Thursday, August 30, 2007

Summer 2007- part 1

my summer starts in may, since that's when my semester this past summer, it started with my dad offering me a trip to israel that i declined, continued with me travelling to Indiana for a week at July 4th to meet B's parents and sister, and ended with my grandmother's funeral 3 weeks ago

so my dad has offered to take me along on a trip to israel with him for 5 days in july. (well it would be 5 days in israel, around 7 days including air travel). The trip would involve 3 days in Jerusalem and 2 days at my Aunt's house.

Positives to going:
1. free trip to israel (where i'll probably never go again if I don't take this trip, since if i'm spending my own money I'd probably go to a country i haven't already been to 6 times)
2. get to see my Aunt who may be dying of breast cancer
3. get to tour around israel for like 3 days
4. possibly visiting some friends in israel

negatives to going:
1. vacation with just my dad. Who, if you haven't been reading this blog, i don't get along well with
2. having to spend time with other israeli family members who i don't care too much for
3. B is unhappy about me going, and it already has caused like 2 fights between us

regardless of the negatives, i'm leaning towards going. My dad has said i don't have to hang out with him 24/7 which is a big plus (actually his exact words were "we don't have to hang out 24/7, as long as you don't call me drunk from the arab quarter at 3am asking me to pick you up.") Who knows, maybe me and my dad will actually work through our problems and learn to get along (yeah there's only a small chance in hell of that, but whatever). Plus it's freakin Israel, which is an awesome place to visit (except for the suicide bombings and such, but there hasn't been one of those in like 9 months)

called my dad yesterday to tell him i won't be going to israel. I've been thinking about it over the week, and while at first i was all excited about the touristy stuff, the more i was thinking about the reality of the situation the more anxiety i was getting about 1) traveling 12 hours each way in a plane (plus whatever the train would take to get to newark) and 2) spending time with my family. I'd like to see my aunt before she dies, but she's married to this douchebag who every time i see him gives me some self rightious preachy bullshit about how i need to save my soul. The thought of being locked in the west bank for a weekend being forced to be polite to him while i want to tear his eyes out gives me huge amount of anxiety. Also just the thought of spending shabbat with an orthodox family when i have no way of getting the hell out of there, cuase i'd be in an orthodox settlement in the middle of the freaking west bank that has no busses running on shabbat. So i'm not going to do it. My dad was all dissapointed and kept suggesting we could stay somewhere else for the weekend, but I don't think that would be fair to him, since it'd be my fault he'd be all seperated from his sister when the whole point of the trip was to visit her. Also I feel bad about leaving him alone to deal with my douchebag family (turns out the reason my mom refused to go is also cause of my douchebag uncle) but what can ya do.

Tuesday morning we drove around indiana some more and then went and played video games on B's parent's giant tv for a while. We went with his parents to the store to get some food for wednesday bbq, and i got a whole thing full of just pear jelly bellies. Later that day we went with his parents and his sister to this awesome seafood place where they tell you the temperature and the weather of the place where they caught the fish they were serving, from the day before. I tried shrimp and scallops from B, and had this ceder plank salmon with eggplants and grilled veggies and goat cheese. B's family is pretty cool..i like them a lot, especially his dad, who has the exact same sense of humor as B. His sister is also really nice, except kind of a religious nut...she works at a church and talked a lot about priests and stuff.

After the dinner, me and B drove around for 3 hours watching fireworks.

I like B's family...we were there for a week and in that week we had three different sit down dinners...we went to a resturaunt one night, july 4th they had a bbq, and friday night his parents made lasagna. And they all sat around talking and joking around. It was really nice. It's probably rare that his parents have both their children home, and that's probably why they made a point of having dinner together so many times...but it was really nice just the same.

My family is not like that. The last time I went home (for 5 days) it was fathers day, and my mom and one of my brothers refused to go out to lunch, so I ended up going to lunch with my dad and my other brother. I was there from saturday night until wednesday morning, and not once did i sit down and eat with my mom. In those 5 days it was fathers day, and my brother graduated from high school, but we never even had a meal all together to celebrate either of those two events.

In my family the food thing revolves around religion. So the only time my family sits down for a meal together is on the sabbath (friday night, saturday afternoon), or on jewish holidays. And thanksgiving. Even on holidays though, I'm rarely home (i was home for one jewish holiday- purim- in the past 3 years), and my brother is rarely home. I never come home for the sabbath, because i find the whole religion thing pretty intolerable. Thanksgiving is the one day a year all 5 of us actually sit down together for a meal, but even then there are usually other people around. The 5 of us never just have dinner alone together....

"coming out" as dating B
I'm reading this great book for my family comprehensive exam right now called "Families we choose: lesbians, gays, kinship" (By Kath Weston). And as I'm reading these stories about coming out to parents, it's incredible how much I identify with what these people are talking about.

For instance, the author talks about how coming out exposes the social construction of kinship ties as "blood ties"; that is, how there's this idea that you're family gives you unconditional love because they are related to you by blood. and to come out to them (as gay) can sometimes show how these ties are merely a social construction that can be rescinded in case of certain behavior.

Then there's stories about people who came out, and their parents still talked to them, but refused to talk about their partner, or invite their partner over for holidays, or anything.

When I told my parents I'm dating B(who is not jewish), my parents bascially flipped out and told me that if i marry someone not jewish, it'll be the same as if I was a murderer. I would always "be their daughter" but they wouldn't be able to associate with me. This coming from my mom, who when I was a teenager and I wanted to hang out with my friends instead of going to some family thing would always go on about how "blood is thicker than water" and "they may be your friends but they're not your blood, and friends will go away while blood will always be there" etc. It's interesting how this discourse of blood kinship was maintained by my mother until I did something that "crossed the line", at which point it was exposed as a social construction.

Now whenever I talk to my mother (which has become a lot less frequent) if I mention something about B, she either talks over me, or doesn't respond, and tries to change the subject. The last time I talked to her in fact, i called her on this, and she responded "I won't talk about something I don't support". It goes without saying that B is definitely not invited over for holidays. My dad will listen to me talk about him, but when I said I was going to Indiana he started going on about how B's family will never accept me, because I'm Jewish, and they are definitely going to be anti-semetic or whatever. Which they weren't. And I haven't "come out" to my extended family at all; i'd rather not have to deal with dozens of crazy jewish people telling me how wrong I am. I'd rather just distance myself and live my own life. Which is a response of many people in this book as well.

So yeah, in conclusion, not to belittle any gay or lesbian experiences (which i'm sure for many gay and lesbian people is a lot worse than mine) but there's a lot there that I identify with.

4/6/2007: response from my dad

In reading the letter you sent the other day I was impressed (if that's the right word) with the high level of pain, disappointment, resentment and hostility that was coming across between the lines. Regardless of this particular issue, perhaps you need to try to live happier. Otherwise, it is easy to get bitter and resentful but it adversely affects the quality of our lives. Do you want to be an angry person going through life? Despite my many disappointments in life or any abuses I took from authority figures, most people see me as a happy person with a smile on my face and a quick (if corny) joke always waiting to be said. My whole day is involved in hearing the pain of others. Yet, I strive to stay happy.

And by the way, if dating is like buying a house, Mom and I looked at more than 40 houses before we found one that was worth pursuing. Aside from JDate, I am sure I could advise you on other means to meet decent Jewish men, if you like.

You are a smart cookie and have an answer for the various points that I summarized from the book I sent you. Yes, we want to have as best a relationship as we can with you. Yes, we want to be open and honest. Yes, we want you to be happy and responsible. But there are some lines we will not cross. This is one area that I can never see myself compromising in. We will not acquiesce to the idea of your dating or marrying non-Jewish men.

We don't reject you as a daughter and you are always welcome to be as close to us and included in the family as you want to be. But we reject this sort of behavior or attitude.

You may have had bad experiences in the past but you are a member of an elite people and family. Be careful not to disown your special heritage, your family and your God.

May Hashem bless you with an open mind and good "seichel" so that you make good choices in life.

Shabbat Shalom.


aww so i make a decision he disagrees with, so it must be because i'm unhappy. Well I have to admit, I AM unhappy with the jewish community and the religion in general, which is why i've made the decision to distance myself from them. And maybe my dad has a biased opinion of my happiness cause i'm usually not too happy to see him. But I'm used to his tricks by now, i only wonder why i'm still suprised at the levels to which he will stoop.

I was happy before i met b and am even happier since i've been with him. The only thing i'm unhappy about is my parents general douchebaggery, so to be even more happy I should probably think about cutting them out of my life...i feel like i've given it a fair shot, and it's time to move on from the poisoness relationship i've had with them. Not that i'm taking any drastic steps at this time...but it's coming up on the horizon.
Some responses to his response that I never sent him:
False Starts...
Dear Dad,
I'm glad to hear you care about my happiness. However, I think you have a somewhat biased view of how happy I am, given that every time i talk to you, I'm talking to you, which is when i tend to be unhappiest. As such, given your advice to try to live happier, I've decided to cut out the prevailing source of my unhapiness; that is, you.

Dear Dad,
I think you are confusing cheerfulness and happiness; i might not always have a smile on my face, but that doesn't make me unhappy

Dear Dad,
I don't know why you think you can judge my overall happiness based on a letter i sent to you, especially given that part of what the letter was saying was that you know little to nothing about me, and I'm tired of hiding significant parts of my life; the parts of my life that i feel compelled to hide from you are the parts that make me happiest, and the parts you would disapprove of the most. I also find it interesting to note that parts of my life that make me happiest and parts of my life that you dissaprove of seem to have a significantly high correlation. I'm not sure what direction the causality runs though; do they make me happiest because you disapprove of them, or do you disapprove of them becasue they make me happiest? Or is this merely a coincendence born of the fact that we have such different value systems?

