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April 19, 2014 / 19 Nisan, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘Dear Thirty Something’

Chronicles Of Crises In Our Communities – 1/16/09

Wednesday, January 14th, 2009

Reader Sentiment Roused…

Dear Thirty-Something,

I have read and reread your beautiful and emotional letter (Chronicles 12-5). There is no bitterness in your words, and for this I admire you very much. You story reads like an identical version of my own dating experience. And I want to write you to give you chizuk.

Like you, I was a professional, self-supporting woman. My parents worked very hard to put me through undergraduate and graduate school, a luxury that they could not easily afford. Both of my parents felt that an education was key to a successful life. My father grew up during the Depression and knew what it was like not to have warm clothing and an abundant amount of food, while my mother survived the horrors of Europe. Neither had the opportunity for higher education. They also felt that when a couple embarked on marriage, they should have the means to support themselves.

The message that I received from my parents and grandparents was that “a good heart” was the most important thing to look for in a prospective mate. And so, dear friend, I was floored, humiliated and angry as I began to date Orthodox men who were more interested in my cooking abilities, height and weight, and financial status. How insulting, I thought. Why weren’t they looking for a fine young lady with middos and charm?

And so, like you, after many years of dating in this arena, where I was just another “girl on the list,” I realized that I needed to look outside this box. I was in search of a man who would not regard me as just another name on a checklist, but as a real, educated and fine person.

And with the help of Hashem and many evenings of making phone calls, I met a wonderful man who is now my husband! He is a man who always had a love and feel for Yiddishkeit, even though his family was not shomrei mitzvos. He had a love for Torah, but did not attend yeshiva.

When our dating became serious, I needed reassurance that if we were blessed with children, there would be no compromising on a yeshiva education. To my joy, he agreed and we married.

Yes, there are challenges. I do not have the pleasure of hearing my husband daven for the amud, or recite the Haftarah… I don’t have extensive divrei Torah at my Shabbos table… but my husband loves me for who I am, not for my size or status. And I could never have accepted anything less.

Been there, done that

Dear Rachel,

Though you may choose not to print my letter, just writing it will give me some comfort.

Comfort, you ask? Yes, comfort. I refer to the article that was printed in your column by Disgusted, but not surprised (Chronicles 12-19). The writer, a young woman, basically labeled an entire community negatively. What a shame! What a case of Jewish anti-Semitism or “Sinas Chinam!”

From my experience, labeling and generalizing is never productive or effective. There are nice people in Timbuktu and there are nice people in Kalamazoo . . . you pick and sift through people and their actions and find the good.

I’ve lived in Boro Park all my life and encounter many different types of people. If you look for the good, you will find it! And when an episode needs to be addressed, one should certainly speak up… without enmity, and without labeling and writing off an entire community.

Since you harbor such a distorted view, you may want to do yourself a favor by doing your shopping elsewhere, my friend, and staying away from Boro Park.

In short, I repeat − there are hundreds of kind and wonderful people in Boro Park, Baruch Hashem. If you have an issue, speak up nicely!

And last but not least, you can’t please all the people all the time.

And if the letter-writer would work on herself and her happiness first, she would be a much happier and positive person − no matter where she would find herself, Boro Park included. Improvement starts with an “I”!!

Thanks for listening, and may the lichtikeit of Chanukah illuminate our year − all year round. Amen.

A Boro Park reader

Dear Rachel,

Regarding A loving (new) husband (Chronicles 12-26) who was disappointed at not having received wedding gifts from some of his friends: I was almost 40 when I found my life partner. Not about to skimp on the festivity of a lifetime, my kallah and I (sparing our aged parents from dipping into their modest retirement savings) went all out in making certain that our wedding would be a beautiful and most memorable affair.

Though we’d have probably done the same regardless, we were quite shocked at how many guests gave us nothing. The only logic we could apply (in some instances) is that the many friends who came from out of town incurred traveling expenses (airline ticket, etc.) and may have considered this as their monetary contribution.

And we would never have considered severing friendships over this.

Still friends

Dear Rachel,

While your reply wonderfully addresses the “bigger” question, how about the tension between the newly married couple, (as described by A loving (new) husband)?

As a professional counselor, I would have told him that the challenges of marriage are such that every day two different human beings of different sexes, raised in different homes, etc., who have pledged to share their lives, will find things to disagree about, and that they must learn to resolve their differences by discussion, by mutual respect, by putting their love for each other at the front and letting everything else fall behind it.

And, most of all, for frum couples to realize that in most arguments there is NO “right” and “wrong” − only a difference of opinion that they must work out between them while developing their own styles, standards and values.

