Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Ponderings on solutions to singleness

The situation in the singles' world and the increasing average marriage age often lead me to pray for all Jewish singles. I know the problem of late singleness isn't an exclusively Jewish one, of course; on the contrary, it stems in a large part from accepting the Western cultural values of self-centeredness, self-fulfillment, being focused on advancing academically and professionally (in particular for women), and the prolongation of adolescence.

Extended adolescence is a rather new phenomenon, something that didn't exist in past generations (even when people were in good health and led long lives, despite claims that young people only matured more quickly because life span was expected to be shorter). I have friends whose grandmothers still belonged to a culture and a generation when girls got married as soon as they reached Bat Mitzvah age – 12 (and some were married earlier, but marriage was not consummated until the girl was at least 12). Today, this would have been considered child abuse, but back then, girls were trained for marriage and housekeeping from an early age, and were ready far sooner than today. Even today, I know 15-year-old girls, in particular older daughters in large families, who seem to be much better suited for marriage than some 25-year-olds.

I recently read an article by someone clamoring to push the age of Bar Mitzvah further off, because 13-year-old boys are too immature today, according to him. It might be true that 13-year-olds are immature, but I don't think it means we ought to postpone Bar Mitzvah according to a cultural whim. On the contrary, I believe this should serve as an indicator we ought to educate our children differently.

Currently there is a huge, and ever growing, gap between the age when young people first begin experiencing yearning towards the opposite sex, and the age when they actually get married. I'm not saying marriage should be a way to satisfy immature lusts, and it's of course better to abstain than to rush into marriage. However, when it becomes a rule that abstinence stretches for decades for almost everyone, this creates an unhealthy situation which fosters temptation and sin.

Extended singleness may also have consequences such as more difficulty to adjust to life together, and (in particular for women) reduced fertility. Not to mention the frustration, loneliness and possible heartbreak that comes with attaching our hearts to the wrong people ("because no one is thinking about marriage yet, so why don't we just meet and have fun"). It might seem boring and prudish to consider marriage perspectives from before the first date, but it's far wiser than plunging into a relationship without thinking where it will lead.

A family member (on my husband's side) argued that a solution to the rampant singleness would be to authorize polygamy again, and pointed out that his grandfather was married to five women (simultaneously) "and none of them was selfish enough to complain". I should add that polygamy was only ever banned by rabbinical decree for European Jews, but continued to be an acceptable (though by no means ideal) practice in the Jewish communities of North Africa, Yemen, and probably other Muslim countries as well. It is, however, illegal in Israel (though unofficial polygamy is still quite common in the non-Jewish population, but that's a whole different story). Anyway, as I pointed out to him, in his grandfather's community women usually far outnumbered men, because of violent conflicts and dangerous occupations. Of course when there's a balance of 70% women and 30% men, many will be forced to make the choice between being second (or third, fourth or fifth) wives or remaining single. This hardly applies to our community in Israel, where there are many single men and women.

In general I believe there is too much blame placed by each of the sides (men and women) on the other side. Women accuse men of being immature and flighty; men accuse women of being too picky. Personally I think both young men and women ought to be educated and encouraged to be far more serious about marriage, far sooner than it is common today. When 25-year-old young Orthodox Jews only begin scratching their heads, thinking that perhaps they would like to settle down sometime in the near future, this "near future" often doesn't happen until they are 30. And the older we get, the more pitfalls we face.

Also I believe parental involvement should be encouraged, although of course, realistically it won't work in every case. It's not a healthy situation when so many singles are simply left to fare for themselves! It leads to excessive closeness between men and women without real prospects of marriage. It also creates false "friendly" bonds which can be exceedingly dangerous. Just a week and a half ago, I heard a newly married young man saying his female friends are "like sisters" to him; this was said in front of his wife, who squirmed in her seat. Knowing her, I can only imagine how uncomfortable she really feels with those "brotherly" feelings of his. Such excessive "friendly" closeness between men and women creates an atmosphere of frivolity and often masks hidden romantic dreams and sexual tension. 