Dear Dad,
I'm an adult now, and as an adult I have the right to choose who i do and do not associate with. This extends to dating and marriage and any relationship I have with you. If you'd like to continue having any kind of relationship, I welcome you to stop telling me how you would never accept my relationship with B; I have a strict policy on not associating with judgmental people who try to convince me to live my life the way they want to instead of the way I want to, and I'm sorry to inform you that this policy now applies to you.

Dear Dad,
What the hell man. Why can't you just be cool for once, and not try to control every aspect of my life? You must realize by now that since I don't depend on you financially for anything, the only compelling reason for me to keep talking to you at all is a relationship that i get something out of...and the only thing i seem to be getting out of a relationship with you is stress and anxiety dreams. That's fucked up. You're my dad, and if you don't accept the decisions I make in my life, feel free to shut the fuck up about it. You seem to think that I have some obligation to keep talking to you just cuase we're genetically related You have some idea that we once were close...let me tell you, we were never close...the only time we were close in fact was before the time I was old enough to make decisions for myself that went against what you wanted. Once I started making my own decisions (around 14 or so) that marked the breaking point in our relatinship, and we haven't gotten along since then. Well i have a suprise for you...just cause I'm your daughter doesn't mean I'm your puppet, and it certainly doesn't mean I'm obligated in any way to talk to you.

Dear Dad,
Feel free to contact me when you feel you can have a conversation with me that doesn't involve you telling me what to do

Dear Dad,
I know you think that just because you are the breadwinner of the family you can treat your wife and your kids like personal slaves who must do your every bidding. Well, unlike everyone else in our family, i've finally escaped from your financial rule. Contributing money and no time to a family doesn't make you a good father. I know you thought that working 80 hours a week to earn that extra vacataion/new car each year was a good idea, but at what cost did that come? It's not suprising both me and D (and soon E most likely) have rejected the idea of being a slave to a job we could earn a lot of money at, and have chosen professions where we are happy, if less financially successful than we probably could be. You screwed that one up, and trying to establish a relationship with me as an adult is not going to fix that. Also, trying to tell me what to do all the time is not going to help you establish that relationship.

Dear Dad,
Why can't you say things like "I love you no matter what you do" and actually mean it? Why does your love come with strings attached? Why are all our conversations superficial, and when they're not it ends with you telling me how wrong I am? Why can't you ever just call and ask about meaningful things in my life (like somethign besides school ever!) and actually care about my response? Why does everything you do teach me what not to do if I ever have a kid?

Dear Dad,
I'm almost 25. Stop treating me the same way you did when I was 15.

Dear Dad,
It's true, there's been times in my life when I was unhappy. But sometime last year I decided to make a concentrated effort to change everything that was making me unhappy and that was within my power to change. I quit smoking (ciggerettes, mostly), switched advisors, cleaned up my apartment more, stopped procrastinating on school work, looked at the good side of life instead of the bad, and spent a hell of a lot more time with my hippie friends. And you know what, it worked! It was only after becoming happier in general that I felt i was ready to be in a relationship, since I'm a firm believer in the idea that other people can only love you as much as you love yourself. And I love myself, and the way my life is going. A few months later I met B, and I'm ridiculously happy with him. I wanted to share that happiness with you, but it seems that any time I tell you anything real about my life, you try and tell me why that's a bad thing. Well I'm not having that. Better luck next time.

Dear Dad,
There really is nothing I can write that'll make you change your mind, so what's the point in trying.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007


I just tried bacon for the first time, and it is delicious :)

3/22/2007: response to my dad

I just went though his letter and made point by point responses, this will change a lot in the future. feel free to critique it, this is more of a freewrite, so a lot of it is just first instinct emotional type responses. The stuff my dad wrote is in quotes, and my responses are after each point...

“The divorce rate is about 50%”
Actually it’s around 40%

“while Jewish identity may not matter as much when one is in one’s 20s it will undoubtedly become more meaningful as you age”

Actually It’s become a lot less meaningful to me as I age, and while you hold on to the hope that it will become more meaningful, I doubt that is the case. Therefore not undoubtedly

“how would you feel going to church, putting up a Christmas tree, or having your baby baptized?”

I find it funny that you thin I would date someone who was practicing a religion other than mine; my boyfriend B is an atheist, and doesn’t believe in any of that stuff.

“compromises rarely work. No one feels good about the result”

Marriage and accommodating someone else’s life into your life is ALL about compromises. If they don’t work you break up. The key to a good relationship is being able to compromise about the things that are not important to you while standing firm on the things that ARE important to you; as a marriage psychologist I would think you would at least know that.

“child related intermarriage tensions are the most common cause for marriage failures”

This statement is just blatantly wrong, and misleading, especially since most marriages that end in divorce aren’t even intermarriages.

“if the couple eventually gets divorced all agreements are off the table. There are many stories of one spouse being granted custody and raising the child exclusively Christian, despite premarital intentions or arrangements”

First of all, B is not Christian; he is an atheist. Second of all, the one spouse who is granted custody is 9 times out of 10 the mother, which is me. Third of all, I’m not even sure I want to have children.

“despite arrangements that might be made in advance, children from intermarriages typically are damaged and deprived of being able to clearly identify with a particular religious and cultural community. They do not fit in well anywhere”

Well I’m not from an intermarriage, and I don’t clearly identify with the Jewish community, nor do I think I fit in with it. Most people I know do not identify with a particular religious and/or cultural community, and they are getting along fine.

“Judaism has a rich culture to offer and it is valuable to maintain traditions”

See that’s where you and I disagree. I think SOME traditions are valuable, like celebrating holidays. Most however are blatantly sexist, xenophobic, and ethnocentric.

“there are many avenues open to meet decent Jewish men. It takes extra work but the results are worth it”

Yeah, well I was on Jdate for 3 years, and I’d say I’ve gone on about 50 first dates, and have attended around 40 Friday night dinners where the main function was for young singles to meet each other; and I have not met anyone worth dating. The few I did date were not worth continuing to date. I feel like I put in a significant effort to date a Jewish man, and have not found one who was compatible to me; and even A, who I almost married, was not as compatible or as right for me as B is.

“The truth is you are a smart young woman and can probably think of reasons why what you propose to consider may make sense. While I will be making the sociological argument that we live in communal settings and that we function as part of a tribe, culture, ethnic heritage and family you will probably be making the argument that promotes individual concerns above all else”

First of all, that’s not a sociological argument, because you are placing a value judgment on this communal living (that it is good) while sociologists would never argue for values. Remember, I’m getting a phd in sociology. What sociologists would say is that tribal living serves a function; evolutionary (continuance of certain genetics), protective, and an avenue for social control. However, the Jewish community has never been protective to me; rather, I have already been rejected from this community for not adhering to it’s principles that I personally find repugnant, and therefore I have none of the protection that the community affords. So all I as an individual am left with is the social control; and as a ‘deviant’ from this community, I have created my own community, which consists of friends, coworkers, and the academic community that I am a part of. So that’s the sociological argument.

My individualistic (and partially sociological) argument is this: Realistically, I’m going to be moving far away from you and the rest of the family when I start my career as a professor. As such, I won’t gain any of the benefits to buying into this form of social control, since I won’t have family support by virtue of physical distance. In addition, realistically you and mom and the rest of the family who cares (because I don’t think my brothers will disown me) will be dead and gone in a couple of decades. I don’t want to be 50 and be alone and unhappy because I towed the line my whole life, and it gave me no benefits at all.

So, to use economic terms, my cost/benefit ratio is this: Little to no potential benefits to breaking up with my boyfriend for my family, since I usually don’t get along with our family as it is, I have no financial dependence on them, and receive little to no emotional support. While on the other hand, the potential benefit I have to staying with my boyfriend is happiness and companionship, a partner who sees and treats me as an equal, and who is willing to follow me in the career path I have chosen. The potential costs to staying with him is losing touch with a family I barely am in touch with anyways, and having children who are not raised Jewish, which is more of a cost for you than a cost for me, who does not believe in the religion anyways.

“No matter how nice a guy this man might be he will never be accepted by our family. Absolutely. Perhaps the same sentiment is shared by his family? Will his family have trouble accepting you as well?”

Actually he has told his parents about me, including the fact that I am Jewish. While it would be nice to have at least one of our parents support us, it’s not necessary for me. Additionally, like myself, B does not base his decisions based on what his parents would want him to do.

“when you scratch beneath the surface will there be some latent anti-Semitism lurking beneath the surface that will come out in your first argument?”

That’s ridiculous; not only have we already have some arguments, since we are both pretty argumentative, he dated a Jewish girl for 2 years when he was younger, which indicates to me a pretty strong not anti-Semitic view.

“it is probably an irreversible decision that will profoundly affect not only the two of you but your immediate and extended family as well as any future children you might have. Do you think they will ever be fully accepted?”

I’m not sure who you mean accepted by. I understand that any potential (theoretical) children I will have will not be fully accepted by you; what will probably happen in that case is that we will proceed with our lives as if they only have 2 surviving grandparents. If you mean by the Jewish community, well I already am not fully accepted into that, so I don’t see how this will change anything. Additionally, I would not want my children accepted into a community that would reject its own children for any reason at all, let alone one with the sexist and racist underpinnings of Judaism. I didn’t stop practicing Judaism by accident or because I was lazy; I have clear reasons for not following it, which I’ve previously declined to bring up with you out of respect for your choice to live your life the way you want to live it. I’d appreciate the same respect from you, even though I know I will not get it.

