Thursday, November 28, 2013

Thanksgivikkah Holiday Ambivalence.

On facebook I've been talking to a friend about growing up not celebrating christmas, and the cultural ambivalence that she feels comes with celebrating it as a result. Also about the torment she always felt in December from her parents (Highly educated muslim immigrants from India- her dad is a professor) who kinda let her do some christmas things but mostly didn't let her do them, and doesn't like her celebrating christmas now.

My response:
Is the torment because you didn't/don't celebrate Christmas? I didn't either as a kid, and I'm ridiculously into it nowadays (when I celebrate with my husband's family). Same thing with Halloween (didn't celebrate it as a kid, love it now). But I always super loved thanksgiving cause it was the only holiday we celebrated as a kid that all the "normal" kids the only time a year I felt that kind of group solidarity you get from doing the same unusual thing everyone else in the country is doing, that's just not the same when it's only your small subgroup doing it and everyone looks at you like you're weird.

I get that cultural ambivalence too and it is 90,000 times worse now that I have a kid. Especially since for me culture and religion are so closely tied together that it is hard to separate what I might want to pass on (culture- but not all of it) from what I don't (religion, the sexism/xenophobia/tribal bullshit, the fact that a good large wing of her family including her great aunt and great grandparents and to some degree her own grandparents think she is something to be ashamed of because her father isn't jewish, and that like half her second cousins don't know she exists as a result). I mean we are 100% for sure celebrating christmas with her (I've celebrated christmas every year for the past 7 years with my in laws) but what do we pass on from my side? And do we celebrate things like easter, which seem very religious to me, but to my husband was just a holiday involving chocolate and a fun egg hunt that he did as a kid? 

In a way it's like the opposite of my friend's problem- she is still ambivalent about celebrating christmas and wanting to keep her parent's cutlure, I love christmas and am ambivalent about my parent's culture. For instance my parents just sent me a bunch of channukah stuff for Calliope.  It's funny- when I was a kid one thing I always resented around christmas time was my parents would always say that we couldn't get gifts for channukah, that people who did that were just "trying to be like the goyim" (non jews) so they would give us a very impersonal 20 dollar bill for chanukah.  But now that they have a granddaughter, and jewish culture is competing with secular culture.  Or maybe as they must view it, it's them vs. my mother in law, who they met right after C was born a few months ago, and who is super awesome and nice, so pretty hard to compete with just as a person, especially given the way they have treated us in the past. 

 So here's my awesome mother in law with christmas, showering gifts on my daughter (as she most definitely will cause she's a grandma!) while if they don't send her channukah gifts, it's not like B and I are going to go out of her way to get her anything. Especially in my case, having been taught by my parents that doing this is just a way to try to compete with christmas, and has nothing to do with the holiday at all.  And also to be honest, how many gifts around december time does one kid need?  We're not huge into consumeryness as it is, Christmas we tend to get more personal things, like last year we gave my FIL a framed photo of our ultrasound, I think my MIL who loves tea and snowman got a nice unique snowman mug made by some local pottery crafts people in our area, my brother and sister in law got this beer they love that you can only get in the south, my SIL and MIL both got these awesome wire wrapped amethyst necklace pendents that my husband made out of stones we dug out of a local mine, stuff like that.  Which reminds me, we need to start getting on that stuff for this year.

Anyways I was super not careful about this stuffed dreidel they sent us even though the dogs eat everything stuffed they get their hands on...and they ate it not surprisingly they ate the handle off, so not it's more of a ball than a dreidel (and not safe for babies cause stuffing is falling out). And now I'm like "Was that some unconscious passive aggressive thing on my part because I don't want my daughter playing with a stuffed dreidel and getting to like jewish culture?"

