Frumgirl 1: Going With the Flow

“Hey Frumgirl1!” calls the long island girl in her halter top and yoga pants, “come take a look at this!” On her Mac, she points to a fairly sedate dress available at a well-known retailer’s website. “What do you think of this for Yom Kippur?” she asks.

“It’s nice,” I tell her.

What I don’t tell her is monumental. I don’t tell that even though she considers herself Jewish and does more traditionally Jewish things than your standard non-Orthodox Jew, according to Orthodoxy she isn’t Jewish at all. Yes, her father is. Means less than the stacker and scraper shidduch inquiries, since her mother isn’t.

But I’d never tell her that. I keep mum and it bothers me. I suppose that if she wants to be considered Jewish by the resident frummie contingent, I’m happy to oblige.

She’s so proud of her identity as a Jew.

Published in: on October 6, 2008 at 2:36 PM  Comments (18)  

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  1. ouch. I’m always scared that something like that will happen to me and I’ll have to pretend that i care about this person’s interest in Judaism when really i don’t because they’re not Jewish

  2. Probably better than the “I’m not Jewish, but my mother is.”

  3. Wow, I can’t believe you guys, FrumCollegeGirl and Bad4Shidduchim (and I follow your blog, too)!
    Are you kidding me?! The girl is obviously trying. You’re saying you don’t want to run into someone like that because of a technicality? That’s rich. She wants to be part of it; like myself, I might add. That’s kind of selfish, too. What, you only hang out with observant people like yourself? I don’t know where you are, but here in the U.S. there are people from everywhere: Jews, non-Jews, White, Black, etc. And have you heard the stats lately? Most people like she and I are products of inter-marriage. We’re trying. Albeit, I’m more conservative than she, but would you rather people like us try to be involved in it, or some random twenty something’s who’s mothers ARE Jewish but who NO interest in the religion whatsoever?
    Give us some credit, sheesh! If that’s how you’re going to think of things, halacha vs. non-halacha compared to trying in the first place vs. not wanting to get involved at all, I feel sorry for you if that’s how you view things. Feel free to message me or write if you’d like to continue this.

  4. my neighbor married a non jewish girl, and now they have 2 kids… a while ago when his 1st son was born, for some reason we got in a conversation about messiah (aka meshiach) and i think i might have said something along the lines of how we dont know who messiah is and it can be anyone— so he asked me if his son could be messiah. i was like ummmm wellll yea sure i guess. i was not going to be the one to burst his bubble!

  5. I never really thought of asking if their mother was Jewish, I always took for granted that they knew their mother has to be Jewish in order for them to be.

    I had a 52 year old Jewish woman in pants, from one of my classes tell me that she was going to be the one to stand by the doors of her temple to great people and show them the way to their seats by Yom Kippur, and she was so proud of it. I had a good talk with her, and I remember her being impressed with me, I don’t remember why. But I do remember that she said her mother was paying for her college tuition, that I found funny, considering her age. She looked so much younger, I was surprised when she told me her age.

  6. Bleh. I tell it how it is. I have a college friend who thinks he is Jewish because his father is. And I told him that it is not the case.

    He relied that he didn’t care. “If the people in Russia will still think I’m Jewish when it comes to antisemitic attacks, then I am still Jewish”

    I let it be after that. What can you say? How can you answer that?

  7. I echo the comment above- ouch.
    Although, who knows? Maybe the fact that she wants to be recognized as Jewish may lead her to becoming halachikly Jewish one day also?

  8. By the way- not being pedantic, just thought I prob. should point it out- “Fumgirl” might be missing an R.

  9. I know firsthand how uncomfortable this could be. I was president of the on-campus Jewish club in college and when it came minyan time on Erev Shabbat, there were plenty of times that I had to explain the rules of Jewishness so to speak.

