Thursday, September 27, 2007

Atheists allying?

so the Atheist Alliance is having an international convention this weekend in Washington DC apparently. That just strikes me as you really need a big group of people to sit around talking about how you don't believe in god? Big groups of people meeting up to discuss god strikes me as religious in some way. Kind of like that south park episode that goes into the future and has the United Atheists Allience fighting the Allied Atheist Allegience and the United Atheist League...

Then again, i enjoy talking about atheism with my internets-group of bloggers, so who knows.

I wonder what they're going to talk about there?

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Stepping off the derech: little things

When reading the blogs of people who have recently become less religious as a result of their atheism, i'm struck by one thing: when people first violate a law of judaism, they all seem to do it in secret. Or rather, it's between them and god. This is probably true of Atheists becuase they don't actually believe in god, and keeping rules when you are alone gets kind of ridiculous if you don't beleive there's a god watching over you.

On the other hand, a friend of mine from college who went on to start the Footsteps organization, said that her first major transgression was calling her grandmother on simchat torah. That seems less alone to me. But (and I've never asked her this myself), I suspect that she's not an atheist; that she's more of an agnostic, and just doesn't believe in the laws of judaism. I could be wrong on that however.

So is my theory true? (and feel free to chime in with your experiences)

It's been 10 years since i took that first step off the derech, but i still remember it clear as day. I was probably around 15 years old, and one shabbat someone had forgotten to put tissues in the bathroom. I had already used the bathroom before noticing this, and at that point my choices were a) don't wipe (ew) or b) tear the toilet paper. I opted for choice b, although that first time I was super careful to tear along the perforation lines so that it wouldn't be THAT bad.

I find a simliarity between this and Lubab no More, who recently talked about turning off an alarm clock on Rosh Hashana as his first "major" transgression. I find two things in common with my experience 1) the secrecy involved- no one else knew he was doing this and 2) the inconvinience factor. He knew that if he didn't turn the alarm off it would go off the next morning and annoy the heck out of him and his wife. When you don't believe in god, and are only practicing judaism to keep up appearences or make other people happy, and no one will find out....well then the next step is starting to transgress when you are alone. The problem is when that leads to not practicing in public, or when you get caught; that's when the social consequences start coming into play.

After that first time tearing the toilet paper it was a slippery slope to just using toilet paper all the time, and not caring about the perforations. I'd say by a month later that was my regular practice on shabbas. However, i'm somewhat joking about the slippery slope thing..because for me, it was a very very slow process, that hasn't really ended yet. There are still so many foods I haven't tried! I refused to try bacon until a few weeks ago, because I was holding on to that last remnent of jewish tradition. Next on the list is lobster I think.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Friends from a past life

One of the unintended consequences of leaving judaism, is the part where you have problems with friends from the past who still keep Jewish laws. Not problems in terms of disagreements, but just logistical problems in hanging out when you no longer keep the laws.

Now I don't have this problem with most of the people I grew up with. Maybe I was naturally drawn to other skeptics, or maybe I was just in the "bad" crowd, but most of the modern orthodox kids I grew up with are no longer religious by any stretch of the imagination. I've spent saturdays at festivals with people I first hung out with at NSCY shabbatons...only this time we were cooking on saturday,going to music, not following laws of kosher or shabbas. At a recent festival this summer I hung out with no less than 5 such people at once, while we were all not keeping any of the traditions we had grown up with. As many as 15 of my close friends in high school are people I have now actively violated traditions with. In fact, just today I noted that on one of my old friends' profile under "religious views" she had put "Jewish- Without the god part"

Of course I have unintentionally (although to some extent deliberately) put distances between myself and those "old friends' who continued to be religious. Partially because some of them don't want to associate with people who are no longer religious. Although I haven't really found that to be the case in general...even my old Satmer friend (who is still just as satmer) still calls me every rosh hashana to wish me a happy new year, even though we don't really hang out on a regular basis. I also moved about 200 miles away from where i grew up after I finished college, which means only the strong friendship survived.

