Dear Mrs. Bluth,
My husband and I raised four healthy children in a modern Orthodox home. We did our best to instill in them a love for all Jewish traditions. We have a close family circle with grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins that are the foundation of our family nucleus.
I am writing today about one of our daughters, who, at a young age, decided religion wasn’t for her. This translated into battles about her clothes, friends, curfews, grades, male friends, etc. At one point, she went to Israel and enrolled in a kiruv program, but whatever spark they lit died when she came home.
Based on advice in this column, I have learned to pick my battles carefully with all my children, so that when I had to say no they understood. For some reason, this one child believed she was never able to measure up to our standards and that anything she did was never good enough, especially for her father. She is an extremely gifted, talented and bright young woman and yet she cannot see these qualities in herself.
Our daughter has been living on her own, financially independent, and is in a serious relationship with a non-Jew for some time now. When she told me, she cried, more out of fear though than regret. I did not tell anyone, including my husband, for fear that his reaction would push her even further away from us, but I did urge her to tell him.
She finally did and needless to say, my husband was crushed and beyond hurt, swinging back and forth on a pendulum of extreme anger and his deep love for her.
My other children are of little help. One does not approve, but wants to keep the lines of communication with his sister open, so he has agreed to meet her boyfriend. Another wishes it hadn’t come to this, however, she is happy to see her sister settled down after her turbulent teen years, so she and her husband welcome the couple in their home. The third, who has found his place in the world of learning, davens for her and keeps up with her by phone. It comforts me to see that my children love each other, yet none of them will tell her that what she is doing is destroying her parents.
She says that her boyfriend treats her well and his family has welcomed her with open arms. We have met with his parents and explained why we will not accept their union. They, however, fully express their support.
We have been to countless rabbanim, but none of them have offered any concrete solutions or advice. Neither have any of the frum mental health experts. In a world where there is help for so many situations and challenges, no one seems to know how to deal with intermarriage or how to prevent it.
I have made some changes to my life in the hopes that Hashem will hear my cry for help. I now cover my hair and bake challah, I hold Tehillim groups in my home, I go out of my way to do things for friends and strangers, all in the zechus for a yeshuah for her.
Mrs. Bluth, time is running out; she is on the verge of getting engaged! I cry every day and have actually thought that maybe we should just accept him. Please give me some advice on how to make this go away! My heart is broken.
A desperate, devastated mother
I have read and reread your letter numerous times in order to pinpoint when, where, why and how this sad situation evolved, but with each reading there were more and more blurred lines. The only source of gratitude and redemption in this tragedy is that only this one child was affected and not any of your other offspring. It may also do little to soothe your broken heart, but know that you are not alone. Sadly, there are many young people who have become disenchanted with Yiddishkeit.
It does not surprise me that his family is so embracing of her – she seems to be a mature, stable person. As long as your daughter does not actively relinquish her faith, chas v’shalom, there is always the hope that she will find her way back to you. And she and her children will be Jewish.
My advice to you is to keep the channels of communication open, to be civil and undemanding, and never lose hope.
This life we live was not meant to be an easy trip. As much as we would like to believe that if we do everything right with our children we will be spared heartache, there are always those unforeseen dangers and mitigating circumstances waiting to sabotage and circumvent all our best efforts.
Have patience, even if it is painful and difficult for you to see her this way. Show her that you love her and that you will wait for her return, no matter how long it takes. I wish you a speedy resolve to this heartache and that your sadness and pain be replaced with the joy of her homecoming in the weeks to come. If I can be of any help to you towards that end, please don’t hesitate to keep in touch with me.