The Nachas of a BT Parent

By Esti

As a BT, and a BT woman who always liked to sing, I’m a bit frustrated. Of course the outlets for women singers (not that I was ever a professional but I’ve been told I have a perfectly trainable voice) are few and far between. So I’ve resigned myself to singing in my home, for my children. I sing some nice tunes I’ve heard for Modeh Ani and make up new words for songs I know to motivate my kids to get out of bed, get dressed, hold my hand while crossing the street, bring me something on the other side of the room, and various other daily living activities. My 5 year old is constantly mesmerized by the fact that I know so many different songs. I’m sure my old friends would be cringing at the latest household lyrics I’ve written to various Beatles tunes, etc., and my daughter always wants to know where I learned the latest song. “I heard it as a kid” I just tell her, knowing that someday it will become obvious to her that I didn’t grow up like her listening to the best of Uncle Moishe and Mordechai Ben David.

My daughter’s music teacher just called to thank me, and my daughter, for providing her the funniest teaching moment of her 2007-08 school year. Morah Miri is trying to teach the kindergarten all about sukkot through some new songs she’s written. She says to the group, “I’m going to play a tune on the piano, and if you know the tune, tell me what it is.” She begins to play, “Take Me Out To the Ballgame.” My daughter raises her hand. “You know this tune?”

Shira Leah nods.

M: “What tune is it?”

SL: “Take Me Out of the Bathtub.”

M: “Take Me Out of the Bathtub? Who sings that?”

SL: “My mother!”

Now, I’m sure I’m not the only mother who sings funny songs to get their kids moving when they need to. I think its much more effective and fun for everyone than screaming. I admit I’ve done my share of that too. I also do my 5 minute increment count-down to carpool, starting from when they wake up, encouraging them to be dressed and downstairs in plenty of time so they can “Have Breakfast Like a Mensch”. There is nothing more rewarding to a mom than have kids whining “Imma, I need your help getting dressed because I want to have breakfast like a mensch!” They know this means sitting at the table properly having their cereal and milk and warm drink or cold milk. And, of course, fighting over who got more wheat germ on their cereal.

But what to tell our kids about where we got these songs? Or do we not bother telling them? I’m so plagued by the truth that I feel a little dishonest in not giving full disclosure. “Imma used to listen to the secular radio and had record albums (ok we’ll have to explain that) of these music stars, but we don’t listen to them anymore because their messages aren’t for a bas Yisroel, Imma just didn’t know any better at the time.” Not quite. Ideas, anyone?

Originally Posted 11/14/2007

37 comments on “The Nachas of a BT Parent

  1. Hi Esti,
    Just received this “golden oldie” from BBT (pun definitely intended!).
    You sound like a practical, sensitive, balanced woman.
    Your creativity is to be admired; you are my kind of Mom!!
    Most of us BTs survived the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s with our morality intact. I believe that what we may have done in our past is part of who we are and makes us stronger and more committed Jews than even perhaps those who are FFB. After all, we made the choice to lead a Torah life with all the effort and sacrifices that entails.
    I think that people should “chill out”, be who you are and be proud of your achievements.
    My kids are grown now, but trust me, the fact that “Oldies” are Mom’s music makes it that less appealing to our children. My 31 year old sings along with me because Oldies Radio was part of her childhood, whereas my younger children just roll their eyes when I sing (off key!)

    Your singing to keep the mood light reminds me of something I used to do with my kids. I would hand them a “formal invitation” requesting “the honor of their presence” when it was time to clean house. We all had a good laugh and to this day, my kids look back fondly on all of the fun we had cleaning house (even for Pesach).

    And, BTW, since 2007 when this was first posted, VINYL IS COMING BACK! Everything old is new again!
    Enjoy your children!!

  2. >the beat and spirit in which they’re offered

    Can you elaborate on what you mean by that.

  3. This discussion is very interesting. Why is Uncle Moishy “dreck”? Everyone has their preferences in music. I happen to like Uncle Moishy, besides the kids. When I was little, I couldn’t stand the “Frank Sinatra” my grandparents listened to, nor the Beatles my parents listened to.

