand, imagine that the Orthodox Jewish community would practice the most permissive sexuality – nudism, group sex, wife swapping, pornography were all encouraged and would be legally permitted provided that one is a member in good standing of the Orthodox Jewish community. The Orthodox community would be something like Sweden in the 1960’s. [It is not difficult to imagine a religion teaching this. For example, the Satanic Bible page 37 states "Satanism encourages any form of sexual expression you may desire, so long as it hurts no one else." What if the Torah would say that?] 

    Everything else however would be exactly the same.

    In this case would we still find so many young people deciding, “science disproves Judaism”? Would they all say, “It’s going to be hard; I’m going to miss all that hot, wild sex. But I’ll just have to give it up, become a gentile, live a life of strict chastity, because those stories in the Torah don’t make a lot of sense”? Or would all the “questions” regarding the Documentary Hypothesis and Evolution suddenly seem much less important? 

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  21. what is the point in blogging at all? What is the point in anyone publishing a memoir of going OTD? What is the point of sharing our stories?

    I'll tell you the point, the point is the dozens (probably close to 100 or more) of people who have contacted me over the years since I started this blog, telling me my story gave them the courage to finally leave after being miserable for several years, telling me that my story gave them comfort when they are going through similarly horrible things, telling me my story gave them inspiration when they felt like nothing would ever get better.

    If I can help just one of those people have a slightly easier time of it, it's TOTALLY worth potentially humiliating my parents, who have done nothing but make my life miserable for going on 14 years. Fuck them and fuck you too for trying to guilt me into shutting up. I will not be silenced by you or anyone.

    JP if you have something rational to say I would be glad to read it, but there's only so many rantings of raving lunatics I can get through before I give up entirely. Please seek professional help.

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  22. Oh and another benefit I personally get from this is catharsis. These are stories I have never told publicly- for instance only about 3 people in the entire world knew about my past suicide attempt before I wrote this post. By publicly writing about the shit I have gone through, it helps me to work through and move on from it.

    Blogging is better than any therapy I've ever gone to. For some reason once I put things in writing, it helps to work out my feelings about it, and it doesn't really bother me anymore afterward.

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  24. "JP if you have something rational to say I would be glad to read it, but there's only so many rantings of raving lunatics I can get through before I give up entirely. Please seek professional help."

    Actually I was being rational, but apparently you have nothing worthwhile to say. Since we're offering personal opinions:

    Your a liar, a traitor, a fake, a phony, a disgrace to humanity and generally a huge bag of shit who is proud of how many children she's ruining with her disgusting sewage pipe of a so called "blog".

    I can only pray for your immediate but painful demise.

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  25. >it's TOTALLY worth potentially humiliating my parents,

    Good set of values you have there. I have been on these blogs probably longer than you have and have read many OTD blogs. They in fact DO offer support for people that are rather lost and unhappy. But I don't really recall any of them needing to humiliate their parents in order to give other strength. The strentgh comes seeing others making decisions and proper ones. You can do all that without writing how shitty your folks are...over and over and over again.

    Problem is, IMO, there is a tinge of narcisism here. Your feelings are supreme, therefore you can humiliate others in your quest to feel good about yourself. Moving on does not require all this (unless you already talked yourself into equating moving on with dumping on your parents).

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  26. I find it interesting that Hyrax values the feelings of the offender (and yes, you may have meant well when you hurt your child, but that doesn't mean you didn't hurt them) over the victim.

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  27. >I find it interesting that Hyrax values the feelings of the offender (and yes, you may have meant well when you hurt your child, but that doesn't mean you didn't hurt them) over the victim.

    As AE said, she knows her parents are only human and err. All parents hurt their children in some manner. Was AE so abused that they should get this? Does she owe them zero? You make it seem like all offenses are equal.

    Like I said, I think its a narcissistic thing to make yourself feel better by very actively publicly humiliating others....let alone ones parents.

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  28. @ AE
    You wrote “… this is a story about how I went OTD and escaped the jewish community.”
    I think you meant ORTHODOX Jewish community you were raised in.

    @Holy Hyrex
    You wrote “… and everyone knows you are no longer OJ, …”
    I personally don’t think AE is Jewish anymore let alone Orthodox. Yes, of course she’s “technically” Jewish, but the way she looks at all Judaism, her seeming inability to see the good aspects of it or the varied landscape of Judaism that exists (and might intersect with her new found values) precludes her from the label.
    It’s certainly understandable to a point – but conversely at a certain point it takes two to tango.
    ALL conflict has two parties. While her parents sound misguided at best, possibly a bit abusive at worst, every adult goes through that point when you take some of the blame on for yourself. Her parents PROBABLY did the best they could – did AE? Is she now or is she still throwing bombs because it’s “cathartic?”

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  29. how exactly is it "throwing bombs" if my parents have no idea this blog exists and I don't mention them by name? get over yourselves. If you don't like the way I talk about things in my blog, feel free to click that little "x" on the top right corner of this window.

