#XOAnthems: Rockabye

This isn’t one of my more typical XOAnthems. In fact, the first few times I heard it, though I liked it, I didn’t connect it to XO life at all.

But then it happened to come up on shuffle as I was reading an XO mother’s words about how she fought to get out for her children, that although she couldn’t change her own childhood and couldn’t get the education she had been denied, she would make sure her children did get all of that. And that’s a fairly typical XO story.

I’m lucky, that I came to my senses and left before I had the chance to get married and have children. But one of the questions a close friend asked me when I was desperate and seriously considering leaving was this: “Will you be sad later that your kids weren’t raised with shabbos?” And that was a deciding factor for me. No, I wouldn’t be sad. No, I don’t want to raise my theoretical children with the same restrictions and psychological trauma I grew up with.

“Your life ain’t gonna be nothing like my life,
You’re gonna grow and have a good life,
I’m gonna do what I got to do.”

Although I don’t have children, I do fight (when I can) for the children I left behind to have a better life. I support the people who fight, long and hard, so that Orthodox Jewish children get a good education, have access to everything they need, are safe from abuse.

So many people – rabbis I’ve spoken to in the process, Orthodox Jews who don’t see the problems, outsiders who want me to just live a good life – have asked me why: Why do we care so much? If we think it was so terrible, why do we keep going back? Why don’t we just move on with our lives? Why choose to focus on the things that upset us?

Because we need to say to the children:

“Ooh, love, 
No one’s ever gonna hurt you, love.
I’m gonna give you all of my love.
Nobody matters like you.

Your life ain’t gonna be nothing like my life,
You’re gonna grow and have a good life,
I’m gonna do what I got to do.”

As Eytan Kobre wrote (albeit sarcastically) in the Mishpacha magazine about the results of an OTD survey: “A more impressive group of meaning-obsessed altruists I’ve yet to encounter.”

Or as a friend likes to tell me, I’m like Holden Caulfield:

I’m standing on the edge of some crazy cliff. What I have to do, I have to catch everybody if they start to go over the cliff – I mean if they’re running and they don’t look where they’re going I have to come out from somewhere and catch them. That’s all I’d do all day. I’d just be the catcher in the rye and all.

9 thoughts on “#XOAnthems: Rockabye

  1. > one of the questions a close friend asked me when I was desperate and seriously considering leaving was this: “Will you be sad later that your kids weren’t raised with shabbos?”

    Why can’t you leave AND raise your kids with Shabbos, assuming that you find Shabbos valuable? It’s not all-or-nothing.

    That said, telling my kids that they can’t do things on Shabbos is the hardest thing to justify. I have to fall back on that it’s what my wife wants, and it’s not like it’s harmful for them to spend one day a week reading books and playing with their toys.

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    1. You’re absolutely right, of course. This was in the context of a conversation in which I said something along the lines of “fuck shabbos anyway….” And of course, which *parts* of shabbos are discarded or retained – because no, of course it’s not all-or-nothing 🙂

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    2. The reason people say that, is because if you leave and raise your kids as non jews, you might be able to keep shabbos yourself if you find it valuable, and possibly send get them to keep it while they are young, but there is no way they will keep it as adults. The only way to get your kids to keep things is to bring them up in an environment where its normal to keep these things. (Thats my personal opinion)

      When I was struggling with this, my thoughts were that I would be able to leave and pick the things I wanted to keep (like shabbos), but that I would never be able to (or want to) impose it on my kids. So no, I wouldn’t be able to raise my kids with shabbos, but that was fine with me.

      But maybe I am misunderstanding the whole thing. Maybe, they mean “Will you be sad later that your kids weren’t raised with shabbos”, and not “Will you be sad later that your kids don’t keep shabbos”, which is the way I am interpreting it.

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      1. It’s way more complicated than it seems, isn’t it – what do I want now, what do I want for my kids now, what do I want for my kids’ futures.

        I think it’s also a matter of what “shabbos” means to you. If keeping shabbos requires restrictions, or if keeping shabbos simply means candles and good food and family time – that’s two totally different considerations. For me, it was – why? We could have family time, and shabbos holds very few pleasant memories for me – it’s more about getting disapproving looks from my parents as I relaxed with a goyishe book, about being cut off from my college friends and potentially missing out on fun stuff, about loud and often tense family meals where my brothers could drink and I couldn’t, where they got belligerent with each other, where I was often scoffed at for attempting to join discussions of divrei Torah with my father and brothers. Remove faith, and you might have pleasant memories you want to hold onto and give to your kids – I don’t…

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  2. Its exactly that. The problem is that I cant think of shabbos without restrictions, a shabbos that Id enjoy. I can on the other hand think of enjoyable weekends, where we can make family memories without anything that I call shabbos.

    (Im finding this thought amusing, but I just remembered how Kiruv people are will always start with shabbos. I think they realise that we cant see shabbos as enjoyable and so they want to show us how amazing it can be. Maybe all we need is a bit of kiruv 😉 )

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    1. Nah. Kiruv workers aren’t interested in getting people who are already frum to like being frum. They want to get non-frum people to join. For an adult, Shabbos can be really nice. Shabbos meals are dinner parties, without being interrupted by cell phones or distracted by the TV.

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    1. Me too. “You didn’t get to experience the *real* beauty of shabbos because of your family / your community / your preconceived notions. Let me show you the *real* beauty of shabbos.”

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