Baby's first jewish cultural indoctrination: The dreidel toy shortly before it's death

In addition to the dreidel toy they sent us a whole bunch of (not judaism related) baby books, a big plastic dreidel filled with chocolate coins (For the grownups I'm assuming), a foam menorah baby toy that she is too young to play with (it says age 3+), and a bib that says "Baby's first channukah" that I took pictures of her wearing yesterday morning but feel ambivalent about her wearing today. Also 2 books about chanukah- one that I remember from when I was a kid that's about a girl who has the same first name as me (same copy) and one that is a baby pop up book about the holiday. I read through it and it doesn't seem to have anything offensive, it mostly talks about the tradition, the only thing about the history is that judah the macabee defeated the greeks which I guess is technically historically accurate?  But I haven't read it to her and I'm not sure that I will.

Meanwhile I called my mom a couple of nights ago- first time I called her directly in probably over a year.  And we talked for a while. Mostly I called her because after driving 13 hours each way to my sister in law's wedding last month (which we still haven't unpacked from), we've decided to spend Thanksgiving at home with just the 3 of us, making our first ever family holiday.  And I wanted some of my mom's  recipes because if we're going to start making our own family traditions, I want to make my mom's thanksgiving stuffing dammit (I also wanted to make chestnuts but for some reason the store only had the ones in jars).  Anyway me and my dad are supposed to skype later this morning and she reminded me 3 or 4 times to make sure it's not "too late" ie. when my bitch aunt is probably going go be there.  Awesome.  

I feel like if my aunt was dead, or a little less of a bitch,  oh and I guess my grandfather would probably have to stop being such a jerk in this scenario too, B and C and I would all be up in NJ right now, celebrating our daughters first thanksgiving AND chanukah.  Or at the very least, we would be skyping much later today, when everyone is over, so that my grandparents (who don't own a computer) could at least see their new great granddaughter. Who in this scenario, would be happy to see her. The way last month, her great grandmother on B's side was super happy to meet her, and during my sister in law's wedding, C was passed around by her grandmother, great grandmother and all her great aunts all night so B and I could have a night off of getting tipsy. The way normal families behave when a new member joins in.  Fortunately B also has a big family, although I wish we lived closer to them.  After the wedding last month, I'm seriously contemplating going on the job market again next year and making another run at finding a job in the midwest for 2015. 

Last night as I watched my facebook page light up with pictures of all my jewish friends who have had babies this year, for a minute I seriously contemplated going up into the attic, where I think my old menorah is- in some box I imagine my great great grandchildren finding one day and being like "OMG we didn't know our great great grandmother the famous sociologist was also a jew! - and digging it out to light for my daughter's first chanukah or whatever.  But talking to my mother reminded me that I really do not want to get my daughter into a religion that makes her own family treat her like a pariah.  Hence my ambivalence.


  1. As always, keep in mind that C will not have the same gut reactions to anything Jewish that you do.

    She doesn't have the same parents that you had. She won't attend the same school that you did. She will have different friends.

    For her, Judaism will not be connected to painful rejection from those closest to her. You experienced rejection from your parents. At most, she'll be aware of some awkwardness with maternal grandparents who she only sees occasionally, and she may know that there are some more distant relatives whom she's never met. She'll probably see that as weird and messed up, but it won't be a painful personal rejection because those relatives don't play any role in her life.

    If she relates to Judaism at all, it will likely be out of some sort of curiosity about your background. It may seem like something exotic for her.

  2. I can sympathize with the family stuff (like C, I'm second-generation OTD). I think in the case of your aunt, it may be more about her desire to control people than about her religious principles. If I were you, I'd take her power away from her by calling 411 and finding your cousins' phone numbers and contacting them anyway.

  3. You're very inconsistent. You shun religion, but you love Christmas and you want to dig up an old menorah. Your parents were so sweet for sending all those Hannukah toys. You obviously wish you could be celebrating the Jewish holidays with your one needs to call their mom for recipes. There are plenty of good recipes online to use. You called your mom because you miss your family. Christmas is never going to take the place of that for you. Neither will moving to the midwest.

