Ask Wendy

Jewish World Review June 6, 2001 / 16 Sivan 5761

Teaching kids about the Creator, when parents aren't observant; 'wonderful woman' 'fesses up about her broken engagement; How do I find a matchmaker for my 'beautiful daughter?'

By Wendy Belzberg -- Q: My husband and I just had our first child. We are not observant Jews, but we are spiritual people and our identities as Jews are important to us. In the absence of ritual and practice, how do we teach our son about the concept of G-d?

A: Some of the most essential constructs in your child's life will be perfectly concrete, like cookie or television or dump truck. But your child will learn about many other critical components despite the fact there is no concrete reference to which to point. Like love. And trust. And respect.

The presence of G-d falls into this category. If you sit down to explain "G-d" as a concept, you are sure to fail. But you can point easily to flowers, soufflés, triplets and cashmere. If your belief in G-d is a part of how you and your husband view the world, your child will easily absorb your faith; his understanding of G-d will be as integral as his understanding of your love for him.

You child is an infant so I will end my answer here. But, if your identity as a Jew is important to you and something you wish to pass to your child as he grows, I must suggest that you join some kind of a community --- even if you do not choose to join a synagogue. Write back when you are ready for part 2 of this lecture.

Q: I have been dating a wonderful woman for the past month. She recently confessed that her previous engagement broke off when the stress of the wedding brought about symptoms of OCD (excessive hand washing in particular). She has been off medication for several months and there has been no recurrence. I care for this woman deeply, and we are both marriage-minded. I strongly wish for this relationship to continue to grow, but wonder if she could handle the stress of a relationship, marriage, and children. How do you suggest I proceed?

A: If there were such thing as guarantees in life, I could imagine opting for stability. But what are the chances you will find another woman for whom you care deeply who does not bring other issues to the table? As my bubbe used to say, "everybody has something." You could break off this relationship, but who's to say the next girlfriend won't develop OCD after your first child is born? Or agoraphobia or MS? Will you then consider trading in your wife for a (seemingly) healthier model? The good news is that OCD is treatable with medication, your girlfriend's case appears to respond to medication, and the two of you are able to discuss these matters after only one month's acquaintance. This is as close as you get to a guarantee in life; I'd jump on it.

Your girlfriend was brave enough to tell you the truth; she deserves to be with someone who will love and reward her for her honesty. And you don't know what the ex-fiance was like, do you? Maybe you'd be washing your hands, too.

Q: How do I find a matchmaker? I have a beautiful daughter, age 36, who has been divorced for a few years. She has a good job working as a legal secretary and lives on Long Island, NY. I would appreciate an answer and any information you could give me.

A: I'll answer your question after you answer mine: does your daughter know you wrote to me and that you are looking for a matchmaker on her behalf?

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05/31/01: Couple he fixed-up is in a nasty breakup; overwrought over ring
05/16/01: The gift was counterfeit; settling for the daughter; the lush and the ostrich
05/02/01: 'Jew questions' and falsifying faith; magic marker mayhem; I want kids
04/25/01: Anti-Semites everywhere?; shilling for gifts; my kid is the 'weakest link'
04/05/01: Celebrating when Passover is inconvenient; What's wrong with the name 'Melvyn,'?; Difference dilemma: Husbands and wives and Passover observance levels
03/19/01: 7-4=insensitivity?; baby showers and tempting fate; Splitsville before or after marriage?
03/12/01: Passover party-pooper; slapped by a moral dilemma
02/14/01: Human 'mutts,' getting over it, same-sex kesubas
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