The creation of marriages and families is far too important to just let it slide. We do believe in soul mates, in a God's plan to bring a certain man and a certain woman together. However more often than not it still requires some conscious effort on their part. Our job isn't to sit with our hands crossed in our lap and pry into divine plans; we ought to continue doing the sensible things that need to be done. 


Anonymous said...

I had no idea that polygamy was ever acceptable in modern Judaism--thanks for educating me about that, Anna.

I sincerely hope, however, that you aren't advocating that girls barely into puberty be married. Whatever the cultural norms, a 12-year-old is still a child, both physically and emotionally, and in no way suited for marriage, however well-trained she is.

Surely there's a happy medium. I honestly thought that all Haredi (I am Roman Catholic, so obviously not part of your community) continued to marry young, as I assumed that, frankly, they weren't really given a choice. But if your community is being affected by this extended adolescence to which you refer (and I agree with that, although I'm not an advocate of early marriage as a means to ending it, myself), surely an emphasis on balance between carefree youth and education (I do realise that formal education is not emphasised in your community) on one side and "grown-up" responsiblity on the other is possible, with work and good intentions? Getting married the moment one can vaguely conceive of such a notion--well, believe me, the "good old days" had their share of grief with this model; we mustn't be sentimental about it.

Always enjoy reading your blog. You're an intelligent and fair-minded young woman.

Mrs. Anna T said...

Anon, just as a clarification, my husband and I do not belong to the Haredi community. We sort of don't know how to place ourselves really. My comments ring true more for the Modern Orthodox community. Haredi do marry young, generally, and parents are more involved; their divorce rates are much lower, too.

I don't know why you assume they "aren't given a choice", though. Forced marriages were never part of the Jewish tradition. Rather, young Haredi people are brought up to strongly desire and seriously look for marriage from a young age (late teens or early twenties).

No, I don't advocate that girls should get married in their early teens (even though the girls I referred to, who are now old ladies, raised lovely families and had deep affection for their husbands. One, who was recently widowed, is positively bereaved as she and her husband loved each other so much and had such a good life together). After all we do live in a certain cultural context and I currently am not familiar with any girl of such an age who would be ready for marriage.

When you say, "I do realise that formal education is not emphasised in your community" I'm not sure what you mean. Most Modern Orthodox young people aim to get degrees from universities and colleges (excessively so, I must say). And Haredi have their own system of formal education and professional training (for women and men who aren't pursuing religious studies full time).

I'm not reminiscing about the "good old days", but I do see today's trend of prolonged singleness as one that comes with a heavy price.

Elle Bee said...

The problem is that the age of puberty is creeping backward while the age of marriage is creeping forward. If we stick to an ideal of no sexual activity prior to marriage, then we are asking our young people to remain celibate against their strong desires for at least 5-10 years. Anna, you are right: that opens the door to sin. But is early marriage the answer?

People look at early marriage and see failure. The divorce rate is HUGE when teenagers marry each other. People tend to assume it is because "they were too young," but it is really because we live in a culture of perpetual adolescence, where no one is expected to grow up and take responsibility. Until we raise our children to be responsible and level-headed, early marriage will not be a solution, only a recipe for divorce.

The real problem is that we are raising our young people to be immature by making their lives all about THEM. That immaturity leads to an aversion to marriage and family-building (a selfless endeavor), while making young people feel that how a partner LOOKS is more important than who a partner IS.

Thus, lack of responsibility leads to immaturity, and immaturity leads to delayed marriage, poor choice of marriage partners, and a higher rate of divorce. The higher rate of divorce among young, immature people who marry creates even more fear of doing the same in the next generation, and so we go down into abortion and death.

I myself married at 20. I was the first among my friends to do so, but they were generally supportive because my husband and I had a longstanding (and chaste) relationship and we knew where we were headed in life. Six years later, we are still VERY happily married, because we never shirked responsibility and because we were mature people coming into marriage. This maturity came from the way our parents raised us. We were rare among our peers in that sense.

