An Exchange of Letters With My Daughter

In preparing to move my newly married daughter out of the house I found two letters that we had exchanged a few years ago. The letters were written in the summer of 2001 while Elisheva, between eighth and ninth grades at the time, was away at camp in the Catskill Mountains and are reprinted below with her permission.

Dear Mommy & Abba,

I don’t really know how to start this letter but I guess I’ll try. Approximately a month ago before camp I came to two decisions. They were made on my own; no one put me up to it. It was something I needed to do for myself. I guess I’ll get right to the point. The first thing I decided is that I won’t wear slits anymore. As of now I don’t have any slitted skirts, so I just won’t buy any with slits. The second thing is (to get right to the point) I don’t want to go to the movie theatre anymore. The last few times I went I just sort of cringe and feel like this is not where I belong. I hope you respect and approve these decisions. I don’t expect you to go out of your way for me, for example on Chol Hamoed. I’ll be fine, I’ll go to a friend or whatever. I really love and admire both of you.

Much Love,

Elisheva

*******

Dear Elisheva,

First of all, Happy Birthday! Wow, you’re 14. It’s hard to believe. Seems like yesterday you were clutching your “pillow”. Oh wait, it was yesterday. (he he)

Regarding your letter to us. Not only do we respect and approve of your decision, but we are very proud of you. As parents we can plant the seeds and nurture the growth of your Yiddishkeit, but we don’t know it has taken root until you begin to grow on your own.

As Baalei Teshuva mommy and I both know how important it is to be able to come to observance on one’s own. Before any of you were born we joked how it would be nice if we could raise our children non-frum so they could become Baalei Teshuva on their own.

The truth is though, a Baal Teshuva is not just someone who goes from eating at McDonald’s to eating at KD [Kosher Delight]. Everyone, no matter how “frum”, can and should be a Baal Teshuva.

Some parents worry when their children become “frummer”. We know that you are a very level-headed person who can tell the difference between true growth in Yiddishkeit and a lot of the “Shtus” out there that people pretend is being “frum”. You also know that Frumkeit is not just on the outside, but also the type of person you are and how you represent Yiddishkeit to other Jews and even non-Jews.

We look forward to watching your continued growth into a true Bas Torah.

Love,

Abba & Mommy

49 comments on “An Exchange of Letters With My Daughter

  1. After reading more of JT’s comments, I have to say, that if I experienced what she did, there is a large likelihood that I wouldn’t be frum today. In fact I left my hometown at 18 for a WASPy New England college due to over-bearing JAPpiness, never wanting anything to do with Jews again cuz’ that’s what I thought Judaism was.

    However, JT, we BTs met people like Rabbi Ronnie Greenwald et al on our paths to becoming frum. If you are shown the Torah in its pure state, by people of his ilk, minus all the shtus and inexcusable poor middos perpetrated by certain schools/communities/leaders, you become….one of us, enthusiastic, naive, BTs!

    Actually, we’re not so naive, but many of us have managed to put together a life in our communities where the sort of hurtful behavior JT described is absent, or minimized. Ergo, our inability to understand why you still want out.

    We still see the “pure” Torah, and as it is practiced in our communities, by people like R Greenwald, as precious, and something to treasure. And, when we witness poor behavior by our schools or someone else, we attribute it not to Torah judaism, but to their being boors. I don’t think we see ourselves as better, we just appreciate Torah living cuz’ we were denied it during our lives. It wasn’t shoved down our throats, cloaked in anti-Torah behavior messages.

  2. “Basically all sects of judaism think they are perfect and gds gift to judaism.Its obvious that its a “im soooo better than everyone” thing cuz otherwise how would anyone choose stuff.”

    I think I’m far from perfect, and certainly not “better than everyone.” I do, however, believe that G-d has a specific job/path in mind for each person, and I’ve found mine. This is the path that fits me perfectly, and that’s how I chose it. (You can think of it as “resonating” with me, or as just “feeling obviously right,” but either way, it is “me” specific.) Yours may be different, but that doesn’t make either way wrong or better. It’s better for *me* but might not be the perfect way for you.

    Is the grocer “better” than the mailman? No, but each has his job to do, and if the grocer tried to deliver the mail he wouldn’t get paid for it because it’s not his job. Likewise, the mailman doesn’t belong behind the counter measuring out your produce for you. They may be both capable of doing the other’s job, but that doesn’t mean they should.