“finally the true test of whether what you are doing is correct and proper lies with your being able to hold your head up and be proud of your actions. Will you be proud to let others know that you might be dating such a man? Would you feel comfortable introducing him to your family? Would you even be honest enough to show him this letter? If not perhaps your mind is sending a message that your heart should heed.”

I have already let my chosen family; that is, my friends, know all about him, and many of them have met him. I would be happy to introduce him to you and mom if you would be willing to meet with him, and if you would agree to such a meeting feel free to come visit us, or we can drive up to meet up with you. As for the extended family, I would not just show up at a family function with him in tow, out of respect for you and mom, and the knowledge that such an action would result in a lot more fallout for you and mom than for me. If I knew that you wouldn’t get constant shit about it as a result, I would bring him in a second. Finally, the first thing that I did when receiving this letter was show it to B, and we both read it and discussed the points you brought up. If I’m not ashamed of him, and if I showed him the letter first thing, does that mean my mind is sending me a message that my heart should head, that is the opposite of the message you are implying?

“the basis for a firm relationship is a strong foundation of common values, culture, and yes, religion.”

Yes, well me and B thus far have common values and culture, and we have the same religion; atheism.

“enjoy the book”

I’m reading the book..i can’t help but read it with a critical eye for the flaws in her argument, but I am trying to read it with an open mind. However, thus far in my reading (and I haven’t gotten that far yet) I haven’t found any compelling argument for breaking up with B.

Anyways, if you would like to come down to visit at any point, I will take you and Mom and B out to lunch at any Kosher restaurant of your choice, or we would be glad to drive up to Jersey to have lunch with you, and I’ll take you out as well (my treat!). I know we will probably never agree on this issue, but it would make me happy if you and mom and B could at least tolerate to be in the same room as each other, and I’d like to make you as comfortable with him as possible, so that you could at least see that even though you would not accept him for genetic reasons, that I am with someone who makes me happy and who is a great person in general. Let me know

Hiatus Revoked! (2007)

Well I should be lesson planning, but instead I'm going to update this blog some more. Just don't expect a million entries a day like last week :)

So 2007, this year... well right after new years I met B, my boyfriend. When I met up with him I was not planning on dating him, and later that night I went to a potluck shabbat dinner at a friend's place...but the whole time I was there I was thinking "hey, that guy was pretty awesome!". A week later I invited him to my place when I had a bunch of friends over on a friday night, and that sunday we hung out again, since as he said, we hadn't really gotten to hang out that much with all my friends around. A week after THAT we hooked up for the first time, and a few days later he was all calling me his girlfriend. I of course freaked out the first time that happened...and many subsequent times. A month or two later (in march I believe) i told my parents about him.

So here is the first few months in 2007:
I've decided i definitely have to tell my parents about him when i go visit them in 2 weeks, and see what happens with that. (i have it all planned...i want to have a conversation with my mom anyways about how i'm always in fear of her disowning me for something or other, and i'm afraid to tell her stuff important in my life because i know she'll disaprove. I've been meaning to have that conversation for a while, and it would be a good segway into the "yeah i'm dating a non jewish man, and it's getting kinda serious" conversation

Recently a friend of mine broke up with his girlfriend of 6 months(who is aweosme) because he is jewish, she is not, and his family would totally shun him if he ended up marrying her or something.

This has been on my mind a lot lately, given that I am now in a similar situation. I love B, but I know that to stay with him means a great deal of my family will eventually be shunning me.

So now is the point where in my head (and now in my livejournal) i'm playing the religious shunning game! Basically this game consists of going through all my relatives and trying to predict which will shun me in the future.

I'm 100% sure that every member of my extended family on my mom's side will shun me...and you know what? It really will not affect my life at all. Besides missing out on that sweet inheritance money...but I'm pretty sure i've already been written out of people's wills. I already cut off all contact with my grandmother, other than forced contact (like when i go home for thanksgiving and my parents invite her over), because she is a psycho bitch. And since my grandfather has been browbeaten by her psychoticness he'd probably shun me too. That'd be sad, cause i think he would actually be a cool guy if ever my grandmother wasn't around. But it's not like i'm missing anything, cause I haven't talked to him in years.

My mom's sister family is a bunch of religious nuts who have told their (married) daughter she can't use birth control until she's had a boy and a now she's pregnant with her second child at age 20. The younger people in that family are kinda cool, but I know it's just because they're not old enough to express opinions to people as old as I am (cause I guess now I'm kinda an adult, no matter how much in denial I'm in about it). My mom's brother's family is alright...his wife is totally rad, she's this hardcore feminist lawyer. She'd probably shun me as well though, cause her parents were holocaust survivers and she's really into the whole 'keeping the jewish people alive' shiznit.

Now my dad's side of the family...that one's tricky. My dad has a cousin who married a non jewish woman, and that family is still invited to weddings and bar mitzvahs and stuff. My dad's sister lives in Israel, and much of her kids do as well...I pretty much can't stand that family at all. They have one son who is cool, and who lives in the US. I don't think him and his wife would shun me, just cause they're pretty cool people. But if they did that'd be sad as well. Second cousins, i know them, but I don't really give a crap about them. My dad's parents...well they would be heartbroken. They're both holocaust surivors, and even though they are conservative (as in, not orthodox, not politically; so probably a little more open minded than orthodox nuts), they are really into the jewish thing as well. But they are both in pretty bad grandmother has been on chemo for like 2 years now, and is not expected to live much longer, and my grandfather has been showing signs of serious dementia. Likely they will die without ever finding out.

That leaves me immediate family! My brother D will totally not shun me (and if he tried, I'd kick his ass). My brother E will probably go along with whatever my parents do.

Which just leaves my parents, which after reviewing my family, are the only ones I give a shit about (besides D). They are the big question mark. That's why we're having a big conversation this weekend about my fear of being shunned, and how i don't feel like I can tell them anything about my life, since I know they would disaprove/freak out, and I want to have a relationship with them where i don't have to keep secrets from them, but I don't think it's possible at this point. And how I feel like their love is conditional on me marrying a jew (or staying single) but I really don't see that happening at any point in the future. Even if I don't end up with B forever, chances are I won't end up with someone Jewish. So to me it seems that I'll inevitably be disowned, or I'll just be unhappy and not with someone I love. The problem is I can see myself settling for someone who is jewish and not perfect for me, just becuase I'm afraid of being disowned. I can't do that to myself, and I'm afraid if I don't take a stand on this issue now, I never will.

My parents don't know we're having this conversation yet. But I've been thinking about it for weeks. I might not tell them about B in particular this weekend, and if we move in together, I probably just won't tell them about that at all (they don't know I have a roommate, and he's lived in my apartment since June, so it probably wouldn't be too hard to hide). But I want to tell them about B eventually, and I feel having this conversation is important before that happens.

These are things that I've been thinking about pretty much constantly this week, and more so as it gets to Sunday when i'll be seeing my parents again. So there it is

Later today I am going to two purim seudahs; one at my parents, and one at my cousins. And am hoping to have that disowning convo as well.

I had the disowning conversation with my mom pretty much said she would have to disown me if i married someone not jewish, and that it would be my fault...but i think i managed to get both my parnets thinking when i asked why they valued religion over their own children, and explained how i feel like i can't have a close relationship with them because their love is conditional. Then 5 minutes later in the conversation my mom said she never said she would disown me (my mom is the expert at denying what she said 5 minutes she said i should lose weight, and then 5 minutes later was all "I never said you were fat! I never said the word fat!" oh come on, it's the same thing), and my dad was all 'why are we talking about this, it's just a hypothetical." Also my mom compared marrying someone not jewish to being a murderer. But apparently being a lesbian would be worse than marrying someone not jewish, so by extension my parents think being a lesbian is worse than being a murderer.

So basically at the end of the convo it comes down to this; if i married someone not jewish my dad would try to convince me not to do it, because it is a bad idea (according to him), but he would not cut off contact. Also he would not see such a marriage as a real marriage, and he wouldn't come to the wedding. And he would hope the whole time that we got divorced. My mom may or may not cut off contact with me.

In the end I still feel as if I need to value my own happiness over my parent's, even if it means hurting them; I have to live my own life and not theirs.

So my dad sent me a letter via snail mail, that basically consisted of a 3 page (single spaced) treatise on why I should not marry someone who isn't jewish, complete with misleading statistics (i love when my dad tries to quote WRONG divorce statistics at me, when I freaking study divorce statistics for a living. I don't try to quote psychological ideas at him!). But really, besides the fake statistics and fake generalizable statements (according to my dad marrying someone who is of a different religion than you is the NUMBER ONE cause of divorce. um, sure it is) my favorite part of the letter was when he was all "you should look at whether you are ashamed of what you are doing as a guide to whether it is the right thing to do. for instance would you bring this man to meet your family? Would you even show him this letter? And if not, isn't that telling?" Yeah, the reason this part is my favorite is because immediately after i got this letter, I showed it to B. And of course I would introduce him to my family- if they were willing to meet him, which I'm pretty sure they're not. But I would/have introduced him to all my friends, who I am much closer with than i will ever be with my family again.

