Thursday, 8 January 2009

Perspective

I asked my girlfriend to write a blog post about what it's like to date a Jewish person, in order for us all to get a bit of a perspective change: we often hear about what it's like for an ex-Orthodox Jew to enter the wider world, but hardly ever what it's like for someone in the wider world to get involved with an ex-OJ. We decided it would be easier and less time consuming to write a blog post if I just asked her a load of questions to which she could reply, interview style, which is what I've done here. This is only a small interview, but some analysis of mine follows. My questions are in red.


Did you ever feel the need to tell your parents that I was Jewish?
not really a need, not at first. but it was an interesting bit of info... so I told my mum, and my friend. later on, when problems started, it was the only way to explain why i haven’t met your family, why I cant stay over at your house etc.

why is it interesting info?
because it’s unusual. There are approximately no Jews where I live…. there’s definitely not a recognised “community”.

are you aware that your way of life is a little unusual to your boyfriend?
I am now… :P

you said that problems started. What sort of problems are these and how do you feel about them?
the only stuff I know is stuff which is viewed through your eyes and then relayed to me. and from what you've told me, they're not at all happy about me being not-Jewish. I think my main problem is one of frustration, because i wouldn't deal with them how you're dealing with them. I’d be much more tempted to tell them what's what.

What IS what?
It’s not acceptable to reject your son on the grounds of his choices with regards to religion. and it's not even that. it's like you're a clan, a community, and it's nothing to do with religion. it's sticking to what you know and who you know and outsiders are some sort of evil force. there's no regard for me as a person and my attributes. nothing is thought of me other than " she’s not Jewish"

how does that make you feel?
Offended and more than a little annoyed. though they’re probably only able to think that because I live far away and because i haven’t met them. If I wasn’t just an abstraction, a faceless name, i wouldn’t be so easy to dismiss.

Why don’t you blame me for any of this?
because you’re in a position where its really HARD to take action. they’ve put you in that position.

do you think I put myself in that position by being involved with you?
i don’t think you should take any of the blame. i don’t know who's to *blame* or even whether blame is the right word here. i don’t even really know how your parents feel about the whole matter, because nothings ever directly dealt with.

how does it make you feel that you may never meet my parents?
well, i wouldn’t let that happen... i don't think anyone should just sit back and let that happen. If they refused to meet me and it got to a serious stage, with marriage etc., id spring it on them.

how do you like kosher food?
some is good, some is not so good, same as non-kosher food. I liked the tuna bagel we had last time…

do you find it strange that I don't know about a lot of popular culture?
not strange... its understandable considering your upbringing

Is there anything about my Jewishness that's a problem for you or your parents?
No, but my dad gets frustrated with your family some of the time. He doesn’t really get Orthodox Judaism, because he doesn’t know anything about it. i guess my parents just presume that ill meet up with your family eventually and it’ll be fine. When that doesn’t happen, like when I say I can’t stay at your house, they just don’t get it.

i have a hard time explaining it to them because i feel like i have to defend your parents/family’s actions, but in reality... i don’t really feel like defending them.

a few weeks back they wanted to send a Christmas card to your parents… I was like, i don’t think that'd go down well, but he said “well i wouldn’t object to a Hanukah card being sent to me”

Does this seem to be discriminatory in some way to you?
discriminatory, yeah. definitely intolerant.*

Why do you put up with this intolerance?
You know why :P

A Thought
There's a lot to be said on this interview, but for now, I'm going to limit myself to the following thought. If anyone wishes to analyse any other bits, feel free.

*This brings up an interesting and important issue. The mistrust of Christian festivals may be due to centuries of persecution of the collective European Jewish people, culminating in the Holocaust in modern times. However, whilst this may be true, we have to decide for ourselves how far that argument is valid, or if disassociation from any social groupings is a tactic of social cohesion - and whether the persecution argument is being used to cover that up. I'm of the opinion that it is a valid argument, but can be extended only so far. Jewish people must realise that the entire world isn't anti-semitic, and there really are people who don't sit about plotting how to make the life of a Jew miserable, and others who are actually friendly. For those Jews who do know this, I believe the 'persecution' argument is used as a cover-up: all OJs/ex-OJs reading this are most likely familiar with the idea that the "new" form of persecution and wish to "destroy the Jews" is by accepting us into society, in order to mix with everyone, intermarry, and lose our Jewishness. Clearly, this is just untrue and what's going on here is that the idea of persecution is being used to cover up what is nothing more than a tactic of social cohesion.

2 comments:

Off the Derech said...

Wow.
Great post.

Yeshivish Atheist said...

Interesting post, thanks for sharing.