Ask Wendy

Jewish World Review Jan. 15, 2001 / 20 Teves 5761

Rabbis who won't; when the rules of the 'game' change; ungracious grannies

By Wendy Belzberg -- I live in a relatively small Jewish community where I serve as Chairman of the Board of the only Jewish Day School. Our rabbi just informed me that he is not planning to send his daughter to our school. If our own Rabbi doesn't support the school how can we expect the rest of the community to do so? I know I can't force him to send his daughter, but am I at least entitled to voice my outrage and concerns?

And you thought you'd covered every conceivable topic when you interviewed this man for the position. Other communities take heed.

Is the Rabbi concerned about the academic standards of the school? If he is not satisfied with the staff and curriculum he has a responsibility to his community to improve them. First, Definitely, give the Rabbi an opportunity to explain his thinking. Then, by all means, voice your concerns. If the Rabbi does not fully understand the gravity of his decision and the signal he is sending to your small community, he may understand better when his contract is not renewed.

When I married my husband I understood that he was a golf junkie. Now, four years later, we have a new baby and my husband is still running off to play golf at every available opportunity (we live in Florida). He says I knew who he was when I married him. I say it's time to play less golf and play more with our son. What would you say?

The rules you agreed to when you got married no longer apply for one very good reason: the game has changed. This is true even if your husband stated up front that he would be willing to have children but not to give up golf. Soon-to-be weds propose all kinds of wacky pacts to convince themselves that nothing will change after they get married. Nothing could be further from the truth. Marriages in which nothing changes end in divorce.

Begin by suggesting that your husband go to the links early in the morning and save the rest of the day for his family. Some people have been known to play only nine holes. But be forewarned, the more children, the greater this particular tug of war will become. 

I have two children, one of them adopted and one natural. My mother-in-law is not subtle about showing a preference for her natural grandson. She often brings gifts for him alone and invites him out for lunch without my daughter. Her behavior is hurtful to my husband and me and potentially devastating to our daughter. What can I do about this?

If your mother-in-law cannot see her way to treat both children as your children, then she should not be permitted to see either one.

Don't misunderstand; your mother-in-law is not being punished for her feelings. After all, even parents go through stages when they favor one child over another--depending on what grim phase the child is passing through. Two-year-olds and seven year-olds are not necessarily pleasant to be around, not to mention adolescents. But no matter what they are feeling inside, parents ought to appear to love all of their children the same.

You cannot dictate the way your mother-in-law feels, but you can dictate the way she behaves if she wants to be a part of your family.

Ask Wendy a question -- any question --- by clicking here.

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01/02/01: A Jewish Grinch? Baby bigots and when grandparents call it quits
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11/28/00: My ex is ruining my kids' souls; the mouth that won't stop
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11/08/00: OY VEY! my son wants to become Orthodox; kiddies should avoid family therapy
11/08/00: Rabbi v. therapist, grandparents bearing gifts, I want my son's teacher for a sister-in-law
10/24/00: Let him enlist?, 'My son the actor'? Eating with the 'help'
10/10/00:Tipsy teens, protective spouses, kosher common-sense
10/03/00: I'm not Jewish --- not that there's anything wrong with it; mezuza machlokes; when granddad has cancer
09/25/00: I can't take Rosh Hashanah! Something for nothing? My husband needs a dinner mate
09/18/00: 'My kids' Jewish education stinks', boyfriend bandit, and single mother not by choice
09/11/00: Bris brouhaha breaks my heart, LET ME SLEEP! --- and Why can't I hold a job?
09/05/00: Righteous anger, 'dissed' daughter --- and how not to make a match
08/21/00: When one spouse becomes more religious than the other; "But the cleaning lady is part of the family!"; Why He invented 9-month gestation periods
08/21/00: 'Fessing up to granny about abandoning one's people, non-kosher sis-in-law, and 'my niece is marrying a loser'
08/14/00: Marrying 'in' for questionable motivations; Should a do-gooder be reimbursed?
08/07/00: Communing with the clouds, betrothal, and banishing bosses
07/28/00: Small-city guys, self-centered siblings
07/21/00: When a child takes religion seriously, marriage obsession, and guests who just don't get it
07/14/00: Divorcing brother-in-law, uncampy kids, and a dot.comer who makes it big time
07/07/00: Hypocrites, reality checks, and the 'real estate challenged'


© 2001, Wendy Belzberg