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  30. I don't know HH, was I so 'abused' that they deserve 'this'? (and what is this exactly, me describing events that happened 15 years ago? Is that so horrible?). You will have to keep reading to find out. I mean you already know the part where they disowned me and refuse to acknowledge my husband. But of course to you I'm sure that is a reasonable response on their part too.

    If this behavior reflects so badly on my parents that merely recounting what happened is "throwing bombs" or "disrespectful" or it is "humiliating them" or whatever the fuck, it's because they were behaving badly in a way that would be shameful if publicly known. The problem isn't the recounting, it's their behavior that is so bad that you think merely describing it "humiliates" them.

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  31. @AE -- the "little bombs" are more towards Judaism. You seem to mix up your negativity towards your parents and Judaism as a whole.
    We're all "technically" OTD to some degree or another (maybe a generation or two removed), but most of us understand the difference between the "style" of Orthodoxy as it is currently practiced (especially in the NE of the US) and the “substance” of Judaism. We come in all stripes and colors, values and beliefs. We’re not all your parents or your old principal.

    Just as you think it’s appropriate to post your “feelings” about what happened to you – and I sympathize, it really seemed to mess you up – I think it’s appropriate to call you on stuff. I’ve read NEARLY every post you written for the last year and quite a few from your beginning. It’s MHO that to a degree, your full of sh*t. I think you use what happened to you as a crutch and can’t reconcile the choices you made. You certainly don’t seem to own up to your mistakes, it’s always about OTHERS doing something you react to.

    That’s fine. In no way do I hope to convince you of ANYTHING including – actually especially - to “be Jewish.” I post to try and make sure it’s clear that not everyone accepts your vision of Judaism and what is the “right way” to become OTD.

    As long s you post stuff I believe are wrong or misguided, I’ll keep posting.

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  32. What I really want to know is, can anyone give me a better reason to apostatize from Judaism other than "scientists don't believe in the Torah, so it must be false" or "I want to get laid"?

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  33. >The problem isn't the recounting, it's their behavior that is so bad that you think merely describing it "humiliates" them.

    You used the word humiliating initially. I have already stated the problem with all of this. To you, they behaved badly. To them, it was you. What gets achieved by you writing how horrible they are over and over again with lots of details? Nothing more but making yourself feel better about yourself and getting pats on the back. You think because they don't know about this blog it makes it alright? Fine. If they find out, just tell them that reason. But flip it around and see what you would think if they had a blog against you. You already admitted they are only human and not perfect. Your dad is controlling? BFD. So are millions of other people. You think you are going to be a perfect parent? So a lack of perfection gives license to blog about how horrible they are? If you are really in need of help, go see a therapist. A good therapist wouldn't just cheer you on with things you want to hear in order to feel good about yourself. All this is a values issue. And a lack of them in this instance if you feel you owe something to a perfect stranger (another blogger perhaps) more than to the people that raised you. You ARE after all the one that said:

    "If I can help just one of those people have a slightly easier time of it, it's TOTALLY worth potentially humiliating my parents"



    You asked what blogging is for!!?? Well yes, this is the ugly side of blogging. The ability to cloak yourself from any responsibility or discipline to words you choose to use and what you choose to say.

    And yes, I am aware what your parents did to you because you CHOSE to marry a non-Jew. But I really don't want to get into that. Do you?

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  34. JP- how about "judaism fucking sucks" and "i don't want to waste my life following a bunch of stupid useless rituals that were clearly made up by people, cause if there is a god, I hope he's not that petty and retarded. And if he is, not worth worshiping IMO."

    Chaim- I think I own up to my own mistakes, I just farking told the world I tried to commit suicide, and I think that was a big mistake. I may not be like AND THIS WAS A BIG MISTAKE every time, but I certainly write about things I've done that I don't think reflect very well on me, and try to be honest even if I'm ashamed of that past behavior. If you want to read how things were according to my parent's perspective, I can't tell you that, I can only tell you my own.

    Plus we are still only in part 1, where I was 15, so this experience if filtered through the fact that i experienced it as a 15 year old teenager. Part 2 will be posted tomorrow morning. I just read over the rest of my posts, and I really don't think I'm unnecessarily focusing on how much my parents suck or whatever. They just figure prominently in the beginning.


    And how could they not?
    To a child, religion is your parents. I experimented with many forms of judaism later on in college under the same idea you had- that I was confusing Judaism with my parents, and that not everyone was as bad as the community I came from. Still didn't do anything for me. I must not have the "gains any benefit from religion" gene.

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  35. A comment from a fellow OTD, as requested:

    What kind of gets me here is that this is a side of your father I never did see (with my own eyes, anyway). Back in the day, I remember you used to talk about what your father was like. But what gets me is that I actually remember thinking your father was really funny; although this was when I was pre-pubescent and had a pretty underdeveloped sense of humor! I suppose he and my father were friendly with each other, as they used to often walk back from shul together; but I'm not sure if their relationship ever was anything more than just that.

    Your mother I never really got to know all that well, although I can't help but think she probably didn't like me very much (then again, I was a bit of an annoying kid).