    Is my favorite color “better” than yours? The world would be a pretty boring place if everyone was forced to wear the same color because someone decided it was “better” for everyone that way, and even if it was your favorite color, you’d grow bored with it pretty quickly. The world needs variety for all of us to thrive… to some extent, yes, so we can compare ourselves to others to make sure our way still fits us, but certainly not to force our beliefs on others or even just lord it over everyone else.

    And as a side note, I’m sorry to hear about all the communities that aren’t getting it right… but we should work on fixing them instead of turning our backs and saying, well, if that’s the way it is here, than all religious communities are like that and I want nothing to do with it. (Keeping in mind that Public School is also like that in the NY Metro area at least, so it might actually have nothing to do with religion at all!)

  3. You’re only proving Bob’s point, Jaded. You say if you went to public school you’d be a happy Jewess, but you didn’t, so you won’t be? Talk about not getting past it!

    It’s between you and God, JT, and there’s no need to interpose the mean ol’ principal and those nasty snobby girls with a superior attitude from the rich families. (I mean, you never experience those things in public school!) You need never go back to the Bais Whatever Reunion. So why do you keep doing it?

  4. Ora, thanks for your points. The school administrators and higher uppity ups are just as warped as the values they force feed the students /congregants and other schools of spiritually hungry fish. Religious schools are not the only schools with snobbery issues.Basically all sects of judaism think they are perfect and gds gift to judaism.Its obvious that its a “im soooo better than everyone” thing cuz otherwise how would anyone choose stuff.How about I choose all paths from Reform to Revisionist Brisk and everything in between and start a whole new community. I know plenty of friends that would join.

    Bob Miller- I get your sandwich message board points but ive recently discovered hardly anything has changed over the years and the holier than thou just keep getting holier.
    The thought of trying to apply to any one of the kid schools in my (temp) area is just giving me a headache.What if I have to one day?
    I listen to friends trying to get their kids into PreschooL !!!!!! You would think its Harvard, Princeton and Columbia.
    Is that a good enough “moving on” messaging sign ?
    Actually it would be kind of fun to stand in midtown wearing the sandwich board with “move on” on one side and “go on, move along” on the other in sparkly pink letters.Maybe I could hand out fliers for “Move On and Along linear seminars by Rabbi Bob Miller.Please visit the beyondbt shabbaton for more details.No mind too small no question too heavy.

    Menachem and Steve – Sternberg really is a great camp and any of my obnoxious perspectives on “religious” should in no way be applied/allocated to Sternberg.The director Rabbi Ronnie Greenwald is one of my favorite examples of unadulterated altruism.(others include Rabbi Dovid Schwartz/David Linn/Mark Frankel/Rabbi Eli Gewirtz/Rabbi Goldson and Rabbi Yona from Jewlicious).

    Charnie, If I would have gone to public school, I would probally love being religious right now .And would be emailing my father about how his love for judaism is as inspiring as the lilac bushes blooming outside my window, the pretty tulip patches in midtown parks and the pefect little rooster egg I found in the trampled purple pansy patch . (My little niece offered to catch a bird to sit on the thing .Shes also a perfect example of thoughtfuness and shes adorable)
    Oh and most important no tuition worries and temporary admission cards.
    One year the administrater actually rounded up all the students with no admission cards and gave us little “tell your father to pay pep talks”. Really great subtle techniques there money people.
    Anyway,I always liked depth /meaning and hard core neuroscience concepts and probally would eventually have done some jewish inquiring on my own.My points were the schools/and guys everyone calls leaders have nothing to offer other than myopic viewpoints and contradicting connotations and the occasional pricey tution bill or segula blessing.Its becoming way harder to see through the spiritual mess , or even understand why we do stuff or why the hyperfocus on the mundane and other related issues.The whole jewish school and community thing is just one big headache excedrin cant fix. There are some really good people as i’ve previously mentioned but they are few and far between.

