Monday, June 23, 2008

Another one bites the dust...

my little brother, fresh off the boat from his year in israel intense brainwashing, wrote something about how he's a republican now (he was super liberal before he left). So I write something on facebook like "wow you're a republican now? They totally brainwashed you, aye?"

Apparently that hit a nerve, cause this is what I got back:

"You want to know why?

You've been trying to convince me to be like you for a long time, so I looked at you and quite frankly you strike me as a person who's bitter and miserable all the time.

Why would I want to be like this? The beliefs and life style I've adopted makes me feel much better and happier emotionaly, physicaly and spiritualy.

So I'm joining the "other side". You enjoy your life. I'll enjoy mine."

Here's what I wrote back via email:

Wow your beliefs and lifestyle you've adopted may make you happy, but it sure has made you into kind of an asshole. Is that part of your beliefs? To try and publically humiiate your sister by leaving obnoxious public messages on her facebook page? I'm sure god would be very approving of that. Sounds like something that's sure to get you into heaven. Oh wait, didn't god say something like that embarrassing someone is worse than murder? I guess that only applies to people who are exactly like you; if not, god must be cool with treating them like shit!

Listen [Brother's name], we don't know each other that well. I moved out of our parent's house when you were 13 or 14, and I'm sad to say that I never really got to know you that well as a result. This is partially my fault, and partially yours. Neither of us have really made an effort to know each other.

You see a very small part of my life - the part when I am at home with our parents. For a variety of reasons I'm not going to get into, me and them don't get along very well. Clearly. As a result I'm usually pretty stressed out and upset when I go home. Yes, I'm bitter- about the way I was raised. You didn't notice most of what went on in our house probably, but I cannot forgive our parents for the way I was treated, and continue to be treated, simply because our belief's were different.

Did you know that mom told me that I shouldn't talk to you anymore so that I wouldn't 'corrupt' you? Several years ago? Out of respect for her wishes, and out of an effort not to antagonize mom anymore than necessary, I respected her wishes and stayed away. Then when I came home to visit a couple of years ago and we went to Aunt E's house for purim, we got to talking and I thought you were pretty cool. I became friends with you on facebook because I wanted to get to know you better. I thought you were turning out pretty cool, and was happy that I had reconnected with you.

However, you seem to interpret everything I ever said to you as a personal attack. Maybe that is partially my fault. Although I remember taking your side against [other brother] several times when we were kids, I'm sure you interpreted me and [other brother] as ganging up on you. With [other brother], we used to fight a lot as kids, but then when we were both growing up we eventually made up and became friends. I didn't really have that chance with you, as I moved out when you still probably saw me as a bully, and I've never really had a chance to change your perception of me.

I know we will probably never be close the way we could have been if I had lived at home for longer. However, I was very hurt to read what you wrote on my wall.."You enjoy your life. I'll enjoy mine" it seems you are disavowing me because my beliefs are different than yours. I'm not sure if part of your belief system is to not talk to your sister because she is an atheist and you are religious. And as for the brainwashing comment, I wasn't referring to your religious beliefs, just your political ones, when you said you were a republican. However I seem to have hit a nerve.

From my outsiders perspective, it looks to me like you have changed ALL of your beliefs in the past year. I'm worried that you will be giving up things you have always wanted to do because you were in an intense environment for a year, where you were told that you will be happier if you act a certain way. I saw a lot of people act like this after coming home from israel for a year, and I worry that you will not be happy with this lifestyle.

I don't think I've been trying to convince you to be like me. If you've interpreted my actions (and my tendency to be pretty argumentative when at home) in that way, then you have misinterpreted my intentions. I just was trying to find some common ground with you.

If you want to 'live your life and i'll live mine" or whatever, that's fine with me. I just hope that one day you'll wake up and let go of whatever past hurts you are harboring, and reconnect with me. I would really like to know my little brother.

Anyways, I hope you are happy with your life, and even though you think I am bitter (probably cause I get all bitter whenever I'm home), I assure you I've in a very happy place in my life right now. B just moved in with me, and we are planning on getting married at some point in a year or two. In fact, I'm pretty much more happier in my life right now that I have ever been before. Probably because I have complete control over my life, and am able to live the lifestyle I want. If you cannot have a relationship with me becasue of my lifestyle, then that is your issue, and not mine. I am always open to being closer with you, and I hope that one day we can be as close as me and [other brother]. I know that if that ever happens, it will take years to come to pass, but I would very much like it to.

I will probably not be coming home to visit our parents again for a very long time. Going home makes me too upset, and I don't really think our parents want me to go home anymore. Partially because they don't want me talking to you, as they make clear every time I am there. I also was invited to go to chicago and meet B's extended family for thanksgiving. However, you are always welcome to come visit me in [city], even if you just drive down for an afternoon. If you want to come to a festival or go camping sometime, I would really like that too. Not because I want you to be more like me, but because I want to get to know you better.

~Abandoning eden

Meanwhile, That "the beliefs and lifestyle" line sounds like it's straight of the brainwashing textbook. Am I bitter? Definitely when I go home/write this blog. Sigh. Meanwhile, I guess that's just one less reason to ever go to my parent's house.