  4. I think be true to yourself. While many Jewish holidays can be celebrated in secular or reform ways, that isn't the Jewish culture you grew up with, so you probably don't feel its "you" either. If a holiday isn't meaningful, then don't celebrate it just so you have something to pass on to your daughter. On the other hand, if the food aspect still feels warm and comfy to you, then pass that along by all means. when she gets older she'll learn that jews do this or that and she'll ask you why you don't do them, and you'll be honest and tell her because they evoke many bad memories to you.
    For me, holidays were the most fun part of Jewish living, so I like being able to sing the songs (the few that don't have objectionable meanings), light the menorah or eat matza when it comes to pesach, as part of creating positive memories. but thats me. you be you.

  5. One of the things I love about Chanukah and Passover is seeing my non-Frum friends light up my Facebook feed with Jewish posts. For those two weeks, there is this Jewish kinship that is unaffected by Kashrut, Shabbat, etc., just being part of Jewish peoplehood. (After Yom Kippur when my feed lights up with people complaining about the fasting all day then posting at 4 or 5 PM that they couldn't take it anymore and had a pizza - is similar, but I'm too tired to appreciate it).

    I have secular Jewish family that light their Menorah next to the Hanukkah Bush… It's a beautiful and simple custom, limited time involvement, and is a fun holiday.

    Thanksgiving is another time where we just feel a common sense of peoplehood, albeit an American one. Sitting down to a Turkey dinner feeds kinship in a way hotdogs and hamburgers on 4th of July doesn't. Thanksgiving and Chanukah overlapping bummed me out this year, I felt that Thanksgiving basically ate Chanukah, with shopping, sales, the dinner, less time for Chanukah parties, etc.

    I find the boycott of Chanukah presents silly and petty. It is probably the single MOST DISTINCT universal American Judaism custom. I don't understand why American Minhagim are all suspect, while pulling random stuff from a town in Lithuania is somehow legit. American Jews giving Chanukah presents is probably MORE universally held than ANY of the random regional Minhagim (with the possible exception of Kitniyot, and at that, only possible). Further, MOST Jewish rituals (liturgy excepted) have a gentile origin. Purim costumes seem to date back to an era in Italy when costume parties were all the rage (and they survive in certain Christian areas as Mardi Gras before Lent). Shavuot "dairy meals" seem to date back to a time when big cheesy festive meals were popular in Europe around Easter… Most Ashkenazi Niggun have an origin in Germanic drinking songs. The Jews have ALWAYS taken things from the surrounding gentile areas and incorporated it into their religious practices, from Tzitzit to Chanukah Presents. :)

  6. Your mom sucks, but it seems like most of your teenage battles with your parents were relatively typical teenage battles. You fought with your parents about what you ate, what of their culture you kept/dropped, what clothing you wore, what you did Friday night, etc. Yes yours were more extreme because they were wrapped in a veneer of holiness, but you ultimately were a teenager fighting with your parents as you pursued your path in life.

    My neighbors across the street have an adult daughter that will stay with them for weeks on end. She drives off dressed for a night out on Friday night after dinner. Her parents are Shomer Shabbos Frum Yidden. They don't have a strained relationship that I can see.

    The notion of religion and culture being distinct is relatively recent. Wars were fought in Europe over specific interpretations of Christianity. The idea that you could have a nation like America with distinct Ethnic groups is a completely modern and new phenomenon… you know this.

    Your friend's story is a pretty typical immigrants chagrin in America. Immigrants come here for opportunity, and freak out as their children adopt the American customs in our strange melting pot.

    St. Patrick's Day is a big American party… I'm sure plenty of Americans were outraged as their children started celebrating an Somber Day for the Irish Patron Saint… In Ireland it was a religious holiday, NOT a drinking fest like it became in the US.