I still have those 1 or 2 friends though who are still religious though. And hanging out with them is just HARD. Why am I ranting about this? Well a few days ago a friend I grew up with (who went to the same synagogue as me), whom i have kept in touch with through all the years, called to tell ask if we could hang out and if he could crash on my couch tonight, since I'm halfway between where he's coming from and where he's going, He should be here in about 2 hours. And he's one of those friend's who remained religious.

So now I have all these problems like...what is he going to eat? Ok that's really the only problem in this case, but it's making me a bit worried. I haven't kept kosher in years, so obviously he can't eat off the plates in my house,even if we go to the grocery store. But not only that, I have no idea where any kosher resturaunts are in my city. The one time my parents came to visit me down here we went to this place way out in the middle of nowhere. I know in theory that some must exist, since there's a significant jewish population in this city. i just have no idea where, or how to go about finding them. I don't even know anyone in this city who keeps kosher, who I could ask.

But hey, at least this guy is one of the "cool" jews (I refuse to hang out with the other kind). He knows my boyfriend is not jewish, and still wants to meet him. So that's good at least :)

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Recent happenings

My rosh hashana dinner with B went awesomely...we had challah and honey, pasta + sweet and sour meatballs from my mom's recipe (which she always makes for jewish holidays) and i even managed to find some pomegranites, which was quite a production (B decided the best way to get the seeds out was to break apart the pomegranites in a giant pot of water...we got a bowl full of seeds that we enjoyed till they ran out yesterday, but it was a pretty messy ordeal. But man, those seeds are awesome! Almost worth going through that again a few more times during pomegranite season).

Talked to both my parents on Erev rosh hashana. My dad tried to convince me I should go to his friend's synagogue downtown...he told me he had already arranged for me to get in for free (all i had to do was name drop him). And it was conservative so just my style! Or not, since I'm an atheist, not conservative. Then my friend/officemate tried to convince me to go to conservative services at my school with her and her (also not jewish) boyfriend. Skipped out on both of those, since they both started at 7, and I wanted to be at home in time to cook for dinner for me and B, which we had at 8.

Oddly a bunch of my not jewish friends have been talking about how they went to rosh hashana dinners at their friend's houses. It's weird how some of my friends who arn't jewish are more plugged into the jewish community than I am...

Also on tuesday while talking to my mother I gave her a list of around 15 recipes I'd like her to send over, and she said she would photocopy them and send them over next week (which I guess is this week). I told her I wanted them so that I can make new and interesting foods for holiday potlucks. That is a complete lie. Really, I'm afraid that if I marry B, my parents will cut me off, so I'm trying to get the stuff I'd my mom's recipes...before that happens. Also, you never know what's going to happen even if they don't cut me off. I would have loved to have gotten my grandmother's rugeluch recipe before she died, but didn't even think of that until it was too late.

In other interesting parent/jew news, it seems my complete and total atheism has opened up some doors for my younger brother. My brother is not religious either, which my parents know about, but which they never have really talked about...he pretends to be religious while he is at home, and they pretend they don't know that all shabbas long he is watching movies on his computer in his room. He lives with them, so is a lot less open than I am about not following much. Also, he is going to this academy thing this semester to train to be in law enforcement. The academy runs all day long, and he lives there during the week. Initially he was planning on going to my house or a friend's house on weekends, since there would be no way he could get back to my parents house before shabbas started. But my father has decided that "some shabbas is better than no shabbas at all" and that my brother is allowed to come over after shabbas has started. It seems he's admitted defeat in getting all his children to be orthodox, but is trying to get all of us to have some connection to my brother can come home after shabbas, and he's trying to get me to go to conservative services.

