Monday, September 14, 2015

"You're the dad."


It's Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year.

(What year is it?  I don't know.)

The way I describe our household's level of Jewiness to Ro is that we're quite simply Jewish by label.  It doesn't run much deeper than that.

I have a great appreciation for the Jewish community I was raised w/in.  And I am replicating it to a certain extent for Ro.  But, for the most part, it doesn't go much further than that.

Pre Ro, Jill and I discussed the religious upbringing of our kiddos.  Would we go the Jilly path, replicating her personalized religious beliefs?  Would we default to Judaism b/c it already has a construct that we can fold into?  Or, would we pick some alternate cult religion to inflict upon our spawn?

When the time came, Jill and I loosely agreed to raise Rory Jewish, noting that Daddy would have to take the lead since he's a 'chosen one.'

But, when Rory was born and the years began to pass, we didn't really step into Judaism.  Instead, we would discuss it on the periphery, while never really making our way into a synagogue.

Well, to be fair, we did dip our religiously conflicted toes into temple on a few occasions.

For one, Rory was involved in a baby naming ceremony wherein she received her Hebrew name.  We have a formal certificate to prove it...somewhere...maybe in the basement.  What is Rory's Hebrew name?  Good question...

Last summer'ish Jill, Ro, and I attended a more progressive synagogue in the city to try it on and see if it fit.  It didn't.  We strategically positioned ourselves in the children's service, hoping we would be able to ride Ro's enthusiasm to a temple membership.  Not so much.  The children's service was much too young for Rory.  We played along, but each of us pointed glances at the others throughout the mundane service suggesting something similar to, "Are you fucking kidding me w/ this?"

We left the children's service feeling unfulfilled; then somehow found ourselves in a Bat Mitzvah service that was just underway in the main room.  So as not to disrupt, we quietly sat our threesome in the back.

Rory was enamored.  To her, it was a performance on a stage.

Jill rolled w/ it.

And I...well, I was intoxicated...not by the service.  Rather, what had me entranced was the old couple two rows in front of us.  They were worth the price of admission.  Like us, they didn't appear to have personal ties to the Bat Mitzvah.  While the gentleman was clearly trying to observe the service, the woman was having none of it.  This was her time to point insults at (what I assume was) her husband, loudly, and w/ great frequency.  And he just absorbed them.  How he restrained from shoving a basket full of yarmulkes down her throat must have been an act of God.  B/c I was loading up on his behalf.  Jill and I shot glances back and forth at one another.  "Are you fucking kidding me w/ this?"

Flash forward to the present.  Still no real Judaism flowing thru this nucleus.  Reason being is that I'm still conflicted by it.  And by 'it' I mean all religion, not just Judaism.  So, my conflict results in religious paralysis for our household.

Sometimes I'm okay w/ it.  Other times, when I feel like it may be of positive service to Ro, I think about pushing her in.  Clearly this internal battle continues.


Where was I?  Oh yes...today is the Jewish New Year.

And w/ that comes the question - to go to school or not to go to school?

Ro rolls into my room this morning.  "Good morning, Dad.  Am I going to school today?"

And it's not like she's leaning one way or the other.  She's genuinely asking, looking to me, her adult child father, for direction.

"I don't know."  I take a beat.  "What do you think?" I respond aimlessly.

"I don't know.  You're the dad.  That's why I'm asking you."

Shit.  Good point.

"Alright.  Just give me a minute.  I'll figure it out."

Twenty minutes later a decision was made.  I would work.  Ro would school.

It's times like this where the religious debate would rise up between Jill and I.  It wasn't so much an argument as a somewhat frustrated, what are we going to do?  And unfortunately I don't get to have that debate w/ Jill.

So, like so many other situations, I have to have that debate w/ myself.

Yes, I can imagine what Jill would say in certain circumstances.  I often lean on her in that way for guidance.  But, ultimately, it's on me.

I'm the dad.

And as her mommy would often say to me, I'm doing the best I can.

All love,

J, J, & r

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