An open letter to moms & dads of marriageable-age children

Just like you couldn’t force-feed us our vegetables - you can't instill a Jew-only dating rule until we're ready - shoving it down our throats, turns us off the idea.

May 7, 2010 16:52
4 minute read.
You can't force-feed us marriage.

Dating caricature 311. (photo credit: Pepe Fainburg)


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Dear All,

It’s your fault we’re still single. You want to be grandparents so badly that you’ve pressured us into marrying a Jew at any cost. If you’re wondering why some of us are well into our thirties with no serious significant other in sight, it’s because of you. While we were growing up, you guilt-tripped us by telling us the Jewish population would die out if we did not marry another Jew, to be fruitful and multiply. You solicited Bubbe, the Rabbi and a Holocaust survivor to tell us that marrying outside our faith would be akin to finishing Hitler’s work. You offered to pay for trips to Israel, to finance the memberships of Jewish fraternities or sororities, to buy us tickets for local Jewish events.

You pointed out every single Jew who crossed our path, every Jew in a magazine or on TV or in a movie, every Jew who was single at synagogue in September. You cut out the Jewish wedding announcements from The New York Times and read aloud the names of the bridesmaids and groomsmen.

You created – some of you secretly – and paid for a J*Date account on our behalf, and then emailed us the membership numbers of the ones you thought we’d like. You joined Facebook and asked about every person tagged in our photos.

And yet you’re still surprised we date outside the faith or are still single?

Then, when we did bring a Yid home, you pummeled them with questions about who their family was, what community they grew up in, what temple they belonged to, and how often they attended. You mapped the family tree of someone whose last name wasn’t Jewish-sounding enough, and then exclaimed triumphantly when you discovered that their great-great-grandfather came from the same shtetl as our ancestors. You started asking other nosy questions: How serious is it? What’s the next step? When are you planning to settle down? Where do you want to get married?

You even suggested that it would be okay to procreate out of wedlock in order to produce grandchildren sooner than later!

When we dated outside the faith, you said it was just a “phase” you hoped we would grow out of soon. Those of you with daughters would exclaim that you were comforted by the fact that at least your grandchildren would be born Jewish. Those of you with sons would cry and ask God why you were being punished.

You would hint to our significant others about conversion, sometimes asking outright if they would give up their faith for another. Would they be interested in becoming one of the Chosen People?

What you didn’t realize was that dating is about a journey of self-discovery, and that although some of us may take a long and winding road, many of us will end up right back where you wanted us: under a huppa. But… some of us won’t.

Anyway, a spouse being Jewish doesn’t guarantee you’ll like him or her, or that the marriage will be successful! Is Jewishness really all that matters to you? Would you have adhered to the same strict rules set forth by your parents, or would you have rebelled?

Many of us dated our Jewish classmates during high school and then stepped out during college for some time after, as we were inundated and tempted by a larger dating pool.

But give us time. When ultimately looking for our beshert, most of us made our way back into the Jewish arena, signing up for J*Date and attending Jewish events all on our own.

Just like you couldn’t force-feed us our vegetables, we need to decide when we’re ready to eat broccoli – or instill a Jew-only dating rule – and by shoving it down our throats you only turn us off the idea, even if we agree.

The best thing about having Jewish parents is that we know, deep down inside, that all you care about is our happiness. We know you will love us and accept us no matter whom we marry. And if you don’t, we know that once we give you grandchildren, you’ll get over it.

But until we get there, please lay off and rest assured that you have ingrained in us the Jewish values we will eventually realize we want in our spouse.

Yes, our decisions are a reflection of how you raised us; but only to a point. We are individuals, and that is ultimately what you raised us to be.

With sincere love and gratitude (even if sometimes you annoy us no end)

Your Single Children of Marriageable Age

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