    I'm sure plenty of Christian Immigrants were shocked when their kids took in Christmas Trees (a German custom, NOT a universal one), singing about the Yule (a Pagan festival), etc. Yet in America, we have a melting pot of cultures, and we all borrow back and forth.

    Many Yiddish words are now part of standard English. We all contribute to the culture and take from it.

    I'm sure American Olim are a little saddened that Thanksgiving means NOTHING to their children, even if they have a dinner each year, because they are losing a cultural connection to the old country, while their children are Israeli and have no need for American holidays.

  7. Right on, Miami! Love your comments!

  8. I found a post of your from Dec. 24, 2009:

    "the holiday experience is so different between my family and B's family (apart from the obvious, that I celebrated different holidays at my parent's). Holidays at my parent's house were always full of yelling and people fighting (always about religion and politics) and people saying racist/super-conservative things that made me want to throw up...Also ever since I was a teenager, going to family holidays meant being criticized for my religious/personal choices, usually openly in front of everyone. My grandma used to always say "IMPROVE" instead of goodbye when she was leaving, people used to stare at my piercings/hair/whatever and openly criticize me...While at B's place, everyone gets along and is nice to each other and genuinely just enjoys each other's company and likes each other and acts like normal human beings. I love thanksgiving at his cousin's place too."

    What I take from this is:

    1. Family dynamics were so bad that they managed to mess up even stuff that's supposed to fun, like holidays.

    2. The big difference with B's family wasn't that there was a tree instead of candles. It was that they were nice to each other and it didn't feel like "let's pick on AE" time. That's why even Thanksgiving - the same holiday in both families - was so much better with B's family.

    The rational adult sociologist in you knows, in theory, that there are plenty of Christian families that dread family drama during the holidays, and that there are plenty of Jewish families that have happy family time and embrace liberal values. Your gut, though, is automatically going to react to YOUR experiences, because family stuff affects us at the deepest level. As you discovered, exploring other stuff in Judaism didn't connect on that really deep level, and couldn't drown out and replace your old, bad memories.

    I may show some parts of this blog to a friend of mine, because he's heading down the path of turning his daughter into someone who will hate Judaism. She's only 12, but she told me flat out that she associates it with her parents fighting (they are divorced and her mother is no longer religious), her dad getting angry at her, and struggling with Judaic studies classes at school. As an adult, I can see what's going on: he loves his kids and he cares about Judaism, but he's deeply messed up, the divorce was beyond bitter (I saw the court papers and the wife made outrageous allegations that were investigated and shown to be unfounded, but the process cost half a million in legal fees and gave his father a heart attack - the kids rightfully do not know the details), he can be a bit narcisstic (very friendly, but focuses on himself and lacks the basic ability to understand the POV of others including his kids), and he ignores good advice from the Jews all around him - including the rabbi - who tell him that he's wrong. His daughter, though, wouldn't see it that way. If it wasn't for the fact that she's best friends with my daughter and spends time at our house, she wouldn't see anything positive about Judaism at all.

  9. good post jk mommy but i think you are minimizing the extent to which frum culture and bad family dynamics are intertwined. basically its the norm in frum culture to be judgemental and condescending to anyone who deviates even slightly from the frumkeit norms of that particular community. i've had many a holiday that i could not tolerate because of the same types of conversations as AE. that, interspersed with divre torah which i didin't believe in and didn't agree witih but had to keep my mouth shut. the difference is that i have warm fuzzy feelings from holidays with my grandparents as well as when i was a smaller child.

    I find it ironic that AE married someone, who, if his blog represents him, also finds it his personal life's goal to dis anyone with differing religious beliefs than himself. they say we never really escape home. hope he isn't like that in real life and that it doesn't blow up in her face.