Also he sent me this book:

if you can't read that, it's called "Why marry Jewish? Suprising reasons for Jews to marry Jews" I think I might read it, just so I can write a point by point rebuttal to my dad. That, or use it to start a bonfire. I haven't decided yet.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

temporary hiatus

I just found out that i'm teaching a course this semester, which starts a week from tommorow. So i'm going to have to put this project on hold for a bit as I run around getting everything ready and writing up lesson plans.

Be back soon though hopefully!

Thursday, August 23, 2007

2006 part 2

date was blah
we went toget indian buffet and then to the anarchist bar and then watched a zombie movie at my place. he is cute but not jewish, and also kinda boring.
also i am slightly drunk.

anyone know a jewish quirky guy in the area who is not a douchebag? Cause i would sure like to meet him...

last night i went to rosh hashana conservative services, a jew dinner, and a demography party.

[long list of stuff about my dad that pissed me off]...when i told my parnets i'm not religious, becuase i hated living a lie all the time, my dad just told me it was a teenage rebellion bullshit that i would get over (i was 22 at the time). when i told him my roommate might be moving in, he was like "IF YOU LIVE WITH A GUY EVERYONE WILL THINK YOUR SLEEPING WITH HIM" And you know what? I don't forgive him for any of those things. I just try to forget them for the sake of not fighting with my dad. And then he wonders why i don't call him every day.

New Years/ Yom Kippur Resolutions
I'm not sure if I believe in god, I barely made it through last night fasting and then gave up, but I most certainly believe in taking the time out once in a while to re-evaluate the way I treat my fellow human beings, and see if I can't improve on that. See, I think if there is a god sitting up there in heaven somewhere, s/he isn't sitting up there looking down and hating on people who eat pigs or drive on saturday. That vision of god sounds awfully petty to me. But I believe in god as a collection of life that's happening in the world, and I believe if there is this collection of life, it matters what I am putting out there. Am i actively working to improve my own and other people's lives, or am I being a negative hole that sucks all the goodness out of the world? I'm some of both depending on the day, but I've been trying to be more of the first then the second.

So here is a list of some things I;ve been working on and want to continue working on in the future:

1. Be kinder to other nice things even when i have to go out of my way
2. Be a positive influence on the world. Work on upping my karma points
3. Be more forgiving of other people's mistakes and flaws
4. Less crankiness
5. Less snarkiness
6. Remember to love myself, since i'm awesome :)
7. Try not to be so damn awkward when I meet new people so they don't get insulted cause they think I'm standoffish or cold or a bitch
8. see more of the good in everything and everyone
9. be happy and appreciate what I have
10. more hugs!
that seems to be it for 2006...but stay tuned for 2007, when i start dating a not-jewish guy and all hell breaks loose!
oh and no new posts until at least monday, since i'll be at phan phest until then :)

2006 part 1

2006 was pretty much a year of self-exploration for me. Around the end of 2005 I decided that I didn'tk now what the hell I wanted, i wasn't happy by myself, and i needed to work on that. So my solution to that was to take a year off from dating. I had the theory that I couldn't be in a good relationship until I was happy on my own, outside of the relationship (as it happened, it did work out that way, but i'm not sure that's why). Also I grew dreadlocks, which turned out to be a great jewish guy repellent. :) It turned out to be a great year...although i broke the dating rule a few times (maybe 4 or 5 first dates?) , i spent most of the year going to concerts (31 over the course of the year...i kept track) and spent less and less time at the jewish grad network events. Around september time i cut my dreadlocks off and taught my first class (social statistics lab) which was an awesome experience as well, and which made me realize that i DO want to be a professor for sure! (prior to that I was kind of ambivilant, and was considering the research industry instead). Around september I went on my first date with someone who was not jewish. It turned out i didn't like him for other reasons (like that he was really boring), but it definitely broke that self-imposed tabboo i had wherein I didn't date people who weren't jewish. Also in the begining of the year I took a course on fertility and the family for my demography program, which is where some of these first entries are coming from. But yeah the happiness thing...reading over the entries i definitely see a difference between angry/bitter me prior to that year, and happy/for the most part ok after that...also that year, in June a (male) roommate moved in, who ended up staying nearly a year without my parents ever finding out about him.

Why is childbirth painful for women? (as opposed to other mammels, who do not have childbirth that's horribly painful and who generally do not require more than a few minutes of recovery time)

The bible says:
Adam and Eve were cast out of the garden of eden for eating from the tree of knowledge. Part of their punishment for becoming all knowladgable was that childbirth became painful for women

The Demography book I'm reading for class says:
It's an evolutionary balance. Why wouldn't evolution make the pelvic bone just an inch or two wider, thus saving the pain of childbirth, and possibly preventing infant mortality? Wel, the thing with humans is that they evolved into bipedal organisms before they developed intellegence. The pelvic bone is not only the place where babies come out of, it's also the place that supports the legs. A wider pelvic bone would lead to awkward movement, which would impede survival among hunter gatherer tribes who depend on their legs for transportation, and running away from lions and stuff. After bipedal motion was evolved, human intellegence began to evolve as well, leading to larger fetal heads (that had to cover their larger human brains). The pelvic bone widened, but only to the point where the fetus could JUST get out, so as to limit the impedement on movement as much as possible. Hence childbirth is painful.

These two sources are saying, in effect, the same thing; that the developement of intellegence caused painful childbirth. Which is ironic, given that women with higher education levels (who are presumably more intellegent, although I certainly find that point debatable) are prone to having less children.

Demography vs. the bible part 2
the bible says:
Taharat Hamishpacha, or purity of the family, is a tradition that orthodox jews follow. basically when women have their periods, they are unpure, so they can't have sex that week. or the next week. 2 weeks after they started their period, they go to the ritual bath, and that night, sex is required. or if not required, a very good thing. Also mastrubation=bad.

Demography says: Women become pregnant by having sex in the 2 period around ovulation. Men have a higher sperm count if they have not had sex in a while. So in order to have the best chances of pregnany, women have to have sex when they ovulate, with a male partner who has abstained at least a few days. There's some way to calculate the probability of pregnancy, given the frequency of intercourse, under the assumption that women know nothing about ovulation and have sex at random intervals.

I say: Well, if you're having sex exactly 2 weeks after you first get your period, and you are on a 28 day cycle, given the whole nature of the biology thing (women generally ovulate exactly 2 weeks before they get their period, which is also two weeks after they get their period if they are on the 28 day cycle), you are most likely ovulating that night. And men have been saving up their sperms for 2 weeks at that point. No wonder jews who don't use birth control (ie. some extreme orthodox and hassidic) have so many kids.

why is my family full of baby machines? Here's a tip ladies; when you have a kid, and you're breastfeeding, EVEN if you haven't gotten your period back YOU CAN STILL GET PREGNANT. My cousin A., is due to have ANOTHER child in August. She just had a child last august!!! And now since she's become a baby machine she's giving up her sweet job as a high school talmud teacher (which followed her sweet physical therapy job) to move to georgia and be a housewife. And all the other women in my family are baby machines too! My 20 year old cousin B. is due in April. She's 20 years old. 20!! My cousin C. is getting married in May and will probably be pushing out the babies ASAP. She's also 20! Her sister Y. also got married when she was 20 and now has like 3 babies (at 26 or 27) and is a housewife. 3 out of 4 of my cousins in Israel are married and have tons of kids and are housewives. The one exception is the one who got divorced 2 months after she got married becuase her husband turned out to be not religious enough.

Not counting the divorced one, i have 4 cousins in my generation who are not married and popping out the babies/about to be married. All of them are too young to get married (the oldest is around 17). My prediction is that only 1 of them will have a career- the one who is the daughter of the only woman in my parent's generation to have a career (My Aunt H.- she's a lawyer)

Why am I the only woman of my generation who is actually going to have one of those "career" things? (except for that one cousin, and that's still up in the air) What is wrong with jewish women in my generation? Well, even if i'm doing it alone, I am NOT going to be a baby machine/housewife. This I declare. It would be nice if I had at least one cousin who joined me though....

What race are Jews?
On my little demographic survey I had below, I find it interesting that 4 out of the 5 jewish respondents chose "don't like this question" as the answer for race. So they were 4/6 of the people who chose "don't like this question". I happened to be one of those people...

So why is that? I can tell you my own personal reason for not liking that question, and why I always cringe when I see it on any sort of survey i'm taking- I really don't identify as white. The first reason is empirical; my skin color doesn't look like most white people you see. It doesn't really have those rosy undertones that white people have. It's more golden/olive/yellow looking. I have really dark hair and eyes (both are almost black) while white people tend to have lighter hair and eyes. Although I know according to most demographers I would be "white". And the reason I look like this is my eastern european (Romanian) heritage. And the difference between my skin color and white people's isn't that big of a difference at all. Although I get mistaken for Latina fairly frequently.

The second reason is political; Jews can't be white people, because white people kill Jews! Sorry white people, but the reason I have like one great aunt and uncle on my dad's side, and the reason my dad only has 3 first cousins when his parents both started out with over 6 siblings each, is because white people killed my grandparents' families. And they killed them precisely because they weren't "white"- they were jewish. So to be assimilated into the "white" catagory is to forget what my family has gone through becuase they were not white enough.

And yes, I would feel kind of like a fraud if i checked off "other" in the race cataogry. I mean, for all intents and purposes, when demographers were writing "white" as a catagory they definitely meant to include me in it. But it makes me very uncomfortable to check off "white" as well (and i actually feel physically ill whenever faced with this question). So mostly I don't check anything at all.