    However, at the time, I consulted the local Av Beit Din, a very well respected Rav in his own right(his father had Semicha from the Hofetz Haim). He told me(and I have since learned this in my own studies to be a Dayan) that while normally we discourage conversion, in the case of someone whose father is Jewish and who feels a definite connection with Judaism, we have a mitzvah to convert them, and to make the path as easy as possible.

    I know the path of honesty can be tough, and frightening but I think it is the best one. Something like, “Wow, I am really glad you feel such a draw and connection to Judaism, unfortunately, no fault of your own, a large percentage of the Jewish world doesn’t consider you Jewish, including the state of Israel. If you’d like to rectify that let me know maybe I can help.” Ok, so that sounds awkward, but that or something like it has worked greatly for me in the past. Two people I have known from college converted, and now one of my wife’s friends is going through the process.

    Just a thought.

  10. Whoa: Humanitiesgirl: I think you’re taking this the wrong way. I don’t think frumgirl discriminates (much) between Jewish and non-Jewish in terms of who she associate with (though she probably has an obvious preference for frum). She was just opening a conversation on how awkward it can get when people don’t know if they’re Jewish.

    And it can. I actually had a conversation in which I explained to a guy that if he marries a Caribbean Indian his children won’t be Jewish and no, she can’t convert just for marriage, and tough, that’s how it works.
    I prefer straight-talking about things like that.

  11. …I always felt bad for the neighbor’s kids down the block. All through Pesach they’d sit on their porch eating crackers and wondering when Pesach would be over. And their mother is Italian. What a waste of mesiras nefesh. 😀

  12. To be fair, you should also note that in America, the largest branch of Judaism would consider them Jewish. If you add in the secular/unaffiliated Jews to that total, I believe you go from a plurality of American Jews to an outright majority.

  13. This is Judaism, it’s not a democracy, we’re not ‘modern,’ if you don’t fully follow the Torah, I can assure you that the Orthodox will not kill you, but don’t expect them to recognize what you do as right.

  14. Saying “Orthodox Jews will not consider you to be Jewish” is accurate.

    Saying “A large section of the Jewish population won’t consider you to be Jewish” is accurate, but misleading, since the majority in America will.

  15. Oooh, been there. In my class first semester there was a Christopher Abrahams. Could have even been a distant cousin.

    When I was on a plane recently, I heard two college kids talking on their way back to their college, one had taken Birthright over the summer and he was talking to his friend about whether she should do the same.

    Him: “Well I had no problem applying because my mom is Jewish, so looks like half-Jews are alright”

    Her: “Well my dads Jewish but my mom isnt, so I guess I’m the same. Israel should be cool and its a free vacation.”

  16. And in fact, Birthright Israel will accept anyone 18-26 who is recognized by one of the major recognized Jewish Denominations (so Reform conversion is fine), or who has a Jewish parent (either parent) and has not adopted another faith.

  17. Gosh, this was a bit disappointing. With respect, the Orthodox do not alone define Judaism. She may not be Jewish like you but she IS Jewish, Jews come in all shapes and we are all greater for it. I am Jewish, even though the Orthodox wouldn’t agree but the truth is I don’t really care how the Orthodox view me, the arrogance is too much for me. You are bothered that you kept mum?? It is her business only how she feels and kudos to her for identifying as a Jew AND being proud of it, it is absolutely not your place to shove your own religious notions down her throat.

  18. Just browsing through these old blog posts and noticed that the last commenter wrote “With respect, the Orthodox do not alone define Judaism.”
    To which I would like to respond that Orthodox people don’t define anything at all. God does. It just happens to be that only Orthodox people hold strictly by the word of God.
    This type of thinking that “She is Jewish if she identifies that way”
    is so silly.
    Can I be a dog if I choose to identify that way?
    Dogs also come in many shapes and sizes.
    What if I claim to be a Catholic but I don’t accept J as my lord and savior, refuse baptism, and don’t confess or eat communion?
    Would anyone take me seriously? Could I say that the Pope is an arrogant Catholic and who is HE to tell me what a Catholic is.

    Such narishkeit.

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