Kittee said...

I feel we have an entirely different problem in the US. Children are growing up too fast. My friends daughter is 11 going on 30. She does things and says things that to me, is completely in appropriate for a 11 year old to say/do.

This rings true even more so now that I have a daughter of my own. I just can't imagine letting my daughter get into situations and behave like her daughter does.

When I was 11 I was playing with dolls or toy horses. I wasn't on Facebook and getting caught under the bleachers with a boy doing things other than just simple kissing.

Now I realize that this isn't what your topic was about however it does apply. Yes we want our children to be more "mature" as they grow but I certainly don't want my daughter to be "THAT" mature.

I feel an appropriate age to get married is mid-20's. This gives the child enough time to be a child, go to school, focus on school and college and then focus on marriage.

Even if my daughter grows up and decides to be a house wife (which is 100% OK with me) I certainly want her to still experience what the world has to offer before she does so. Once you are married you are "tied down" and I don't necessarily mean that in a negative way. It just means that you no longer have the freedom to travel and explore the world as well as you would have being single.

I fondly look back at my late teens early 20's. I traveled the world, worked many different places and met many different people. I feel that it created and shaped the person that I am today and "today" I am a better wife/mother for it.

I hope that made sense. :)

Shira at Table Poetry said...

As Anna said, Haredi couples get married very young. I'd say in most Haredi circles a woman is considered an old maid by age 23, certainly by age 24. Most are married with two babies by that time.
Modern Orthodox is a huge spectrum. Those more on the 'right' also get married very young, by early twenties usually. The more liberal Modern Orthodox (MO) often marry later.

Polygamy was never all that common. Some Jewish communities in Yemen (maybe also in Ethiopia?) practiced it till recently. BUT - I'm not aware of it going on in North Africa. Most North African Jews are from Tunis or Morocco, where I think it's practically illegal (you need special permission, etc). I know many Jews from North Africa and can't think of one who has a grandparent who practiced polygamy.

Anyway, 12 yr old girls may or may not have been more mature 50 yrs ago. But physically, they were no more ready for childbearing than they are today. So many died or suffered terrible ordeals. Better to marry at 30 than at 12.

Lisa said...

"Anyway, 12 yr old girls may or may not have been more mature 50 yrs ago. But physically, they were no more ready for childbearing than they are today. So many died or suffered terrible ordeals. Better to marry at 30 than at 12."

I couldn't agree more. I don't have a problem with people marrying in their late teens or early twenties, but 12 is too young. I don't care how "well prepared" the girl is for marriage and housework, that's too young for a marriage to be consummated.

Mrs. Anna T said...

Elle Bee,

I couldn't agree more with what you said. Of course early marriage is not the answer when we are talking about 25 year olds who still have an adolescent mentality. The solution would be to encourage responsibility and maturity from an early age. Then earlier marriages would be a natural extension of that.


While it's true that children grow up too fast into adolescence, they don't grow nearly fast enough OUT of adolescence, which leads to the problem. It's like Elle Bee said: the age of puberty is creeping backward while the age of marriage is creeping forward.


My husband's family is from Algeria, but they lived in a less urbanized area, perhaps it makes a difference; then again, North Africa is a huge region and what might have been acceptable in one place could have been illegal in another. I haven't heard many stories of polygamous marriages either except from Yemenite Jews.

There was, as perhaps you know, another good reason of having girls marry as early as even before the onset of puberty: unmarried girls were in danger of being kidnapped by the surrounding Muslims for their own, while married ones usually weren't messed up with. No, definitely not ideal. But I guess people did what they had to do in order to survive and protect their community.

Violin said...

Anna, you place yourself with the group your Rav affiliates with, yes?

Rebecca Grider said...