So yesterday I'm at my cousin's engagement party. Here's the final tally:

People who told me I should get married: 3 (Grandfather, Aunt, other Aunt)
People who made a snarky comment about my hair: 4
People who made a racist comment about my hair: 1

Apparently, according to my grandfather, getting married is a prerequisite of "settling down". I think i'm pretty settled...not planning on going anywhere soon, have some nice furniture, I have my two pets, and i'm well on my way to an awesome career. Why do I need a guy to be considered "settled"? Oh right, cuase according to my grandfather me getting an education is nice and all, but I should be focusing on what's really important. IE making babies I guess. Like my freakin 9 month pregnant cousin. We sat in the corner and picked some names for her kid, which is due in 2 weeks. She's 20 years old.

so for one of the student teachers tommorow we had to write an essay about our "identity". My essay sucks, but I thoguht i'd put it here

My identity is comprised of a lot of smaller sub-identities, some of which conflict with each other. I can divide it up into three major categories. First the graduate student / academic / sociologist / feminist category. As a grad student, I spend a good deal of my life doing activities related to grad school. I plan on remaining in academia until I retire, and insofar as “what you do” defines one’s identity, I’m an academic. Additionally, the particular subject matter I study- sociology of gender and the family- has greatly shaped my identity as a feminist. This affects my activities when engaged in non- academic endeavors, such as talking to friends, and how I act when I’m in a relationship.
The second major category is a Jewish person. I was raised orthodox Jewish, and although I’m no longer religious, I still participate in many Judaism-related activities, and a large proportion of my friends in the area are Jewish people I met at religious events. However, because I am no longer religious, I am also the black sheep “not Jewish enough” person to my family and community at home. This is something I’ve struggled with a lot; I don’t believe in the religion, but I don’t want to completely divest myself of a Jewish identity. Right now I’m at a balance where I celebrate Jewish holidays, occasionally go to Shabbat dinners, and basically celebrate the parts of the culture I agree with, and try to think of it as a culture rather than a religion. [the essay is longer than this, but this is the relevent part]

one of my friends really pissed me off this weekend. he was all "people who arn't religious have no meaning to their lives". and he actually believes this! This guy is becoming religious again lately or whatever, but it's like when my gradmother is all "people who arn't married have no meaning to their lives"

Just because people are different than you doesn't mean they have meaningless lives! I don't mind if you decide to become religious, but don't go around telling people their lives are meaningless cause they're not like you! I'm neither religious nor married, and i have a awesomely meaningful life. Also, way to sound like a crazy fundie.

you know this whole thinking about how orthodox people are judgemental assholes and have treated me like shit my whole life just because i'm a little bit different has gotten me very bitter. I'm going to see my ENTIRE family next weekend- both sides. My mother's side on sunday for my grandfather's 80th birthday party and my father's side on monday for my cousin's wedding. And I KNOW i'm going to get shit for having dreadlocks, and for not being married or giving a shit about whatever lifestyle they think i should have. And i know i shouldn't take it personally, because they've been brainwashed into being assholes, but i'm pretty sure if anyone gives me shit i'm going to tell them to go fuck themselves. Ok maybe i won't tell the first person that, or even the second or third or fourth, but i'm definitely going to tell the 5th person to go fuck themselves.

Gah I hate my fucked up family, i hate that i grew up with a bunch of intolerant assholes, and I hate that I can't let it go, and that I fucking care so much about what they think. I hate that they have the ability to make me sit in my apartment on a sunday night stewing in bitterness over all the shit i've gone through just cause i wasn't a zombie jew who did everything i was told. And I hate that I just sit there and take that shit whenever they talk to me, and that i've never told anyone in my family to just leave me the fuck alone.

I wonder if i just told them all to fuck themselves, and they subsequently disowned me, might i not be happy and free? I want them to love me for who i am, but that's never going to happen. I look at people who enjoy spending time with their families, even 1 or 2 members of their family, who they willingly hang out with, and who is supportive of them, and i'm horribly jealous. I will never have that. I have never heard any supportive statement come from a family member without a critisism coming out a second later. Like my grandfather- "I'm proud of you that you're doing well in school. But when are you going to get serious about your life and settle down with a nice boy?" WHAT THE FUCK IS THAT. I've never had a personal conversation with my family about anything (excluding my parents and stuff) cause our relationships are so stilted and's like a relationship with a coworker who you don't really know that well.

Sometimes I wish my family was just dead. Not in the sense that i wish them death. But i just wish i was free from all this pressure, and could live my life without fucked up people breathing down my neck all the time.
and on that happy note, i have to go make a business call so I'll be continuing 2006 in an hour or so

Wednesday, August 22, 2007


I think it was in 2005 that I decided that I was a "cultural jew"; so I would occasionally have shabbat dinners and lunches with my friends, celebrate holidays, but judaism didn't really make a huge day to day impact on my life. I still only dated jews though...and that year I dated a LOT...the year before I had been in that transition where i moved from NYC-NJ-current city, so in NYC and NJ i knew i would be moving soon, so there was no point in dating that much anyways, and then once I got here I was dealing with living in my own apartment for the first time, starting grad school and all the crazy amount of work that entails, and trying to start some sort of a social life in a city i had moved to knowing one other person who lived there. a lot of that social life did involve the jewish grad student network, since going to a shabbat dinner with a bunch of other grad students, some of whom i sort of knew, was easier than arranging my own social life. Anyways, the point is that I dated a whole bunch of people that year, all jewish. Right after new years I met a guy through jdate who i dated around 6 weeks...that ended when he got super drunk on valentines day and destroyed my apartment (long dramatic story there, that's off-topic for this blog). In August I met someone at a jewish grad students network trip to atlantic city, and dated him also for around 6 weeks, but that ended becuase he was a gigantic douchebag (seriously, this was the guy who talks to managers at resturuants when the waitress isn't fast enough. that's what a douchebag he was). Intersperesed with that were a whole bunch of first and second dates, a few one night stands, and a kind of ambivilance about the whole judaism thing. Oh also I had my first cheeseburge at fergie's pub downtown, which was just delicious.,and my first shrimp which I didn't like...i thought it tasted like the sea. IT was a tiny shrimp and made at a hibachi resturaunt, which is not the normal way of shrimps, but yeah.

Tonight am going to this jew young people's business network dinner thing of doom (eg, the meat market). I figure i should wear a skirt since it'll be full of jews. . .meanwhile my like 12 year old cousin is getting engaged. WTF. Ok, she's really 19, but still, who the fuck gets engaged that early?

Last night Dressed up in my pretty black skirt and sluttyish black shirt ato go to this jew dinner thing in center city. Talked to R. basically the whole dinner- cause i was feeling way too meat markety talking to stangers (the whole thing was horrible, although it sort of felt like NCSY for grown ups), and R.'s a really cool guy- except i found out he's not actually jewish (his mom isn't jewish). Sigh.
After the dinner, a bunch of us went over to the irish pub for a drink.
Then today went over to E.'s for shabbas lunch.

Also today, talked to my grandmother for half an hour, and without us yelling at each other the entire time! I also talked to b., my cousin who got engaged, and OMG has she turned into a brooklyn jew robot. She was like "Imirtza hashem [translation for non jew robots: god willing] you'll be soon." and "don't worry, you'll find a nice guy to marry soon". Um, WTF. Thanks, but that's really ok. I'm not planning on getting married for a good long time. Not like her, who is getting married at 19 to a 24 year old guy who learns torah all day and has never had a real job in his life, and may or may not take the MCATs later this year and not have money for another 8 years. And who is the third guy she's ever dated. And the first two only lasted like 2 dates each. WTF.

called R. today, but he's in texas, so won't be coming to hillel tomomrow. Sadness. Also he's still not a jew, which is sad.

Mom mailed me a box of hamentashen, which were tasty. Went to hillel for purim services, and this dude from my elementry school read the megilah, which was weird (he still has a fake israeli accent). Hillel was full of religious undergrads, which was scary. . . hillel at my undergrad was a lot cooler, in that it was a lot less religious, so i felt much more comfortable. Realized that religious jews, especailly in large numbers, make me highly uncomfortable, which is weird, in that about 5 or 6 years ago, i was one of them (going back to when I was born). Afterwards went to mad max's

went to the jew grad student dinner. B. (my cohort mate who is very black and very blatently not jewish) came with me. In fact, he showed up first, and called me and was like "hey, you should come quickly, this dude is speaking to me in jewish,and I don't know what he's saying". Turns out he was cornered by like 3 chassidic rabbies. Ha. I explained to him the begining of the meal, and the weird jewish stuff we were doing, and then he bounced and went back to the fancy howard becker reception.

last night went to a seder at chabad. Wow that building is awesome- it's one of the 100 year old houses, with beatuful wood and stained glass windows everywhere.

There was only about 20 people there. It was the first seder i've been to in all my life that wasn't run by my parents, and it was a little weird to have al the weird voodoo lubav traditions. Plus the rabbi had like 5 billions kids. Ok, only 3, but that's 3 more than i've seen since i moved here. The rabbi asked me what i was doing at grad school, and when i told him i was going to be a prof he was like "well that's good for women, cause then you can have a family and kids". WTF? first of all, who said i want a family and kids? second of all, he must have a very strange conception of how much professors work- according to this reasearch i've been doing (for my paper actually) the average untenured woman professor works something like 54 hours a week. And that's the average, so people who want to be famous professors (like me) probably are the ones working a lot more than that.