    We had an interesting discussion this weekend about “Puff the Magic Dragon”, a song I have loved since youth, and it seems my teenage daughter has heard some other meaning behind the song than I ever thought of. Who really knows, and for that matter, the topic of who really cares, came up as well. Will anyone ever know for sure? Does it matter?

    There is power in music. Power for spiritual good and the opposite. I have seen it at work, on both ends. And powerful it is. I have seen people struggle to break out of the trap of getting caught in the web of unhealthy music, for lack of better description. Music that does not help us grow in good ways. Music that drives us to the dark side. I have also seen beautiful motivating music, being played and sung by those with pure intentions, and it is contagious and stirs people in good ways of growth and self reflection.

    Just another point made earlier about Rabbis imposing views. When I was getting married, I was encouraged by Rabbis to have mixed seating. It was absolutely my husband and I who wanted everything separate. We were most comfortable that way and that is what we decided to do. And a good time was had by all.

  4. M,
    Thanks for being dan l’chaf zchus. Just for the record, I don’t limit my kids to Uncle Moishe, it just seems that’s what they prefer and constantly want to play. I try to vary things, but HELP! Like Albany Jew up north, I keep finding myself humming Uncle Moishe and can’t get the kids to broaden their horizons much. I admit I drove them 60+ miles each way to an Uncle Moishe concert recently. They’re still talking about it!

  5. I appreciate the comments, all of them, and the spirit that people are devoting to thinking about different issues as they affect them in these blogs. For the curious, as David said, I did come to not listen to secular music (as I define it) through my own choices, not any Rav’s guidance, it just sort of happened over time. We’re very affected by music, and even where the lyrics seem inoffensive, the beat and spirit in which they’re offered is sometimes suggestive and not in the spirit of the goals we aspire to spiritually. If we find classical music (which could be considered secular) or certain types of outside-the-Jewish-spectrum music acceptable for us, I say great, listen to it! I’ll admit I walked down to Pachelbel’s Canon played on a violin at my Orthodox wedding. I’ll also admit I had separate and mixed seating at my wedding, to accomodate those who preferred the different types of seating (family, coworkers, chassidim, etc) and had a mechitza between mixed seating and men’s seating so nobody was offended by anyone else’s seating arrangement. I think as BTs we can do our best to help others, BTs, FFBs, non-religious Jews, see the beauty in Yiddishkeit. Since we’ve seen both sides, and continually, daily, make our choices to live our lives as we do, we can and must, in a certain sense, meld our lives to acknowledge where we came from and where we seek to go. I’m not saying everyone has to give up all secular music, I was merely pointing out that we’ll all have to make our choices and then communicate well with our children and those around us affected by our choices. I don’t shun the outside world, I live outside of NY and its extremely hard, not to mention in my circumstances undesirable, to be completely cut off from the world around us. I LIKE living outside NY (we moved 3+ years ago from NY for job reasons) since I find our community to be more tolerant of different opinions (which I believe to be healthy) and more open to growth in personal and spiritual goals without the scorn or keeping-up-with-the-Cohens attitude found in some large frum communities.

    I don’t take offense at the comments people offer in the spirit of true discussion to offer ideas and make people think. I also don’t think it necessary to castigate others’ opinions by name-calling and harsh terms. I think this website was started by some nice guys who meant to create dialogue among fellow Jews who have lots of opinions on how to navigate the practical world while still seeking the spiritual goals that led us to begin our search in the first place. I think comments and opinions should be offered in the light of helping each other reach our goals through healthy discussion. This includes people disagreeing, of course, but there is such a thing as respectful disagreement.

    And I don’t mean to present my “dilemma” as the biggest of the year, I apologize if anyone got that impression. Halevai (it should only just be!) this is the worst, most pressing dilemma I face! I have a pretty good idea that it won’t be, nor am I so naiive as to think that it is.

    I suppose I should have weighed in earlier in the comments to clarify some of my comments before they were extrapolated on, I didn’t check my e-mail or website for a while.

    I’m not banning secular music. I do approve of trying to encourage, through modeling, your children’s choices of what is good for them. Everyone is different, and everyone can make their own choices based on their circumstances. Let’s just keep our goals in sight and try to work towards them.