  5. Sorry to shove the train back to JT’s thoughts (#35-36). Remember the one about “the grass is always greener”. belive me, the snob city you may have experienced is not exclusive to religious schools of any denomination. the PS I attended had as many Jewish girls as any BY, that was the demographic of the neighborhood. And the cliques began in kindergarten, and went all the way through HS. There’s a reason that Tina Fey made the movie “Mean Girls”. Because there are and always will be in varying degrees, mean girls, bullying boys, etc. But most of us are pretty decent. Should religious girls be learning middos in the morning and practicing snobbery in the evening? Of course not, but don’t let a few bad apples ruin it for you.

  6. Menachem-That’s what my daughter mentioned to me when I mentioned the letters. She also was a long term veteran of that wonderful camp as a camper and counsellor. I think that she may have met either of your daughters during her years at Sternberg.

  7. Interesting direction this thread has taken.

    I understand JT’s concerns and I share them to some extent. However, it’s vitally important to realize that one’s kids will likely not follow exactly in the same hashkafic footsteps. As Ora pointed out, there is a lot of legitimate variance within orthodox Judaism and one needs to be grateful when their children remain under the “big” tent. That doesn’t mean you can’t challenge their decisions. I think respectful challenge helps to keep them moderate and allows them to fully explore their choices.

    So with all of the range of observances in orthodox Judaism I don’t see wearing slitless skirts or not going to movies (which didn’t do all that often anyway) as earth-shattering changes.

    And it’s never a bad idea to use your kids’ wide-eyed variations as a catalyst for you to evaluate where you are currently holding. That doesn’t mean you necessarily have to change, but it’s kind of a like a free internal audit as someone raised with your values takes stock of the process.

  8. I’m not negating the problem. But what is added by allowing it to consume oneself?

  9. Bob–I don’t think anyone’s talking about “a bad school experience,” as in, some girls at the high school were mean. It’s a “bad school experience” due to the warped values and downright meanness of the school administration, which is backed by the parents and often by the entire community. It’s hard to just “move on” when the problems are everywhere. Especially as bad experiences in school tend to turn into bad shidduch option, a bad reputation, etc, and students are often unable to move on without leaving the community.

    If there’s a sign saying “damaged goods,” it’s forced onto perfectly normal teens by the adults in the community.

    I’m not talking about all schools and all communities, of course, but this was the experience reported by four friends who went to branches of hareidi girls school X. I don’t know any students who liked the school in order to compare stories, but that’s to be expected b/c I’m not hareidi.

  10. It’s best to learn whatever practical lessons can be learned from a bad school experience and move on, and not walk through life wearing a sandwich board saying “damaged goods”.

    Right now some people really are better and some really are worse. Our job, though, is to focus on improving ourselves after first recognizing where we can improve.

  11. Jaded–as for #36, I don’t believe that everyone is right. I believe that halacha has certain boundaries that all Torah-believing rabbis of our day agree on, or if not all, then 99%. However, I also think that everyone has their own path, and that there’s a lot of flexibility within halacha.

    As an example, I think that tight jeans are outside the bounds of halachically acceptible attire, and that hair covering is at least rabinically mandated for married women. However: 1. that doesn’t make me better than those who wear the tight pants/ short skirt/ free hair/ etc. 2. that still leaves anything from loose pants and a cute little symbolic handkerchief on the head to the recently-traditional opaque stockings, black skirt, “six hear coverings” look. Anything in those bounds is acceptable, whether or not I agree that I personally should be following it. I’m usually somewhere in the middle.

    I have no idea which leaders are smarter or right. As an ashkenazi, I follow the leaders who sound most in line with my thinking, and switch leaders if need be.

    Are there any real leaders? Were there ever? We’ve had amazing leaders and talmidei chochamim and all that, but ultimately no one is infallible, and all we can do is approach life with a genuine desire to connect with Hashem and keep his Torah, and hope/pray that we aren’t led astray (by others or by ourselves)(plus humility, we desperately need that). I have a feeling it’s always been like that, not just today.

  12. Jaded–your response #35 was well-written and easy to understand. Thanks for having pity on an easily confused mere mortal such as myself and going light on the metaphors.

    As for snobby schools, I didn’t attend one (not that my public school didn’t have its share of problems what with the open drug dealing, (unmarried) teen pregnancies, etc). But I’ve heard several horror stories about snobby schools, especially from one particular chain of hareidi girls’ schools in NYC. It was actually very humbling to hear about my friends’ experience in Girls School X, because I realized “wow, with everything I gave up to be religious–for her to stay religious after all that is so much more impressive.”