    1. Do you realize how incredibly patronizing and condescending you sound? I've been with my husband for 7 years I don't need some random internet douchebag telling me what's what about my relationship with my husband and "warning" me about him. That goes for you too JRKmommy, your comments are pretty condescending. I know exactly who I married, I know what his views are and what he is like. I disagree with him on many things, but you know what? We're not the same person and we don't agree on everything. If we did we wouldn't be married, because the reason we are together is because we love discussing and debating things, and if our views always matched our discussions wouldn't be half as interesting or enlightening. We openly discuss things that many people find controversial, and sometimes we annoy or offend people as a result (and sometimes we annoy and offend each other when we don't realize how wrong our ideas are) but ultimately I think we come up with some pretty good discussions. And we agree on everything that is actually important.

      Also, ksirita, you think it's "ironic" that I ended up with someone who hates religion? Are you aware of the definition of the word "irony?" Because I do not think it means what you think it means.

    2. I think I see what the problem is, you think of atheism as a "different religious belief" instead of what it is for many of us- the belief that religion is wrong. I don't respect other religious beliefs. I believe all religion is wrong and there is no god. THAT is the only religious belief I have.

      Now I respect religious people. I understand that many of them are intelligent people and not bad people. I do not think they are stupid in general. But I do not respect religion itself. And I think they are wrong about religion.

      That doesn't mean I will be mean to their face or be a dick about it, but I still believe they are wrong. I can never really respect a religious belief itself, when they are all so clearly man made rules designed to give someone power of some kind in the past and were therefore attributed to god. To say I have to respect that someone believes what is essentially bullshit, is not something I agree with.

      His name is named "Anti-theist" for jebus sake. What do you think that means? It means he is against religion. :)

    3. Also by the way I think religion serves an important function in the way in which society is currently structured. In my ideal world we would have community gathering places to gather, sing songs together, meet new people, and form a community with like minded people, perhaps based on political ideology or other common interests, instead of which imaginary sky creature team we are a fan of.

  10. I'm not American and didn't grow up in "frum" culture (just traditional Jewish), so I can't really comment on what's normal for frum families in New Jersey. [I've slowly come to realize that my upbringing and background isn't necessarily typical of anything. It's a strange mix of Montreal Modern Orthodox, Toronto Conservative, Labor Zionist, non-Zionist Socialist, Iraqi and Israeli, but we all manage to get along.]

    From what I've seen, though, the lack of warm fuzzies is just not typical in frum families, or any functional families in general. Parents being indifferent to a suicide attempt? A mother ignoring preschool-age kids? Actively hating Shabbat dinners and avoiding coming home even it if means not seeing your boyfriend? That's not normal. I think it's more common to have mixed feeling BECAUSE you still have warm fuzzies even if you disagree with other stuff.

    The post talks about the stuffed dreidl toy. That's not just New Jersey frumkeit culture - that's a playful Jewish symbol across the board.

    I noticed some of the same things about B's blog, and really hope that he's one of those people who is just really different online than he is in real life. She made him sound really awesome on this blog, so I assume he's good with the baby and the dogs and doing things, and that there's more to him than posting about why Hitler wasn't really so bad and why depression doesn't really exist and how he thinks Jews and Asians are so horribly racist (without a hint of irony) and why America deserved/begged for 9/11 and why it's fine and fun to make rape jokes.

    1. oh and a lot of jews ARE super racist. Like for serious. And I don't think he thinks depression doesn't exist, just that it's a normal part of life, not a medical condition

    2. That's what one of my clients told me - he claimed that of course it was perfectly normal to be upset when his marriage was going down the drain, and that his wife had no reason to say that he was clinically depressed. Two weeks later I got the call that they found his body. I don't consider that to be a normal part of life, nor do I think it's helpful to call people suffering from clinical depression "chickenshit".

    3. Re Jews and racism:

      After about 20 comments and being specially called out on this point, B did finally change the title of his post to refer to ultra-Orthodox Jews, and not just Jews in general.