  6. Charnie–
    “And I’m glad I appreciated her talent, as opposed to freaking out over her usage of a ’70’s disco song as a background for a video.”

    No one here has said anything against the use of secular tunes in a positive context.

  7. Dave–
    “Perhaps you read about the various clothing stores in Israel which have been torched?”

    If you don’t have evidence that Esti was involved in those crimes I don’t see why you would use “Taliban” to describe HER opinions.

    Also, on what basis do you say that hareidi rabbis would support these acts if they were able to?

    “Haredi Judaism (of which the ban on secular music is a product) has much more in common with Islamic fundamentalism than you might care to acknowledge.”

    You don’t know me or what I “care to acknowledge” or not. The fact that I don’t automatically jump on anyone who avoid secular music, secular books, or the Internet doesn’t mean I support throwing bleach or stoning cars.

    I live in Israel, and I’ve seen hareidi extremism up close and personal. I’ve also seen that the extremism is limited to two or three particular neighborhoods in Jerusalem, Beit Shemesh, and Bnei Brak, and that at least 95% of the hareidi world does not do such things. Referring to all hareidi philosophy as “Taliban” is ridiculous.

  8. Charnie, I know virtually nothing of what you’re talking about, I’m happy to say, but the fact that some people dressed like haredim — and perhaps whose neighbors and family think they are haredim — are willing to do utterly inappropriate things even in front of a video camera is certainly not a kosher seal of approval of that conduct, is it?

    “My Humps”?!

  9. Dave’s referring to (#27) the Charedi “Bleach Patrol”, which my daughter, who’s in her seminary year, was privy to. Not only was bleached tossed at women’s clothing that was deemed “too colorful”, but also a frum clothing store in the Geulah was torched for selling an item with sequins.

    I’ve never heard the actual “My Humps”, and definitely don’t care for today’s rap and hiphop, but I know that David Lavon, who did the well known Lecha video (you can google it) also did a video where the Chassidim are dancing to My Humps. And then there’s the famous “Lecha Disco”, which my daughter created. And I’m glad I appreciated her talent, as opposed to freaking out over her usage of a ’70’s disco song as a background for a video.

  10. Ora,

    Wrong, wrong, and wrong again.

    My initial response to Esti was a reasonable opinion offered in response to ideas she posted on a blog. It was also, I believe, reasonably polite.

    You know perfectly well what I meant by “Taliban.” The fact that rabbis who assur secular music don’t stone transgressors has much more to do with the fact that they can’t. Perhaps you read about the various clothing stores in Israel which have been torched? Haredi Judaism (of which the ban on secular music is a product) has much more in common with Islamic fundamentalism than you might care to acknowledge.

    And, yes, good music is a bit less subjective than you think. The difference between Mozart and Cop Killer is no more a matter of taste than the difference between the Torah and those novels with Fabio on the cover.

  11. Dave–

    “Well, Esti brought it up, didn’t she?”

    No, she didn’t. She didn’t ask “what do you all think of listening to secular music,” she said (basically) “I used to do something that my family doesn’t do–how do I explain that?” Where do you see her asking us to second-guess her parenting?

    “Frankly, that’s just a bit too Taliban for my tastes.”

    “Taliban” would be if she decided that nobody anywhere can listen to secular music, and then went around bombing CD stores and beheading singers. I think the term you were looking for was “personal opinion.”

    “As to “Red Light Special” or “My Humps,” Good Lord, Ora, what have you been listening to? I’ve never even heard of those songs, and am not endorsing playing them for kids or anybody else. Remember– I said “good” music.”

    The two songs I mentioned were both extremely popular. If you haven’t even heard of them, fine. That doesn’t mean that the average person who listens to secular music hasn’t heard of them. I’m sure 99% of high school and college kids in the states would know what I mean.

    “Good” music is not an objective term. Some like “Moonlight Sonata,” others like “Cop Killer.” “Cop Killer” is, in fact, much more popular in this generation. Who are you to say that it’s not “good music”?

    “Now, regarding your comments to me, please explain why it’s OK for someone to write an article endorsing a rule that limits children’s musical experiences to dreck like “Uncle Moishy” but not OK for me to disagree in writing?”