  1. ((eden)) is this a brother that's younger than the one that used to post in the other place? I think you handled it pretty maturely. I hope your brother finds happiness, wherever his path may lead him. ((man))

  2. no words

  3. That little squirt needs a good, hard, swift kick in the rear.

  4. "lifestyle" is definitely a buzz word. Younger (brainwashed) sibs can be a real pain sometimes. I feel you.

  5. that really sucks to have to deal with his attitude. i like the line about how he has no concerns about embarrassing you. i find that a lot in OJ, that actions are condoned because the person it is done to is not religious or not jewish.

    btw, what kind of school did he do to in Israel?

  6. s(b)- yeah, not the brother who posted in the other place, my youngest brother (he is 20 years old)

    rich- he went to netiv aryeh. Before he left he was totally ambiguous about religion, and assured everyone there was no way he would come home 'brainwashed'. Now I used the word and he flipped out...

  7. 2 comments -

    1) I understand how he could take offense at your public comment to him about being brainwashed. It delegitimizes what he believes in and implies that you don't respect him as a independently thinking adult Even if, in actuality, he isn't thinking for himsef, he thinks he is and he probably perceives it as condescending for you to imply that he is just a clone.

    But he totally overreacted, no question. What he wrote was far worse, and he definitely shouldn't have written it publicly.

    When these kids come back from Israel, that are so utterly convinced that they have a monoploy on ultimate truth.

    WHY do so many "Modern Orthodox" parents send their kids to seminaries in Israel that are essentially black-hat in their outlook??

    2) What is it about right-wing Orthodox Judaism that makes people think that Republican ideals are Jewish ideals? Liberalism stands for social justice, caring for others, respecting our environment, etc. Those seem to me to be pretty Jewish ideals!

  8. When I have kids, and they graduate high school, they can go to Israel for a year. As a year abroad from university, probably in their Junior year, at a place like Hebrew University or Tel Aviv University. Or maybe even Bar-Ilan. NOT a cult-like seminary environment!

  9. dys- yeah I get that. But me and him used to joke about him getting brainwashed all the time before he went off to israel. And before he actually DID get brainwashed, he thought it was funny, and kept reassuring me it wouldn't happen.

    When I was 17 and my parents were having trouble with me (because I wasn't religious) they asked a rabbi what to do, and he suggested sending me to israel for a year. I refused to go, but I think the idea stuck, and my parents were thrilled that their 3rd child at least wanted to go.

    My parents call themselves modern orthodox and maybe they are (they watch movies, have jobs, etc), but they are far to the right of modern orthodoxy (my dad learns whenever he can, my mom covers her hair and doesn't wear pants, they don't talk to anyone not jewish, etc).

  10. My parents call themselves modern orthodox and maybe they are (they watch movies, have jobs, etc), but they are far to the right of modern orthodoxy (my dad learns whenever he can, my mom covers her hair and doesn't wear pants, they don't talk to anyone not jewish, etc).

    Sounds exactly like my folks.

    It's funny. In my early 20's I was only interested in marrying a girl that would cover her hair after marriage. In my mid-20's, I figured it should be her choice & I would be fine either way. By my late 20's, I really preferred a woman who wouln't cover her hair at all. I married a woman who wears a hat to shul, but that's it. I can't even imagine having been married to a woman whose religious mentality included covering her hair, wearing only skirts, etc. It's so foreign to my way of thinking now.

  11. My parents call themselves modern orthodox and maybe they are (they watch movies, have jobs, etc), but they are far to the right of modern orthodoxy (my dad learns whenever he can, my mom covers her hair and doesn't wear pants, they don't talk to anyone not jewish, etc)

    not all those things necessarily go together.
    for instance, i would definitely declare anyone who "doesn't talk to anyone not jewish" to be definitely NOT modern orthodox in any way.

    Learning is a good Jewish value for all denominations of Judaism.

    Covering hair and not wearing pants are socio-halakhic decisions irrespective of views on actual Modern Orthodox ideological issues.

  12. netiv aryeh you say? Apparently, the head rabbi there started this place after he left Hakotel several years back. he is known to be bit out there and fiery with his students so i am not surprised to hear that your brother flipped out over there.

    plus it is in the old city and that place seems to have an effect on a lot of people. personally, i think the kotel is pretty boring. i live here and have been there twice in the past year.

  13. i think the kotel is pretty boring

    Gasp! :-P

    After having spent, all together, about 3.5 years living in Israel, I realized that only the tourists and maybe the women of the wll get excited about the Kotel.

    Whenever I go, I still visit out of a sense of obligation, but honestly, davening on a hilltop in the galil is more spiritual to me.

  14. sorry - meant to write "Women of The Wall"

  15. I think your brother NEEDS you more than ever...when I lived in Israel (on my own, dropped out of school for a year and just bummed around), I had several friends who ended up in Neve Yerushalayim. All of a sudden, they were shomer negia, only wearing skirts, etc. I would have no problem with this except they had never even been exposed to this level of observance and within a month were peppering every conversation with "Baruch HaShem" and the like. I think that for some people the chaos of the world makes the stringent lifestyle attractive.


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