I must strongly object to the idea that a 12 year old would ever, under any circumstances be truly ready for marriage. The psychological development of a 12 year old is far from ready for the responsibilities of sexual expression, childbirth, raising a child, interacting with a man, even a 16 year old, on any adult level at all. Further, while I cannot possibly believe you advocate marriage for a 12 year old girl or a 13 year old boy, you might be interested to read an article on Erickson's stages of development which outlines where a 12 year old, a 16 year old, etc. is on the scale of psychological development. Further, your article completely ignores the very real possibility that not all women or men even with to married. While the statitistics are on your side as far as the fact that the majority of adults will marry at some point, there actually are women and men who feel differently. There are women who wish to pursue a career and every person, male or female, should be given the gift of finding out for themselves which path in life they wish to travel. Not all people are natural parents, nor should they be parents. I am one of those people. I am not a mother, not a maternal person in any sense of the word and my life would not, in any way, be enhanced by having children. Instead of allowing people to figure that out for themselves you seem to imply that the one and only path for ALL girls is being schooled in the domestic arts, being married off asap and consigned to a life of raising children. If your vision of the "proper life" were to be fulfilled you'd deny the world and these gifted individuals the full use and expressions of many diverse talents. http://www.learningplaceonline.com/stages/organize/Erikson.htm

Becky said...

Anna, I completely agree with you!

Anonymous said...

I don't know that 12 is too young. People who gave their daughters away at 12 must have known better than we do if their daughters' marriages usually lasted! We have a really hard time stepping out of the box (time and place) we're in and looking at the customs and culture of others with objectivity. How can one objectively say that 12 is too young to marry? Maybe your 12-year-old daughter is too young. Maybe all of ours are. But, you can't say that theirs were.

Robin said...

I don't think that early promiscuity is the same thing as early maturity. Eleven year olds behaving inappropriately is not a sign of early maturity, as far as I can tell. It is, rather, the reverse. They are not behaving responsibly at all. Maybe their hormones and their culture are pushing them into certain situations, but that does not mean they are behaving in a mature way. Maturity is shown by acting appropriately and respectfully to both yourself and others. My own children are 7 and 2, so I don't know what's going to happen in the future, but I can look at my own past and realize that my own physical and mental maturity levels did not even out for a long time! I only pray that I will be able to help my kids grow in a holistic manner, so that they do not have the same disconnect.

www.timothydeanmills.com said...

Thank you for your blog! I've been a follower for a while and always enjoy your posts.

It's only fairly recently in history that our culture has changed its opinion on this area of life. Families used to actively search for a spouse for their children, and even the community at large would often play a part in helping young people find a life partner, for the sake of having more Godly families, for purity, and for so many other wonderful reasons. It's sad to see how we have recently lost this beautiful and essential part of what it means to be family and community for each other.

Marriage--and marriage while we are young--is clearly God's plan and how our bodies were designed. While we obviously don't argue with God if He directs our path differently, we know that it is He who has given us these beautiful dreams and passions, as well as the simple need for a lifetime companion, and He Himself has clearly said that "It is not good for them to be alone." That is why I search for a wife, and why I believe that "the man who finds a wife finds something good."

I commend you for taking on such hard topics. Keep writing! God bless.


Anonymous said...

I wish I had married younger. I got married at 27, but did not enjoy my single years. I wanted to be married, but I live in a culture that is very much anti marriage. I will encourage my children to be serious at looking for a spouse. My parents were married at 19 and 21 and my grandparents married at 17 and 18. Both have had wonderful loving marriages. It is wonderful to look at my family and see that marrying young doesn't have to an automatic for divorce. Both my mom and grandma were prepared for marriage. They knew hot to cook, keep house, and care for their husbands. If I have any daughters I will raise them that way. I do not want them to go through life wishing for marriage.

Mrs. Anna T said...


I was obviously discussing social trends here, not individual circumstances under which a very small number of people will never marry and/or have children. Yes, such a minority exists, but I'm probably not the right person to discuss their situation.

The overwhelming majority of women will be wives and mothers, so of course it makes more sense to bring up children in preparation for marriage, instead of propagating the message of "maybe you'll marry, maybe you won't", as if the odds for the two paths are equal.