    I don’t see her endorsing her particular hashkafa to the exclusion of alternative views on music. It’s clear she feels a certain way about secular music, but she isn’t asking the rest of us to agree with her. Rather, she’s asking for advice on a dilemma that almost all parents face–we did things as kids that we don’t want our kids to do. Do we tell them the whole story, and if so, when and how?

  12. Dave said:
    I agree that you could find a “plethora of innuendo” in some secular music. But you could also find lots of positive and beautiful things, couldn’t you?

    Yes, and I do.

    Having never, ever had a Rabbi or any other frum Jew advise me to discard or disparage secular music, I’m wondering if Esti, too, came to her personal decision on her own (sans Taliban” influence)

    Approximately a year and a half ago there was an interesting comment thread on the post “Am I getting into the Groove?”

    If you read through that thread, you will see that different BTs have made different decisions regarding “secular” music.

  13. David:

    I’m not particularly thin-skinned; I just have a very low threshold when it comes to dealing with nonsense. And yes, I agree that you could find a “plethora of innuendo” in some secular music. But you could also find lots of positive and beautiful things, couldn’t you? So, for that reason, I think that simply saying “secular” = “unacceptable” is (at best) throwing the baby out with the bath water.

    Further, although you are correct that Esti never attributed this silly business to a rabbi, she didn’t have to. Most BTs (indeed, most Orthodox Jews in general) do not simply invent their own chumras, and I’ll venture an educated guess that Esti is no different in this regard. Some rabbi with a high level of piety and fairly limited aesthetic sensibilities probably told her that secular music was bad. Regrettably, she believed him.


    You are correct, Esti did not write an article endorsing Taliban-like restrictions on music. She merely indicated that those restrictions appeared to be in force in her family, and that she felt some shame and confusion about admitting to her children that she had once listened to ordinary music.

    Although I do not much sympathize, my response to Esti contained no breaches of “etiquette.” The Taliban issue came up in response to Ora’s remark that I was being “a bit presumtuous” [sic] in offering an opinion which I understood Esti to have solicited.

    And, if you came to me to ask for advice on how to explain to your children that your relatives still engage in mixed dancing, I’d recommend that you be honest with them.

    If, on the other hand, you came to me asking for ways to deal with your shame at the fact that you were once just like your (and my) relatives, and suggested that the matter should be hidden from your children, yes, you might find my response a bit brusque.


    Good response!

  14. And it’s imperative that they learn that all Jews are not the same. Even within our “own world”. See the Artscroll discussion for an example. I’ve also gone through the “are you sure grandma was Jewish…” thing. Humor is great, and so is telling a child who’s old enough to understand that their (whomever) never had the chance to learn about Mitzvahs.

  15. Esti,

    Your song example sounds great. My kids respond well to singing. (When ever they clean up they sing the clean up song from their pre-school). If you ever write (errr… type) your songs down, could you let us know where to find them? My kids hate to get out of the bathtub, so “Take me out of the Bathtub” sounds like a great way to motivate them. I sing them various kids stuff (fortunately they are not yet at the stage where they realize I’m a horrible singer), but would love to learn more.

    My kids (2 & 4) already know that I wasn’t always keeping kosher, wearing a kippah, observing Shabbos, etc. They know because my parents still don’t. But we explained to them that daddy became more religious. Our immediate family (mommy daddy, the kids) observe the mitzvots, etc. They were fine with it. For a few days they thought that maybe grandma and grandpa weren’t Jewish, but another explaination, and they accepted that not all Jews were the same.

  16. Ora-Our reception was mixed seating and this still remains common today. In the past there was mixed seating at the chuppah, which I haven’t seen recently (although, I have seen mixed standing at smaller, lower key weddings with outdoor chuppahs).

  17. It’s almost inevitable I’d jump in on this discussion, isn’t it.

    For the record, having separate seating at weddings is a chumrah that has overtaken most mainstream Orthodox simchas in the past 15 or so years. Those of us who’ve “been around” since the 80’s can certainly site couples who actually met at weddings! If one chooses to have mixed seating, fine, and vica versa. But there’s absolutely no reason to apologize for either. I’ve heard numerous times that Rav Moshe Feinstein zt”l had mixed seating at his own children’s weddings.

