Sunday, December 12, 2004

Not-so-kissing cousins

Today at work, the Professor was drafting an e-mail and I wrote what I thought I heard "I was disgusted with my sister."

He corrected me - "No, I said "discussed it with my sister."

"Oh, I'm sorry, I must have been thinking about MY family."

Thursday Hubby was mentally under the weather so I invited the Eldest Daughter to accompany me to my brother's for dinner. He had invited 16 assorted great nieces and nephews (cousins to my daughter)who were here for Hanukah from New Jersey and Montreal and for the putting up my dad's tombstone at the cemetery Thursday morning. I bought a hat for the occasion because last time I offended the very-Orthodox relatives by wearing my hair uncovered for the funeral. I was so hoping not to offend anyone. After all, I am a woman of peace. I even wore my hat to dinner, along with a dress and told my daughter to dress accordingly, minus the hat as only married Orthodox women cover their hair. You must understand that these sweet teens - ranging in age from 14 - 19, have never mingled with the opposite sex just for fun, unless it is a family setting like it was now. The 15 year old nephew, already wearing a big borsolino hat, together with his braces reminded me of those "sweepea" baby cartoons, where the crawling baby is smoking a cigar. He showed me the finer points of my digital camera as he had the exact same one. How cool can the kid be? The girls, 15, 16 and 18 years old were without makeup, and what do you talk about with these teens. They are in their own world, have their own dress style and music - none of this MTV stuff or for that matter any kind of secular music even if it's nauseating dentist music. My daughter was at a loss for conversation. She's 20. Has a boyfriend for over a year. He stays over, she stays over his place. She knew well enough NOT to publicize her lifestyle. It would cause an absolute family scandal. It was bad enough she wore her tiny nosering in her tiny nose, plus her hair is dyed burgandy which is scandalous enough. But that they will have to live with. She is a secretary in the police force. In the Ultra-Orthodox Jewish world, secretaries and teachers are the jobs de rigeur. She was like "in flint" with these people now. A role model. Too bad she was not a secretary at a religious school, but it was acceptable at least.

As we were about to leave, my brother hands me the gift he and my sister bought for my son's bar mitzvah - a pair of tefillin (phylacteries) that Jews wear (traditionally only men) for morning prayers. You know the straps that Madonna wore in her Die Another Day video. My sweet Eldest Daughter, a mental dead ringer for Kelly Bundy in Married with Children, asks - Are they for my mother?" My brother raises an eyebrow and hisses to her - Not now! Not here!!!

She continued on, oblivious to the warning - In my school the girls wore tefillin and one is studying to become a rabbi.

The poor 19 year old nephew, looked as if his entire dinner was about to be tossed down the toilet and then go into a week's worth of mourning for this scandalous thinking in our family. And all the effort put into dressing in dresses and hats to make these people feel comfortable with all of us "black sheep" went down the drain - together with sad nephew's dinner.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

I wonder how uptight your religious cousins really are.
We've seen orthodox that are so much more embracing.
I wonder if it's not in your head.
Also your catalog of characteristics is a bit sad, used to describe this terrible, terrible gap:

You:
Mingling w/the opposite sex for fun.
Secular music
Living together out of wedlock
Untraditionally-dyed hair
Nose ring

Them:
Borsolino

If you were to meet someone from Mumbai would your conversation be limited because you dress differently?

And the tefillin remark, does that mean that your daughter though tefillin to only be suitable for IMA, but not for herself?

I've seen bigger pictures of families that have some religious & some not. What I've seen is that secular teenagers get older & older & AREN'T in a rush to get out of wedlock into wedlock & what was cute gets staler & staler. The Borsolino crowd, though, push for relatively young marriages, w/wonderful, celebratory weddings & then something that you can understand until it happens, they bring you GRANDCHILDREN! I'd LOVE to read about you receiving your first grandchild, but w/your kids' lifestyles, it's not as likely.

jerusalemgypsy said...

not to worry. This was written in 2004- much has changed in my family since then... keep reading..:-)

jerusalemgypsy said...

not to worry. This was written in 2004- much has changed in my family since then... keep reading..:-)