      Here again, though, you're doing the same thing. You're talking about "a lot of Jews", with no qualifier. You aren't saying here "among some Orthodox Jews, who are only 10% of the total American Jewish population according to the Pew research study, who are American and happen to live this particular region..." I know I'm sounding like a broken record on this point, but Jewish doesn't just refer to the frum American Jews that you happen to know. I assume that the majority of Jews who vote Democrat, for example, are not part of your family. Also, don't forget about regionalism. You Americans have more issues with race.

    4. I don't think it is only orthodox jews who are more racist than the average person. Remember I spent most of my late teens and early 20s trying to find some non orthodox community that would fit with my values.

      I think racism is endemic of the jewish nation as a whole, and I think it has to do with a feeling of persecution over the years and not being able to accept that they are no longer being persecuted and jews have basically been accepted as white people by everyone else. I was just watching a video a friend of mine posted from 7th grade, where the students in our class were doing a play about blood libels and how everyone is out to get the jews. There were several indoctrination -heavy lines about how everyone wants to kill the jews but at least we have our traditions to protect us. It was fucked.

      And I did not grow up ultra orthodox, I grew up modern orthodox, and went to a jewish day school that was more of a prep school for very rich kids (SAR) many of whom were not orthodox (Spielberg's sisters kids for instance went to my school. And the kids of a bunch of millionaire business leaders). And throughout my youth and my 20s I heard racism on a constant basis behind closed doors. I would say it is a defining characteristics of both the orthodox and non orthodox jewish communities I have been a part of.

      Of course these communities were only in the northeast/ Manhattan/ North and South NJ/Brooklyn/ Monsey /Philly area. And the south. And Israel, where I lived for a summer in the West Bank and spent a lot of time as a child, and where as a 19 year old I went on Birthrite with a non religious group, tried out all sorts of religious views, and spent 3 weeks crashing at a friend's place at Bar Elan. And I have heard similar sentiments on visits to orthodox people we stayed with in Chicago, Boston/brookline, LA/Venice beach, San Francisco, San Diego, outside Atlanta. I traveled a lot as a child, and my dad took advantage of the local orthodox communities.

      So it's not EVERYONE. Of course it isn't. It's just much more prevalent and openly discussed behind Jewish orthodox (and conservative, reform, and reconstruction) doors than in ANY other community I have ever been a part of or interacted with, including hippies, millionaire upper class businesspeople from the midwest, academics, goths in the 90s, and even rednecks and religious moms in the south.

      Also my family voted democrat until I was in my 20s. I think you are looking at your community with rose colored glasses because you don't want to see what is apparent to anyone not wearing them. Yes you are probably not a racist. Yes not every jew is racist. I know many of them. Partially because I went out of my way to seek out other frum people like me, who were not racists. And it was really really hard to find people like me in the community, one of the reasons I left. And maybe I just happened to have more of an insider view on racism. I mean, maybe my dad being a racist made people say racist things around him, while you don't hear what people say when people like you aren't around, because you're not a racist. I think you have some selection bias as well you know (most racists are not very open about their views until they, sometimes mistakenly, think you are cool.)

      But there are a lot more racist jews than there are racist anything else, as far as I can tell in my experience behind closed doors all over the country/Israel and in all sorts of communities. And B has my insiders view of all these things. He knows the reason I started dating jews is because I could not find any men who were not racist and (especially) sexist to some degree, to the degree to which I could live with. Plus you know, a bunch of people in my family have been huge assholes to him, his wife and his daughter, because he wasn't born from a jewish vagina, as is plain to everyone as well. And it hasn't been only orthodox people who have treated us like shit, either.

    5. *Started dating non jews rather :)

    6. as for depression being a normal part of life, I mean everyone probably goes through it at some point, and if not, they're not paying attention, or don't care about anyone except themselves.

    7. Or I guess they believe in some fantasy god that is going to make everyone all happy and just and fair after they die, like some literal deus ex machina. According to my dad, also a psychologist, in retrospect his suicidal patients get cheerful right before they die, because they believe they are going to a better place and feel relief they don't have to deal with this world anymore.