    Now, about that music. Esti, you sound like a great, creative mom! Eventually (sooner then you realize), your kids are going to look through photo albums, find pics of you from “before”, and ask questions, if they haven’t already. You have so much to be proud of that you’re on this derech, and when you convey this to your children, they’ll appreciate it too. There are too many children today, both from BT and FFB families, who when they hit their teens, suddenly become very curious about all the things that were ussered. If we’ve been fortunate to have kids on the right derech, they won’t be destroyed by the Beatles, and a lot of the references will even go right over their heads, unless we point out the bad stuff by saying “this song (referring to Lucy in the Sky) is about LSD”. It’s very unlikely they’d pick that up on their own. And they should be able to understand a song like I Wanna Hold Your Hand may not apply to us, but just like the non-Jewish world doesn’t eat kosher food, they’re also not shomer negiah. And if holding hands was the worst they did, this wouldn’t be a bad world!

  18. Re: “Well, Esti brought it up, didn’t she? So it strikes me as fair game.” and “please explain why it’s OK for someone to write an article endorsing a rule that limits children’s musical experiences to dreck like “Uncle Moishy””

    I think there might have been a bit of misunderstanding here.

    Esti did not write an article endorsing “Taliban-like” regulations on the religious world, or assertions regarding how others should view secular music.

    She discussed a personal situation involving her family. I’m not sure that a post (this was a post, not a fire and brimstone article) regarding a personal situation and inviting advice and guidance regarding a specific dilemma is fair game for judgment calls on her specific spiritual views on music, or how she raises her family. Despite the opinion stating nature of blogs (three-quarters of blogging, as David Linn says), there are, or should be, certain parameters of etiquette, just as there are in face-to-face dialogue.

    If I met you and asked for your advice on how to explain to my children why their relatives have mixed dancing at parties, would you brusquely take me to task for my restrictive views on mixed dancing?

    Esti’s theme was exactly this:

    “But what to tell our kids about where we got these songs?”

  19. David, if my comment offended you, I apologize. I assumed that your skin was thicker. If I was wrong, again, I apologize. I hope you can also find it in your heart to excuse my spelling errors, especially when I pump out the majority of my stuff on a blackberry. (Hey, I didn’t jump on you for using a noun as an adjective). Besides, all of this is simply a distraction. I’m interested in hearing, should you care to share, your viewpoint on what I previously stated regarding secular lyrics.

    Finally, (for this comment at least) regarding your Taliban comment and follow-up explanation, Esti never mentioned whether she was encouraged to remove secular music from her life or whether it was her own choice. That certainly makes a difference whether her position should be considered “Taliban”, doesn’t it?

  20. In this corner…naive!
    In this corner…Taliban!

    Which expression should a normal person take to be offensive?

  21. David:

    First, with all due respect, if you intend to object to the labels I choose for someone’s ideas, then it’s probably a bad idea (and certainly bad spelling) to suggest that my ideas are “naieve.”

    Second, I did not (and certainly would not) suggest that Esti (or anyone) abandon parental responsibility for the music available to children. My objection is to the apparent dismissal of all so-called “secular” music as inherently inappropriate. There is a wide gulf between: 1) being selective about what children listen to; and 2) simply lumping everything from “Moonlight Sonata” to “Cop Killer” into the category of “secular” music and ruling it out.

    Finally, “Taliban” was not a word that I chose lightly. Banning all music that lacks an appropriate hashkafa is exactly what the Taliban did. Moreover, your claim that these ideas are “not being advocated for others” is simply incorrect; both of us know that the idea in question did not originate with Esti, but was pushed on her by some rabbi, who most certainly does advocate, and even insists on, the idea for others.

  22. A few comments on secular music (and the note that I don’t listen very much if at all these days):

    my FFB husband grew up with the Beatles, Chicago, the Eagles, . . ‘good’ old ’60s and ’60s stuff. While I can understand not playing it for your children, I don’t think you need to apologize for it.