Since i'm talking about all my family here with no real rhyme or reason, i just found out my other brother, who is doing his post-high school year in israel, was forced to shave his beard off by the rabbi at his school. I thought this was really weird at first, especially given that most rabbis I know have beards. But if you look at it from a cultish/brain washing perspective it makes making everyone at the yeshiva look the same and remove the parts of themselves (literally the parts of themselves in this case) that do not conform, you start breaking down their sense of individual identity. Which makes it a lot easier to impose the identity you want them to have on them. And indeed, after less than a month there, my brother is now talking about how he is becoming more and more religious.

Which brings me to my final story in this entry. When I started dating A, my ex-fiance, who converted to judaism, my parents were freaking out becuase they thought he wasn't jewish enough for me. All that lip service about being cool with really is just lip service. My grandmother even told me she was praying for me to break up with him. My parents (of course) consulted their local rabbi on what they should do about it. His solution? My parents should send me to Israel for a year so that I would be away from him and get back my yiddishkeit. Of course I refused to go, which led to several months of arguing. It was then (around 17) that I stopped going to my parents shul entirely, becuase I was disgusted with that answer. The solution to me dating someone my parents didn't like was to send me off to a foreign country to get brainwashed for a year? Right.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

on weddings and marriages.

Oh weddings. Weddings have been on my mind a bit lately for a variety of reasons. Not the least of which was B dropping the "m" word right and left this morning. (ack! I'm too young!)

Jewish Atheist was blogging about jewish weddings and funerals in response to my post about my dad's reaction to his funeral. Part of what he was talking about was how in some Jewish weddings, people get so involved in the ritual that they forget the couple involved.

When I was planning my wedding back when I was engaged 4 years ago, I wanted this band Soul Farm (now called the Humble Kings, who I incidentally saw at a festival a few weeks back) to play the wedding- they played jewish music, but it was in a more hippie-ish, jam-band style. More my style that is. Soul farm played secular music (that is, music in english), but also plays traditional jewish music, including a song i believe they wrote called "Ani l'dodi" from that line "ani l'dodi v'dodi lee" (I am for my love and my love is for me) which I thought would be great to walk down the aisle to.

My parents balked at the idea of having a non-traditional band at the wedding, even though they played jewish music. They wanted the "traditional" jewish band, which includes some really bad musicians playing keyboards, drums, a trumpet or two, maybe an electric guitar...anyone who has been to an OJ wedding know what I'm talking about. Not very high up on the musical talent list, and music has always been very important to me. The real point of contention here was the jewish dancing...i HATE jewish dancing, it seems stupid to me to run around in a circle, that would not be entertaining to me, and I didn't want it. I wanted my awesome jewish jam band, or if not, just some classical music playing during dinner.

But of course, even though OJ's say that the jewish wedidng is all about making the couple happy, it's not REALLY about making the couple happy, and the morning that me and my ex broke up, I had finally given in on the jewish band thing. My parents insisted that I need Jewish dancing or it wouldn't be a "real wedding."

All this is to say the other day it hit me..if I had married A, my ex, I would still be stuck in the jewish world. I would probably be going to my parents or his parent's place for rosh hashana this week, I would have to go to orthodox events on a regular basis, and I would have to pretend like I was still orthodox. Indeed, from what I know of A and his new wife, that's exactly what they're doing..pretending to be orthodox, but secretly not keeping shabbas or kosher. So it would be like the wedding would have been...our marriage would be more about keeping other people happy while secretly hating every minute of it.

So maybe A breaking up with me was the best thing that ever happened to me. And maybe dating B and being forced to confront my issues of belief, which I spent many years being ambivilant about and intentionally not thinking about, was even better.

Tommorow is rosh hashana. It'll also be 8 months since I started dating B. I've decided not to go to the grad student dinner..instead me and B will be having dinner together. There will be challah and honey (my favorite part of rosh hashana was always challah dipped in honey), and sweet and sour meatballs that i just made from my mom's recipe (that she always serves on holidays). Ohh and a pomegranite if I can find one in the grocery store tommorow! There will also be no prayers, and no wine, and no religion of any kind. Only two atheists marking 8 months together, and the start of a sweet new year.