    8. or so he told me when i called to talk to him about Deb Tambor and how happy she seemed right before she killed herself

    9. anyway it probably would not be helpful if you as a psychologist told people they were chickenshit for being depressed. But for the type of people like my husband and me, who have both been sent to shrinks for being atheists and not conforming to religion, we are not going to go to shrinks. And advice like that- to quit wining and buck up, actually does help some people. Maybe not the type of people who come to see you. But the type of people who come to talk to him. And me.

    10. I think your client was right that it's normal to be depressed when your marriage is going down the drain. The problem is he killed himself. That's where he went wrong. He was chickenshit and couldn't handle dealing with his problems and facing adversity, which all humans face, and which is perfectly normal.

    11. I apologize. Based on that last comment, I'd have to say that you and B are perfectly suited to each other. It's a side of you that you had not previously revealed on your blog.

    12. I acknowledged my selection bias in my first response to kisarita.

      Obviously, we grew up at different times, in different countries and know different people. My mother was a red diaper baby. I worked at a summer camp that had the Communist Manifesto among the required staff education material. Albie Sachs spoke at my law school graduation. My husband and many of our friends are Mizrachi, not Ashkenazi.

      When you talk about "everyone" accepting Jews as white, you are excluding non-Ashkenazi Jews from the conversation. I don't think your government was thinking that my FIL was a white guy when they detained him for 2 hours at the border. I'd also argue that "everyone else" apparently doesn't include Jacques Parizeau, Pauline Marois or the rest of the ruling party in the Quebec government. They were even kind enough to put out some helpful cartoons to illustrate just how they see religious minorities: [Note: religious neutrality does NOT mean that they have any plans to remove the big crucifix in the National Assembly.]

      I am not denying your personal narrative, much of which is quite appalling. I am saying that there is a difference between anecdote and data, and to be aware of your own selection bias. Very different experiences can be had within a wider community. What makes your personal narrative more valid than mine?

      For example, I had a little laugh reading about your Israel experiences. Yes, I've been to those places too. You saw a bunch of Anglo and Dati Leumi strongholds. Neither Birthright nor your parents would ever have you meet people like my husband's family. Tell me, how many intimate conservations did you have with people who couldn't speak English? What percentage of the people that you spoke to were not Ashkenazi? How many nights have you ever spent in a development town? The settler movement is disproportionately Anglo, because they are the ones who move to Israel for ideological, not practical, reasons.

      Stating "my personal experiences with the Jewish community revealed racism and sexism" is a personal narrative. Concluding on that basis that it is more prevalent in the Jewish community as a whole than in any other community goes beyond personal narrative or opinion - it's an assertion of fact.

      When you look at actual data and studies, they don't support your conclusion.

      Pew Forum study (skip to page 95 and onward):

      Jewish Distinctiveness in America study:

    13. Because AE is a pretty typical New Jersey Jew, who thinks that they are the center of the Universe, Judaism, and American life in general.

      There is a LOT of horrible behavior amongst NY Jews, secular, Reform, Conservative, and Frum, and its been internalized as normal Jewish behavior... to the point as referring to the rest of the Jewish world as "Out of Town."

      It is sad, and ironic, that AE has internalized the bigotry and intolerance of her youth, and simply found a new target to apply. Instead of racism, it's anti-religion bigotry.

    14. Ok I guess you are right that all people accept white jews as white and not non-white jews, but that has nothing to do with them being jewish, it has to do with them being people of color. By the way I am a quarter safardi (and am frequently mistaken for latino although I am super white) and I have an uncle who is a Chilean Jew (not so super white) and his daughter married a Jew from India (one of the people who claim to be the lost tribe of menashe who later reconverted in israel). My old roommate was a Chilean Jew as well. He was also ridiculously sexist and a little bit racist too. Ha. I don't get why so many people are comfortable saying racist things around me, maybe it's because I don't speak up much in groups of people like that (having been shut down so much as a child) so they must assume I just agree with them.