Left around 12:15. Tonight is the meat market seder at hillel, for 'graduate and professional students' ie. 'people who are desperate to get married already cause they're old.' Ha. Why am i going you ask? Well it's either that or chill with the chabad people again.

went and met up with E., and then headed over to this jew 'young professoinal' dinner thing. I met this really awesome girl named e. who is now going to be my friend- i invited her over to the jew dinner i'm having next friday night, and i totally hope she comes. Also this really really creepy guy came and started talking to me and kept moving his seat closer to mine until i was like "um, i have to go check on my boyfriend" and then walked away over to t. Cause T. is my surrogate boyfriend in cases of creepiness.

Dear Orthodox Judaism,
I think i figured out why we don't get along. Besides the whole 'treating women like crap" thing. I just never felt like I belonged. People were in this whole "orthodox jew" club, which apparently didn't accept women who wanted to have a real job when they grew up (instead of being a hebrew school teacher, or a housewife), and had actual opinions, and questioned some of the stuff they hear. Cause sersiouly, sometimes you just make no sense. Most of the time actually. But yeah, it's not going to happen. It's totally not personal- it's not that i don't like the whole religion thing, it's just that i don't like orthodox people.

we walked to this jew havdalah thing at some park on the way back to --, just cause none of us have done any of these jew things all summer. We sat around and acted like jews (which any passerbye would probably think is mad wierd)

so I'm thinking of having a friday night shabbat dinner/housewarming party a week from friday at my new place, and inviting pretty much every jew I know in the area, in addition to a few select un-jews

rabbi dad.
yeah so my dad got smicha today, which for those un-jews amongst you, means he's now a rabbi.
(clearly I need to become a cokehead now)

When I decide to go to (specific grad school), my housewife aunt says "oh, it's good your going there- there's a lot of jewish boys there, and you can find a nice jewish husband". This past summer, after acing my first year, and getting an NSF besides, my grandmother calls me to say "I was just watching the view, and they were talking about how kids are rebellious and mess up their lives because they had a childhood trauma. It made me think of you". Seriously. I can't make this shit up. Why am i messing up my life? Oh, cause I'm not orthodox like she is, and because I had an eyebrow ring (i took it out since then, but had one for a few months). "but grandma!" i protest "I'm doing really well at school! i got this great grant, I got straight A's this year, I had an article accepted for publication in a peer reviewed journal, and I have another one I'm submitting soon" Her reply? "All that stuff means nothing to me! What boy is going to want to marry a girl with an eyebrow ring? Besides, boys don't like girls who are more educated then them, so you're already at a disadvantage".

Speaking of things that have been ingrained in me, i'm begining to think this whole "dating only jews" thing is overrated. Think about it- Jews only make up about 2% of the US population. Of those, 50% are men. Of THOSE, about 90% are douchebags. That leaves about .1%. . .and say of those about 40% are gay, and 50% are married. So that leaves me with .01% of the US population who is datable. that's .0001 x the approx 2 million people in the area= 200 datable people. 200! And of those i've gone out with at least 20. Leaving me 180 datable people in the area. And how the fuck am I supposed to find those people? Cause they sure as hell aren't hanging out in the sociology or demography departments. Chances are that those are the ones who I'll never meet anyways.

There ya go peoples, MATHAMATICAL PROOF that I should start dating people who aren't jewish.

(and just cause i love deconstructing my own arguments, the assumptions made in this proof are: 1) the distribution of jews in the area is the same as the distribution of jews in america 2) 90% of jewish men are douchebags 3) 4% of jewish men are gay and NOT douchebags 4) non douchebags have a 5/6ths chance of being married 5)the remaining 1% of jews are of an acceptable age range for me to date 6) It is necessary for me to date at all)

I was reminded of this one time in 11th grade. See, in high school i used to doodle naked people all the time, cause i thought they were beautiful and fun to draw. One time in 11th grade I had to get up in Navi class to give a presentation or something (don't really remember) and the teacher sat down in my seat while i was presenting. Now, this teacher really didn't like me; they had these yellow slips they sent home when you were doing badly in school, and I would get at least one a week from her. Not from doing badly in class (which i did), but because I thought she was wrong on just about everything she said, and I would argue in class with her about why she was wrong. This was around the time I started realizing that religion was a bunch of bullshit, and started questioning just about everything that was told to me. At some point she stopped sending my parents yellow notes and started sending them whole letters- that was around the time I stopped going to that class entirely. So anyways, she sits down in my seat, where my notebook with my naked people were, and she starts making fun of me too the whole class. Like "OMG, what are you drawing, you other guys have to come look at this, this is just messed up". This went on for a good 5 minutes. It was entirely humiliating...she made me feel like there was something wrong with me cause I doodled naked people. Like I really was a fucked up person. For doodles! In college I learned that some people enjoy doodleing naked people so much, they actually take figure drawing courses. . .but no one told me about those back then.

Yeah, that was my high school experience summed up in a paragraph, right there. And people wonder why i hate orthodox jews (with the exception of the very few cool ones who are my friends, and by few I mean 2). Stay tuned for more fucked up high school stories. . .i have millions.

10th grade again. I was friends with one of the 9th graders. We hung out on the school shabbaton (weekend sabbath retreat in a hotel type thingy), where she found another party in the hotel we were staying at, and went there to get stoned. She was so fucked up she fainted and fell out of her chair in the middle of lunch. She also danced around on her bed with her roommate, in their underwear. Someone saw this and told the principle.

About a month later this girl came in to school one day with bandages on her arms and cuts on her face. She ran out in the middle of one of her classes that day, and got sent to the library to calm down. I had a free period then, so I sat with her in the library.

A week after that she was gone. She had been expelled. Rumor was it was becuase she was a lesbian (becuase of the dancing in her underwear thing; incidentally this girl is now married. to a guy). But we all knew it was becuase she was too much trouble cause she was a cutter, and the school didn't want to have to deal with her.

in high school I had a double curriculum, being that i went to jew school. Meaning that each term i would have like 12 classes or something. A lot. I had class every day from 8:45-5, until my senior year when I only had class from 8:45-3:15. I can't believe I ever sat through that much class. well I didn't, especially in my later years. Anyways here are all my grades from my hebrew classes (years seperated by slash marks)
Chumash (Torah): 76, 76/ 82, 78/ 80, 70/ 73, 68
Halacha (Jewish law): 73, F/ 65, 60/ 79, F/ INC, 88
Jewish History: 80, 83/ 85, F/ 65, 65/ 72, 65
Hebrew Language: 70, 62/ 65, 70/ 65, 53/ 76, 76
Navi (um, later part of the old testement?): 60, F/ B+, 75/ 69, 48/ 63, 78
Parsha (weekly torah portion): P, P/ none/ A, 94/ 95, 88
Mishnah (part of the talmud?): C-, B/ 71, 85/ 65, 50/ 77, 98

Yep. Contrast that with college; I had a 3.945 GPA. Hard to believe I was such a fuck up in high school. IN fact they made me retake a bunch of finals my last summer so that I could graduate (Finals which involved stuff like memorising jewish prayers). I think it was just that I was sooo miserable there, and I didn't believe anything that anyone was telling me, so I didn't bother with trying to do well on tests of doing hw, or showing up to class.

so when i was home this weekend, i picked up all the yellow slips my mom got. When i was in high school, they used to send these yellow sips to your parents whenever you fucked up. I got quite a few. . these are not all of them, cause towards the end of high school I started intercepting them in the mail, and throwing them out. anyways here are some highlights:

(Navi)" Abandoning eden got 30/100 on her test. she was totally unprepared and does not pay attention in class. "
(Navi)"Abandoning eden failed the test I gave recently- a 42. She is capable of so much more but continues to disrupt the class. and exert no effort in her studies. Please call me to discuss my concerns"
(Navi)"Abandoning eden missed class today without permission. Students are told that they need to request permission before leaving. What concerns me is- doesn't Abandoning eden need to be in class if she consistently is failing every test? Points will be deducted from her final average for this offence. Abandoning eden recieved an F last marking period"
(Navi)"Abandoning eden received a 50 on the navi test she recently took. she also fails to hand in assignments. This lack of effort on Abandoning eden's part is hurting her grade"
(Halacha)"Abandoning eden recieved a 56 on her Halacha test. She has been working nicely in class. I hope her tests will improve over Pesach"
(hebrew)"Abandoning eden received a grade of 59/100 on her hebrew language and literature exam"
(mishna) "Abandoning eden's overall behavior and participation has improved significantly over the last 1-2 months. She recently failed her mishna test. She immediately expressed concern and has committed herself to additional work"
(navi)"the purpose of this progress report is to document Abandoning eden's preformance for this quarter. Abandoning eden is at risk of failing for the following reasons: 1) 5 homework assignments were given out during the course of this marking period and Abandoning eden has failed to hand any of them in. These assignemnts are a significant portion of her grade. 2) for the 2 tests given this marking period,Abandoning eden recieved grades of 48 and 33. 3) Abandoning eden often is a disturbance in class. Not only has Abandoning eden's performance in the above been less than desirable, but she has never approached me to request additional assignments to raise her grade or show any effort on her part

Disturbance==asked questions that the teacher couldn't answer

Most of these are from 11th grade.. .seemed i stopped going to class entirely that year, and when i did I sat in the back talking to my friend, or argued with the teacher about what a dumbass she was.

me and m. are making latkes for this hippie new years potluck after-concert thing, which are truely delicious.

