It can be hard to hear another person when the words in your head are drowning out their voice.
Everyone deserves to be heard out. If someone else’s experience is being blotted out by your own pain you may need to be heard out before you can listen to that person. Try to sort out what is YOUR reaction from what the other person is talking about.
A thoughtful man wrote to me about a letter I’d published regarding a young person who chose to have an Orthodox conversion. That decision was up to the young woman, but this man’s pain made it hard to differentiate between her choice and his distress.
Though you tried to respond to the woman’s angst about her not-kosher-enough conversion in your March 11 column (“Conversion didn’t grant ‘born-Jewish privilege,’”), I am saddened by your seemingly bland acceptance that these basically bigoted ultra-Orthodox are the sole and final arbiters of who is a Jew.
If one is truly interested in “building Jewish bridges,” these folks are certainly terrible obstructionists, and in my opinion should be called out on every occasion possible.
This issue really came home to me — a 100 percent Jew, son of a Reform rabbi — when our elder daughter went to Israel with her confirmation class 28 years ago. My wife is half-Jewish — the wrong half — though American Reform congregations now recognize patrilineal descent. We have raised our children to embrace their Jewish identity. My daughter, then age 16, was invited to a home Shabbos dinner where she was told in no uncertain terms that she wasn’t really Jewish, and if she should ever want to make aliyah (which she doesn’t) that she would have to beg the indulgence of a rigid old man (my characterization) and have a “real” conversion.
Although I have mostly enjoyed your columns and generally admire your work, you can sign me — Very Disappointed
I’m so glad he wrote because he clearly has valid pain also.
Read my reply here.