Sunday, March 15, 2009

Being the Anomaly

Fortunately (perhaps!) for my parents, not all of their spawn turned out to be quite the skeptic that I am.

In fact, all of my siblings became even more "observant" than we were raised to be (and more frum than my parents are now), which has made for some interesting table talk between me & said siblings/siblings' spouses.

But the wide gulf separating me and my siblings has never been quite so glaring as now, when their children are becoming old enough to become aware of said gap.

Today, I was informed by my three-year-old niece that I was still a "little girl" because I wasn't an "Ima." This is perhaps not as funny (can I call it that?) as my five-year-old nephew asking me why I was wearing pants if "only boys wear pants." He then proceeded to ask me if I was Jewish! (Probably the only explanation he could come up with for my outfit of choice.)

Of course, these are children -- and children, it's true, tend to think in absolutes. But my siblings are certainly encouraging those absolutes in the way they're raising their kids. Which makes my position all the more interesting. I am the one person in these kids' lives with whom they will have constant contact over the years who does not fit neatly into the way their parents want them to see the world.

Now my siblings wouldn't cut off contact with me (I think). But I do present this problem that requires an explanation. And in that way, my presence opens up the door to the potential of questioning the absolutes of Orthodox Judaism very early on in their lives.

Not sure what to make of this observation, but it's certainly an interesting position to be in...

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Kahane? Seriously?

So yesterday I find myself sitting in a room with a few people and one of them says something to the effect that he has spent time in Israeli jail.

What for, I wondered, but didn't ask -- partly out of an instinct to be polite, partly out of fear for what the answer was.

Well, later in the conversation, it came out that he'd been in jail for his activities linked to Kahanist philosophies. Hmm. Not my cup of tea. And then, another person says, "Well, we're all Kahanists, we just haven't all done anything about it." The tone in which he said this was one of profound respect.

Yeah, I voiced my dissent, but I really appeared to be the only one in the room that felt like the ideas Kahane espoused were immoral or even mildly wrong. I'm kind of amazed/disgusted by this.