    Also – as far as the tunes – a friend got me hooked on Gershon Veroba’s “Variations” and “Impressions” albums; Jewish lyrics to secular tunes, very well done, and he’s got a great voice. If you don’t mind having double sets of lyrics going through *your* head, my kids (who never heard the originals) enjoy some of these immensely.

    In terms of ‘apologizing’ in general, it isn’t your fault that you didn’t grow up frum, and, as I explain to my kids when they ask about extended family, the previous generation didn’t either. They didn’t have the opportunity to know any better, and it’s hard to learn and absorb when you don’t grow up with it. B”H, I was lucky. And I tell my kids that they are too; my brother’s kids are being raised with Jewish tradition, but not – for example – Shabbos. Because he wasn’t in the same places and experiences that I was, and he doesn’t really understand, regardless of being *told* about light switches and driving and . . . you get the point.

    I don’t want them looking down on my family as anything less than Jews who didn’t have the same opportunities and understanding that we do.

  23. Dave,

    I personally have no problem with someone, such as yourself, disagreeing with someone who publishes their opinion. That’s three-quarters of blogging! To a certain extent, I happen to agree with some of your points here.

    On the other hand (you knew that was coming, didn’t you?), I think the point that lyrics in “good music” do not present clear issues for children (frum or not) is naieve. You or I could easily find overt sexual references, illicit or illegal activity, and a plethora of many, if not most, of what we might agree is “good music” (unless we’re talking jazz or classical music).

    While we’re on the discussion of words (lyrics, really), I think the use of the word “taliban” to describe someone’s personal preferences, especially when they are not being advocated for others, and certainly not being forced on others, serves no purpose other than to ridicule the writer and shock others. If that wasn’t your intention, I apologize. But, then, what was your intention?

  24. Dave,

    I think Ora just said it was a bit presumptuous, not that you couldn’t do it. “Good” music is subjective and not necessarily the same as “rated G” music for 5 year olds. As I said before many of us first think of the Beatles as harmless but some of the songs are pretty suggestive, don’t you think? (beyond “I want to hold your hand”) I know because I have already fielded the questions that involved an understanding that I didn’t want to impart at this early stage.

  25. Ora:

    “If for whatever reason she’s decided that secular music is not appropriate, who are we to judge?”

    Well, Esti brought it up, didn’t she? So it strikes me as fair game. Further, she referred to “secular radio” in such a way as to imply that simply calling music “secular” (e.g., Eine Kleine Nachtmusik, When You Wish Upon a Star, Yellow Submarine, etc.) is sufficient grounds to rule it out for Jewish ears. Frankly, that’s just a bit too Taliban for my tastes.

    As to specific music in question, Esti did mention the Beatles. I suppose songs like “I Want to Hold Your Hand” might require a little explanation from a shomer negia perspective, but let’s not go nuts!

    As to “Red Light Special” or “My Humps,” Good Lord, Ora, what have you been listening to? I’ve never even heard of those songs, and am not endorsing playing them for kids or anybody else. Remember– I said “good” music.

    Now, regarding your comments to me, please explain why it’s OK for someone to write an article endorsing a rule that limits children’s musical experiences to dreck like “Uncle Moishy” but not OK for me to disagree in writing?

  26. Mordche–Maybe because certain secular songs have always been “permeated by filth.” It might be worse now, but the songs of the 60s and 70s were hardly innocent and pure.

    Tzirel Chana + Sephardi Lady–Plenty of weddings are mixed seating now. My husband and I had three sections–single religious guys, single religious girls, and mixed for families + secular friends (chuppah was mixed standing). I’ve seen it done like that at many weddings in the religious community here in Israel. Tzirel, why not just tell your kids “I used to hold by a different psak”?

    Given that she didn’t say what exact music she used to listen to or what the family’s life is
    like now, this:
    “The only idea I have is that you might enjoy listening to secular music again, and you should probably give it a try; if it’s good music, you should play it for your children, too. It’s really not going to hurt you or them.”
    seems a bit presumtuous. She’s not necessarily talking about “twinkle twinkle little star,” she could be talking about songs like “red light special” or “my humps” (which nobody, anywhere, ever, should listen to. Ever). She knows her kids, their school, their neighborhood, and what’s most appropriate. If for whatever reason she’s decided that secular music is not appropriate, who are we to judge?

