Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Separate But Equal?

A death in the family. The deceased's family needs to mourn, and so services are held. The majority of the room is filled with the deceased's friends and acquaintances, but her closest relatives - father, brother, and husband - are relegated to a couple of chairs (sometimes even standing) against the back wall in their own living room, because they might disturb the others. They are asked to remain silent except at a few specific moments, listening to others chant and pray and sing words they are not allowed to use, again, because they might disturb the others present.

Sounds crazy, doesn't it?

Change father, brother, and husband to mother, sister, and wife - that's what I saw, what I took part in over the last few days.

While this may have met the needs of the Orthodox wife, there was something truly painful about hearing someone's mother ask if she were allowed to be in her own living room to mourn her son's death, with a bunch of people she doesn't know, who disrespect her path in Judaism. She, of course, was the picture of grace and hospitality.

3 Comments:

Blogger The back of the hill said...

Mourning should be the epitome of an inclusionary event.
This does not sound like it was particularly inclusionary - it sounds like the ritualistic aspect was stressed over the personal.

6/01/2007 5:12 PM  
Anonymous balabusta in blue jeans said...

Everyone repeat with the Balabusta her all-purpose chant for dealing with stuff like this: "My great-grandparents didn't live like this, and neither did yours!"

I'm so sorry for everyone involved. May they be healed and strengthened by something--it sounds as though the religious community of the deceased isn't doing much.

6/14/2007 4:29 PM  
Anonymous alan said...

That's horrible. My family is Orthodox and we made sure that the women involved in our shiva were respected and included in every way.

6/28/2007 10:35 AM  

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