    I do think these problems can be blamed on human nature, and not on religion per se, although religious groups should be doing much more to fight such ugly phenomena. Humility is something to strive for, and does not come naturally to most of us.

  13. Ora,
    I forgot my point ,
    Do you really believe that the differing opinions in judaism are based on sanctimonious and supercilious free perspectives/ facts and conclusions.
    How did you pick your specific ideologies and path.
    Do you really think everyone is right.
    From those that wear tight jeans to those that wear frum skirts.
    From those that wear six head coverings to those that wear no head covering.
    How does one pick stuff.
    How do you know which leaders are smarter or right.
    Are there any real leaders nowadays .
    k im done with points .

  14. Ora,
    Ok a little background, my old high school should be renamed Sara’s Superciliously Sanctimonious School For Sincerely Snobby Spiritual Souls.(Belle, you wanna teach there so others shouldnt color their perspectives with the wrong colors ).

    Dont get me wrong some of my oldest best friends are from that high school.
    But really, I will never forget the holier than thou attitude of alot of those fellow classmates.
    They really thought they were G-ds gift to judaism.
    Me and my friends still joke about it these days, but really its not something that should be joked about.
    Its still the default definition of “frum””religious” no matter where and how far I run or how often I delete the backup files.
    The schools havent changed though it seems.
    I just had this conversation with a brilliant/ popular 12 year old kid who had just switched to a similar school (her parents got frummier over the years).
    Shes like “they are so snobby but the thing is they are a bunch of dim nerds who have nothing to be snobby about” I felt sooo bad for the kid .And there was nothing I could do except listen and hope she doesnt judge judaism based on her classmates.
    Sometimes it seems that the different religious jewish schools could almost be different religions.
    There is a difference between “difference in beliefs” and believing your beliefs are superior and smarter. Oh and way more pure.
    Whatever.

  15. Jaded–I know what sanctimonious means. I still don’t understand how your comment allows for differences of opinion without automatically labeling them as somehow condescending and wrong.

    Also, I don’t understand the problem with 6-year-olds asking about chalav Israel. If their discussions don’t revolve around criticizing all those who don’t keep chalav Israel, what’s the big deal? I remember talking about a lot of things as a kid, things I’d picked up from surrounding adults and really had no semi-well-researched opinion on. IMO that’s just a kid thing.

  16. “do you dont or I dont you do” discussions are sowing the seeds of rampant sanctimoniousism and other supercilious related isms”

    Or perhaps, they sow the seeds of respecting differences.

    As a parent, I occassionally point out differences, to instill a healthy perspective and promote appreciation for the variations within Klal Yisrael.

  17. Belle,
    I dont need draw on my long deleted jewish education years to color my perspectives on religious schools and the whole im frummier than you thing nowadays.(I’m pretty adept with the color thing).
    And I have nieces and nephews that are religious.
    How would explain 2007 six year olds having discussions on “cholov yisroel”.
    Some things just never change.
    And for the rest of us there are no answers.
    Looking around at the plethora of religious kid schools in my area, I cant even fathom the thought of applying to any of them.
    You should hear some of the interview conversation content friends have experienced in 2007 not “when I was a kid”…..

  18. s/b JT above. Sorry, JY, if you exist.

    My typo explosion today proves I need Shaabos rest.

  19. Ora,
    I meant sanctimonious as in the “hypocritically pious or devout”
    When discussions in pre-schools with six year ,revolve around “cholov yisroel” , this and related “I do you dont or I dont you do” discussions are sowing the seeds of rampant sanctimoniousism and other supercilious related isms.
    How is global “love” for everyone ever goin to be anything more than a pipe dream.
    And supercilious as in- “coolly and patronizingly haughty ” any which way you sprinkle it.

    Charnie, I’m way beyond the “cool but frum” ideologies but appreciate the sentiment.

    Gershon, Optimistic Opal just doesnt work for me. Dont get me wrong, I love roses and soooo many other flowers especially zinnias.But before I begin this season’s growth planting, I need to remove the weeds that have taken up shop and figure out how to avoid the weeds.And yeah I know I should also be careful not to mistaken flowers for weeds.

    Ron, LOL “informative” indeed.