Friday, September 7, 2007

In other leaving fundementalist religion news

Warren Jeffs' 'lost boys' find themselves in strange world

ST. GEORGE, Utah (CNN) -- Franky admits he's conflicted about the life of polygamy he has left behind along with the nearly three dozen brothers and sisters he's banished from seeing.

He also has mixed feelings about the man he once considered a religious prophet, polygamist sect leader Warren Jeffs.

Jeffs, he says, was good to him. He taught him the values of family and the need for structure. "He ain't what everybody portrays him to be," the 21-year-old says.

But still Franky rejected Jeffs' polygamous lifestyle and the teachings of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (FLDS). He's now trying to make it on his own, one of the estimated 400 so-called "lost boys" who were kicked out of Jeffs' sect or left on their own.

It's not a term he particularly likes or embraces. "I'm not lost, because I ain't running around in a circle. No, thank you," he says.

He pauses to ponder what the term might mean. "Lost in the head? Lost as in: They don't know how to cope with it and deal with it and move on?"

Gary Engels, an investigator for the state of Arizona, has seen many "lost boy" cases. The reasons for leaving are many. Sometimes, it's because parents are too strict. Other times, it's for minor reasons.

"They leave because they have been caught talking to a girl or if they have been caught out at one of these beer parties or just not obeying the rules," Engels says.

He adds, "How a father or a mother can suddenly take a child and kick them out and never speak with them again, that's just unbelievable."

Jury selection began Friday for Jeffs, who is accused of being an accomplice to rape by arranging the marriage of a 14-year-old girl to her 19-year-old cousin. Timeline »

About a half dozen "lost boys" filed suit against Jeffs and the FLDS, saying they were thrown out of the FLDS community to allow older men to have more wives. The suit was partially settled earlier this year, with an agreement for a $250,000 fund to be created for housing assistance, education help and other aid to boys who leave the FLDS.

Jeffs' trial is unrelated to that suit.

Franky, who was not part of the lawsuit, left the sect three years ago -- just weeks after his father got kicked out of the sect. He decided to leave because he didn't want to suffer the same fate as his dad, growing up in the FLDS and then having his family "pulled away."

Franky left behind three mothers and about three dozen siblings. Two of his sisters are married to Jeffs. He's not allowed to contact any of his family and nervously agreed to speak with CNN. Members of the FLDS have been banned from speaking with outsiders.

"[Jeffs] would be very angry that I am talking to you," Franky says.

Quite simply, he says they're not supposed to talk "to you outside people."

Learning to cope is another thing altogether. When the boys leave their structured religion-filled lives in the twin towns of Hildale, Utah, and Colorado City, Arizona, they find themselves totally unprepared for society. Most have no money, no real education and nowhere to live.

Dozens of "lost boys" gather in homes like Robbie Holm's to blow off steam and drink.

"They're going to do what they feel is good to them," says Holm. "Drinking alcohol and drugs are one of those things they want to do."

Franky says he soaked up pot, ecstasy and cocaine to "cope with the outside world and deal with where and what it is."

"I couldn't have done it without the drugs," he says.

But it came with a price: He went to jail for drug possession.

"It's almost a natural consequence for them to get involved to some extent or another with alcohol or drugs," says Greg Hoole, a Salt Lake City-based attorney who represented the "lost boys" in the civil suit.

One group is trying to help the boys and young men adapt. St. George, Utah, just down the road from the FLDS headquarters, has become an epicenter for the lost boys. Next month, a home will become refuge for 10 "lost boys."

Franky and others who have left the sect have volunteered their time to paint, tile, and clean up the house and call it simply "the house off bluff."

Michelle Benward, a psychologist and activist for the lost boys, sees it as much more.