    Hey JP, you still reading? I will personally attest that it was not sex that caused me to go OTD. It was the treif food. In fact, I can safely say that I enjoyed my first time eating treif (shrimp wrapped in bacon and stuffed in a jalapeno pepper) more than I did my first time having sex (sadly)! It was a real "where have you been all my life" experience--and I mean the treif. To this day, I can attest that the biggest thing I'd miss if I ever went back to being frum is the food. I mean the wild promiscuous sex with shiktzas that I don't have (I lead a very boring life) I can do without; but being able to eat where I want? This I can't cope with.

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  36. HH clearly we will not be convincing each other of our positions, so we're going to have to agree to disagree, since we're all just repeating the same thing over and over again at this point.

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  37. Fish- my parents have two personalities, the one they put on in public, and the one they have at home. I think lots of people are like that actually. :) And my dad is funny I guess...if you like puns... :)

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  38. @AE
    So you tried to commit suicide (sort of) because what your parents did to you and somehow THAT’S your admission to being wrong?
    No, I’ve said it before, every CONFLICT has two parts. Sort of trying to commit suicide is a mistake sure, but has nothing to do with your part of the overall conflict.
    You say you hated your high school, you say your parents wouldn’t let you “date” at 15 (and, um, lie about it) and they weren’t happy?!? Imagine that! Guess what, we ALL go through this to some degree or another. I was punished for almost a year once for forging my parents signature in fourth grade. Boo, hoo for me.

    “I must not have the "gains any benefit from religion" gene.”
    Yeah, except when they are someone ELSE’S religion…
    “Halloween: Bestest holiday evar!1!”
    “O christmas tree O christmas tree, I have an awesome christmas tree!”
    Where you wrote about ornaments and “we're specifically avoiding anything with a religious theme” of course discounts the whole fricken tree and holiday being religious!

    How about the “pretty good summation of my moral code: "Love everyone, trust a few, do wrong to none"” Um, religious again, just not recognizably so (at first glance).

    “I experimented with many forms of judaism later on in college” yet somehow NEVER found more than a spattering of non-socially conservative Jewish males?
    No, every opinion is based on the baggage you carry.
    (I’m still waiting for this RESEARCH that proves me and the quantifiable results I posted wrong.)

    No, you just don’t see the hypocrisy of it all - you’re not there yet and that’s fine. But I’ll keep calling you on it. (n_n)

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  39. Annie- I deleted your comment since you are "outing" me, but yeah, I'm semianonymous. Several people have figured out my "real" identity from this blog. Congrats. :) What I'm concerned about is someone googling my name and finding this blog, which they can't. My parents don't read blogs, they barely use the internet.

    But, if they did find this, how would it make our relationship any worse? We barely talk now as it is, and I'm not invited to their house- what are they going to do, double disown me?

    And after years and years in which I kept all this stuff secret and in which I had to hide what I was doing in my real life, it might almost be nice for them to know the truth about how I feel and what I've done in my life. At least they might know ME then. Not that I would go out of my way to make it happen, but I don't think it would be the end of the world.

    Chaim- there is a difference between ritual and religion. Putting up a tree is ritual, it's not religion (which part of the new testament says "though shalt put up a christmas tree or god will smite you?") Halloween..well jews and evangelical christians are the only people who think it's a religious holiday.

    I do like celebrating some holidays. Just not many of the jewish ones. It's nice to have traditions. It doesn't help that the jewish holidays are so famiy/community based, and it's not like my family is inviting me over, and I don't live in a jewish community. Maybe if my parents would invite us over for a holiday (especially one that doesn't require not using electricity for several days) we would celebrate those too. I certainly would be open to that as well. But they don't.

    Honestly I would never have started celebrating christmas if it wasn't for my husband celebrating it with a family (and I didn't celebrate it before I met him). To me it's basically thanksgiving part 2 with presents and a tree. But I can see why other people think differently.

    My moral code is not based on religion, that was a shakespeare quote. Is just everything religion to you? :)

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  40. Ok reading over this post again, I really don't see how I made my parents look so horrible. To me the story is- I wasn't allowed to date, I lied about it and dated anyway, I got caught and grounded, and during the grounding was miserable, etc. Which part of that exactly is where my parents are horrible people that are being publicly humiliated/whatever you are criticizing me for? I think I actually come off looking a lot worse than my parents in this story...

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  41. Jewish Philosopher -
    Your comments are not helpful. Is someone holding a gun to your head and forcing you to read this blog? If not, why are you reading it and commenting, as it is obviously making you upset?

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  42. AE

    What is the point of the post other than to bait comments at how poor you are and how bad they are? You're not posting to share with others how human they are; prone to error as much as they are prone towards good. Give your readers a little more credit to read between the lines. Not to mention you admitted you are going to share more negative stuff about them.

    It's a simple question of whether you are pushing to portray them positively or negatively. You certainly aren't aiming for neutrality.

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  43. I'm not trying to convince you. Just answering your last question.

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  44. WTF, HH? She's just telling her story. There's nothing gratuitous. She's just writing what they did. If what they did is so humiliating, how is that her fault?

