The Space In-between…
I have a blog to write… it’s about intermarriage and the effect on kids and I interviewed a friend for it but really what’s on my mind right now is this…
I live in a space in-between too many worlds.
Here’s the problem, in a nutshell…
I didn’t grow up an Orthodox Jew. I grew up in a family full of illustrious and talented Reform Jewish rabbis. Judaism was always my identity, my priority. But I never felt comfortable in the Reform movement. I mean, it didn’t help that some of the adult leaders and rabbis were rude and mean and hurtful to me and my family for the simple reason of us being different. We never quite fit in. My dad wore a kippah and tzitzit all the time, we davvened on Saturday mornings, we kept Kosher and shabbis… not really the typical image of a reform Jew.
In fact, I remember quite clearly my Junior year of high school, at a large national convention where my father mentioned he would be davvening one morning and offered to teach the kids how to lay tefillin. Now, this is a basic ritual of Judaism and these kids had never encountered it. Before he could even start showing them how, a “big-shot” rabbi in the movement came rushing in and said, “We don’t do that, we are reform Jews.” Yeah, what does that even mean? I thought being reform meant you got to choose… I guess educated decisions are out and lemming-ness is in. I was sorely hurt by the reform movement. So much so that I realized that was not the place for me and I left, never to return.
I went on the hunt and found Chabad… a place where I felt I fit in. I studied and made friends, I davvened, I dressed along their guidelines and I finally came to a point where I was “a part of the crew.” By this point in my life, it is time to think about getting married. Well, I don’t fit in with the reformies (as I, and I alone call them… made that up, not a pejorative… just a nickname) but I don’t have enough Chassidic yichus (pedigree or family background) to marry a Chabanik!
Well and then there is the horse of a different color which is my secular life… it revolves solidly around Judaism and how I practice it but I work in a secular office, I have non-religious friends, I don’t live in Crown Heights, people! But marrying someone who is a secular Jew will be hard (i.e. kashrut and a Jewish home is so important to me and all the laws and mitzvot, learning and studying together… tahras mishpacha) and you can forget marrying a non-Jew. I am open minded and I know many people believe in interfaith marriages but I don’t. At least not for Jews. There has been too many times in our history where people tried to destroy us and we survived… for what? To marry a Christian and have a Christmas tree? To force your children (if their mother isn’t Jewish) to have to deal with conversion and think about the future generations because you couldn’t be bothered? Or maybe you just didn’t think it was important.
I don’t agree with the way it used to be… women as commodities, selling them for the best or adjoining land. But in one sense that had it right. The marriage wasn’t just about that second of passion or a physical attraction, it was about building lives for future generations… and that is why I feel it is so vital to marry a Jew and teach my sons and daughters the same thing.
Building on our heritage for future generations, thinking about more than ourselves, realizing that sometimes we want things we don’t need. You want that thing you saw advertised on tv but really, you know you will have a brief love affair with it and then it will sit on the floor of your closet, unused, unloved, and unsold in a garage sale 10 years later. Just because something (or someone) looks cool, doesn’t mean that it is the right fit. The easiest way out isn’t always the easiest in the end.
I don’t explain this often (enough?) to friends or acquaintances and frankly they are shocked when I tell them about this rock and hard place I am sitting between. They think I am silly for narrowing down my pool of available men but I know it is the right thing to do… no matter how hard it gets… no matter how many times I am turned down for being to this or not enough that.
My children will thank me one day.
July 12, 2017
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