web analytics
April 18, 2015 / 29 Nisan, 5775
At a Glance
InDepth
Sponsored Post


Home » InDepth » Op-Eds »

Sorry I Neglected your Jewish Identity, Cousin

A letter to my American cousin who's going out with an Italian girl.
my cousin

By Leah Aharoni

Dear Dan,

It’s not often that I write you a letter. As cousins, we get together whenever I visit your side of the Atlantic or share tidbits via social networks. But this time it’s just too important, and so I am writing this letter in the spirit of the Days of Repentance to ask for your forgiveness.

You see, ever since you had shared that you are going out with an Italian girl, I can’t shake off the sense that I had done wrong by you.

I am sorry that for too many years I went on with my life without giving much thought to the fact that you and the rest of our cousins have been growing up without a solid Jewish identity. I am sorry that while I shepped nachas that for my kids the year starts in Tishrei and January is a blur somewhere in the winter, you were growing up amidst X-mas trees and, even worse, without Chanuka candles.

I am sorry that I let myself live a Torah life by inertia, failing to be inspired. We have met so many times, yet my lifestyle never piqued your interest enough to talk about it, belying just how lacking my Yiddishkeit has been. A great rabbi, Rav Yisrael Salanter, once said that if a Jew in Lithuania is lax in his learning, a Jew in Paris will forsake his religion. If it doesn’t make sense to you, it didn’t make sense to me for many years either. But now it does. I know that the Torah is the one and only source of clarity. It has the power to dissipate the fog that surrounds our paths in life. Yet this knowledge didn’t inform my life enough, because if it had, you would have felt it too.

I am sorry I didn’t include you in my prayers. Lighting candles every Friday night, I pray long and hard for my children to grow into adults, who love and fear G-d and devote their lives to doing what is right in His eyes. Somehow, I didn’t bother to pray that you should get a glimpse of G-d too.

I am sorry that I wasn’t brave enough to take the practical steps to bring more Judaism into your life. Since I am in Israel, inviting you for Shabbos wasn’t a possibility (though I doubt I would have had the courage to face the awkwardness had you lived around the block). Still, I could have done so much more. I could have sent you Jewish books and music, at least sometimes, instead of the polite toys and games and checks. I could have sent you shalach manos on Purim and Jewish toys on Chanuka, so that these holidays would be a part of your life. When your parents considered signing you up for the temple youth group, I could have looked up your local NCSY chapter and given them the heads up. And when you celebrated your bar mitzvah as just an extravagant birthday party, I could have suggested something to give it more real meaning.

That’s not all, though. Beside my personal apologies, I also owe you an apology on behalf of my community. We are sorry that we have bought into the idea that there are many right ways to be a Jew, when some of the purported ideas of Judaism have very little connection with the original. No wonder you feel no attraction to this sorry excuse for a religion, when we didn’t do enough for you to get to know the real McCoy.

We are sorry that we have been too scared to be labeled as fanatics and have failed to bring authentic Judaism to the larger community and to project our certainty in the genuineness of the mesorah.

We are sorry that as a community we have become hostage to the American notion that people should mind their own business and that nobody has the right to tell anyone what to do. As Jews we are responsible for each other. Brothers don’t let brothers forfeit their heritage.

We are sorry that we have rolled our eyes at the zealousness of Chabad in getting random Jews on the street to perform just one more mitzvah, instead of joining them in the action. Worse, sometimes we felt so defensive, that we made senseless comments about dead messiahs. But who knows, maybe if we would be more involved as a community, somebody could have ignited the Jewish spark in you, while I may have done it for their cousin.

About the Author:


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

7 Responses to “Sorry I Neglected your Jewish Identity, Cousin”

  1. Dan Silagi says:

    Kudos to the Jewish Press for publishing this piece of racist rubbish. It lets everyone see exactly what the Women For the Wall is all about.