    Therapy is good and I recommend it, but so is blogging. When you grow up Orthodox and aren't cookie-cutter perfect for what they want, you don't get to speak out. You're silenced, the way you're trying to silence her now, except that you can't, because you don't have that power, the way her parents and community did have that power. When you grow up and find a platform when you can speak and cannot be silenced, then it feels empowering and cathartic. Blogging was huge for me for a few years. I got to say all the things I'd wanted to say for years but couldn't, to make the arguments that nobody would engage with when I was Orthodox. I went to therapy as well. I'd say both were helpful in growing into the man I am today.

    You're so concerned about protecting Orthodoxy's reputation. Sweep everything bad under the rug, nobody needs to see that. Let's show happy faces, everybody! Who cares about the truth? The important thing is that nobody thinks anything bad of us!

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  45. >If what they did is so humiliating, how is that her fault?

    I didn't say it was. I even made it clear everything she is saying might be true. But just because she can say it doesn't mean she should. I question her wisdom whether she owes more to them, than a total stranger. I understand her frustrations with them, but there are ways to deal with it...and then there are ways to deal with it. Here is her comment again:

    "If I can help just one of those people have a slightly easier time of it, it's TOTALLY worth potentially humiliating my parents"

    >You're so concerned about protecting Orthodoxy's reputation. Sweep everything bad under the rug, nobody needs to see that. Let's show happy faces, everybody! Who cares about the truth? The important thing is that nobody thinks anything bad of us!

    You know JA, for all your intellegensia, you are a fool. Nothing I wrote here had anything to with orthodoxy. After years of blogging, I should not be surprised by your knee jerk reactions to anything orthodox (or gay). But the proof is in the pudding. I did not mention anything about orthodoxy nor judaism (do a search). I am not concerned with orthodoxy's reputation, I am concerned with her parents "reputation" (if you can call that on the blog). For my purpose here, they can be atheists. I would say the same thing.

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  46. >> As a kid, I'm sure they came across as super-strict and unresponsive. In reality, I'm wondering if they were clueless and scared -


    JRK CUT THE FUCKING BULL SHIT AE'S PARENTS WERE RELIGIOUSLY INDUCED PSYCHO NUTBALLS.

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  47. If it isn't about the Orthodoxy, then I really don't get it. Why should she have to stay silent about her own life? Why does she "owe" it to her parents to keep her past a big secret?

    Have you thought about all the people with similar pasts or even presents who might find some solace in the fact that someone else went through similar circumstances and made it out the other side whole and successful? What about them?

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  48. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  49. >What about them?

    What about them? I would say then that you agree with her sentiments when she said:

    "If I can help just one of those people have a slightly easier time of it, it's TOTALLY worth potentially humiliating my parents"

    If you do, then we are done here.

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  50. I would say that even though this thread may "embarrass" AE's parents, it is still morally acceptable in the name of whistleblowing on the Orthodox community.

    If you do stupid shit don't complain when you get called out on it.

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  51. "judaism fucking sucks"

    Well, it's actually pretty clear that orthodox Jews are on the average happier than atheists. So if Judaism sucks, your religion sucks more.

    “People who believe in God are happier than those who don’t. A study shows that the faithful are less likely to abuse drugs, commit crimes or kill themselves.”

    “Some Dark Thought on Happiness” by Jennifer Senior (who is an atheist) in New York magazine 7/17/2006 page 30

    http://nymag.com/news/features/17573/

    ""i don't want to waste my life following a bunch of stupid useless rituals that were clearly made up by people, cause if there is a god, I hope he's not that petty and retarded."

    Argument from personal incredulity, which is a logical fallacy.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Argument_from_ignorance#Argument_from_incredulity.2FLack_of_imagination

    "And if he is, not worth worshiping IMO."

    Said like a true addict. "It's not worth it to quit using heroin and live a boring, sober life." Sure.

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  52. FWIW, Jehovah's Witnesses are 100% anti-Halloween (and birthday parties and national anthem and Xmas....). Many Muslims are as well. [I live in a VERY multicultural area.]

    Moving on...I'm frankly reading your story because I'm a parent and this (near-total estrangement between parents and children, plus not just lack of belief but active rejection of Jewish community) is my nightmare scenario.

    OBVIOUSLY, it's not an unbiased, objective account. I don't believe that such a thing exists. I do appreciate that you are giving us an account of how YOU perceive that your POV developed.

    If you don't mind, I'll be asking some more questions about your background and parents:

    1. Did they ever, on any subject, show a willingness to engage in open discussion and debate?

    [My background was quite different - my father was from a somewhat conservative MO background, while my maternal grandmother was basically a Communist. Suffice it to say that there was no real shared political or religious line, and they actively encouraged debate.]

    2. Was love ever unconditional, or was it linked to agreement with a POV?

    Was it understood that you can respectfully disagree with someone, while fully loving them? Or, was disagreement (on any issue) seen as disrespectful and rebellious?