Furthermore, while the concept of lifelong celibacy exists in Christianity (I don't know whether you are Christian, but you probably come from a country with Christian background and culture), it does not exist in Judaism. Yes, as harsh as it sounds, we actually see lifelong celibacy as an unfortunate lapse instead of a valid option. In Judaism, ideally, there should be no unmarried people. We believe God makes a match for every man and every woman, though not everyone eventually meet their destined one. And obviously once people marry they are expected to be open to the blessing of children.

I agree with you that not all people are natural parents. *I* am not what I'd call the motherly type. Before I had a baby I found babies actually kind of gross, the way they drool or spit up all over you!! During my first pregnancy I was going out of my wits wondering what on earth I'm supposed to do with a baby. And yet, as God's ways are always good and right and He said children are a blessing, we rejoiced in our gift of a child and were abundantly rewarded. Our lives have been enriched beyond anything we could have ever imagined. You simply can't know what your life would be like if you ever had children. Obviously the choice is yours to make, but parenthood is one of the most unpredictable blessings that exist in this world.

Finally, I am familiar with the theories of Erikson, but I think that first, they cannot be viewed as absolute truth, and second, they, too, can be culturally shifted. Meaning that just maybe people who were raised in a completely different way would go through some of the stages sooner.

Table Poetry said...

Research shows that 50 or 100 yrs ago, 12 year old girls were LESS physically developed than they are today. On average, girls got their periods at around age 14-15 then, whereas today the average is about 11 or 12. So to answer anonymous above, we do have an objective way of knowing whether or not they were ready for marriage.

As Anna states, many girls were married young in certain cultures because of dire circumstances (for example, a single girl was in more danger of being kidnapped for a marriage against her parents' will). Not the ideal at all. I know a Moroccan Jewish woman whose grandmother was married at age 14 or so. She recalls running home the first few months, to play with her dolls. She's been married for over 60 yrs - but that doesn't mean it wasn't a traumatic beginning.

Also, don't forget, that in many places around the world, a 12 year old girl was another mouth to feed. Marrying her off helped ease the family's poverty.

There's no need to idolize everything from the past. Life is not perfect today, but it was far, far from perfect then.

Buffy said...

"While it's true that children grow up too fast into adolescence, they don't grow nearly fast enough OUT of adolescence, which leads to the problem."

You never said a truer word!

BTW - for those arguing about 12-year-olds getting married can I just point out that in the bad old days marriages were often made between pre-adolescents for political and dynastic reasons, but would not be consumated for many years. Sometimes the marriage would be annulled before it was consumated, because of the shifting sands of power politics.

Anonymous said...

Although I agree with much of what you said, I don't think it is the situation for everyone. I never dreamed of having a career and waiting until I was in my 30s to marry. I am an orthodox Jew and 35 and I know that all of my single friends and myself have desperately prayed to be married for many years now, more than 10. I feel like sometimes others put the blame on us and say "we are too picky", etc. and looking for perfection. I live in an orthodox area where people mainly date for marriage and not for "fun".

Anonymous said...

I'm just wondering if the Muslims in North Africa married off their daugthers for fear that they might get snatched away by Jewish men, because it was their practice as well, wasn't it Mrs. Anna T?

Anonymous said...

I know you won't be posting this. And, as respectfully as i can i want to ask you if you ever stop and think about all the women, mothers and children who aspire to a simple, happy life- just like you, who were kicked out of their homes so they could build yours. I, actually can't understand how a person dreams of raising children and instill in them good values when they're raising them in stolen lands, stained with the blood of innocent people.
Mrs. Anna T. I believe you to be a hypocrite, and i don't know how to put that in nicer terms.

Mrs. Anna T said...


I delete comments like yours by a dozen a day, but this time I'll post this just for the satisfaction of saying you guys are a bunch of raving lunatics.

Not to worry, after you get a heap of death threats by mail you kind of develop thicker skin.

FYI, Jewish men did NOT marry non-Jewish women. A child born from such a union is not even considered a Jew.

