family / myself

Safety

I’m in a bit of a bind.

I don’t know who reads this and how much I really want to say (I realize how annoying that is and I’m sorry), but I need to process a bit.

Here’s the thing. We’re Jewish (which you probably know) and belong to a congregation here in Reading. It has recently come to my attention that a non-Jew (who is married to a non-Jew) has joined the congregation and joined a committee that I also just joined. This person has threatened and bullied me and my family in the past and I do not feel safe. I would like to leave said congregation. And, of course, the committee.

This person is not the only reason, but more the carrot that tipped the scale. I prefer to practice Judaism in a different way that is practiced at this congregation. I want to raise my child in a different way. The people (otherwise) are lovely and the Rabbi is really wonderful. But this is my faith and my spiritual practice. I should like going and praying there, right? And I should feel safe.

The problem is, I don’t want to let the bully win. I want to be indifferent; this is what yoga teaches, to be indifferent toward vice. I don’t know what Judaism teaches. Note taken.

Perhaps I will speak to both Rabbis of both congregations in town to see what Judaism suggests I do. Am I prejudiced for not wanting a non-Jew in the congregation? Am I caving to a bully? Am I just doing what is best for me and my family by leaving? What would you do?

Sigh. Growing up kind of sucks sometimes.

UPDATE: With encouragement from my husband, I have decided to push through and stay. Two main reasons I am ok with this: First World Problems and Impermanence.

David recently showed me a video, a rap song called First World Problems. It is hilarious and a good reminder that people are dealing with real, life and death problems. This is not that (I hope).

AND, my yoga teacher once said (in response to me saying i wasn’t sleeping well due to having a tiny baby) “Impermanence, baby” and I think that rings true here. It is true with Abraham, who is growing up faster than I could have imagined. With this charming person (you can’t tell sarcasm on a blog, can you…?), it will pass. Someone will move on, perhaps the relationship will change for the better. Nothing is permanent.

 

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19 thoughts on “Safety

  1. If you want to leave for your own, unrelated reasons, then it will only look, from an outside perspective, that you are leaving because of the bully. So who cares what the bully thinks- you know why you want to leave. In fact, if you want to leave, then the bully wins again by making it uncomfortable for you to do so, thus preventing you from finding safety. I would definitely talk to the Rabbis- they have wisdom and would want to know about your experience in the congregation. I’m also curious why a non-Jew is in your congregation? ~Raea

  2. I agree that you should talk to the Rabbis, they could provide good advice.

    In my opinion, first of all, it’s inappropriate for a non-Jew who is not a part of a Jewish family to join a synagogue, and especially join a committee. Unless they’re planning to convert, in which case they still shouldn’t be on a committee until they actually become Jewish. This person also doesn’t sound like a high quality person in general if they’re a bully.

    That being said, you have every right to be happy, comfortable, and safe in the congregation you belong to. Since you’re not really happy anyway with the way this congregation practices Judaism, I don’t believe that leaving it would be “letting the bully win”. You’d be letting yourself win, by being proactive and taking steps to be happy and safe.

    If you really like the Rabbi and the other members then I’m sure you can keep in touch with them if you leave, they won’t take it personally.

  3. There are days we don’t want to be a responsible adult.

    You can’t fight a bully single-handedly. If you loved the congregation in other respects, it might be worth finding allies and making a stand. In this, as in every other aspect of life, feedback is an investment in the relationship. How much do you want to invest in the relationship with the congregation? With the bully?

    You are under no obligation to suffer in order to prove a point about bullying.

    I’m around if you want to talk about this in real-time, and I’ve been there (when I first entered Congregational leadership, in the mid-90s).

  4. Sweetie, what a conundrum. Well, not really. Since you asked… As I see it, the whether or not. The bully is Jewish, plans to be , whatever, is irrelevant. It sounds like you may have outgrown your congregation. It once served your needs, and now, it doesn’t. It’s no ones fault, people change, congregations are people, congregations change. Don’t worry about if your leaving signals to the bully that she won. Do you want to be in a group that accepts that kind of behavior anyway? Are you somehow hoping that the bully will suddenly stop being mean? They don’t. You are a terrific woman with a rockin yoga practice. If you decide leaving is the right thing for you to do- then leave.

  5. There may be help available from the police if someone threatens you or bullies you in a religious arena. They take that very seriously. I think you know a lawyer or two who could advise you. There must be others in the congregation who feel the same way. A bully is a bully to everyone. Talk to the rabbi and I’m sure you’ll find out there are others who feel the same way. The congregation should have 0 tolerance for someone who makes others uncomfortable.

  6. My question is: Why is the non-Jew in your congregation? Is he considering becoming a Jew or just trying to “stir up” trouble? If you leave, he wins in his irritation. If he stays, you’re not comfortable. Talking with your rabbi is probably a very smart idea. Hope you can solve the problem because worship should bring you comfort not an unsettled feeling.

  7. Who’s bullying you? Let me at ’em — I’ll kick their ass! (O.K — probably not. I’m not much of an ass-kicker. But I did once chase a boy part way down the street with a broom in my hand because he was bullying my younger brother). Let me know if you need me and my broom. πŸ™‚

  8. I agree with Patty – I don’t get why a non-Jew would join a committee at your synagogue. It makes no sense. As a person who is always squirreling out of committees to avoid work – I’d quit for that reason. But, I’m interested to see how it turns out.

  9. I am not a Jew, and this may make a difference, but here’s my thoughts.

    You want people to become Jew’s, and therefore saved, right?

    So surely this is a way for your to help the non-Jew, become a Jew?

    • Jews don’t believe in saving. We believe you live the best life you can.
      If this particular non-Jew wants to become Jewish, then certainly, the synagogue is the place to be. πŸ™‚

  10. hey Vicki..i know this is old by the time i am reading it…but i am glad you are sticking to your guns and keeping down the oppressor πŸ™‚

    • Thanks, Matt. My tactic has been to smile and look her in the eye and speak to her like I would anyone else. It kinda freaks her out and empowers me at the same time. Win!

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