    [Again, in my own family, friendly debate was just a way of life, and if anything it pleased my parents. It took me a LONG time as an adult to get used to my more traditional FIL and even online folks who feel that disagreement = attack.]

    3. Do you think that part of you, in turn, tends to view their lack of approval as lack of love?

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  53. JRK if you don't know the answers to your questions from reading the thread then you probably got through law school by giving your professors blow jobs.

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  54. SJ there's no reason to personally attack someone who is just asking questions. I welcome any and all questions.

    JRK- 1)we did have a lot of open discussion and debate, on what the source was for religious rules, on where they came from, etc. If you mean debate on whether or not the whole thing was a lie or not, no, that was definitely not encouraged.

    2)disagreement wasn't seen as rebellious, I'm freaking jewish, we love to argue. :) I have a bunch of lawyers in my family and every family gathering/ shabbas meal was one big argument. Usually it was my LWMO aunt arguing that my charedi aunt was being too crazily jewish with her kids. :)

    3) of course I do, my mom pretty much hates everything about me except my academic accomplishments, and she is unwilling to even discuss anything else- everything I do for fun (music shows, festivals, yoga) is somehow horrible to them. (probably because it's so foreign to what they do?). Before we stopped talking I got the distinct impression my mom didn't want to hear anything about my life unless it involved school or going to the gym, and she would actually cut me off and say she doesn't want to hear about it if I discussed anything personal.

    I honestly don't think my mom likes me very much...or stopped liking me around when I came out as not religious...part of me thinks she used this marriage thing as an excuse to cut off our relationship because she doesn't like me.

    My dad I know doesn't approve of me but somehow manages to convey that he still does love me and give a shit about me. In part because he WON'T try to shut me down when I'm talking about things he doesn't necessarily approve of, the way my mom used to. In part because even though I married someone not jewish, he still keeps up a relationship with me and will email me if he hasn't heard from me in a few months. I also believe if my mom wasn't in the picture, my dad would have been a lot more flexible on everything and would be a much bigger part of my life today (as it is we email back and forth maybe 5 or 6 times a year).

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  55. Notice how obsessed JP is with the sex lives of women he doesn't know personally? I find that a tad creepy.

    And as far as it goes, JP, not wearing clothes isn't sexual. It's simply not wearing clothes. If you went to naturist events you would be surprised. There's an awful lot of devout Christians there. "Nude is not lewd" is one of the fundamental principles. After a while you realize skin is just skin, and most people look better with clothes on.

    It's not for nothing that a Nigerian king forbade wearing unnecessary clothing. He felt the concealment and mystery made the body more enticing and led to immorality.

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  56. >I honestly don't think my mom likes me very much...or stopped liking me around when I came out as not religious...part of me thinks she used this marriage thing as an excuse to cut off our relationship because she doesn't like me.

    Somehow, I highly doubt that.

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  57. Say it. JUST SAY IT. your going off the derech boils down to Highlander. There can be only one; all attempts to sequel failed miserably, you were deeply, deeply traumatized.
    Noe

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  58. So it’s “OK” to put up a Christmas tree b/c it isn’t in the bible? What about Jesus fish? What about eating the crackers and drinking the wine at Mass – not in the bible either but VERY religious to me.
    That’s my point, you don’t see the hypocrisy of tearing off the shackles of Judaism’s “rituals” and taking on other religion’s rituals.

    “My moral code is not based on religion, that was a shakespeare quote. Is just everything religion to you?”
    Where do you think Shakespeare’s inspiration came from?
    No, this quote which supposedly symbolizes your “atheists code” comes pretty directly from Christian thought. I understand you don’t want to admit that, it doesn’t fit the myth you’ve created. But that’s the point – we ALL like celebrating shared rituals (look it up, it’s one SPECIFIC definition of religion), we ALL share very basic values and laws that are absolutely, directly created by religion. You want to reject religion but it still influences EVERYTHING we have and live with in Western society, you don’t see the hypocrisy, that’s all.

    “Love all” - a simple Christian duty that was taken quite seriously in Shakespeare's time and which means to value life in others as well as ourselves.
    “Trust a few” - do not rely upon everyone to have the same values as you do. Roman Catholics vs Protestant thing was going strong then.
    “Do wrong to none” to do wrong to a person meant to injure their person or reputation without provocation.

    OR “What is hateful to you, do not do unto others.” - Hillel

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  59. "Notice how obsessed JP is with the sex lives of women he doesn't know personally? I find that a tad creepy."

    I'm a little bit obsessed with people who are trying to mislead and ruin the lives of other people. If that's creepy, I'm fine with that.

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  60. or "first, do no harm" which is pagan and predates christianity. As are christmas trees.

    I know many non-christian non-religious people who set up a christmas tree.

    The tree has nothing to do with christianity and jesus's birth, just like eggs and bunnies have nothing to do with jesus coming back from the dead or whatever. These were all pagan rituals that were appropriated by the christian religion in order to attract pagans to the religion. The eggs and bunnies came from spring festivals in which they symbolized fertility and rebirth and the start of the growing season. The idea of a christmas tree comes from a mid winter festival- in agrarian (and hunter gatherer) society, mid winter was the darkest time of the year (like it still is now) and most farmers didn't have anything to do in the winter, so people had a midwinter festival in which evergreens were put up to make the house more cheery in a time when there wasn't a lot of things growing outside, and lights and candles were put up at night to make the midwinter nights less depressing and dark.