"It's really a transitional home. It's an opportunity for them to have a place to stay, food to eat, and a time to sort of adjust," she says. "We like to think of it as a bridge between the two communities."

As for Franky, he remains perplexed about the man he once knew as "prophet." He still admires Jeffs in some ways and comments that "he enlightened my view of how to perceive things."

"He figured out how to distill people's hearts into loving one another unconditionally."

Sometimes, he still longs for his old life. "I miss the society of it. Somebody that cares. Somebody that you know that you can go home and have a good plate of food, home-grown cooking sat in front of you."

That cozy home cooking may soon get replaced with a heap of gossip. Jeffs' trial is expected to put the highly secretive organization's beliefs and practices of faith, power, isolation and sex front and center.

"It will be very quiet out here all through the trial. I am sure they will be fasting and praying for his release," says Engels. "Most of them believe that God's going to step forward and free him anyway and punish us 'bad-doers.' "

Engels believes there will be celebration among the flock if Jeffs is freed. If he's convicted, Engels predicts, the FLDS will "go more underground and they will continue to scatter out into the world."

I've bolded the parts i thought were most interesting.

Father drama continued

Today is shloshim for my grandmother, meaning my dad can shave and do whatever other things you can do 30 days after your parent dies according to Judaism. My dad (for some reason?) is giving a speech, and he (for some reason) emailed the speech to me. The speech is basically a rehash of the eulogy, with a lot more religious stuff added in (the eulogy also had religious stuff, but that was contianed to a page...this is more like 6 pages of religious stuff and 1 page of stuff about his mother).

Anyways, after that long email I sent him that said how insulted I was by the eulogy, when he kept saying how he has to make sure his children are jewish, to which he responded that he hears what i'm saying, all that stuff is in this speech too! (wow that was a run on sentance) What the hell! It's like I told him how i felt about it, he acknowledged it, and then did the same thing all over again! argh. If he has to do this bullshit, why does he have to send me these speeches!

Anyways here are some excepts:
Many people have asked me how I am doing and how this has changed my life. When speaking to other people who have also lost a parent I am impressed that the most concrete way this has changed our lives is that we are constantly under pressure to keep track of the minyanim and try to make it to every kaddish we can.

wow, so the way my dad was most affected is that now he has to go to minyan every day? that's some cold shit right there...

The first reference in the Torah to something like the kaddish prayer occurs when Yaakov is surrounded by his sons and is about to prophesize to them. He loses his "ruach Hakodesh and suspects that one of the them might give up their faith and Jewish culture in the future. They respond together by saying "Shema Yisrael, Hashem Elokeinu, Hashem Echad." Don’t worry, we believe in the same one G-d and faith that you believe in. Yaakov responds by saying "Boruch Shem Kovod malchuso l’olom Voed." Since this is a prayer normally said only by the angels, we whisper it except for Yom Kippur when we are compared to angels. Since the angels don’t speak Aramaic, the literal translation is "Yeheh shmey rabbah mevorach l’olam ulolmay olmayah" That, we can say out loud.

Think about it. When we say the kaddish we are doing the same thing that Yaakov and his sons did as he was about to pass away. We take a painful moment in our lives when a parent has passed away and we honor our parents by reaffirming our faith in G-d’s name and his eternal plan by following Jewish customs, culture and traditions. We are always aware that we stand on the shoulders of giants going back to our patriarchs and matriarchs thousands of years. In a sense, it is very much like the Olympic torch tradition. One runner hands the torch off to the next one as the event continues. By saying the kaddish prayer, we take up that torch and promise to keep running with it until the time comes to hand it over to our children in turn.

This olympic torch metaphore was in the eulogy, and i don't think it's that inspiring. But yeah again, my dad's lesson o' the day here is that when your parents dies you realize you have to be jewish for some reason. Also that this means he has to make me jewish.