Jews in Muslim countries (heck, in all countries) were a minority who usually kept to themselves in a closed community. That's how we protected our heritage but remained a small group, in case you haven't figured it out for yourself, genius.

The area I live in had been empty for at least 800 years prior to the point Jews came to settle it. That's a fact based on archaeological evidence. No one wanted it... until we got it all nice and settled with good roads, electricity and running water, which was when **hypocrites** began claiming it as their own.

Bethany Hudson said...

I think about this a lot, Anna, as you know. And, I wonder if the answer is not "earlier marriage" but an entire paradigm shift away from egocentrism. I mean, how will these people with this attitude of "me first, live it up, party, career-before-family, seek star-struck romance at all costs" possibly have a healthy marriage, no matter when they enter into it? Yes, they may avoid the tragic pain of infertility, but to what cost?

I agree that this widespread acceptance of delayed marriage is a cause for concern, but I wonder if it is not merely a symptom of something more serious.


Mrs. Anna T said...

Bethany, you are right, of course. Obviously the solution isn't to push people into marriages while they are not ready for it - but rather, raise the current generation of young people differently, so that earlier marriages will become a natural shift. If you read the thread, someone here mentioned the Haredi and assumed they get married early because they "have no choice". Definitely not - they are simply brought up in such a way that early marriage is the desirable norm.

Anonymous said...

I totally agree, Anna, about the danger of the increasing marriage age. It is NOT ideal. I am currently in my mid-teens (16). While I don't advocate marriage at my current age, I see many of my hormone-stricken peers struggling with this topic. Many ask, "Why did God give us such strong sexual desire at this age, if we're not supposed to get married for another decade?". It's so daunting, not to mention frustrating, to think of having to wait so long. Of course, this certainly doesn't justify promiscuity or sexual relations before marriage. Still, society has placed young people in a real crunch. Our parents encourage us to go off to college, have fun, "get a taste of the world", climb the career ladder, and THEN get married. Sadly, I don't see many of my peers making it through all of the years ahead of us and remaining pure. I can only pray that I will.

Thank you very much for your insights, Anna. I love reading your blog!

Analytical Adam said...

I have 3 points I wanted to make about this. Breaking this down to 3 posts. I appreciate that you are concerned about the general issue Mrs. Anna of marriage and the attacks on it.

1. Issue of when you become adult: To be very fair about this argument the bible seems to view the age of adulthood as being age 20 and older and the best Passage is the one in the Parsha Shelach which is numbers 14:29 which the punishment for not being allowed into Israel due to the spies only applied to those 20 and up. The whole story is in numbers 14. The census in the beginning of Numbers chapter 1 says that every male over 20 and up should be counted in the census. And of course in Leviticus chapter 27 the valuation both men and women have the highest valuation if you wanted to use average valuation of yourself was between the ages 20-60.

No where in the bible does it uses the ages of 13 for male and 12 for female. Not everything in the bible is literal and we have a tradition passed down based on the torah but if Rabbinic positions disagree with the bible you can’t say the Rabbi’s position overrides the bible. Then G-d was lying. When G-d said 20 he really meant 13. I think that is absurd. How can they be our tradition if in the written portion G-d said differently?

To be honest to think at 13 for men and 12 for women a person is full adult is just defies logic and certainly I don’t think on any basis they should be treated that way if you really believe this. At best it is the BEGINNING OF PUBERTY. I remember being 13 and I still had a boy’s voice and so did most of my classmates when they were bar mitzvah. I don’t know about girls. I know they have been puberty at younger ages and interesting girls in fatherless homes tend to hit puberty earlier and of course there is an age that it is too early. In Yeshiva I was taught that at 13 a boy if fully responsible and I think that is absurd and I think the bibles idea of 20 sounds much more rational to me from many observations.

Funny growing up I remember reading that the Bat Mitzvah was sort of a new thing because of the Bar Mitzvah. But to be fair I don’t know where the idea of Bar Mitzvah came from either. To be fair it really seems to me that this may have some pagan origins that many cultures do honor hitting puberty. But the beginning of puberty I think it is absurd to say you are a full adult at that point and it seems the bible as well did not feel you were an adult until you hit 20.

adam said...