Monday, August 20, 2007


ahh 2003. In 2003 I got engaged to my boyfriend, A. on July 4th. We had a vort(engagement party), with tons of family coming out of the woodwork to attend. We started planning a wedding. Throughout the process we got along less and less, and I became more and more dissallusioned with Judaism the more I learned about the wedding rituals I would have to go through, which directly conflicted with many of the feminist principles I had started to believe in. I was told I couldn't talk during the ceremony, I would be signed away in the tanaim by my dad, I had to walk around my groom 7 times for reasons no one had an adequate explenation for, and I couldn't even give him a ring under the chuppah. In orthodox weddings, women are given a ring, the man says the hebrew equivilent of "with this ring I thee wed" and women say nothing at all. and then they are married. I felt more and more like property. To my suprise, when I said I did not want to walk around 7 times, my fiance (who at the time was actively violating the sabbath with me on a weekly basis) flipped out and said he wanted that part of the cermony. Meanwhile, I was applying to graduate school, and was full of dreams of moving out of the NJ/NYC area to pursue my career, while my fiance wanted to stay in NJ at his job. In November, he ended our engagement. The shabbas afterwards I stayed in my dorm, drank wine, and watched movies all saturday long with a friend. In November I ate non-kosher meat for the first time (chicken nuggets), although it wasn't until the next year that I would try non-kosher beef.

So here are some excerpts from that year:

"in my classical social theory class we're reading Nitzsche's "Thus spake zarathustra". This is an amazing book. He uses the work "verily" all the time (woo!) and he doesn't believe in god, only a dancing god, which is his little metaphore thing for art. this book is freakin awesome. :) "

"a. talked to my dad about us getting engaged. they decided i'm worth 4 camels. if i had 10 camels like my dad originally wanted, i could start a camel farm. i could have camel rides,and the camels could plow the farm and fertilize it with their spit. . . . .here's my secret doubts- am i making a mistake by getting married? i've never been on a blind date, never been set up with someone, never gone out for drinks with a new guy i've never seen before. I wonder about all the possible futures i could have had if i hadn't met him, all the possible relationships i could have had. what could have been, and all that shit. going off to grad school by myself, being lonely, being set up, being able to persue weird crush things. i suppose its normal to have doubts."

"today is purim, the jewish holiday of drinking and eating and remembering that we're still not dead. I gave o. shaloch manot (food that we give to people) and she thought i was trying to jewify her. Last night (when holiday began) i went to the hunter reading of the book of esther, had some chinese food, and then went back to the dorms wherein me and e. split a bottle and a half of wine whilst watching "save the last dance". a movie which was so predictable, i figured out the entire plot within the first 5 minutes."

"went to synagogue yesterday for the first time since july."

"Today is exactly 4 years since we started dating. Yay us!
Yay a. I remember when i met him, sitting in a circle at jew cult land, when they were singing their cult songs. ahh, the days of yore"

"this weekend was ok. . . it was this jewish holiday thingy. My parents had this party on saturday night and a. got really really drunk"

"so yesterday (saturday) me and a. went to get a coffee table for his house (yeah, we're the best jews ever)."

"I don't care if the holloween parade is on a friday night. It's my last year living in NYC and i want to go dammit! "

"Happy Holloween Everyone!!!!
A. is bringing me my wings, so at the parade, i'm going to be an evil goth fairy . . .with blue hair and black wings. . .
This is my favoritest holiday of the year. . . ."

"from my friend's away message:

"Religion has actually convinced people that there is an invisible man living in the sky, and he has a special list of ten things he does not want you to do. And if you do any of these things he will send you to a place full of fire, and smoke, and burn and torture forever and ever 'till the end of time.... but he LOVES you. And he needs money"

Hahaha, so true"

"was supposed to go see a floyd cover band at bb kings. drove there with brother and brother's friend. stood on line for an hour, but the show was sold out before we even got there. Finally gave up, and went to applebees across the street, where I had unkosher chicken for the first time, like the bad jew I am. "

"went to spanish resturaunt place with soc club. the food there was sooooo good, the chicken like melted in my mouth and the fried icecream was just awesome. It just makes me glad that i don't keep kosher anymore. "

"My really jewish cousins are here for the sabbath. Despite their jewishness, they are really quite cool.

So over lunch we (me, my cousin and his wife, and my parents and older brother) Had a long debate about assimilation within judaism, and also how orthodox people think that they're the shit, and think that people who are conservative, reform, etc, are not 'religious' and that they're not really jews or something. Which my cousins don't agree with cause they're awesome, and which my parents agree with cause they're bigots.

(yesterday my mom was like "I know you're going to start dating new people now, and i just want to let you know, if you bring home people who aren't orthodox then you can go live somewhere else." This led to lots of fighting, during which time i was like "I'm not orthodox and don't ever want to be so why the hell would i want to date someone who is?" and also told her off for constantly threatening to kick me out of the house whenever she opens her mouth, especially cause I don't even live there anymore. And she was like "well if you don't live here anymore why do you come home every weekend!" to which i replied "becuase abba said if i didn't then he wouldn't pay for my dorm room!" Yeah, that was my day yesterday by the way."

" went to this chanukah party today at my cousins' house. So yeah, first of all, my uncle asked me to edit my cousin's college scholorship essay thing. Oh my god my cousin can not freakin write! The jewish educational system fails! This guy is 19 years old, and he doesn't know simple writing skills, like, say, writing an essay about one topic instead of writing 4 paragraphs that have nothing to do with each other. Gah!!

Also - told my dad again that I'm not orthodox. As you might recall, i told him the same thing two weeks ago. He doesn't remember. This makes the 4th time i've told him that i'm not orthodox, and he's forgotten the first 3 (and has probably repressed today's conversation already)"

So in sum, it was around the time i broke up with my ex-fiance that I started eating not-kosher chicken, and started identifying myself as non-orthodox to my parents. I love that little comment she had made about me having to move out if i dated someone not orthodox...ha. She would love for me to be dating a nice conservative or reform or even unaffiliated jew nowadays :)

Intermission: Letter I wrote to my dad today

I haven't sent this yet, and still haven't decided If I will. But it pretty much sums up where I am right now:

Hi Abba,

I don't know what Mom told you, but the way I was "affected" by your eulogy, was that I was insulted. Think of this from my perspective...I changed plans I had for months to go to the funeral, my boyfriend (whom you dislike by virtue of who he was born to) went out of his way to drive me to the train station and let my friend into my house (who also went out of her way) so that I could make it. I was the one who made sure E. got through security and on the plane since D. and various cousins didn't want to stick around and wait for him. I was the one who talked to the Rabbi before the funeral, and before you got there, to make sure he had everyone's names right, because again, even though I had two cousins there who were older then me, I was the only one who was responsible enough to think that maybe the rabbi had some questions when he was walking around asking if any of us were relatives. And then I was the one (with mom) comforting Sabba throughout the cermony.

And then after all that, I felt as if you used the eulogy to try and give me a musser speach, to guilt me into being more religious. I know you say that it wasn't personally directed but I can't help but think that when you said things such as the way to remember your mother is to "pass these traditions along to (your) children" and "we honor our parents by following jewish culture and traditions" and the souls of dead people live on as long as "we cherish their memories in our hearts, and follow their examples by maintaining the jewish traditions that made them who they are" that this is directed at me, the one child of yours who is openly not religious. Maybe someone else wrote these words, but you were the ones who chose them, and I feel as if (even if only subconsciously) they were directed at me.

You know what? Savta never asked me if I was dating a jewish boy, or if I was celebrating jewish holidays, or if i was living a religious life. She only ever asked if I had friends, and if I was happy with my life. You know what I think would have been a more important lesson to learn from her life? Savta almost gave up her life for her father, and then sacrificed a whole bunch of stuff for you and your sister. Maybe the lesson to be learned there is that, regardless of differing religious views (because hey, your mother was conservative, and didn't reject you for becoming orthodox), your mother put family above all else. And yet I feel that because I don't subscribe to the same religious views as you, I am made uncomfortable all the time, and I can't talk about anything of substance with you or mom. So we have a relationship, sure, we talk about impersonal stuff like school and gardening, but I can't even mention my personal life without it turning into another speech about how wrong I am. How is that following Savta's example?

Do you want to know why I almost didn't go to the funeral? It wasn't becuase (as I'm sure you think) I'm heartless or I didn't love savta or I don't care about the family. I do think family is important, and i do love Savta, which is why I went. The reason I almost didn't go is becuase every time I get together with the family, I feel as through someone is trying to shove religion down my throat. And this makes me highly uncomfortable, becuase I have to pretend like I believe what you are saying, and I have to be polite, when really I don't believe any of it, and I feel like I'm a big phony just for being there.

You had to have realized how miserable I was growing up, especially as a teenager...this was a result of having to pretend to be something I'm not, and what I'm not is someone who belives in the jewish religion, if any religion. In fact, I think there's only maybe a 10% chance that there's a god, and less than a 1% chance that judaism has got it right if there is a god. Not only that, but my whole life I've had to struggle with being told I couldn't do certain things because I'm a woman (be a pallbearer, speak during my wedding, that I have a 'biological clock' that's going to make me want to give up my career and be a stay at home mom), when I think all that is based on patriarchal and outright sexist religious views and old wives tales that I don't believe in. And yet whenever I questioned these views (religious or sexist), I was shut down, and got in trouble in high school for daring to question rabbis and teachers who didn't know how to answer me, because there were no good answers. I can't even count how many times in high school I was told that you do certain things just becuase of "faith", when I did not have that faith. Meanwhile, as early as 9th grade I was secretly violating shabbas and not keeping kosher, because I did not believe in it, but had to live as if I was ashamed of who I am (which I'm not) until I was able to move out of your house.