    In hunter gatherer societies (that predated agricultural societies) these winter solstice festivals were used as a time at which several regional tribes would gather in a specific spot (stonehenge is one of the famous ones) and exchange spouses and small gifts with other tribes in order to maintain ties with those tribes, so that if they encountered them in the wild the rest of the year there was good will between them. Some argue that the idea of marriage came about in order to cement ties with other regional ties, which was key to survival when humans didn't know how to plant things and were fighting for limited resources.

    Very early Christians actually forbade putting up evergreens in their house during christmas, because it was too "pagan" but later they embraced this tradition to convert people over to their religion, and it eventually evolved into an entire tree instead of just evergreens.

    Anyway, from my perspective, I'm actually following thousands of years of human tradition, that WAY predates judaism, by exchanging gifts and decorating my house with an evergreen (fake) tree and having a midwinter festival. And this tradition was not based on any particular religion but on the folk practices of people who predated Christianity.

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  61. Chaim,

    Our connection to religion and it's rituals is less based in truth than in warmth and inviting. AE had a terrible relationship with her parents, and hated the religion of her childhood which was tied up in that, and therefore, Jewish rituals have a negative vibe. I have fully secularized family that have a Chanukah Bush - they consider themselves Jewish, lit Chanukah candles, B'nai Mitzvot, etc., it is a positive association with them, even if they have goofy other rituals, and they'll happily come and sit in the Sukkah with us. :)

    AE's first warm family experience is with her in-laws, with what appears to me a warm, loving, American Christian-lite, religious rituals/meals, not a lot of church or religious significance.

    Guess what, plenty of non-Jews that date Jews and find their Christian-lite background wanting pursue Jewish conversion, they find the oddities of dreidels, latkes, etc., with hidden meaning, more interesting that their warmed over Protestantism... My guess is that those same people, if dating someone from a pre-Vatican II Catholic family, would find the hard core Latin Rites ALSO interesting and appealing.

    When I see the Chanukkah lights burning in my house, it's a positive thing. When we're all gathered around at the Seder, it's a positive thing. AE doesn't have that, so why would she explore secularized American Judaism? The appeal there is for people that either grew up with secularized American Judaism and those are their memories, or grew up with traditional/Orthodox Judaism, and maintain this as a connection to their youth.

    Few people "find the truth" in ancient texts and conclude that something was missing in their life. They find something they like, then explore the intellectual rationalizations later.

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  62. You can pretend all you want, but doesn't almost ALL what we define as religious rituals have some basis before them?
    Baptism = mikvah.
    Mid winter light festivals = Hanukkah & the birth of Christ
    Look up Valentines Day, Mother's Day too.

    So what. That's how religious rights work. Calling a Christmas tree a "mid winter happy light tree" doesn't change it's shared meaning to a population. You wouldn't do it if it didn't have meaning or feel good to you. That's what religious rights are, shared rituals that make us feel good (on some level).

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  63. AE,

    "decorating my house with an evergreen (fake) tree and having a midwinter festival."

    My Catholic friends would not approve.

    Regardless of religiosity, viewpoints, politics, etc., they all agree on one thing:

    plastic trees are tacky


    :)

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  64. @Miami Al
    I agree 100% with you. But I have 2 basic arguments with AE, that overlap here and makes it complicated.
    1. I feel she disses and misrepresents MY religion - Judaism - and I want to defend it when she does.
    2. atheism has many (most) of the trapping of religion and act in replacement to religion.
    We all now folks like your secularized family - NOT God fearing but still Jewish to some degree. I get that AE has negative associations with Judaism and sees it with her tainted glasses. I'm just pointing out that she's seeing Xmas and atheism with just as tinted a lens.

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  65. yep, my view is tainted by the fact that my catholic in laws are AWESOME that christmas at their house is everything I wish holidays at my house were (no fighting! People actually talking about their life with no crazy judgments! People who genuinely like each other!) vs. my crappy jewish family.

    So yeah. I like rituals associated with my nice family that loves me and supports me and don't like rituals associated with the family that has rejected me and doesn't invite me over. Wow you must be some kind of rocket scientist to have figured that out. :)

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  66. and yes atheism has many rituals as does religion. Rituals are not necessarily the "trappings of religion." My school has a bunch of rituals, does that make academia a religion?

    I can reject religion without rejecting all rituals.

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  67. miami al- my tree may be plastic but it's actually a pretty good fake plastic tree. :) Looks really realistic. Plus I got it for free from my inlaws (it's too big for them to set up on their own anymore) and it's prelit. Going out and getting a live tree sounds like too much work/also i don't want bugs and pieces of tree all over my house. :)

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  68. So AE, you're judging a whole religion, one you claim to know has many facets and differences, based on the actions of one family?
    Is that like judging a race b/c you were once robbed by someone with a different color skin?