    Belle- I always step (read runnnnn) over lines, I dont believe in lines.I do believe in promoting sensitivity though………….

    Miriam P, I’m glad you found that perfect community.

    David Linn- LOL – I only spelled it wrong once if you look closely again, I actually spelled it right the second time around in the same comment #10 .I’m pretty quick with the teshuva thing for spelling sins.
    And I think I did that comment on my blackberry so I get pardon points for smaller keyboard.

    Bob Miller – LOL, looove that slogan #23(even though it does have condescending connotations;-)

  20. This might shock RDS, but I joined the US Army ROTC in 1966, was commissioned in 1970, and spent some time in the reserves (Ordnance Corps) after grad school.

  21. David,

    Am I correct that you meant “As you were” in the military sense, meaning “go back to what you were doing” ?

  22. Hey, I could actually follow Jaded Topaz’s posts on this thread. She usually loses me with the first line. (Jaded, you must be slipping! ;-))

    I had to take exception to this bit, though: “but supercilious snobbery and condescending connotations are the energy that thrive in religious schools /groupings mostly.”

    I respectfully disagree. I know you made an exception for Elisheva, but I haven’t found this statement to be generally true at all. Maybe it’s just that I hang out outside of NYC, but I grew up on LI, where the public school kids (and yes, I went to public school) certainly could teach you a thing about “supercilious snobbery and condescending connotations” so I think I’d recognize it if it were present, but I’ve found it neither among the Orthodox group I fell in with in college, most of whom were from the NY metro area, nor in the New England community I lived in after, nor in my present community.

    The energy that thrives, actually, is one of achdus, of ahavas yisroel, of embracing each other regardless of our differing levels of observance. If those NY metro area Orthodox College students had turned up their noses at me because I arrived ignorant of many of the Laws of Shabbos and wearing pants and short sleeves, I might not be Orthodox today (in my long skirts, opaque tights, long sleeves and completely covered hair!). But they didn’t, as in turn I don’t to my “more modern than I am” friends and neighbors here in my current community.

    I’m sure it’s not like that everywhere (although it should be) but it’s no more as you described everywhere either.

  23. I think Jaded has stepped over the line, seeing negativity where it just doesn’t exist, giving lip service to the fact that this particular girl is a good girl. I don’t doubt Jaded had some very negative experiences in Jewish schools which has colored her view of religious society, but to categorically say that, “There is no way to pretend a persons stricter observance in any given relationship is not sanctimoneous and supercilious in spirit any which way you word it,” is to assert something that is just not true, in many of our experiences. It reflects more on Jaded’s insecurity and inability to relate to religious growth than it does of other people’s inner state.

    Certainly it is not true here, and the point of the post is to give an example of a thriving father/daughter relationship for us all to emulate; to show how religiously sincere BTs can and do raise growth-oriented, stable and mature children; and to show a positive way of developing religiously WITHOUT being sanctimonious and condescending, and certainly without sacrificing family relationships.

    I can’t see anything at all negative in this post, and the fact that Jaded chimed in with the “…but this is the exception… religious people really are bad” stuff really bothers me.

  24. I’m surprised that the house isn’t seeing the positive and constructive aspects of Jaded’s comments here. She sometimes works a little too hard, perhaps, to give us that trademark style and weighs down her message in the process, but I have a feeling her own experience as a Jewish daughter may be informative.

  25. Oy, Jaded… you’re so… Jaded :-(

    It’s true it’s not always roses. Our community, and the world of kiruv, has its warts. But when good things happen, let’s all look at them in a positive light and see what went right and why. That would be a path of growth.

    Your approach seems to be, “Don’t look at this rosy picture, there’s plenty of parental botch-ups out there.” I don’t think that very helpful, even if it’s true.

    I just don’t understand why you choose this approach other than to say you are Jaded. But that still doesn’t help anyone, including you, does it?

  26. Elisheva, one more thing,
    I think your are soooo making the wrong subtextual and connotative assumptions.
    The fact that you would have such strong discipline initiatives when u were just a kid is awesome.And your father is brilliant with the communication thing.And apparently its quite the happily ever after.
    But not everyone is Menachem or Elisheva which is why their stuff doesnt get posted for all to opine about or pine for. Or just plain worry that their kid is goin to try stuff they will have the wrong answers.

