Some years ago I was involved in a battle royale with someone who suggested I had been raised in a sheltered environment that only exposed me to a Jewish perspective.
It couldn’t have been further from the truth.
One of my oldest friends was raised in an evangelical church so every meal at his parent’s house included grace before meals and time reading passages from the Christian bible after dinner.
That didn’t include when I joined him on church bus trips to Zuma beach that always included moments of prayer before we left the valley and before our return.
Add my participation in a Jewish-Catholic dialogue and a bible class that I took as an elective when I was an undergrad and you have a guy who definitely wasn’t sheltered.
I had such a strong Jewish identity it never occurred to me to pay much attention to any of the Christian references and comments that I was exposed to. Never closed my eyes or bowed my head, just sat in respectful silence.
Coming from Los Angeles I grew up up with an enormous amount of diversity around me and didn’t realize how many different languages and people I saw daily until I moved to Texas.
Now it is very common for me to be the only Jew and sometimes the first that people have met. I have become an unofficial ambassador.
That subhead is in reference to something I wrote earlier but I might need to change it and make it the 53rd most graphic letter you never read.
Heck, if it gets read I might have to change it again, who knows.
Circle back to our starting discussion and I can confirm I have been to mass multiple times and that I never kneel.
A parishoner once tried to get me to do so but I just smiled and shook my head. Always tried to be discreet and not call attention to myself but there are some things I just won’t do.
Reminds me of a moment when I went back to LA for my daughter’s Bat Mitzvah and a man at the shul I was raised at went after my son because he disagreed with something he was doing.
My voice doesn’t handle whispers very well so I suspect a number of people heard me tear into this gentleman with the kind of edge in my voice parents get when their children are being threatened.
I always thought common sense dictated that people would speak to the parents of a minor first, especially when it was clear they were there but common sense isn’t always so common.
It also irked me because we ought to be more welcoming and understand that sometimes there are guests amongst us and trying to rap knuckles without conversation is a poor way to motivate change.
The younger Mr. Wilner and I reminisced about that moment and covered a few more, including a couple of his finer moments when he was all of three.
In the grand tradition of his grandfather I told him he could never pay me back for the sleep he cost me.
He said I ought to include his sister in that and I agreed.
“When she gets back to Texas I will absolutely remind her.”
“Why not call her tonight?”
“Somethings are best done in person and congratulations on the older sibling move, a little rough but you get points for effort. Still not as good as I am at it, better practice.”
Occasionally his oldest aunt will call me to share something her oldest has done that reminds her of me. Every time I hear those stories I am reminded of the power of genetics. Not only does my oldest nephew look somewhat like I did at 21 he clearly inherited a few cool traits from me.
But I digress.
Had a long conversation about things we can and cannot do and how much of that is because of family or societal expectations.
It’s clear some of the shackles we wear about imposed because of those expectations and sometimes our mental health and happiness suffer for it.
I am actively working on opposing some of those. You can attribute some of it to my own buck authority nature but also the conversations started by current events.
Simone Biles decision to pull out of multiple events has generated some of the dumbest and most hateful comments I have ever heard.
Ignore that many of them come from people who don’t care what Kyle Rittenhouse did and focus upon what lessons we are teaching our children and what standards we hold ourselves too.
There is a space between teaching not to quit and to persevere and to understanding that some things will wreck the mental and emotional health of people.
Refusal to take vacation, sick days and or slow down work output for our own sanity serves no one.
I didn’t accomplish much of what I wanted during the lock down. Made some lists and go through some items, but a bunch haven’t been crossed off.
Sometimes it bothers me but most of the time I let it go by reminding myself this took place during a global pandemic that was bungled by the corrupt administration of #45.
Add in legitimate concerns about the damage he did while in the Oval, some civil unrest and it is easy to see it was a hard time.
We’re not quite there yet, lots of selfish unvaccinated fools are helping to prolong things but we’re certainly closer than we were.
And I feel less need to write the 92nd most graphic letter you have never read as a way to escape as opposed to other reasons. 🙂