    Of course your prejudice is your own. But when it infringes on my religion I'll call you on it. I wouldn't want anyone reading this to think that ALL OTD Jews think like you do, or that Judaism doesn't fill a real, beautiful and relevant place in most of us Jews lives.

    Question, does your school's rituals have a "specific fundamental set of beliefs and practices generally agreed upon by a number of persons" or is it just surface stuff? If it's surface stuff, it's not religious, if it's fundamental (no God exists therefore let's do this), it is.

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  69. "I can reject religion without rejecting all rituals."

    This is exactly what I commented in your "Atheist" post, MOST atheists I've met or know are really just anti-religious and really agnostic vs atheist. It's just semantics but I think it matters when having the atheist discussion.

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  70. "yep, my view is tainted by the fact that my catholic in laws are AWESOME that christmas at their house is everything I wish holidays at my house were (no fighting! People actually talking about their life with no crazy judgments! People who genuinely like each other!) vs. my crappy jewish family. "

    Abandoning, I want to mention that I'm very happy that your husband's parents have a good marriage and am sorry that your parents have a bad one. (Very likely, that pushed you to seek solace in sex, which then set you on the path to atheism, etc)

    However I feel the need to point out that this is not necessarily at all typical of Jewish vs Catholic marriages.

    As you may know, the Church has zero tolerance for divorce under ANY, and that really means ANY, circumstances. This means that the only option a devout Catholic woman has if her husband is a violent alcoholic who whips her every night is to either stay and take it or leave and remain celibate for life. That's official policy and of course husbands know that. Think about that for a few minutes.

    http://ncronline.org/blogs/young-voices/new-theology-divorce

    http://www.catholic.org/diocese/diocese_story.php?id=21516

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  71. "So AE, you're judging a whole religion, one you claim to know has many facets and differences, based on the actions of one family? "

    No, as I will show in my next post (or maybe the one after that? I don't remember), I hung out in a lot of jewish communities after my teenage years.

    However I do think that formative experiences as a child can have an influence on behavior, and I do not have very positive associations with jewish holidays, something which in my formative years took place within my family. Even though later I did go to several very pleasant and enjoyable holiday meals in various jewish communities, it was never enough to cancel out the negative associations I had with them.

    I do have some positive associations with some of the holidays. one's I hated: yom kippur, pesach, shavuot didn't seem like much of a holiday, chanukah and rosh hashana was neutral, purim was cool but I can get the same thing out of halloween and since I don't live in a jewish community there's no motivation to follow purim rather than halloween. I did like sukkot, but it sees like way too much effort to buy and set all that stuff up, when I can just eat outside without a whole little hut, and there's a ton of mosquitos in the fall down here anyway. Shavuot i liked cause of the special food and all the dairy, but now I"m lactose intolerant so I can't eat that stuff anyways. :)

    I actually have 'kept' some of the things I most liked about jewish holidays- the special foods. I like food rituals. :) My husband's family has a food ritual where they eat a meal of all appetizers on christmas eve.

    I don't actually keep track of when jewish holidays are anymore, but over the years around when the season for those holidays are (fall, spring, etc.) I've gotten challah and honey and pomegranite seeds for rosh hashana and cheesecake for shavuot, made latkes for chanukah, matza ball soup around pesach (and I love those kosher for pesach jelly rings, I bought 2 boxes this year when they were selling them here around pesach even though they were like $9 a box) and got some great hamentashen for purim. I do love me some jew food. :) But the rest of it- the rest of jewish holidays is shul and family, and I have no interest in praying to a god I don't believe in, and my family doesn't celebrate those holidays.

    I would also like to have some kind of weekly shabbas-like meal with no technology once we have kids, but not necessarily on friday night.

    So yeah, I haven't rejected all jewish rituals either. I just do the ones I like.

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  72. I don't think my parents have a bad marriage JP, they are perfectly happy with each other and I actually think they have a pretty good marriage (and they've been married over 30 years). The problem is the parent-child relationship they had with me, and the difference I see is in the parent-child relationship my husband has with his parents. They have had their disagreements to be sure, but in the end I can always look at them and see how much they love and care about and respect B. They can have an adult to adult parent-child relationship, where there is mutual respect and they relate to each other as adults who are free to make decisions about their own way of living, even if they are not the decisions his parents would have made (and believe me, B has made many decisions his parents don't agree with). I think I have only had that with my dad to a very small degree, and never with my mom.

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  73. "(no fighting! People actually talking about their life with no crazy judgments! People who genuinely like each other!) vs. my crappy jewish family"

    Your family is crappy, fighting with each other, dislike each other and make crazy judgements.

    Yet, your parents are perfectly happy with each other and have a pretty good marriage.

    I have no way of verifying how much of this blog is fictional, but may I suggest that we get our story a little bit straighter?

    And just incidentally, being tolerant of anything and everything does not necessarily make one a good parent or a good person.