Your Canadian admirer

Chronicles Of Crises In Our Communities – 12/12/08

Wednesday, December 10th, 2008

Dear Readers:

To no one’s surprise, families are going through trying times as singles anxiously await their life partners. This column has heard from suffering mothers whose hearts ache as they watch their children rejected and dejected, singles/parents experiencing difficulties out of the norm, and well intentioned “as I see it” criticizers.

Last week’s column featured an eye-opening letter from an exasperated single, who – in her early 30s – is keenly conscious of the clock that ticks in sync with her diminishing procreative capacity.

So powerful is her nurturing instinct and so strong her desire for family life that she has opted to widen the parameters of her shidduch guidelines and is dating a man who she describes as kind, generous, smart, funny, honest, serious and mature − but not observant.

Dear Thirty-Something,

Only one who walks in your shoes can claim to feel your pain. And how exhilarating it must be to have the company of a man with such a winning combination of attributes! Your own intelligence and crisp clarity of mind are discernable in your methodical articulation of your dilemma.

Yet, while laying out your case in favor of forging ahead in “new” territory, you concede that doing so may come at a high cost to your principles, as you will be compromising the mores of the belief system that has been your guiding compass from childhood on.

Your inner struggle is apparent. “I am not oblivious to the consequences,” you state outright. You furthermore are “taking the risks quite seriously” and admit that the pros on your list do not outweigh the cons. You speak of the strong probability that you will not delight in Shabbos zemiros or Torah discussions at your table and the likelihood that you will be making concessions on halachos. These unsettling thoughts have you crying out at intervals in your letter – “What do I do?” “What more can I consider right now?” “But what am I to do?”

Your uneasiness is justified. You yourself don’t put much stock in your friend’s lukewarm aspiration to be religious “when he is married; however not at this point in time.” Let us examine the stark reality up-close: When you date, you pick the site, you choose the time and the activity, and when the day is done you both retreat to your respective abodes, to your own individual lives and agendas.

Life together, on the other hand, is altogether a different story. Once the honeymoon phase wanes, there is only so far you will go before coming to a fork in the road. How many rifts will it take before you realize that love doesn’t conquer all? How many “compromises” will you make before your admiration for your beau’s brains, generosity and maturity begins to dwindle?

Whom will your children emulate as their role model? Whom will your son look up to, lean on and learn from (and with)? How long before your own enthusiasm for your religion and rich heritage begins to wither; before the fabric of your culture will start to unravel? And if you will manage to keep strong and hold on to the practice of your faith, how long before your respect for your life-partner gives way to frustration and resentment of a spouse who does not share your value system?

Then again, there is a possibility that it may work out. Perhaps if he were faced with the real prospect of losing you, the holy spark within his soul would awaken him to earnestly commit to a religious way of life. (If he has had an upbringing in such a setting, this would increase the chance of his coming around.)

Otherwise, you must ask yourself whether you are ready and willing to chance jeopardizing the lives of innocents who will be born totally reliant on you, whose neshamos will come into the world with the natural expectation to be nurtured, taught and primed by their parents in the ways of Toras Hashem.

As an adult you have the right to choose, to decide how to live your life. However, there is something not quite right – amoral, in fact – in knowingly endangering the sacredness of innocents whose charge you will be entrusted with.

You claim to be G-d-fearing, religious and serious. Surely, then, you take your religion seriously. You feel that matchmakers are not as concerned with you (older singles) as with the younger generation. Do you mean to say that you have actually entertained the thought that your Maker, the Arbiter of all matchmakers, is less interested in you than in the younger generation? Believe purely and simply that nothing is beyond His capability; beseech Him purely and simply to guide you in the right direction; rely on Him whole- heartedly to lead you where you were meant to go and He will relieve you of the enormous burden of uncertainty.

If all your friend can offer is a “maybe one day I’ll think about becoming observant,” your projection as to how your future with him will play out may prove prophetic. Notwithstanding that the choice is yours to make, be forewarned that the consequences of that choice will be with you a lifetime − and the hands of the clock cannot ever be turned back.

If it is children you yearn for, consider the option of becoming a foster or adoptive parent to a child who has already been brought into the world but has been shortchanged and is in desperate need of a mother’s love and nurturing. The satisfaction and benefits of such an arrangement can be vastly fulfilling.

On behalf of our communities everywhere: We applaud your achievements, admire your resilience, and appreciate the contributions you selflessly endow us with. May you continue to enhance the quality of the lives that you touch and merit to do so with your zivug at your side − as you go on to build a bayis ne’eman b’Yisrael.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/family/chronicles-of-crises/chronicles-of-crises-in-our-communities-127/2008/12/10/

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