Ask Wendy

Jewish World Review Feb. 14, 2001 / 21 Shevat 5761

Human 'mutts,' getting
over it, same-sex kesubas

By Wendy Belzberg -- Normally you give advice to Jews and Gentiles. I'm writing for advice as a mutt. I am nominally Unitarian, raised Catholic in a Jewish neighborhood (Avi Weiss was on my paper route and I met Nathan Schransky during collections) by a Jewish mother who knew nothing about Judaism. I identify as a Jew ethnically and am somewhat Christian, having been influenced by my father's Catholicism. Of late I am discovering that I find deep satisfaction in Jewish expressions of faith. Are there any resources for someone such as me? Or advice?

Unless you choose to discover your roots through Israeli politics or through parades and protests, your former paper route buddies are of little good to you now.

I'm sure it will come as no surprise to learn that if your mother was Jewish, you too are Jewish. Even if your father was Catholic, if you consider yourself a Unitarian and if your best friend is the Pope. Find a Jewish community where you feel comfortable and a Rabbi whom you respect as a teacher and a guide. Study, read, learn and follow your heart. (If you tell anyone I used that new-age psychobabble I'll deny it.) I suspect you will discover a great number of communities are made up of mutts like yourself, all of them happy to welcome another.

I have a wonderful husband, a sound marriage and a beautiful new baby. In spite of it all, I have been feeling depressed for several months. I have run out of sympathetic listeners; friends and family try to cheer me up by pointing to everything I have in my life. (They may as well come out and say, "People are buried alive in India, what do you have to complain about?") My husband is supportive but even he has been saying that it's time for me to "get over it." I know everyone means well, but their words end up making me feel worse, not better.

Let me preface my answer by saying that I don't know you, I don't know how old your baby is and I am not privy to any parts of your past. By issuing all of the above disclaimers I hope to stem the tide of angry mail that might come my way for offering the following diagnosis: you may be suffering from post-partum depression. (Men, don't make this diagnosis at home. It is the equivalent of suggesting your wife has PMS).

If you are not ordinarily prone to depression or moodiness, the birth of a baby can often be a trigger. You have a lot to contend with: Hormones, nursing and sleep deprivation, guilt for feeling down when you have a healthy newborn and a body that doesn't match your body image. Before you see a counselor, see your OB/GYN. Post partum depression usually lifts within 6 months after your baby is born. If however, your depression fails to dissipate, see a shrink. Depression often has no connection to circumstance, and no good heath care professional will council you to dwell on your good fortune.

If a kesubah is a marriage contract between two people, why can't two people of the same sex agree to its terms and have it recognized in a Jewish court of law?

A kesuba is a pre-nuptial agreement. Nothing more. It is a legal document entered into at the time of the wedding, but it has nothing to do with creating the marriage bond. Cloak it all you want in legalese, the underlying question you are asking is why same sex couples can't be married according to Jewish law? And the answer is because sleeping with partners of the same sex is one of the 365 negative commandments. This is not a rabbinical law, nor an inference made from a verse; this prohibition is a clear and open verse in the Torah.

I must commend you for the originality in the way you framed your query. And I suppose one could also ask if a same-sex marriage could be recognized under Jewish law if the couple doesn't intend to sleep together. But I'm not going there.

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02/08/01: Bar/bat mitzvah blues, homework he-l, from potty to potty-mouth
01/24/01: Naughty neighbor, unprofessional colleague is dead, I'm a Jew, now what?
01/15/01: Rabbis who won't; when the rules of the 'game' change; ungracious grannies
01/08/01: My kid hates Hebrew school; Stay single or abandon heritage?
01/02/01: A Jewish Grinch? Baby bigots and when grandparents call it quits
12/18/00: Babes in Chanukah Land; my husband the kvetch; bad hair marriage?
12/04/00: My niece is a no-goodnik, when lifecycle events become dangerous, Orthodox v. Reform education
11/28/00: My ex is ruining my kids' souls; the mouth that won't stop
11/21/00: Battling brothers; how to keep a nanny
11/08/00: OY VEY! my son wants to become Orthodox; kiddies should avoid family therapy
11/08/00: Rabbi v. therapist, grandparents bearing gifts, I want my son's teacher for a sister-in-law
10/24/00: Let him enlist?, 'My son the actor'? Eating with the 'help'
10/10/00:Tipsy teens, protective spouses, kosher common-sense
10/03/00: I'm not Jewish --- not that there's anything wrong with it; mezuza machlokes; when granddad has cancer
09/25/00: I can't take Rosh Hashanah! Something for nothing? My husband needs a dinner mate
09/18/00: 'My kids' Jewish education stinks', boyfriend bandit, and single mother not by choice
09/11/00: Bris brouhaha breaks my heart, LET ME SLEEP! --- and Why can't I hold a job?
09/05/00: Righteous anger, 'dissed' daughter --- and how not to make a match
08/21/00: When one spouse becomes more religious than the other; "But the cleaning lady is part of the family!"; Why He invented 9-month gestation periods
08/21/00: 'Fessing up to granny about abandoning one's people, non-kosher sis-in-law, and 'my niece is marrying a loser'
08/14/00: Marrying 'in' for questionable motivations; Should a do-gooder be reimbursed?
08/07/00: Communing with the clouds, betrothal, and banishing bosses
07/28/00: Small-city guys, self-centered siblings
07/21/00: When a child takes religion seriously, marriage obsession, and guests who just don't get it
07/14/00: Divorcing brother-in-law, uncampy kids, and a dot.comer who makes it big time
07/07/00: Hypocrites, reality checks, and the 'real estate challenged'


© 2001, Wendy Belzberg