  2. Fantastic piece. I needed to be said and it gives us all something to think about as we go into Aseret Yemei Teshuva; what Teshuva really means and how we can sincerely help our cousins for disappearing from the Chain of Generations.

  3. Dan Silagi says:

    It's a far bigger crime against Torah (and against humanity) to deny Jewish women the right to pray as they see fit at Judaism's holiest site than it is for a Jewish guy to date an Italian woman. In fact, there's absolutely nothing wrong with it at all. Mazeltov to this other Dan and his girlfriend.

  4. leah_aharoni says:

    szysgt thank you

  5. truthseekr says:

    At this season, I pray for people like Dan to look into Torah to see how G0d, through Moshe, appointed men to be Cohenim and Levites at the Temple. Women have separate roles and are not required to pray in minyans out of siddurim. We are merited, like Hannah, to pray from our hearts to G0d’s ears. He hears the cries of women; we do not need to, nor should we, imitate men in their imitation of Levites.

  6. Brian Kent says:

    Excellent article!

  7. Stewart Schwartz says:

    I assume you cannot read and understand Hebrew, Dan.

Comments are closed.

Current Top Story
Daniel Lubetzky  president of V15 and CEO of Kind "healthy" bars
No Victory for V15 and Not Healthy ‘Healthy’ Snack Bars
Latest Indepth Stories
Mrs. Golda Katz a"h

She had many names and was many things to many people, but to me she was just Babineni.

ISIS terrorist carries the group's black flag.

Is ISIS in Gaza? “No, but there are ISIS loyalists here..we pray to God they unite under ISIS’ flag”

Cliff Rieders

Rabbi Portal was that great “inspirer,” changing people for the better, enriching the lives of all

MK Moshe-Feiglin

Iran knows Obama, Putin, and the Europeans don’t have a Red Line beyond which they will go to war

There is no way to explain the Holocaust. I know survivors who are not on speaking terms with G-d. I know many who are the opposite. I have no right to go there…

When a whole side of your family perishes, friends become the extended family you do not have.

“We stand with Israel because of its values and its greatness and because its such a wonderful ally”

Mr. Obama himself inelegantly cautioned members of the Senate to be careful not to “screw up” the negotiations by seeking to have input into the future of the sanctions regime that has been imposed on Iran.

For our community, Mrs. Clinton’s foreign policy record will doubtless attract the most attention. And it is a most interesting one.

Mitchell Bard is nothing if not prolific. He has written and edited 23 books, including “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Middle East” and “The Arab Lobby: The Invisible Alliance That Undermines America’s Interests in the Middle East.” Bard, who has a Ph.D. in political science from UCLA, is also the executive director of both the […]

Understanding the process described in Dayenu reveals deep relevance for us today.

For Rabbi Zvi Yehuda Kook, the tanks, planes, and uniforms of the IDF were implements of mitzvot

The only way to become humble is honesty about our experiences; it’s the only path to true humility

Obama’s approach to evildoers echoes Gandhi’s fatuous and muddleheaded pleas to his “friend” Hitler

More Articles from Guest Author
holocaust

When a whole side of your family perishes, friends become the extended family you do not have.

Region of Lemba

The Lemba tribe (Southern Africa) have an oral tradition they’re descendants of Israel’s Lost Tribes

Teaching integrity is allowing family, friends, and associates see the business of living your life.

Seeing and hearing the anguish of Gabriel Sassoon, I am reminded of Otto Frank, Anne Frank’s father.

Indifference to the pain of the many singles should require us to have our heart, not head, examined

While in Auschwitz I felt a tangible intensity. I could sense that I was in a place of sheer evil.

Obama needs to wake up. The real enemy is not Netanyahu but Iran, Hizbullah, Hamas, Islamic Jihad,IS

Why does Torah make the priests go through a long and seemingly bizarre induction ceremony?

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/sorry-i-neglected-your-jewish-identity-cousin/2013/09/02/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: