Wednesday, October 5, 2011

What do my mom and the Westboro Baptist Chuch have in common?

Hint: Watch around the 5:20 mark

I say my mom and not my parents, because I've actually been talking to my dad on a fairly regular basis lately via email (I have not talked to my mother since erev pesach in April, when I called my dad back and she picked up his cell phone and talked to me for all of 30 seconds. Before that the last time I talked to her was last year October when my grandfather died and she again picked up my dad's cell phone.)

During Hurricane Irene me and my dad seemed to have gotten back in touch, as he commiserated over his destroyed basement/breakaway shul (message from god?). While emailing back and forth several times I asked him about a few things that have been bugging me that only a parent can for his perspective on what happened when I was in first grade and was hit by a teacher in school, which I've been thinking about lately. Maybe I'll write a post about that at some point.

He called me on erev rosh hashana for one of his 3 annual phone calls (erev rosh hashana, erev pesach and my birthday) and I managed to steer the conversation entirely clear of religion until the very last minute when he had to go. He called me between appointments- which he always does, so there's always a limit on our convo time, boo. But we actually talked almost 25 minutes last week on the phone.

Anyway at the very end of the convo he told me that "Well we wish you AND B a gmar chasima tova" (and he emphasized the "AND B"). I told him he should call me sometime when it's not erev pesach or rosh hashana or my birthday.

Progress? Some weird bizzaro progress, in which my dad acknowledges B but still tries to push his religion on both me AND him now? Who knows?

Meanwhile since we are back in touch a bit, and my department is having a "better know your professor" contest which includes baby pictures of us, I was able to get my dad to send me quite a few pictures of my childhood via email. So yay!

Me circa 1985


  1. JP- I'm actually very determined to never disown my theoretical children, precisely because of what happened to me.

    Just cause one atheist acts a certain repugnant way doesn't mean that "you atheists" are going to all act that way. On the other hand, disowning your children for marrying outside of the religion is a long held jewish custom.

  2. I would suggest stopping the holier than thou comment. He called you up, had a pleasant conversation, and wished you and your husband a Happy New Year. Seriously, that's not "pushing his religion on you" that's generally how one ends conversations at this time when Jewish (my secular Jewish friends are saying Happy New Year to people like it's going out of style).

    Chill out, you've gotten what you want. He asked you to let him save face with a Reform conversion, you told him to pound sand. He called you up when he normally does and didn't do anything to push religion. Calling that pushing religion is being overly sensitive.

    Next up, if he calls you on a Friday and says have a nice weekend you'll accuse him of pushing his religious view that the week is over on you, calm down, you won, you have the life you want, the setup you want, and starting to get limited engagement with your parents on YOUR terms. Stop looking for insult and you won't see it.

  3. miami al- if he ONLY ever calls me on erev holidays I no longer celebrate and my birthday, how should I interpret that?

    It wasn't that he said happy new years, iis that he said AND B in this snarky tone like "well we both know that B isn't jewish and your not religious and don't celebrate this holiday, but I'm going to continue to make a huge point of calling you up the day before this holiday we both know you don't celebrate and wishing you a gmar chatima tova"

    What is the point of doing that other than passive aggressively pushing a religion? I don't call up my dad to wish him a merry christmas, cause I know he doesn't celebrate it....

  4. JP- you should visit Westboro. You'd fit right in.

  5. Trust our resident creepy stalker to bray his usual brand of mindless derp and hatred just before Yom Kippur.

  6. Anyone else get the feeling that, based on JP's extensive knowledge of what atheists think, that he's just a closet non-believer?

  7. AE,

    During December, I absolutely with my Christian friends a Merry Christmas.

    He is celebrating the holiday, so he is calling you before then. I get plenty of pre-Christmas cards from people that KNOW I am no celebrating Christmas but they are, I don't take it as them pushing their religion.

    You have figured out how to stop being Orthodox, congratulations. Time to figure out how to be a secular Jew, and a BIG part of that is to stop caring that much. Your Judaism now consists of foods for the most part, foods from your childhood, and you'll decide how to introduce those to your children.