I know religion is important to you, and that's fine with me. But it's not for me. I have never been happier than I am now, and that was even before I met B. ...becuase I can live my life according to the principles and morals I believe in, without having to fake my way through any rituals or ceremonies when really on the inside I'm laughing at myself for doing a meaningless ritual for a god I don't believe in. I know this is dissapointing to you, especially given your family background, but it's something you are going to have to come to accept if we are going to have any kind of relationships beyond talking about impersonal stuff. I know you believe that being religious will ultimately make me a happier person. Maybe it does make you happier. I'm know it is important to your life. But just like riding on motercycles is something you enjoy, and going to concerts is something i enjoy, but I don't really like riding on motercycles and you probably would not like going to concerts, religion is something that makes you happy but that makes me profoundly miserable. I can't live my life going through empty rituals for no purpose that I can see. And even though you keep holding out hope that I will change my mind as I get older, that's just not going to happen. As early as first grade I was moving my lips during davening without actually saying any of the words, becuase I did not believe in it. I've never believed in it, and I never will believe in it.

Out of respect for you however, I do not try to convince you that your religion is not true. I wish you would respect my beliefs and not try to convince me that it is true. It will never change my mind, and all it does is put further strain on our relationship, and makes me less and less comfortable with coming home or talking to you or mom about anything of substance. Instead of focusing on the things that make us different, and the reasons you are unhappy with the way I live my life, why not focus on the things we have in common? This does not mean trying to pretend my relationship does not exist, or pretending that I am doing anything for jewish holidays, but instead of focusing on the fact that B. is not jewish, why not focus on the fact that I have found someone who makes me happy, who treats me with respect, and who will let my career come first- all of which are more important to me than any religion could ever be.

As for B., prior to him I had restricted myself to dating Jews, because I knew that would make you and mom happier. When I first met B. I wasn't even thinking of dating him. But as I got to know him, I had to ask myself if it was worth sacrificing someone who I got along with on so many levels for a religion I do not believe in, to make you and mom happy. And I did struggle with this question for a long time when we started dating. And while in an ideal world I would like you and mom to be happy for me becuase I am happy, I know that will probably never be the case. But I can't sacrifice my own happiness for your beliefs, when I do not share those beliefs. In the end, I have to live with myself, and my choices, and if i make them based on other people's belief systems, I would be much more miserable than I would be if i have a strained relationship with my parents, but am otherwise living my life according to my beliefs.

I don't want to debate you on this anymore. I know your view on all of this, but the reason I wrote this is that I don't think you understand my view. We are coming from profoundly different starting from a point wherein religion is the organizing principle of your life, and me from a point where I don't believe in religion, and the idea of living a phony life is abbhorent to me. Yes, religion is important to B.'s parents the same way as it is to you, and that's maybe why me and B. get along so well...because we are both atheists from a religious background. And yet, his parents were very welcoming to me even though they know i am from a different religious background from them. In fact, I am jealous of the relationship B. has with his parents, despite their religious differences. I would love to have as close a relationship with you and mom, but I feel as if the history of our religious differences, and the way we have both reacted to them, stand between us. I hope one day you can be as welcoming to him as his parents were to me, and even if you can't, or if you decide you can't have a relationship with me becuase of the person I love, I hope this letter can at least make you begin to understand where I am coming from.

Abandoning eden


So here's some outtakes from my livejournal in 2002. I was age 19-20, still living at home with my parents for most of the year (I moved out at the end of August and into a dorm, but my parents said I could only live there if I came home for every shabbas. So I did), but secretly not following much of judaism. Around this year was when I started not keeping shabbat when I was in my room and my parents couldn't see- so I would play computer games on saturday afternoon on my laptop with the volume turned off, and worked on papers when I needed to. But when I left my room I was the model jew. I ate out at non-kosher resturaunts, but didn't eat any non-kosher meat. I had sex with my boyfriend, who was outwardly an orthodox jew as well. We both sometimes ate vegetarian food at local diners. But on the other hand, i still pretty much assumed I would be orthodox the rest of my life.

So, most of the excerpts here deal with the kind of "double life" I had; secretly non religious, but to my parents, religious. These entries are as originally posted, although I am editing out people's names for privacy reasons. I do cringe at the immaturity of some of my writing at that time, but I'd want to present an accurate view of my thoughts at the time. A.= my boyfriend of that year.

"Hmm, this weekend, what did I do. Well, for shabbas I went to E.'s, and watched a bunch of movies. Saturday night I went to frat party, where I got pretty drunk ( on this red beer, that they called "punch") and ended up sleeping with A. on this tiny little fold out couch in N.'s dorm room. A. played beer pong. :) someone spilled like a pitcher of beer on my pants, so now they smell like beer pants (and can't wash them cause they don't exist according to my parents)"

"today. . . i cooked a bit. and watched a movie. and went to dunkin donuts for breakfast, as can not eat levened bread for the next 8 days. . damn passover.
will now have a three day holiday in which cannot use computer. cannot use postit notes either, but we shall ignore that distinction. then will possibly go to great adventures on sunday. possible. it is expensive you know, even if every jew in existance will be there. . . "

"So pesach pretty much sucked. although the first night i did drink an entire bottle of very dry red wine, all by myself. it was good. the seder goes so much faster when your drunk. . .
other then that i pretty much did research and sleeping the whole 3 day weekend. "

"I looked up all this stuff about University of Wisconsin at madison last night., It looks awesome, they actually run the survey of families and households from that soc department, and they have just about any speciality i can possibly want. and i looked up the jews in wisconsin, and there actually seems to be some. they have a chabad anyways, and a hillel at the school. and two kosher stores. so my dad said that this summer if i go with him to chicago we can check out uwisc and maybe northwestern too. "

toinght i went to the new shul (synagague) to hear megilat eicha (lamentations) because tonight and tommorow (just one day in jew time actually) is tisha ba'av (big fast day commemorating the destruction of the 2 temples). SO basically i can't eat from 8 this night to 9 tommorow night, for a total of aproximately 25 hours. woo.
so anyways, back to the new shul. it's in this run down room that used to be the russian shul. the paint is pealing, the air conditioning wasn't turned on early enough, so it was hot as hell, and the women's section was miniscule. but besides that, i really liked it. it's only a mile and a half away from me (clocked it) and less if i cut through by the train tracks (on pain of death) and when its cooler it should be much nicer to go to. and the people there weren't pretentous assholes such as the ones who go to [parent's shul], with the exception of my dad's friend s., who he brought with him. hopefully s. will not be there in the future though (mysogonystic jackass)."

"rosh hashana was pretty groovy. a. came over for dinner both nights, and on sunday we walked to tashlich (throwing our sins in the river) which was this big social scene."

"We had our first "cafe hillel" of the year, and this dude from my hebrew class who i had been harrasing actually showed up. after that we went wandering around the village looking for a bar that didn't card, and landed up back at johnny fox's two blocks away from the dorms. woke up friday with a hangover."

"he slept over in my dorm room on monday night, much to his later grumpiness as my bed is not even big anough for one person (it's like a foot across). "

"so yesterday me m. and e. went out to the holoween parade. we started off at 23rd, walked down to 15th, watched there for a bit (they had all these gouls and ghosts on sticks that were pretty damn cool) and then took the subway down to housten, where we watched some more (mostly people walking down there. then we tried to walk away from the parade, and we ended up very lost and walking west instead of east, until we found a chinese place and stopped there for some lovely sesame noodles. i dressed up as a bar wench, in a corset and chemise, and fishnets, and lots of cleavage. wednesday night i went briefly to the holloween party at the dorms, and then went to a bar with m. e. j.and a. (and e. and his friend came later). a. slept over"

"friday night is chanuka and sat night i'm going to my insane family in brooklyn, and then back to the dorms."

To be continued. 2003 was a pivotal year in my life for reasons that'll become clear in my next post. I have some real work to do right now, but after I'm done with that maybe i'll go through another year of posts and find relevent ones (that was a trip btw, going through all this stuff I wrote as a 19/20 year old, and events that I can't remember even though I was reading detailed descriptions of them written by myself)

Abandoning Eden

This blog, abandoning eden, is meant to chronicle my departure from the orthodox jewish world into a secular existance. The title should be pretty self evident...I grew up in the insular world of orhtodox judaism, and was not friends with someone who was not an orthodox jew until i got to college. Although throughout high school I was questioning my jewish upbringing, it was not until college that I began the long and painful process of leaving my jewish life behind. It was the knoweldge I gained through my studies of sociology, and my exposure to feminism, that led me abandon this world almost completely. This is the place where I will post about that process, and the issues I have to deal with now as a result of it, specifically the familial strain I have been experiencing as a result of my beliefs, and as a result of dating someone (henceforth refered to as B) who has the same belief system of me (a life lived by morality instead of religion) but was not born jewish.

For the past 6 years I have been keeping a livejournal, which entries have often included reflections on this process (especailly in the past year). My first goal for this blog is to go through 6 years of entries on my livejournal, and repost the ones dealing with leaving judaism onto this blog. The earlier posts will not be as reflective (after all, I was pretty young), but I'm going to try and find the ones that represent my life at that time

And I guess a bit about me...I'm a phd student in sociology, 25 years old, female, and I live on the east coast. That's all you really need to know at this point.

And I also need to give props to Jewish Atheist, whose blog inspired me to collect all my thoughts on this process in one place.