Part II
2. On the issue of people delaying becoming adults I think it is a relatively minor issue. If women were getting marriage a few years later 25 instead or even 27 while it would be a disturbing trend we would be able to have healthy birth rates regardless and the bigger issue why it is being delayed. If a woman is delaying marriage because of a career that is a problem because these women may never reach their career goals and anyway they aren’t going to magically understand how to talk to men and their role in a male-female relationship.

3. I was on amazon about books with low birth rates throughout the west and the biggest reason seems to be men’s wages being pushed down women focuses on a career which of course is related. In the past companies many times did want to hire specifically young men in a job. I read about McDonals how it started in the early 1900’s and they did want to hire young men. Of course today you can’t do that. Even if people were a little selfish women at the time needed to get married and men did well enough to give the woman something . A little selfishness isn’t bad. The problem is today is many men don’t make enough and the women are focused on the male sphere so in a situation like this it just destroys the whole normal male having something to attract a female. Today the government with lawyer’s are providing woman with a lot more then any man can and they really don’t feel they need a man unless the man fits every agenda they have which will likely never happen.

adam said...

Part III
Last point. Real religious leaders would criticize the government is they forced gender equality as they would say well a man does have a obligation to provide and a woman doesn’t and to force this equality is against our religion because this forced equality will take jobs away from men and they will be unable to provide as our religion says they should. Sadly this may offend some women, so religious leaders say nothing about government policy that will harm a man being able to fulfill his G-d giving obligation.

adam said...

Sorry one comment was out of order but now have more to say.

It is sad the only issue Rabbi's always mention is temp is polygamy. Shows how greedy and selfish they are. Many other laws make no sense in the real world and are also purely Rabbinic.

Including the idea that only the mother matters on who a Jew is.

All I have to tell you Mrs. Anna if you want to have such hatred towards partial Jews who only are Jewish through their father and are as much Jewish as you are since only your mother is Jewish and view them in this way (don't consider them Jewish at all even though most do) G-d may punish you and your husband measure for measure that G-d won't consider either of you part of the Jewish people. Certainly not you Mrs. Anna. Talk about a law that is abusrd. This is one of them but the only law Rabbi's always mention is Rabbinic is polygamy which when the world is in a proper state it would never be needed since men wouldn't die in endless wars or be evil. Polygamy was never an ideal as the first people were Adam and Eve not Adam and 10 women. Moses married one women. All the Patriarchs it was the Matriarchs who pushed this not the Patriarchs.

Bethany Hudson said...

Anna - Certainly! I didn't at all mean to imply that you thought forcing marriage was a good idea. I just wanted to continue the dialogue from where your post left off.

You are absolutely right: upbringing and the general attitude and morals within the community are EVERYTHING!

Anonymous said...

Isn't raising someone to see something as a "desirable norm" to raise them without a choice and to brainwash them in the same way you think feminists do?

Mrs. Anna T said...

Adam, I honestly think you are getting carried away a bit here.

Bar Mitzvah is not a pagan ritual and no one said a 13-year-old boy is a full adult. It's simply the age of onset of fulfilling certain mitzvot. And the Chazal said, "an 18-year-old to the chuppah", not a 13 year old.

The law that states Judaism is passed on through the maternal bloodline is not my personal opinion, nor did I invent it. It is something that is accepted and established in Orthodox Judaism.

I honestly do not know how you got the idea that I hate people who you define as "partially Jewish". There is no such thing as "partially Jewish", either you are Jewish or you are not. I do not hate people with some Jewish heritage on their father's side, nor do I hate people who have no Jewish heritage. In fact I hate no one (though of course the wacko who commented earlier would think otherwise...).

Mrs. Anna T said...

And, Anon, you said, "Isn't raising someone to see something as a "desirable norm" to raise them without a choice and to brainwash them in the same way you think feminists do?"

