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Chronicles Of Crises In Our Communitites – 11/21/08

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Dear Rachel,

I have a problem that I don’t believe has ever been addressed in this column. To give you some background, we are a typical Modern Orthodox family. I feel that we have always done the “right thing” − sent our children to the right yeshivot, camps and seminaries and are affiliated with and attend the local synagogue.

Our children are all in the “shidduch parshah,” which has been grueling, to say the least. I read letters to your column from other people complaining about their children’s inability to find their match, and the trials and tribulations they have to endure.

Well, we would trade with anyone to rid ourselves of our particular “tzores.” Our daughter who is in her mid-twenties has been dating for several years with no luck. She initially dated enthusiastically, but as time went on, she showed less and less interest in pursuing any prospects that were suggested to her. We soon realized that she was not dating at all.

A turn of events transpired that I do not wish to relate since it is not relevant to the letter, but the bottom line is that she disclosed to us, much to our shock and dismay, that she thinks she prefers females to males.

I am sure I do not have to tell you of the devastation and mortification that my husband and myself were consumed with thereafter. As you can imagine, there was the hysteria, panic and tears that you would expect with a frum family in which this was previously unheard of. (Her siblings are to date unaware of the situation.)

She agreed and even wanted to speak with a therapist to sort out her feelings, which she claims she has been harboring for a number of years but had not really ever acted upon.

I am sick to my stomach on many levels. Firstly, I am still having trouble even believing this could be true. I can’t imagine what the future could hold for her if she chooses to live with this decision. The therapist seems to feel that unlike male feelings of homosexuality, which are physically based, female homosexuality is more emotionally based, that perhaps if she were to find the right male partner who would fill her needs she could be satisfied and even fulfilled living with a husband.

My daughter does not necessarily agree with this, although she would agree to continue dating males if something would come up. Truthfully, I don’t know if this is lip service meant to take the pressure off of her.

I don’t know where to turn. We do not feel that we can go to our rav since it would firstly be too humiliating, and secondly it might affect what he would have to tell any outside party if they were to call for references about our daughter or any of our other children for a shidduch.

I don’t know how the Torah holds with regards to this issue. I don’t want to turn her away (although we are very tempted to) because I don’t want her to veer from Yiddishkeit. Oddly enough, she still wants to remain as observant as ever with other aspects of Halachah. (I don’t see how she can do this, being currently involved with a non-Jewish female she happened to have met in school.)

We love her very much and frankly could not stand the thought of losing her. But the fact remains that my husband and I could never accept this. I can’t eat or sleep and my work is suffering gravely as well. Please give us guidelines as we are living day-to-day in misery and despair.

Miserable

Dear Miserable,

The ache in your heart makes you wish you were in the shoes of the mother who had written to this column about the plight of her single daughters − yet she admitted to pangs of envy as she witnesses young mothers with babies in tow. This is not meant to minimize the scope of your predicament, but focus just briefly, if you will, on a mother who has tragically suffered the loss of a daughter. She may envy you − for yours is still here for you to hug and to communicate your love to, and hope is very real of her becoming “well” again.

The fact that there is no solid scientific evidence of any biological factors that would contribute to the feelings your daughter is harboring should bolster that hope. Her desire to remain frum should further infuse you with optimism, for “frum” means adhering to G-d’s plan for mankind; if she is sincerely committed to frumkeit, she will inevitably face the reality that it is a man and woman who are commanded to cleave to one another − whose love and union constitute a true bayit ne’eman.

Any urge, however, to push your daughter down the aisle to the chuppah with a nice young man should be placed on hold for now. For your daughter’s sake, it would be unfair to pressure her into shidduch dating while she works on sorting out her feelings and before she develops a new perspective.

Professionals in the field would explore whether an SSA tendency could be an outcome of a traumatic childhood experience. Other circumstances that can conceivably engender in the female subject the belief that a woman has the potential to be more loving, supportive and understanding: insensitive behavior on the part of callous or immature men on dates, abusive and intrusive male figures during adolescent years, or a lack of a mother’s unconditional love.

Any of the above is not likely to surface in family discussions − therefore self-examination via appropriate therapy is absolutely vital to get to the root of your daughter’s fears and her feelings. An outpouring of your love for her and a steadfast emunah in Hashem will help you all survive this difficult time.

You can overcome, and with G-d’s help you will.

About the Author: We encourage women and men of all ages to send in their personal stories via email to rachel@jewishpress.com or by mail to Rachel/Chronicles, c/o The Jewish Press, 4915 16th Ave., Brooklyn, N.Y. 11204. If you wish to make a contribution and help agunot, your tax-deductible donation should be sent to The Jewish Press Foundation. Please make sure to specify that it is to help agunot, as the foundation supports many worthwhile causes.


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