The mystics teach us that we help elevate the neshama by repeating the Kaddish prayer every day, magnifying and elevating Hashem’s name. Our sages tell us that, even more important than repeating the kaddish prayers, we can magnify and honor G-d’s name by observing and following our mitzvos and traditions. This, more than repeating the kaddish, acts as a tikkun for the neshamah of the deceased.

When we say the Kel Maleh Rachamim prayer we pray that the soul be bound in the bond of the living. What exactly does that mean, the bond of the living? Some interpret this to mean that we only actualize ourselves and truly live in Olem Haba’ah, in Heaven. Another way to interpret this might be that the souls of our loved ones will always be bound with us, the living survivors so long as we continue to cherish their memories in our hearts, follow their examples and maintain the Jewish traditions that made them who they are. By commemorating my mother’s shloshim together today, that is what my father, my sister, myself and the other survivors, family and friends, can only hope to do.

ok so maybe i'm overreacting. Ok i'm pretty sure i'm overreacting. But i'm tired of getting mussur speaches via email, which are disguised as eulogys and shloshim speeches. So we can't love our dead relatives unless we maintain their jewish traditions? My grandmother wasn't even religious! She just sent my dad to jewish school so he wouldn't have to go to public school, and then he became a baal tshuva! I don't understand this idea that when someone dies you start going crazy religious...i mean my grandmother died, and I don't suddenly believe in god.

Ok so here is my response i probably won't send (i probably won't send any response, becuase at this point i've just about given up)(also it's kinda mean)

Dear Dad,
Glad to hear that you have become even more of a fundementalist jew since your mother has died. I still remain an atheist. As such, if you have to tell all your friends about how you are more religious now that your mother has died, please don't forward the speeches to me. I have about the same level of interest in hearing about your religious revelations as you have in hearing about my non-jewish boyfriend.
Abandoning Eden

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Is judaism also an ethnicity?

In response to someone commenting on my blog about being an atheist living in jerusalem, I wrote a comment that totally went off on a tangent:

Well it may be strange, but you have the advantage that in Israel there are a whole bunch of "secular jews"; jewish people who identify as jewish, and who may keep some traditions (like holidays, sabbath meal) but otherwise are not jewish in any way. When I was in israel on birthrite back in college, I stayed an extra week or two and stayed by a friend who was at bar elan for the year...we went to shabbas dinner at a family like that, where they had a meal together but took the religion out; so they had challah and wine at the table, but they didn't eat it first or say blessings over it or anything.

To some extent, that's the kind of jew I am now; I still like going to non-religious shabbat potluck dinners at my friends' places, where we have challah and wine. Next week I might be going to a rosh hashana dinner at my grad school (mostly to catch up with old friends, and becuase one of my friends doesn't want to go by herself and keeps begging me to come with her) but I'm not going to services.

I think just becuase we are atheists doesn't mean we have throw the baby out with the bathwater...the bathwater being the religious aspects, and the baby being the unique cultural/ethnic background we come from. Just a silly example, but I still love yerushalmi kugel, and will make it occasionally..just like my boyfriend (who is from a sicilian heritage) makes this crazy sicilian meat sauce thing that is awesome, even though he's rejected catholisism. The problem is that for jewish people, the culture is all intermingled with the religion, while (maybe because other religious groups are larger and more spread out), in other religions people have their cultural/ethnic background, and then their religious background.

so I wonder. Is judaism also an ethnicity? Is there a way to seperate this jewish identity/ethnicity from the religous aspects? Can we (and by we I mean atheists) celebrate Rosh Hashana next week the way people in American who are of Mexican origin might celebrate Cinco de Mayo? Or (perhaps more appropriately) the way Chinese people celebrate Chinese New Years?

As I mentioned in this comment, one of my fellow grad students keeps asking me if I will go with her to the grad student rosh hashana dinner next wednesday, since she doesn't want to go alone. I keep putting her off..I know i definitely don't want to go to services, but do I still want to sit in a room where there will be kiddush/hamotzi/benching/maybe zmirot? The answer to that is definitely no. But on the other hand, do i give up my ethnic background and stop celebrating jewish holidays entirely becuase I don't believe in the religion? I'm not sure what the answer to that is.

I like celebrating new years in september, becuase for me (and anyone else on an academic schedule) september really is the begining of the new year. I like dipping challah/apples in honey to have a sweet new year. I think that's an awesome tradition, and there's no real religious significance to that and many other traditions (like eating a new fruit) that I can see. Yes I know that you're supposed to eat a new fruit because of the shechiyanu on the second day or whatever...but come on! That sounds to me like a religous explenation that was put on a tradition after the fact. Like the church claiming christmas has anything to do with christ, when really it was just the appropriation of the already widespread winter solstice celebration.

I guess the real question is, why should former religous jews who are now atheists reject everything about judaism? And the other side of that is, how do you seperate the religious aspects from the cultural/ethnic aspects of judaism?

I'm still not sure if I'm going to go to that dinner or not, especially since lately i've been feeling very alienated from the jewish community around here...i've went to two or three jewish grad student events last semester, and didn't really feel like I had anything in common with the other people there. But maybe if I don't, i'll go find some challah and honey and a pomegranite, and share them with my boyfriend.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

How I started leaving orthodoxy

Well all these entrys have been great, but they started 6 years ago, when I was 19. My path away from orthodox judaism started years before that.

As a child, I remember as a first grader moving my lips during davening (praying) instead of actually saying the words. Although that might have been because I was always terrible at languages, and usually they didn't give us enough time to finish all the prayers at the halting pace at which I could read it. But then again, I still believed in it, and followed it. I followed everything I was taught by my parents until I got to high school. Well, maybe I didn't say a bracha (blessing) before everything I ate, but that was more lazyness I think.

Then, the night before my 15th birthday, I met my friend M (who is today one of my oldest and closest friends). He probably doesn't want to be known for this, but I remember the first time I met him was on a friday night when I was at a mutual friend's place for shabbas, and somehow the subject of keeping shabbas came up. And he told me that he kept shabbas, except when he thought of a really good poem and had to write it down (he was into writing poetry back then).

I had met people who weren't jewish before, and even people who were jewish and not religious. But they were different than me, since I was an orthodox jew, and orthodox jews did things a certain way. But M was raised in a family just like mine; modern orthodox, followed everything I did. And yet here was someone raised in that culture, who was writing on shabbas! And yet there was no lightning striking him down! God wasn't doing anything! And really, would god even care if he was writing down something he didn't want to forget? It was a revelation to me. Before then, it just had never occured to me that I didn't actually have to follow all those was just a given that I would. After that point, anything could happen!

It took 10 years to get from there to trying bacon for the first time (which happend last week). I think my next few entries will be about that path, since I remember every single time I first violated a jewish law. Each and every time I violated something new was significant to me, since I was crossing over a line that I had never crossed before.

Monday, September 3, 2007

summer part 2 (my grandmother's funeral)

the funeral itself is kinda going to be a clusterfuck as well. grandfather wants a conservative rabbi there, my dad wants an orthodox funeral, so has decided that he is going to do EVERYTHING (he is a rabbi). I think this is a bad idea (cuase it's his mother) but he insists he is so burnt out that he isn't sad anymore, and that he can handle it. He was also freaking out cause my grandmother pre-ordered a nice casket instead of the jewish plan one. Oh and I want to be a pallbearer, but my dad thinks that women aren't allowed to be pallbearers, cause you know, women are not allowed to do stuff if you're a jew. also cause women are weak or whatever. I think that's ridiculous cause it's my grandmother, and i'm stronger then my little brother who is going to be a pallbearer. Oh also, the service is graveside. in august. in florida. and i just checked the weather forecast and it's suppose to be 100 degrees during the funeral, with chances of thunderstorms.