  27. Èlisheva, you obviously did not read this part of my comment “I’m obviously not referring to the exception to the rule daughter in this particular post”.I was merely ópining in general ànd pondering how I would feel should I receive that sort of letter if I were the mother in the story.

  28. JT – you said “I was thinking about stuff over here in Conservative Candy’s day Camp for Cuties and I really dont always want to shop at Hollister,Abercrombie and Urban Outfitters, I just feel more comfortable shopping at “Shprintzza’s Fashions” and “Aidel Kneidal Outerwear” like the new next door 60 family community kids do (I could so see that happening in the ferris wheel of life ).”

    Just want to reassure you that a young lady (such as yourself, I presume), can shop in all the “cool” shops and still walk out looking tznius. I have a daughter who hates the idea of shopping on the “frum strip” because she doesn’t want to wear what everyone else is wearing. Instead, she’s developed her own, very tznius style. It may not fly in Holy Holy Boro Park, but we deliberately don’t live there.

  29. Jaded–You are a BT, right? (I’ m just assuming because of your presence on this site). How could you say “a persons stricter observance in any given relationship is … sanctimoneous and supercilious”?? Can’t you imagine any reality in which, say, a child might want to keep kosher without being “sanctimoneous” towards their non-frum parent?

    If you think any difference in beliefs is automatically sanctimoneous, then we’re all guilty of condescension. I don’t know anyone who doesn’t disagree with their friends/relatives/whoever on some important issue, and of course everyone in their heart believes themselves to be right. Honestly, I think you could call the less-religious partner sanctimoneous just as easily. Chances are good that on some level they see the other persons stricter observance as unnecessary, strictly external “shtus,” etc.

    BTW there are also plenty of times when two people disagree and they both think they are the one with stricter observance. In which case I guess they’re guilty of simultaneous supercilious snobbery, which is fun to say.

  30. I believe I’ve kept quiet long enough. I guess I should start by introducing myself- My name is Elisheva Storch nee- Lipkin. I am the “daughter of the post”. When my father asked my permission to post this letter, my initial reaction was “I’m not sure that I want such a personal interchange to be posted for all to see”. When I gave it a little more thought I came to the conclusion that if it would inspire other people, then I could get over my petty insecurities regarding my immature, 14 year old grammar mistakes, and agree. I’ve been reading the comments regularly since this was posted and until now I just swallowed my pride. But this last post by JT really threw me.

    “When pasted out of context ,that piece especially last tidbit sounds patronizingly platonic with subtextual undertones and covert connotations of early family disconnect.”

    I would like to inform you that the exact opposite is true. Although you might think that I don’t remember much about what went into writing this letter as it was some years back (not too many as I’m quite young ;)) I remember every aspect clear as day. The one thing which I agonized over before sending this letter was the fact that our family is SO family oriented (yes, we had family dinners every night and weren’t permitted to answer the phone- which is something that my husband and I strictly adhere to today) that I didn’t want to be the cause of ANY seperation. But I also knew that the respect for one another in our family ran so deep that we would work around it. Which is exactly the case.

    I would also like to add that I have kept the original copy of my parents letter all these years, and quite honestly it has helped me get to where I am today- B’h married to a Ben Torah who is learning full time in Kollel.

    Ok abba, now YOU can comment ;)!

  31. “I don’t expect you to go out of your way for me, for example on Chol Hamoed. I’ll be fine, I’ll go to a friend or whatever. I really love and admire both of you”.

    When pasted out of context ,that piece especially last tidbit sounds patronizingly platonic with subtextual undertones and covert connotations of early family disconnect.

    I’m obviously not referring to the exception to the rule daughter in this particular post, but supercelious snobbery and condescending connotations are the energy that thrive in religious schools /groupings mostly.

    There is no way to pretend a persons stricter observance in any given relationship is not sanctimoneous and supercilious in spirit any which way you word it.Generally speaking.

  32. I don’t expect you to go out of your way for me, for example on Chol Hamoed. I’ll be fine, I’ll go to a friend or whatever. I really love and admire both of you.

    I thought this was a beautiful line and I believe shows a high level of maturity and a balance between taking on a different level of ritual observance while maintaining just as high of a level of kavod for parents. Beautiful!

  33. Ron, if i ever run into “Mommy can you buy me an “ebony bekeshe” for school” issues I’ll refer them to you for likelihood of confusion therapy.

