Saturday, June 30, 2012

July is Birthday Month

An ex-boyfriend of mine recently got "outed" on facebook, when a picture of him was posted with two other men at the Haifa Gay Pride parade, holding the rainbow flag. I can't say it surprised me, we broke up after several months because he could not connect to me on either an emotional or physical level;  I remember that getting him to open up felt like pulling teeth without novacaine.

What did surprise me was my reaction to the news, essentially a non-reaction.  I thought, "He's gay, I had some sense of that when we were dating.  I wish him well and hope he finds a love and a relationship that brings him joy."

I grew up in an Ultra-Orthodox Jewish community and school system, where we didn't walk on the same side of the street as a Church, where the boys and the girls sat separately on the school bus, and where we considered anything other than a heterosexual traditional family an "abomination" in the eyes of society and Jewish law.

Today I am a (heterosexual) single mother by choice, part of a growing group of non-traditional families within the traditional Jewish community.  The Gay and Lesbian community are considered an "alternative lifestyle," and these developments have heralded a whole new lexicon, a different way of thinking.

I will turn 44 this month, and have begun to feel the experience of my years.  I can tell you where I was as a high school senior the moment the shuttle exploded in 1986, and where I was when Ilan Ramon, the first Israeli astronaut, died.  9/11 has replaced the Kennedy assasination for our generation's collective trauma, though here is Israel we live the threat of terrorism on a more visceral and daily basis.

I can remember when no one had a personal computer, when the internet existed strictly for the military and a select group of academics.  I cannot conceive of lacking the immediate access to information and people, and laugh when I think that my iphone is more powerful than all the machines and all the sensors that controlled NASA's Appollo missions.

Like most humans on the planet, I know that Big Brother is real, and that privacy and true civil rights died a bloody violent death.

I have a very hard time going to weddings and being seated near the band, the music has become too loud for me.  And I keep my reading glasses in the Chiropractic clinic these days, for the small print on medical reports.  Here's hoping that raising a toddler keeps me young at heart.

Just stop me, please, when I start a sentence, "I remember The Great War..."


Amy Charles said...

Doc, I think you are part of one of many waves. Jews have been leaving that shackled life for centuries, which is why the various American denominations exist. It's a pity that we insist on ranking them.

I'm grateful to have grown up partly inside an observant community. There's depth, richness, beauty to the observance. But can an agnostic live that way? No, I don't think so.

I used to worry that I wouldn't be able to give my daughter a meaningful Jewish education, because I had no such enveloping world to give her. It turns out I was wrong. No doubt some bearded putz would say she doesn't know what Jewish is, but she'd answer him angrily, and she'd be right. Just like the Russian cabbie I talked to one night -- never seeing his face -- after meeting a man I thought I'd marry. Not Jewish. Immediately, we fell into conversation about whether a Jew should marry a Jew, and he says, almost embarrassed, that he's a little Jewish. A little? His mother is Jewish. So he's Jewish! Yes, but he doesn't know much. Who among us does? And he picks up a Jewish newspaper in Russian -- do I know it? -- no, of course not -- and it's clear his "doesn't know much" is "knows something". He knows, feels, seeks. But what the beards have is not for him.

This is a story three hundred years old now, maybe older. So congratulations. And here's an appropriate video:

singlemomofnat said...

I thought this was awesome. I found your post by searching jewish single mothers by choice. I was born into a Roman Catholic family but it has never fit me, and I have been non-religious for over 25 years. Now that I find myself in my early 40's and solely responsible for a beautiful three year old daughter, I feel a pull to provide her with a religious background and have decided to convert to Judaism. I am longing to give her a religious background that teaches tolerance, provides a strong and loving sense of community. I hope to find this for myself as well.

Doc said...

@singlemomofnat, please let me know if I can be of any assistance.