    15. oh and my dad was born in israel (I'm an israeli citizen) my grandparents were some of the original post-war zionists and lived on a kibbutz, and although they moved to the US in the late 50s (I think there was like war breaking out at the time) my aunt moved back after that. They are not very recent settlers, they've been there since the 70s (and my aunt spent 10 years there in the 50s). And they live in a pretty old settlement. I remember when I was a kid driving through ramalah before they built the highways that went around them. A lot of those experiences really color my opinion on israeli politics.

    16. *My uncle who is Chilean is the one who lives in Israel now, as do 4 of his 5 kids and I don't know how many grandkids at this point. I also have many 4th cousins in israel that I met as a child, who live in s'fat. And a bunch of distant relatives who are big macher's in the gerer chassidic sect in israel apparently (they are too religious to talk to my family).

    17. And I agree that birthrite and all the west bank settlements are propoganda strongholds. I did spend a summer living in Beit El when I was 14 (1996), with cousins, (my parents didn't come with me) and at that time spoke hebrew well enough to talk to many girls and boys, including a big OTD crowd that my cousin hung out with. We hitchhiked all over israel (are the trampiada's still legal?). Although my best friend that summer was someone who had immigrated from England. After bithright I extended my ticket for 3 weeks and went to beit el, but again, a program for americans. I also spent a lot of time hanging out in jerusalem on ben yehudah street with the american's there for a year. But even though those type of jewish people don't make up all jewish people, do they not make up MANY if not even most of the jewish people?

    18. *that second beit el should be bar ilan, sorry, mommy brain :)

    19. I am not bigoted against religious people. Does pointing out when a group of people as a whole are on average very racist, now count as bigrory? Does pointing out a huge problem in the jewish community make me a bigot? Pretty convenient if you're in that community and don't want to be criticized for it. Not every person who is jewish has to be a racist for racism to be a problem among jews. As a mizrachi you HAVE to know what I'm talking about, or else you are completely blind.

      Maybe stop being defensive for a second and think about what I'm talking about. This rampant denial that there are any problems with racism in the community is part of what drives away people like me, who see through that bullshit. If we were talking about child molestation would you say it wasn't a problem in the orthodox community, because every single person isn't molested? Is that no similar to saying abuse in yeshivas isn't a problem, because every single person is not beaten to the point of being broken?

      By the way, I wasn't beaten directly by the yeshiva's except that one time in first grade that I was hit by a teacher in first grade and forced to lie about it. But my little brother regularly beat the shit out of me as a child, at the same time that he was regularly being tormented and bullied by his rebbes at that same school. So I do feel somewhat abused by proxy, even though I know my brother didn't have to take it out on me in that way (and he stopped well before we even went through puberty). I still have PTSD about that shit. Sigh.

  11. sorry everyone I have repeatedly written back to comments only to have them deleted because blogspot is fucking annoying and my school email also uses GMAIL and it wants to post thing under my school email (which would not be cool for multiple reasons). So I've been trying to respond to this stuff for months and keep giving up after frustration when my long comments are deleted. Maybe I will go back one by one and actually respond now that I seem to have de-fucked my internet browser so this will actually work.

  12. Back to the original question of C and any future reaction she might have to her mother's Jewish origins....

    I think I mentioned it before, but have you ever read The Color of Water by James McBride? If not, you should. The author basically explores the story of his mother, who was born in Poland in 1921 to an Orthodox Jewish family, raised in Virginia with an abusive father, and who ran away from home and married a black man, converted to Christianity and raised 12 children as black Christians while never revealing anything at all about her roots. The author recognizes the pain of his mother's experiences, and the book doesn't change his primary identity, but he's also open to learning about the Jewish connection in a way that his mother was not. I might be interesting to read a book from the POV of a child of someone who went OTD (long before the term existed).


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