Ask Wendy

Jewish World Review March 20, 2002/ 7 Nisan 5762

Multiples for mom; partners and martyrs; I'm a gentile --- should I explore Judaism's spiritual side?

By Wendy Belzberg | Both my son and niece are expecting babies. There seems to be some question about the tradition of naming children after deceased family members for example: Can more than one child be named in honor of the same person, or once that person is honored by a new generation, is his or her name "off limits" to other family members? My mother, who was much loved and respected, died several years ago. She is the one who is inspiring talk of multiple namings.

A: Aside from the potential chaos at family reunions-though a saving grace when it comes to monogramming--there is no limit to namesakes. Just as there is no limit to the love you felt for your mother. One solution is for one baby to have your mother's name as a first name and the second baby to carry your mother's name as a middle name. Another is for both babies to carry your mother's first initial, and neither her exact name. Perhaps you will get lucky and your son will have a boy and your niece a girl.

One word of unsolicited advice: even if you loved your mother dearly, Bertha, Gertrude and Ida are names that will not instill in your grandchildren and grandnieces any love for your mother. Variations on a theme may be the way to go.

Q: My husband and I married 41/2 years ago. We shared strong values, mutual respect, a love of travel and a healthy sense of humor. I say "shared"--past tense--because over the past 3 years my husband has become increasingly disabled by anxiety. He has a compulsive need to check and recheck whether the door is locked, a phone call has been returned, etc. He talks incessantly, can't travel without being overcome with anxiety. Despite close attendance by a psychologist and despite medication, he continues to suffer. He still has the fine values that I found so attractive. But I am wondering if I can do this for 40+ more years?

A: Three years sounds like a long time for your husband to have had no relief-and for you to see no improvement. It may be time to switch doctors or, at the very least, medications. If you have not been playing an active role in your husband's treatment, start today. Ask some tough questions: Can the doctors explain the lack of progress? Do they feel that your husband's condition can be controlled and can they commit to a timeframe? Can the man you married be returned to you?

I can understand the feelings of guilt, duty and loss. But, no, you cannot and should not spend the rest of your life in a lopsided marriage. If there is really no hope of a cure, however fragile, if your husband can no longer be your confidante, sounding board, friend and lover, then you cannot expect yourself to do the same for him. A healthy marriage is made up of partners, not martyrs.

Q: I am a believing Christian who has always felt a strong bond to the Jewish people. Recently I have felt a calling from G-d to be a "loving friend" to the Jewish community. Should I try to explore the religious side of Judaism or should I simply express emotional, financial, and moral support for Jewish causes?

A: I have a better idea yet: take your goodwill toward the Jewish people and spread the word. If you feel like making a pilgrimage to the Holy Land, you will find an entire population who has failed, for decades, to share your point of view. If you prefer to stay closer to home, anti-Semitism is a force to be reckoned with. There is no shortage of religious and philanthropic Jews. What the world needs now is more open-minded, righteous gentiles.

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03/07/02: Disabled child taught family love, patience and compassion
02/15/02: Sisterhood on the line; Time to cross Ts on ex?
02/04/02: Clueless convert-in-training; loyal to a wife who walked out?
01/25/02: The new 'Jewish question'; unfaithful oldsters; gambling on our family's future
01/18/02: Should son invite mom to bar mitzvah - against dad's wishes?; pay-off time?; 'my son is blackmailing me'
01/10/02: Hard to move on; separation anxiety
01/04/02: Salvaging a sister; mother knows best?
12/27/01: Paying for somebody else's charity; Down(s) and out?
12/21/01: 'Brownie points' for the Creator; I love my husband, but not his family; open-door policy needs to be closed sometimes
12/05/01: 'I celebrate Chanukah you insensitive anti-Semite!'; idealism v. responsibility; stolen gifts
11/27/01: Doubts or reservations one may have about reaching out to friends and strangers alike who are in need: From the mail bag
11/16/01: Tripping out; tactics for tactlessness; Am I a hypocrite?
11/01/01: My co-religionists are proselytizing me; tragedy intruder?; meddling mama?
10/19/01: Outside world hits home; money and mommies
10/12/01: Vacation separation; Risk present for past?
09/20/01: Secular servants; Time to tie purse strings?; dog breath --- literally!
09/07/01: Too much Torah?; Name-dropping rabbi turns off worshippers
08/30/01: Jewish 'godparents'?; summer homework
08/02/01: Have wife, won't travel; 'dis' --- as in 'distant'
07/26/01: Grandparents not invited to bar mitzvah; what to do about older sister's foul mouth; nuptial narcissism
07/19/01: Bad mannered, uncouth ethnics; lookin' for love
07/05/01: Faithless Rabbi; my wife won't let me retire; I'm in relationship limbo
06/21/01: New customs for assimilated Jews?; the business of friendship; aunty is a bad role model
06/13/01: Our friends have become political traitors; Is it love?
06/06/01: Teaching kids about the Creator, when parents aren't observant; 'wonderful woman' 'fesses up about her broken engagement; How do I find a matchmaker for my 'beautiful daughter?'
05/31/01: Couple he fixed-up is in a nasty breakup; overwrought over ring
05/16/01: The gift was counterfeit; settling for the daughter; the lush and the ostrich
05/02/01: 'Jew questions' and falsifying faith; magic marker mayhem; I want kids
04/25/01: Anti-Semites everywhere?; shilling for gifts; my kid is the 'weakest link'
04/05/01: Celebrating when Passover is inconvenient; What's wrong with the name 'Melvyn,'?; Difference dilemma: Husbands and wives and Passover observance levels
03/19/01: 7-4=insensitivity?; baby showers and tempting fate; Splitsville before or after marriage?
03/12/01: Passover party-pooper; slapped by a moral dilemma
02/14/01: Human 'mutts,' getting over it, same-sex kesubas
02/08/01: Bar/bat mitzvah blues, homework he-l, from potty to potty-mouth
01/24/01: Naughty neighbor, unprofessional colleague is dead, I'm a Jew, now what?
01/15/01: Rabbis who won't; when the rules of the 'game' change; ungracious grannies
01/08/01: My kid hates Hebrew school; Stay single or abandon heritage?
01/02/01: A Jewish Grinch? Baby bigots and when grandparents call it quits
12/18/00: Babes in Chanukah Land; my husband the kvetch; bad hair marriage?
12/04/00: My niece is a no-goodnik, when lifecycle events become dangerous, Orthodox v. Reform education
11/28/00: My ex is ruining my kids' souls; the mouth that won't stop
11/21/00: Battling brothers; how to keep a nanny
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'


© 2002, Wendy Belzberg