Anyways now i gotta go try on skirts to see if any i own are funeral appropriate, and then you know..pack for florida and stuff.

I guess i should post about this. Part 1 was of course the horrible trip to florida for my grandmother's funeral. It started with the train station not having my ticket, continued with my train being an hour late, being stuck on the airport monorail for half an hour, my brother going to NYC instead of newark and having to wait for him (becuase no one else there- including my other brother and 2 older cousins- was willing to wait for him to get through security) till he finally got through security 20 minutes before the plane took off. We get to florida at 1am, and the hotel at 2am.

At 6am my dad wakes me up to tell me that if he looses it during the eulogy, he is giving me a copy of it, and that i should continue for him.

So I'm reading through this eulogy after he leaves, about an hour before the funeral. And it's pretty cool, found out my grandmother survived the death marches in germany, gave herself up to the nazi's to save her dad's life, had 2 sisters and 2 brothers i never met (they all died before I was born), was 84 when she died, was married to my grandfather for 61 years, was really dedicated to her family, spoke 5 languages, etc etc.

And then there's the last 2 paragraphs of bullshit about how my dad has to remember his mother through passing on "jewish traditions to his children". I know, not everything is about me. But wtf. I can't help but feel my dad could have taken other lessons from my, um, not being a total douchebag to your children, cause family is more important than even religion is. Like hey, my grandma faced a high chance of death to save her dad! that's pretty neat. but somehow that translates to my dad as having to be a douche to his own kids. (and i'm not the only one of his kids who doesn't follow jewish traditions)

So yeah, there was no way in hell I was going to read that, and I had edited my copy to take off everything I found personally insulting, but in the end i didn't have to, cause that was the only part of the eulogy my dad didn't cry through. But yeah, waking me to tell me that maybe i would have to read the eulogy was my consolation from him, since he wouldn't let me be a pallbearer cuase i'm a woman, and god forbid a woman be a pallbearer for my grandmother who was ALSO A WOMAN. So yeah, as usual, I was insulted by my father's douchebag sexist behavior, and also his trying to force jewishness down my throat.

Anyways, the funeral..first funeral i've ever been to. It was sad, and I cried a bit when they were lowering my grandmother into the ground. It was also a graveside service, and 100 degrees outside, and there were these fucking gnats flying in my face the entire time. But i'm glad I came...none of the guys were helping out my grandfather, cause they're guys, and women are the only people who can take care of other people (or something? It seemed to me the women in my family are the only semi-human ones, cause the men were all standing around while my grandfather was weeping his head off, while me and my mom and my dad's (female) cousin were the only ones comforting him. I mean are you too fucking manly to put your arm around your dad/grandfather who just lost his wife of 61 years? apparently they all are). At one point after they lowered the coffin, my grandfather was leaning on the coffin lower-y thing, weeping his head off, and still my mom and me were the only ones making sure he didn't fall in. I also helped him shovel some dirt on, cause jews bury their own dead. Then I shoveled some of my own dirt in...the noise when dirt hits a coffin is kinda weird and hollow and weird.

and that is when i started this blog. what happened next? I wrote my dad this letter after my dad sent me this reply:

I get you. No, I was not being sarcastic. and, no, I am not trying to shove
anything down your throat.

Thanks for acting responsibly at the funeral. I guess being the oldest,
others abdicated their responsibility to you. I didn't realize this
happened. Maybe it;s a sign of maturity on your part that you did the right

More later. I am exhausted right now.


and there was no more later. And that's the last time me and my parents talked to each other. Which is around 2 weeks now I guess. I just haven't really felt any desire at all to call them for any reason since then.

anyways, that's the end of phase 1 of this blog, which was transfering all my posts from my old journal to this blog. Now comes phase ∞, wherein i probably update a lot less often, but all new material, i swear! :)