You can't raise a child without instilling some values. By simply keeping a young human being within your family, you are "brainwashing" them to think that how your family lives is the norm. If you have certain opinions and beliefs, they will be absorbed by your child even if you don't "enforce" them.

Most people do more than that. Most people purposefully bring up a child to believe in what they believe. According to your logic the only ones who aren't "brainwashing" their children are those who let them grow like weeds with no guidance, but that's hardly a positive idea.

Mrs. Anna T said...

And finally, to all the trolls who keep popping up saying spiteful things about Jews and Israel, however ridiculous your accusations are, we're not tickled by them.

After all, they are no more far-fetched than the idea Jews use Christian blood to prepare matzo.

Identify yourselves and email me, or get off my blog.

Anonymous said...

Apologies Anna, I should have given myself a name in my post as I do not have an account to sign in with.

The key to my statement is "without a choice". I think that it is a wonderful thing for parents to convey value systems and beliefs to their children, but when you one conveys these as the absolute "right way" to live their life, that is when brain-washing comes in. Your post certainly reads as if you favour implementing a one way is the right way value system in all children, rather than equipping them to analyse a situation and make their own choices. Unfortunately, I think you frequently caricature feminists to do the same thing-suggesting that they enforce a viewpoint that all women should be career women. In fact, many of the feminists I know and read advocate women being allowed to choose. In this case, it is you who is doing the brainwashing because you wish to deny all women the choice of a career or family life and say only one way is the right way.


Sarah said...

Sorry you're having to deal with so many trolls. You shouldn't have to apologize for your religion or residence; people ought to stick with discussing the blog posts.

Elizabeth R said...

Dear Anna,

First, I am so sorry you are having so much trouble with nasty comments, but I am thrilled that you do not let it keep you from blogging. I love your blog!

I just wanted to say, thank you so very much for remaining so sensitive to those who are single, but desperately long for a husband and family. I am 27 and in this exact situation. Your words are always an encouragement to keep hoping.

Also, girls marrying in their early teens to avoid a worse fate was probably a bit more common than we would expect a few decades back worldwide. Here in the US, a friend's 18 year old great-grandfather married his 13 year old neighbor to rescue her from a life-threatening abusive situation - the only option he had, at that time, to save her life. So often, when desperate times demand desperate methods, we forget the situation these people were placed in which caused them to go to such lengths.

Elizabeth R.

Anonymous said...

Sigh. I tried to write a response, Anna, to your kind response to my initial posting, but it wouldn't go through! I'll condense it with just one thing: If you had time in future, would you be willing to write a post on some of the basic differences between / markers of Orthodox vs. Haredi communities? I was evidently thinking more of Haredi communities (thinking you were a member of one) when I wrote my initial comment (the first one here). Of course I realise that you couldn't possibly define everything, but a sort of primer on the communities would, I'd bet, be of real interest for a lot of us Gentiles who read your blog.

Anonymous said...

Anna, the situation is so similar here in Canada..unfortunately.

Anonymous said...

As a single 19 year old I really enjoyed your post and agreed with what you said. Thank You for posting it. Miriam K.

Anonymous said...

The whole article was very thoughtful and well-written, but this especially stuck out to me:

It also creates false "friendly" bonds which can be exceedingly dangerous. Just a week and a half ago, I heard a newly married young man saying his female friends are "like sisters" to him; this was said in front of his wife, who squirmed in her seat. Knowing her, I can only imagine how uncomfortable she really feels with those "brotherly" feelings of his. Such excessive "friendly" closeness between men and women creates an atmosphere of frivolity and often masks hidden romantic dreams and sexual tension.

Thank you for this simple acknowledgement. This is my husband through and through, and it does make me exceedingly uncomfortable. He is nearly 30 years old and next week is our 8th anniversary. I wonder when it will change, but I'm beginning to realize, never. Your statement makes me feel validated, instead of crazy, overreacting, jealous, insecure...all things of which I've been accused by various others. Him included. So thank you.