Name: margalit
Location: Massachusetts, United States Professional writer, educational advocate, opinionated ultra liberal mother of 18 year old twins, living life in the slow lane due to hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, congestive heart failure, and diabetes.

email: margalitc at yahoo dot com

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Thursday, August 25, 2005

Oy! Down and out in suburbia

Yesterday I was down in the dumps all day. I slept poorly, I took several small naps, but I was just totally depressed although at the time I didn't recognize it. I could hardly rouse myself to make the kids a birthday cake and put very little effort into the whole birthday. And the strange thing is, I didn't get why I was feeling so down until I got an email from a friend whose son has the same birthday. She was wishing us birthday wishes for this monumental birthday and I slapped my forehead and said "oh Shit! No wonder why!".

My kids turned thirteen yesterday, which should have been the most important and planned birthday of their lives. They became b'nai mitzvah yesterday and we did absolutely nothing to mark that occasion. They have no party upcoming, they have no haftorah reading, no maftir, no aliyot, nada. Yes, there are good reasons for this. The boy was not in a position to learn for the past year and a half, and it's not his fault. The girl has no interest in the whole thing and refused to even think about doing an aliyah even though we set up one for her on a Thursday morning so she could be in and out in a flash. She refused.

The main reason why my children are not having an aliyot this upcoming weekend is that we no longer feel welcome in the Jewish community. We belonged to a shul for years and the Rabbi was not only not nice to us, he was an outright jerk. So we no longer go to shul there. There are other shuls in town, quite a few of them. Some are Reform and I don't feel comfortable in a Reform shul. Some are Modern O, and with an older boy, he would have to sit in the men's section and that wouldn't work well for us. Plus I can't walk to shul anymore. There is a Chabad shul virtually around the corner that I COULD walk to, but the kids refuse to go to a black hat shul of any kind and I'm not sure I would feel comfortable there as well. There are several other Conservative shuls in town, but they tend to be big money shuls and we just can't possibly pay the dues or keep up with the other kids, plus they have strict rules about b'nai mitzvah that would negate our kids being able to have their simcha. There are 2 Recon havarut that I know pretty much nothing about. One is way too liberal for me, too touchy feely and Berkeley-ish. The other one is a mystery. I guess we should make an effort to investigate it. But I'm not comfortable in most Recon situations. And then there is the Minyan. It is where I would feel most comfortable by far, we know a lot of people who go already, I know I'd like it but.... my ex-boss who fired me goes there and I don't think I could face him without being really nasty. And another person we know goes there that I just do not want in my life. So we go nowhere.

Now the HiHos are coming up again and we have no place to daven. I need a small havarah with like people and I just can't find one where we live. I miss going to shul more than I ever thought I would. I love going. I love being part of a community. I love singing out loud and nobody shushing me. I love hearing ivrit and thinking that it's what I should be speaking. I just love being in shul. My kids hate it, but they did love it as little kids and at least the boy remembers everything he learned in day school.

I'm so sad that my kids won't have a b'nai mitzvah. I want them to. I wish I could figure out how, but finances being what they are, it's impossible. This is why I feel so apart from mainstream Judaism. I can't finance my kid's tutoring, hebrew school, etc. I just can't. Nobody else has stepped up to the plate, and nobody else seems interested in helping us out. I've asked JFCS and so far, no help at all.

I feel so empty now. I identified why I'm feeling sad, but there is no way to improve upon the situation. It sucks so much. You know, there ARE poor Jews and we struggle so mightily to keep a kosher home and to keep our kids Jewish. I think I'm losing that battle.
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