Thursday, November 24, 2011

A thanksgiving miracle

Last night I was super sad about the fact that I'm not invited to my parents for thanksgiving. For years thanksgiving was always the one holiday I spent with my parents every year, since its the only holiday we both celebrate. When I was in grad school I went home every thanksgiving until I moved in with my husband in 2008 and felt I couldn't go to holidays at my parents if he wasn't invited. Since then we've been going to my in laws instead.

So today I called my dad and we ended up talking about that email exchange, which I ended up never writing back to. I told him it wasn't that the e-mail itself was hurtful, but that it was a reminder that we weren't invited for thanksgiving which was hurtful ( the email exchange was about my cousins wedding, which was last night. Since we wouldn't have had anywhere to go for turkey day, we went to my in laws and couldn't go to the wedding). He said If thats what was bothering me i should call my mom cause she is the reason were not invited. I was all "but she said if I married B. I should never call her again so I dont want to call her if she won't take my call." And he said that she said that because she was angry I got engaged but that sometimes people don't mean what they say when they are angry and I should call her if I felt up to it.

Anyway long story short I called my mom for the first time since 2008, and we ended
up talking for like an hour- not about religion or anything but just catching up, and I talked about my husband and gardening and school and about going to a grateful dead cover show with my provost, and it was just normal. It's a thanksgiving miracle! Oh and they might possibly visit us at the end of december if it works out with their travel plans! Trying not to get my hopes up too much for a visit in less than a month, but its a huge step forward.

I also called my grandmother and talked to her for a bit.


  1. You talked for an HOUR? That is a miracle. I think it's a very positive thing, and I hope that your mother won't disappoint you again.

  2. JP,

    "Orthodox Jews don't socialize with atheists (or Catholics or buddhists for that matter)."

    Sure they do. They may socialize with other people that brown bag lunches. They may socialize with other Jews that are involved in non-denominational Jewish events. They may socialize with people they've met at Mommy and Me stuff. They don't break bread with them, but they absolutely socialize with others.

    What's you're describing is not a religion, it's a cult, a strange cult that looks Jewish, but anything that demands all your money, time, and that you cut off contact with anyone outside the group is a cult.

    AE, I think it is wonderful that you're having a relationship with your mother that isn't about religion. Religious Judaism is obviously very important to them, and very painful to you, there is no reason for you guys to try to rebuild your relationship around talking about Judaism.

    Stick to gardening. :)

  3. Huh? I'm Orthodox Jew and I used to go out for drinks with my nonJewish coworkers back when I was single. Last I checked, a bottle of kosher beer is kosher anywhere.

  4. AE, just wanted to say this was positive and I hope it's a new page for you and your family.

  5. Awesome, AE! Sometimes we are scared of things and we forget that people are only being irrational at times, but I guess the mother instinct won!

    JP: Puhleeeeeeeezeeee...

  6. JP,

    Your problems are you. You weren't all that interested in making friends or being friendly as a gentile, as a Frum Jew, or whatever pile of evil nastiness you are now.

  7. Jp i'm sorry you have been hurt so much by your parents rejection that you have to go out and lash out at everyone else to feel better about your own situation.

    Everyone else, thanks for you kind worlds :)

  8. AE, that's great!

    Btw, if you need a place to stay when you come to town, feel free to stay by me. We are pretty close to your parents and provide great hospitality!

  9. It is a miracle. I have been following your blog for a while now, and this is a really nice post with such a good feel.
    Looking forward is a good thing to be thankful for!

  10. This is awesome. Congratulations big time.

  11. many many many of the frum jews i know would treat their own flesh and blood the same way (just read JP's comments) - its really sick, but its true. what kind of religion promotes "not socializing...." with anyone?!?!? what kind of religion doesnt "accept others religions as legitamate".....cant anyone choose any path in this life? dont we have free choice? doesnt 99% of the earth's population do something other than orthodox rabbinic judaism?!?!?!?

    thats the kind of religion i want nothing to do with. disturbing. (of course i am stuck in it....but i am trying everyday to UNbrainwash my kids (and wife)

    I honestly cannot believe your mom has finally seen the light.

    may it be god's will, that this should be the start of a fresh relationship. halleluyah.

  12. Sometimes the wrong reason is right
    Pocono Record, published 9/30/2012

    Yom Kippur concluded Wednesday night, and although I'm not much of a practicing Jew, I attend the closing service every year.

    This year I finally discovered why.

    Yom Kippur is the Jewish faith's day of atonement. It's like a year's worth of confessions packed into 24 hours of fasting, praying and thinking of how to live a better life.

    The service ends at sunset with a section called Ne'ilah, where the congregation is asked to stand throughout. Ne'ilah can last for up to an hour, depending on the congregation.

    Fasting and praying makes Yom Kippur feel like a marathon. And the Ne'ilah is like running the last mile uphill. It tests your strength and commitment and can lead to reflection and flashbacks.

    My family lived a semi-religious life. My mother was Orthodox. My dad, well, not so much. So they did what all husbands and wives do. They compromised and did it her way.

    We kept a kosher home, where meat and dairy products are never mixed. We had meat plates, and meat silverware, dairy plates and dairy silverware. For fancy occasions we had special meat and dairy dishes and silverware.

    We went to a fairly strict temple where services were long and mostly in Hebrew. As a child it was tortuous. We'd page through the prayer book to see how long it was until the end of the service.

    Years later as a young adult, I was lounging in my parents' apartment, playing hooky from the afternoon Yom Kippur service. I heard a knock on the door. When I opened it, I saw my father standing motionless, staring blankly as drool ran from the corner of his mouth.

    We thought it was a combination of fasting and his diabetes, so we fed him immediately. When he didn't respond, we called an ambulance. He'd suffered a minor stroke.

    I continued to spend every Yom Kippur with them until they died.

    While cleaning up their apartment after they were gone, I found papers belonging to my mother spread on the coffee table.

    They were documents counseling Jewish mothers on how to deal with children, like me, who married out of the religion.

    I was surprised. She truly loved my wife and never let on that she struggled with my choices. I spoke to her rabbi about it. He told me in a judgmental way that many Jewish people felt the same as my mother. I was mad. And I stopped attending services.

    A few years ago, I returned to the Yom Kippur service I so loved. The magic of the observance came back.

    So, on Wednesday night, I stood with the ark open and considered the year past. I recalled the days I walked with my folks to temple. And I thought about those fresh bagels, as many as you could eat, and that first sip of orange juice when we broke fast together.

    I realized it wasn't just spiritual refreshment -- I went to the service to be closer to the memory of my mother and father.


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