Halloween And Empathy

by GemsFromJen under JBloggers,Judaism

It’s that time of year again. It is in the air, Halloween.  A few weeks ago, while visiting my parents, I asked each one of them what Halloween was like for them as children.  Their answers were completely different than what I had conjured up in my own mind about each of their childhoods.

My mother was raised as a Conservative Jew. Her father was very observant and did not believe in putting any time and/or energy into holidays that were not strictly Jewish. My mother who grew up in New York City wasn’t allowed to trick-or-treat. She never dressed up, felt the excitement all day at school, or got to look forward to the chocolate bar before bed on Halloween night.

 My father was raised as a Reform Jew and was able to partake in trick-or treating. I always imagine his early years as Leave it to Beaver. He had an older brother, a working father, and a mother who seemed to be able to fix any problem in 22 minutes or less. His Halloween night was spent in costume going door to door collecting money for Unicef. Again, no chocolate bar before hitting the pillow for the night. But, what a concept; spending an evening with friends doing something for someone else. How many of us really, truly do that?

I grew up waiting for the one night of the year to collect as much candy as possible.  My brother and I would compete to see who could get more. It is not easy to admit, but at times I’m still like this. Putting my needs, even if they are just a hankering for a good old-fashioned chocolate bar before someone else’s.

If for just a few minutes a day we were to all do something kind for someone else I believe this world would be a much happier, kinder and gentler place. Think about this next time you go on a date.  Put yourself in the other person’s shoes for just a few moments. If you feel nervous imagine how the other person must feel. It takes a lot of effort to date and to put oneself out there. It makes us vulnerable which can be a scary place to be. Be kind with your dates. Honesty, integrity and helping someone feel more at ease are all signs of great character.  Make these attributes part of who you are and treat people in a manner that you would like to be treated. In essence, collect for Unicef on Halloween night, instead of going out there for as much candy as you can get your hands on. You still get the pleasure of trick-or-treating without gaining an ounce, and you did something good for someone else.  I imagine if we all took the time to do this all of our dates would have much happier endings.

Statistics and Judaism

by GemsFromJen under JBloggers,Judaism,Relationships

Dear Gems from Jen,

I am Conservative both in my Jewish faith and my politics. Why is it that 90% of Jewish women are liberal or left wing? These women will not even SPEAK to a Conservative man. I find it hard to believe that being Conservative makes me a pariah. What’s the deal?

Dear Steve,
My first question to you is, who gave you these percentages? I’m not so sure you are looking at all of the possibilities. Are you willing to give a woman who is not as conservative as you in both faith and politics are fair chance? Many relationships have, and do work when one partner holds a different belief system than the other.
I believe it opens up the possibility of healthy debates and learning to become more tolerant of other people’s belief systems. I once dated a guy who was much more religious than I, and we spent a great deal of time learning to listen to each other and focusing on what we did have in common.
I do understand that beliefs create passion and can at times cause disagreements, if not full-blown arguments, but I’d much rather date someone that I can have an intelligent debate with, rather than dating someone who shares everything I believe.  Where’s the adventure in that?
There are many women, by the way, that are both Conservative in their politics and faith. You are by no means a pariah.  Don’t let what you believe to be fact become ingrained in your thought process. Just because you believe that 90% of Jewish women are liberal and would never date a guy who is Conservative does not make it true.
I have a very dear friend who was raised in a Conservative home. She ended up marrying a Reform Jew and they have made it work. She continues to attend her Conservative synagogue and the two of them have made a home together that encompasses both of their belief systems. The moral of the story is they respect one another and allow each other to be themselves.
Gems from Jen