    David, I always knew there was a reason why I wasnt married w/children yet.
    My little niece wanted to know if I only eat cholov yisroel. I thought that was hilarious. But where does she even pick up these concepts from? Her school is a pretty mixed crowd.She knows more halacha and parsha than me and shes really little.

  34. David, I would opine that the “general” pining for frum attire and self imposed unfrummy activity restrictions is just frum flavored peer pressure at its finest.
    There are exceptions to all opinings and the “daughter” in the post is probally one of them.
    It would be hard to know the difference between fine frum peer pressure and spiritual soul tripping, especially with younger kids.Is it healthy for young kids to be on spiritual roadtrips. I guess it depends how young.
    With my luck, I’ll have to confront issues like Mommy I want long cute curly sidelocks like berel or Mommy I think im gonna pass on that Great Adventures seasons pass, i’d rather spend it in the religious book store for bitterly poor writing.
    I hope I never run into this kind of conundrum thing though.
    I’m not sure what I would do.

  35. Jaded’s letter is funny, though, not only because she meant it to be so, but also because it reminds me of long-ago conversations with people — maybe my parents? — who would ask me, “Well, if your kids decide not to be religious, just as you decided to be religious, you’d given them the same love and support and toleration your parents gave you, right?”

    I said, of course I will always love my children (though of course I try to remember what R’ Joseph Schwab told us at Kol Yaakov, which was that his father OBM R’ Shimon Schwab would always remind them, “But I love Hashem more!” — a very tough standard!) but you cannot compare the situations. My upbringing was based on fundamental values of “goodness” and “Jewishness” but was rather light on the content. My children are being brought up with very specific religious values and sensibilities, and while they are not necessarily inconsistent with what I was taught, the opposite is not true. I largely “rebelled” against “nothing,” in terms of meaningful religious commitment of any sort; the case you posit would be the exact opposite — not the exact analogue.

    Get it, Jaded? ;-)

  36. What great letters! Once again, we see that open communication leads to greater respect and midos in both parents and their children as well as an enhanced appreciation of Torah Avodah and Gmilus Chasadim. BTW, Menachem-which camp did your daughter attend?

  37. JT,
    You said:
    “I would be like honey, when your old enough to subsidize and understand your frum clothing phase then you can shop wherever your heart and soul desires.”

    Two points:

    1. Pulling that “as long as you live under my roof and I’m paying for your existence” thing has, imho, been the cause of more rebeliousness than almost any other parenting technique.

    2. I think that Menachem and his wife DID feel that their daughter understood what she was deciding when they wrote:

    “We know that you are a very level-headed person who can tell the difference between true growth in Yiddishkeit and a lot of the “Shtus” out there that people pretend is being “frum”.

  38. Wow ure really an understanding father. I’m not sure how understanding I would be, if the kid I eventually have decided one day to write me letters like “Dear mommy I was thinking about stuff over here in Conservative Candy’s day Camp for Cuties and I really dont always want to shop at Hollister,Abercrombie and Urban Outfitters, I just feel more comfortable shopping at “Shprintzza’s Fashions” and “Aidel Kneidal Outerwear” like the new next door 60 family community kids do (I could so see that happening in the ferris wheel of life ).
    I would be like honey, when your old enough to subsidize and understand your frum clothing phase then you can shop wherever your heart and soul desires.For now we may just have to move again for more colorful openminded pastures.Daddy, do you agree? (The Daddy will of course obviously agree by default husbands always agree with their wives decisions).

  39. “You also know that Frumkeit is not just on the outside…”

    I think that was a critical part of your letter. This morning I was saying the Shelah’s prayer for children (today is a particularly good day to say this prayer which can be found in hebrew and english here ) and I came across this part where we we ask that our children serve Hashem “with an inner love and reverence, not merely outwardly”.

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  1. […] The Beyond BT Melava Malka in Eretz Yisroel is scheduled for THIS MOETZAE SHABBOS,May 26th from 9:00-11:30 in Beit Shemesh at the home of Beyond BT contributor Menachem Lipkin.(I believe his daughter will be there as well, so you can ask all of the questions you want about their letters ;) ) For location details and directions, please e-mail msl at lipkinfamily-dot-com. […]