Family Values

I’ve just returned from my cousin’s house. A laughter-filled, question loving house on the edge of the “Jewish” neighborhood. It stands in stark contrast to my upbringing, and it seems so foreign a thought that our parents (number four and five) grew up closely in the same household.

We spent hours talking about normal things. How my parents’ basement was a great place to spend a winter shabbos afternoon or how our zaide, a man I can barely remember, would meticulously cut the edges off cheese sandwiches he made for every eineklech who walked through the door. We talked about heavy things. We talked about light things. We could have been regular, normal cousins having a regular, normal conversation but for the covering on our heads and the Yiddish being spoken.

I understand that my cousin doesn’t have a vested interest in my observance or custody case. I get she doesn’t need to speak firmly with me because she understands there’s nothing she can do to change either situation. And still she laughs with me, open about everything and closed to nothing but our family’s growing intolerance.

How did our two family branches grow so far away from each other? How come I get the judgemental, soul-destroying branch while there’s another one immediately adjacent that boasts such a caring relative? Are our family values so skewed that mine values outside perception while hers is okay with just supporting the family you don’t get to choose but love anyway?

I know not everything can be perfect there. Nothing can be. I just wish my perfect looked a lot closer to hers.

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2 responses to “Family Values

  1. On my dad’s side I have an uncle (who lives in a settlement in israel, black hatter) who called me on my wedding day to a non jewish man to tell me I will always be a part of the family and he loves me and hopes I will be very happy. On my moms side I have an aunt who won’t tell her kids (my adult cousins) that my husband and daughter exist. In the middle are my parents, who come visit us but still try to socialize with my douchebag aunt, who disowned me when I got married but later sent us a crib and came down to visit twice this year (for the baby shower/ when i had a baby to meet her).

    I’ve found in general my family has been very hit or miss, with people I didn’t expect to be cool being cool, and some people being horrible…

    • Sounds like you have quite the spectrum too – how do you deal with the horrible ones, and make sure the awesome ones know how appreciated they are?

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