    I don’t think “I heard it as a kid” is at all dishonest. That used to be my parents’ explanation for their music, and they weren’t at all worried about explaining their past. IMO first you need to come to terms with it and stop feeling “plagued by the truth.” Once you feel OK with your past (after all, Hashem chose you to be born into a certain setting, and it sounds like you did wonderfully), I think it will be much easier to come up with a 100% honest and natural explanation for your kids.

  27. I am not sure about your dilemma, but I wanted to say that these stories are hilarious. I had a good laugh! You should have a lot of nachas from your kids.

    I think you probably shouldn’t worry so much about the songs. The kindergarten teacher obviously knows “Take me out to the ballgame” also. I grew up without a tv and didn’t much listen to radio, and I recognized it too. When your kids get older, they’ll understand.

  28. My wedding was mixed seating, at least for dinner i don’t think it was at the huppah (but I could be wrong, the whole day was kind of a blur). When I mentioned to my rabbi that we were having trouble finding a hall that would let us have mixed seating and a wedding of 120 people he saw no problem at all with mixed seating.

    I also have no problem listening to secular music. And I think hiding the fact that I’m a BT and my family is not frum would be silly. (I get along really well with my secular family)

  29. For me the issue came up on Friday night when I hauled out my wedding album and my eight year old noticed that the seating had been mixed. “I just didn’t know any better at the time,” I said shame facedly. (and I had an orthodox wedding!)

    I see no reason to be ashamed. Plenty of Orthodox Weddings were mixed seating at the time. Only about 10 years ago I was at an outdoor chuppah with somewhat “mixed standing.”

  30. Good post Esti!

    This can certainly be an issue even with what we thought was the most innocuous music. Who wants to explain to a six year old what “I’d love to turn you on” from the Beatles “A Day in the Life” means (and believe me she will ask) I still have the guilty pleasure of listing to my old albums, but I try to do it after the kids go to bed. On the other hand, I also find myself singing Uncle Moshe tunes when I am by myself. I don’t think full disclosure is necessary unless they ask. I can think of a lot of things I did that I don’t plan on telling the kids.

  31. There are plenty of secular songs (old & new) that are not “filthy”, but I know what you mean.

    Esti, you should not try to hide your previous musical tastes. I think being up front is the best way….if you try to go around the truth, you won’t feel comfortable, and the kids might realize that down the road. I don’t know if I’d state what you said in your closing comment in that way, but you have the gist of it.

    As for wedding albums of Orthodox weddings with mixed seating, you should not have to apologize for what was done in the past, if you are against it now. What was, was, what is now, is now.


  32. Esti:

    “But what to tell our kids about where we got these songs?”

    I’ve heard the originial lyrics to “Take me Out to the Ball Game.” I’m not clear on why it would be harmful for a child to hear them. Peanuts (assuming your kids have no allergies) are not harmful, and Cracker Jack has a hekscher.

    I assume you’re not talking about doing a Britney Spears or Madonna routine for the kinder, but are you really all that traumatized by the notion of playing for them the music you listened to (and still like) yourself? Why? What’s the harm?

    The only idea I have is that you might enjoy listening to secular music again, and you should probably give it a try; if it’s good music, you should play it for your children, too. It’s really not going to hurt you or them.

    Turning everything that doesn’t happen to be Jewish into forbidden fruit will only backfire on you, unless you happen to live in a completely isolated community like Mea Sharim (and even then it’s no guarantee).

    As to record players, I wouldn’t worry; in all probability, your children will never be exposed to them. Heck, it’s been years since I’ve seen a functional one.

  33. Hi Esti
    Cute piece. I can feel for you. That’s a real dilema, whether and how to conceal our past, the people we once were.
    For me the issue came up on Friday night when I hauled out my wedding album and my eight year old noticed that the seating had been mixed. “I just didn’t know any better at the time,” I said shame facedly. (and I had an orthodox wedding!)
    These questions are tricky, sensitive and in my opinion spoken about too little. Thank you for opening discussion on this subject.

  34. Why don’t you just explain to them that “in the old days” secular songs were not permeated by filth ?

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