    "All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing."

    http://wiki.answers.com/Q/What_does_all_that_is_necessary_for_evil_to_triumph_is_good_for_men_to_do_nothing_mean

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  74. well by "like each other" Clearly I mean "like me" :)

    But I was more talking about my extended family, when they got together for holidays,there was always lots of fighting and snarkily talking about other family members behind their backs. But my parents got along with each other great.

    Do you not realize the different between "parents" and "Family"?

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  75. Well I think most people mean immediate family by "family".

    If someone would tell me "My family is crazy." "Oh, I'm sorry. You must have had a rough time growing up." "No, not my immediate family which I grew up with! They were wonderful. I mean my Uncle Frank and cousin Alice from Syracuse who came for Easter every year. They were nut jobs." 

    Ok, whatever.

    Kind of like your Tylenol suicide with the atypical symptom of extreme sleepiness...

    But anyway, how do I know this entire blog isn't fictional, like the Gay Girl in Damascus.

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/style/a-gay-girl-in-damascus-comes-clean/2011/06/12/AGkyH0RH_story.html

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  76. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  77. JP, if you call up girls' parents so you can tell them their daughter is a slut, yeah you're obsessed.

    If you do it so much on company time that you get fired and the family considers taking out a restraining order against you you need professional help.

    And if someone tells the most important story of her life from the heart the polite thing to do is listen. The emotionally disturbed thing is to short out your keyboard drooling about her sex life.

    That's just what we know about you. With a record like that I'm betting there are other incidents.

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  78. Since you're a self described "an Amphibian-American trying to make sense of the world with his little toad brain", I think I'll just let you worry about that.

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  79. AE,

    I truly think that is tragic that your family, extended or otherwise, turned our beautiful religion into something vicious and vile. We have a beautiful people and culture, and I think one of the truly trafic things of 20th Century Orthodox Judaism is that survivors guilt from the Holocaust led to turning our religion over to the nasty, backward, primitive, and superstitious branch of our people.

    If you've ever read Chaim Potok The Chosen and The Promise, it's fascinating to read about events while this transition is happening.

    I am saddened that because of the behavior of all involved, your future family, Jews by our laws, will know nothing of their heritage, because you have no reason to expose them to it. Intermarried members of my family, whether their children are halachicly Jewish (depending on the gender of the out married), may have negative or indifferent views of Judaism, but their children all have positive impressions of Judaism, through Bar Mitzvah celebrations, participating in a Seder or other ritual, etc. I am saddened that your future children won't grow up with that.

    But have no fear, in two generations, your family will look back on their nutty grandmother with the plastic tree, maybe they'll excuse her ignorance for being Jewish. :)

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  80. JP,

    I take for granted that you think what you write is true.

    Do you think that your posting the way you do helps your cause? To the OTD people, you are reinforcing their hatred of Judaism -- they have real issues with Judaism, and your vile dismissal as "wanting sex" reinforces their anger.

    To the still affiliated but frustrated, you are a stereotype for what frustrates people about small mindedness.

    To anyone not frum, your behavior makes frum Jews look bad.

    I'm not going to argue the accuracy of your views, you believe them to be true, and I see no reason to argue with you.

    I am going to tell you that your posts are extremely counter productive to any goal you have of keeping people frum or making people become frum.

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  81. >> So AE, you're judging a whole religion, one you claim to know has many facets and differences, based on the actions of one family?
    Is that like judging a race b/c you were once robbed by someone with a different color skin?


    Chaim it is not the same thing. Judaism is a product that claims to help people. AE wasn't helped she was hurt so she has the right to write a negative customer review.

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  82. Well, regarding my success rate, let's put it like this.

    Take a person like Dr Drew Pinsky. He was from 1989 until 2010 the Medical Director of the Department of Chemical Dependency Services at the Las Encinas Hospital drug rehabilitation clinic in Pasadena, California.

    http://www.tcmanor.org/files/dr_drew_curriculum_vitae.doc

    http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/lanow/2010/03/dr-drew-pinsky-leaves-las-encinas-hospital-which-faces-renewed-scrutiny.html

    For all the decades of full time work he put into rehabilitation, how many people did he really succeed in bringing to sobriety?

    Check out the outcomes of Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew  

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Celebrity_Rehab_with_Dr._Drew 

    And these were people who voluntarily sought help getting sober! I'm sure 99% of substance abusers would run if they saw Pinsky coming.

    It's probably fair to say that one slimy illiterate douche bag drug dealer will ruin far more lives in his career than the most highly trained, sincere, successful physician will ever save in his career. People don't want to hear that abstinence is necessary or that they have to believe in a higher power. It's terrifying. It's a huge turn off.

    Amy Winehouse summed it up five years ago: They tried to make me go to rehab, I said, "No, no, no"   

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rehab_(Amy_Winehouse_song)

    Now she's dead.

    So why bother trying? Better to light a candle than curse the darkness.

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  83. JP,

    I understand WHY you are doing what you are doing.

    Do you believe that you have helped a single solitary person with your online behavior?

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  84. Not only do I believe, I know because people have told me.

    But again of course someone like Abandoning will naturally influence far more, badly.

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