Ask Wendy

Jewish World Review / Sept. 25, 2000 / 24 Elul, 5760

I can't take Rosh Hashanah! Something for nothing? My husband needs a dinner mate

By Wendy Belzberg -- I have always gone to temple on Rosh Hashanah and I am always bored. If I don't go I feel guilty, but is there really any point in going when the experience is not meaningful to me?

If you're looking for permission to stop attending High Holiday services, you've written to the wrong columnist.

If last year's experience was boring, not to mention the years before that, why haven't you sought out a different rabbi and a different shul? Given the seriousness of the holidays (book of life and death and other matters) it would seem to me that you're leaning in the wrong direction. Even if you choose not to pray in the traditional sense, Rosh Hashanah is the right time to do so, and a congregation filled with fellow Jews is the right place for self-examination and reflection. Take along an anthology of stories and essays meant to be studied during Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur; reading a book during those minutes-or hours-that you are bored is the way many people get through the long services.

* * *

I have devoted a lot of time and energy to a Jewish organization in my community and was recently asked by them to be the honoree at a ladies luncheon. I accepted without thinking something may be expected of me in return. The staff at the organization is now asking for a list of people to invite, but I don't feel comfortable asking my friends to pay to honor me.

Did you think the luncheon would be a small, intimate affair with just you and a couple of the gals? Did you think the lunch was free? What exactly were you thinking?

Like all organizations, Jewish organizations are about fund-raising. If you are a person of means -- and I suspect you would not have been chosen if you were not -- then you can buy several tables yourself and invite your friends to be your guests. You accepted the honor, and so you are obligated to help make the event a success. The good news is that you believe in the cause and can passionately enlist others to support it. Get to work.

Next time you get a call offering you something "for free" --- a board seat, an honorary position, an award, a condo-find out in advance how much it will cost.

* * *

My husband and I have 3 children, ages 4, 6 and 12. By the time the younger children are bathed, fed and put to bed, and my older daughter finishes her homework, eats and goes to bed, my husband and I don't sit down to our dinner until 9:30. This is my problem: I don't want to eat dinner at 9:30 at night, but I don't want to be one of those wives who eats with the kids and lets her husband eat by himself. I am at a loss as to what to do.

First put the little ones to bed, then eat dinner as a family with your 12 year old. There, problem solved.

The age difference makes it impossible to get all of the children on the same schedule. But be patient. Within the next year or two your second child will be old enough to join the family table.

(Then you'll mourn the loss of the wonder years and wish they hadn't passed so quickly.)

You and your husband can now be in bed by 9:30. Or, you can go out for a drink, a walk or a movie together. Not a bad substitute for dinner alone.

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© 2000, Wendy Belzberg