Ask Wendy

Jewish World Review June 21, 2002/ 11 Tamuz 5762

Doing business with an Arab; driving down the road of life with my mother-in-law tailgating me; sentimental gulf clubs

By Wendy Belzberg | Q: My husband is an investment manager. Recently an Arab conglomerate approached him about investing substantially in his fund. I feel that given the current political circumstances in the Middle East it is wrong for him to take the money. What do you think?

A: If there is any question at all that this Arab conglomerate may fund terrorist or other political activities in the Middle East or elsewhere, I am entirely with you. Your husband has a moral responsibility to go overboard with his due diligence and to know exactly who his investors are. If your husband is satisfied that it is not inadvertently funding anti-Israel or antisemitic activities, this investor group should not be rejected solely on the basis of race or religion. As a Jew, you should be able to appreciate how that would feel.

While the two situations may not be entirely parallel, I am reminded of Simon Wiesenthal's response to post-World War II Jewish sentiment about boycotting German automobiles: The cars did not kill people. The Germans killed people. And it wasn't all of the German people.

Q: I feel like I've hit rock-bottom with nowhere to go but divorce court. I married into a family that does not understand boundaries. My in-laws are the most intrusive people in the world with no concept of where their lives end and their children's lives begin. In other words, I'm driving down the road of life and my mother-in-law is tailgating me at all times. This woman refuses to accept anything that does not follow her script exactly.

A: Your mother-in-law is problematic, yes, but it is your wife that needs to take a detour, even if it entails crossing state lines. If you live in the same town as your in-laws, pack up and move. For as long as your wife is in range, centrifugal force will pull her toward her mother. Physical separation is the easy part. It is the psychic separation that is the challenge — and which poses the greatest threat to your marriage. Separation from one's parents is a critical part of growing up. Unless and until your wife manages that essential act, you will be married to someone who thinks of herself first as someone's child. If she does not break her parent's spell, shift her allegiance and choose to grow up, your wife will never make an equal partner in a marriage. There are trained professionals who can pack up your house. Don't forget, there are also trained professionals who can help your wife to pack up her childhood.

(Same advice applies if the person writing is a woman. Simply change the pronouns.)

Q: My father passed away nearly two years ago and one of his dying wishes was to give his "lucky" golf clubs to his best friend, Al. They had played golf together for nearly 20 years in Florida. We honored my father's wish, and I like to think that Al is hitting as many holes-in-one as my father did when he was alive. My question: Is it in poor taste to ask Al to will my father's golf clubs back to us when he passes away so they can stay in our family?

A: The clubs have sentimental value for Al, not for his progeny. Even if some of Al's relatives do golf, I'm sure they would be happier with a new set of titanium or stainless steel clubs. The bequeathed clubs are not like a Lalique decanter or a Renoir painting that have real value in addition to their sentimental value. Ask away. You're in the clear morally, but you might want to phrase the question gently to avoid any conversational sand traps.

Ask Wendy a question -- any question --- by clicking here.

06/12/02: Anti-Semites everywhere!; no need for marriage
06/06/02: Sacrifice my happiness or my family's?; bad call on 'friend'
05/30/02: Attending my ex-mother-in-law's funeral; in search of forgiveness
05/21/02: Danger and duty; host of issues; desperately seeking surgery
03/20/02: Multiples for mom; partners and martyrs; I'm a gentile --- should I explore Judaism's spiritual side?
03/07/02: Disabled child taught family love, patience and compassion
02/15/02: Sisterhood on the line; Time to cross Ts on ex?
02/04/02: Clueless convert-in-training; loyal to a wife who walked out?
01/25/02: The new 'Jewish question'; unfaithful oldsters; gambling on our family's future
01/18/02: Should son invite mom to bar mitzvah - against dad's wishes?; pay-off time?; 'my son is blackmailing me'
01/10/02: Hard to move on; separation anxiety
01/04/02: Salvaging a sister; mother knows best?
12/27/01: Paying for somebody else's charity; Down(s) and out?
12/21/01: 'Brownie points' for the Creator; I love my husband, but not his family; open-door policy needs to be closed sometimes
12/05/01: 'I celebrate Chanukah you insensitive anti-Semite!'; idealism v. responsibility; stolen gifts
11/27/01: Doubts or reservations one may have about reaching out to friends and strangers alike who are in need: From the mail bag
11/16/01: Tripping out; tactics for tactlessness; Am I a hypocrite?
11/01/01: My co-religionists are proselytizing me; tragedy intruder?; meddling mama?
10/19/01: Outside world hits home; money and mommies
10/12/01: Vacation separation; Risk present for past?
09/20/01: Secular servants; Time to tie purse strings?; dog breath --- literally!
09/07/01: Too much Torah?; Name-dropping rabbi turns off worshippers
08/30/01: Jewish 'godparents'?; summer homework
08/02/01: Have wife, won't travel; 'dis' --- as in 'distant'
07/26/01: Grandparents not invited to bar mitzvah; what to do about older sister's foul mouth; nuptial narcissism
07/19/01: Bad mannered, uncouth ethnics; lookin' for love
07/05/01: Faithless Rabbi; my wife won't let me retire; I'm in relationship limbo
06/21/01: New customs for assimilated Jews?; the business of friendship; aunty is a bad role model
06/13/01: Our friends have become political traitors; Is it love?
06/06/01: 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?'
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'


© 2002, Wendy Belzberg