When my daughter refused to wear knee-highs, because none of the girls in her class did – she wanted to wear short socks – I panicked. Again, I wondered how would my kids remain frum? But then I began breathing and realized, hey, it’s just a sock! My daughter wasn’t throwing all standards of modesty out the window! I relaxed. Her skirts were long enough, her shirts had long sleeves. It really was going to be okay.
Then it was time for shidduchim. Everything seemed to be going well until I mentioned to the shadchan that my son did not wear a black hat. She inhaled deeply. “Oh,” she said. “Then he does not have yiras Shamayim.” I was stunned. I do not remember what I answered, but I know I did thank her for her efforts and got off the phone. No yiras Shamayim, I thought? Is that how one who does not wear black and white is viewed? At a recent family event with irreligious people, a very attractive girl asked this son to dance. My son refused, saying he did not dance with women. The girl and the family members urged him. “Come on,” they said, “your father is not here to see.” He looked at them. “I do not do things because my father wants me to. I do them for me!”
My son was prepared for the dicey challenges that awaited him when he went into the business world. Because even without wearing a black hat, he does have yiras Shamayim. He also answered “no” to a different well-meaning shadchan who advised him to wear a black hat – just on the first date. ‘But everyone does it for the first date,” she said. “It will make a good impression.” My son refused. “How about just putting a black hat in the back window of your car?” My son said no, he would not pretend to be someone he was not.
Living over the rainbow means more color in my life. It is true that my children may not exactly mirror the look of the yeshiva world on the outside, but they do have a strong Torah foundation on the inside. They also each know what it means to contribute to a community, and feel a responsibility to help out. I left a city with many grey buildings, and though there are some very nice lawns here and there, it cannot compare to the beauty of greenery and flowers that is the norm out here. I expect to see color, both outside and with the people I meet. Even when visiting New York, I long for the wide-open spaces of my town. Out here the student body and their parents are of many different shades. Out-of-town there can be well-meaning ladies who speak with great inspiration, but do not cover their hair. There are others women who are the first to do chesed, but may wear pants. There are parents who work with great dedication on behalf of our day school, but do not keep Shabbos. I daven that our community has peace, and that we all – black, white, and every color in between – will soon unite together and greet Moshiach!