Sunday, April 16, 2006

Why I Hate It When People Talk To My Mother

Our being Jewish upsets my mother.

She is trying to cope and be supportive. And I do understand why she is upset. It is hard to watch your child reject what you believe, even if they do it in a kind way. She worries about hate violence against us. She worries about our children feeling different, being different, because she teaches school and knows how hard that can be.

And she really fucking worries about Easter.

A few weeks ago she was at a luncheon and found that many of the women there were Jewish. She got into a long discussion with one woman in particular, who I can tell is Orthodox which we are not, and who one level was very helpful in showing my mom that SEE THERE ARE JEWS EVERYWHERE and on another level scared the shit out of her.

The big thing about Judaism and actually all religions is that there is a broad spectrum of belief. Particularly in a group that is so small and has been historically persecuted it is tempting to paint with a broad brush . . a JEW IS WOODY ALLEN kind of thing. But Jews live everywhere, do all kinds of careers, they are poor and rich, and they believe many different things.

My experience with the Orthodox is limited. But they believe a more literal view of the Torah than Reform Jews do. So this woman told my mother that we couldn't become Jewish that when the Messiah comes he wouldn't have room for us. And well my mother freaked out a bit.

I am not even sure that view represents the whole of Orthodoxy. I know that I don't care. We are not culturally Jewish and there is nothing we can do about that. And some people are never going to like it. There are pricks everywhere is what I am saying. We are used to it.

I resent people telling my mother that though. But funnily enough I resent one of her other tidbits even more.

She told my mother celebrating Easter was fine.

Of course she means in the secular way with bunnies and eggs and chocolate. And my mother understood that. But I was SO ANGRY that my mother took her word at that. See, that is the thing about Judaism--I get to decide what is right for me. And for me, celebrating a holiday that has been used historically as an excuse to kill Jews is a problem. Did we go to dinner today? YES. Did I greedily accept a bunny from my dad (who buys me the best ones each year and GOOD GOD I love this one)? Absolutely. We are figuring this out. How to make these things work for everyone to feel comfortable. It is going to be a constant process.

And I resent the hell out of this woman, who doesn't believe that I am Jewish, who will NEVER accept that I am Jewish, declaring that the TORAH says bunnies are fine so I should just fucking celebrate Easter and make my mother happy.

I am actually tired of that comment, you should do this to make your mother happy. People have no idea the things that I do to make my mother happy. Making her happy is a joy to me. And she deserves it, she has done so much for me. I love my mother, I really do. But I don't have to give up everything, we can compromise.

I get so much shit for Christmas and Easter. Why can't you just do those holidays for your family? But why can't they do our holidays with us? Why can't we have a Passover seder instead?

We are sorting it out, as a family. It is hard. It will always be hard. There is no need for everyone to make it even harder.


Matt said...

Let me just say this: I hear you. Navigating one's own religion is complicated, and anyone who starts any sentence with "you should" or "you can" is putting their foot in their mouth.

I would very much like to understand what in the hell this mysterious Orthodox woman was talking about when she said that you couldn't become Jewish. That sounds like crazy talk to me.

You're converting, I take it? Once you've converted, you're a Jew, so that woman can stuff it.

Happy Passover, by the way.

Tara's World said...

I have had a love/hate relationshipe with my religion, I was brought up in a conservitive Jewish home, as I grew I wanted to explore other religions which sent my mother into seziures. I studied Christianity, Buddism , and all other points in between but came to a spiratual conclusion for me. I belive in God, I still celebrate the holidays with my parents , but I have my own concept God and I stick to that , it makes me happy.