    And being married to a gentile doesn't make you any less of a secular Jew, a slight majority of secular Jews are married to gentiles.

    You have figured out how to be an OTD Jew, filled with anger and spite. Time to learn to be a secular Jew, with small amounts of sentimentality toward a religion and culture that you are descended from but don't practice.

    Lots of secular Jews in my family, they often send out Rosh Hashana cards, host Chanukah Parties, etc., without worrying about what Orthodox Jews are doing, unless they are trying to plan for us to join, then they need to arrange Kosher food and not to have the party on Shabbat.

    Chill out, enjoy your heritage without worrying about your father's religion.

  8. Honestly, until I read the comments I totally didn't pick up on the "pushing religion on us" part.

    Obviously, I didn't actually hear the conversation, and I don't know your father IRL, but all I thought was "oh, he's now at the point where he is acknowledging B".

    Yes, in the past he pushed religion on you guys, and I think that giving in to his crazy idea of a sham Reform conversion would have been wrong for everyone.

    In THIS conversation, though, I just don't see wishing a couple "gmar chasimah tova" as pushing religion. Don't forget - while you may have rejected it, it is still your father's religion and lifestyle. Everyone around him is saying this to everyone else. Morever, it's the time of year where it's all about reaching out to others - ESPECIALLY if the relationship hasn't been as close as it should be. Think about this as part of HIS teshuva, by taking a step to reach out and make things a bit better with you.

  9. Looking through some old blog comments on Greensboro Daily Photo and saw one from you. I thought you might enjoy this video "Leaving Eden."
    David T

  10. If a mother's love is conditional on this sort of total sacrifice one never had it to begin with. I could point you at Tevya's Daughters, and the heart-wrenching scene where Tevya disowns his daughter but then accepts her in the end. But I think I'll go with a poem instead

    The Glove and the Lions
    by James Henry Leigh Hunt

    King Francis was a hearty king, and loved a royal sport,
    And one day as his lions fought, sat looking on the court;
    The nobles filled the benches, and the ladies in their pride,
    And 'mongst them sat the Count de Lorge, with one for whom he sighed:
    And truly 'twas a gallant thing to see that crowning show,
    Valour and love, and a king above, and the royal beasts below.

    Ramped and roared the lions, with horrid laughing jaws;
    They bit, they glared, gave blows like beams, a wind went with their paws;
    With wallowing might and stifled roar they rolled on one another;
    Till all the pit with sand and mane was in a thunderous smother;
    The bloody foam above the bars came whisking through the air;
    Said Francis then, "Faith, gentlemen, we're better here than there."

    De Lorge's love o'erheard the King, a beauteous lively dame
    With smiling lips and sharp bright eyes, which always seemed the same;
    She thought, the Count my lover is brave as brave can be;
    He surely would do wondrous things to show his love of me;
    King, ladies, lovers, all look on; the occasion is divine;
    I'll drop my glove, to prove his love; great glory will be mine.

    She dropped her glove, to prove his love, then looked at him and smiled;
    He bowed, and in a moment leaped among the lions wild:
    The leap was quick, return was quick, he has regained his place,
    Then threw the glove, but not with love, right in the lady's face.
    "By God!" said Francis, "rightly done!" and he rose from where he sat:
    "No love," quoth he, "but vanity, sets love a task like that."

  11. I'm really sorry that you had to experience conditional love from your parents. It's hard for anyone that has to experience it.

    I do have a concern that you're still carrying an unfair event from grade one. This is a character problem that makes accepting your parent's shortcomings significantly more difficult. A pattern of carrying an offence for decades is something that is worth defeating. You'll either succeed or find yourself sliding into a bitter old woman.

    Good luck on your journey.
    Good luck on your journey.

  12. Let's say that parents have no obligation whatsoever to love their children, more so if the children are adults.

    But there is a word for parents who do not love their children, and it begins with "a" and ends in "e" and refers to a place where sun doesn't shine.

    Being one does not ask for faith or lack of it. It is a question of character.


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