Upon hearing that my wife and I are splitting up, and that I might possibly someday want to consider going back to school to become a Rabbi. She said, “K will always be apart of our family, because you loved her and because we love her.” I know Grandma. I love her too, we just can’t be together. She said “Of course you can be a Rabbi, this is not such a crazy idea.”
So we talk. Then last night a few hours after our lunch, she sends me two emails, with one link in each email, no other text the first one is this:
and the second one is this:
Now, I don’t know if my grandmother ever knew that I thought for a time I might be trans, or if she just knows Queer Judaism are as intertwined into my soul as anything. She’s not one for big heart-to-hearts but she is my liberal southern Grandma and I love her with all my heart.
Wife and I went on our now ritual Sunday night date to see “The Other Son.” It was beautifully done. A switched at birth Israeli/Palestinian. Really made us think about what makes a person who they are? What would happen if one day you find out that due to some tragic accident you are who you were raised to fear and to hate? Who are you without the culture you were raised in? Because that does shape us doesn’t it? Whether we agree with our parents choices our family, our culture defines how we think about the world in some very serious ways.
If you have watched the movie, what did you think? If you haven’t, is there a movie that you feel changed your perception or made you analyze your life differently?
I think I’ve come to realize that for Jewish families the only thing important is that you remain Jewish and remain a family. Little else can shock the family. For instance, when I came out to my father, who is studying to be a Rabbi, we were sitting in the driveway of his house, the Jeep Grand Cherokee probably still running, or maybe turned off in the middle of an awkward sentence like we do when we suddenly realize this may be a longer conversation that originally planned. You see I hadn’t planned on telling him I was gay, actually I don’t think I did. I think I had just finished telling him that the guy he really wanted me to spend the rest of my life with was actually no longer my boyfriend because I really actually had a crush on this girl with pink streaks in her hair and that I was confused and that it might be possible that I might be gay… And this is what he told me after a long pause “Honey I will always love you no matter what but I think I would rather you marry a Jewish woman than a non-Jewish man.” Of course it is years later and I happen to have met and fell in love with a non-religious definitely not Jewish woman and again my father and I had to have a conversation which went something like this… I really really love her Papa and I think she may be the one… “Is she Jewish?” Well no, but she supports me and loves me. “Oh… Would she be willing to convert?” Well actually Papa I have no interest in asking her to convert she is spiritual and participates in Jewish ritual with me and loves learning…. This conversation was not actually one conversation but many over the space of at least a year and will probably continue to take place especially because he will be performing the ceremony but the next part of the conversation, months later, after I proposed, went something like this: “You know I love the home that you and Kacie have created together, you’re really good together. Will you raise your children Jewish at least? Can you promise me that?” And I told him that we would, but that it would be our version of Judaism, because he always told me to question authority, to argue with God and to find my own meaning in Jewish teachings.
And if you’re reading this you may think, well that is just your story, why are you insinuating that’s everyone else’s experience? Well of course I am not trying to do any such thing but it seems to be a popular theme. I’m currently reading Aaron Raz Link’s book “What Becomes You” and I just finished reading the section in which he tells the very first family member, his cousin, that his name is now Aaron and at first the cousin thinks that Aaron meant Erin as in Irish or Catholic or something and he freaks out, but then reason that it’s A a r o n, sighs with relief and understanding and says, well as long as you’re still Jewish.
It’s all about our Jewish identity and passing along the Jewish story to the next generation that matters. Who you are, who you love, even having tattoos, can all be forgiven as long as you remember the people who came before you and the Jewish story, remember that you are Jewish even if it’s not a religious practice for you anymore, it’s your culture, your history, your people.
I get to go see Ivan Coyote tonight in Seattle!!!!!!!!!!!! I have been watching YouTube videos of Ivan’s performances for the past two years, buying every book Ivan’s written or been apart of for the past year at least and ridiculously excited to finally be living just below Canada so all I have to do is drive the hour north to Seattle to see tonight’s show!!! Unfortunately my fiance has a meeting tonight so she can’t join me but maybe next time.
Day 10 – What does marriage mean to you?
Obviously I recently got engaged so marriage is important to me, but I grew up the product of divorced parents and have seen many marriages come together and end in divorce and eventually people find who they’re really looking for, or they don’t. Marriage for me, is about making a commitment to another person, that we are going to enter into this beautiful loving union together and we’re going to try are damnedest to stay together for our whole lives. We both know that it doesn’t always work out that way, but we’re promising that we will try. That we will remember what we love each other and hopefully, in the end, that outweighs any faults we may have. Marriage should come with some guaranteed rights and benefits and responsibilities but I think I’ve ranted enough about that in other blogs. I was going to link to one that was published on http://thenewcivilrightsmovement.com/ but I can’t find it, it was in March I believe…
Day 6: Did you face any problems with Religion?
Not from my family. My father is studying to be a Rabbi so he was more concerned that the person I end up with be Jewish, rather than their gender. I used to like to tell the story that when I was struggling with my sexuality and talking to my father about it, he told me that he’d rather me marry a Jewish woman than a non-Jewish man. Of course my fiance is from a Christian background and considers herself non-religious, more a spiritual person. For me, it doesn’t matter that she’s not religious as long as she supports me and honors me as I honor her, and frankly she goes above and beyond. She supports me, she’s interested, and she always wants to know more. My father, I think, has come to live with this, and definitely likes her. For me, continuing my spiritual journey is about arguing with God when I don’t agree, or don’t understand a passage or law. I think that something we absolutely must take into consideration for any religion is that the texts were written by people, people with flaws, and translated thousands upon thousands of times to finally end up in your hands. There are Rabbis who argued over every passage and continue to argue through generations and generations. “What did God mean by this?” or “Well, this worked for our people then because of this, but it’s no longer valid for our population now because of that….” Of course, if you know a Jew, the argument would be months, or even years long, not one sentence, but I think you get the idea.
There is ONE singular sentence in the whole Torah that refers to gay people… if it even does… It simply says that a man cannot lay with a man as he lays with a woman. I believe, as do many Rabbis, that this was written for the same reasons that it was said that a man should not masturbate, it would be wasting valuable sperm, when the goal of a society was to continue the species, continue the family line. Now we have methods of creating family that can include to fathers or two mothers or one mother or grandparents or what have you… The Modern Family can have a much different makeup.