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Thread: Oy vey! My first post-conversion encounter with (mild) anti-Semitism

  1. #1
    Cyburbia Administrator Dan's avatar
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    Oy vey! My first post-conversion encounter with (mild) anti-Semitism

    ... or just plain asshattery and insensitivity. And it comes from what someone on another message board I frequent recently described as the "Star Wars cantina" of online dating.

    A woman on Match started writing to me last week. Yesterday, she asked:

    Quote Originally posted by Psycho Girl
    Question.......I see you are Jewish and I am Catholic - could be a potential issue/problem if we dated?
    To which I wrote what I believed was a thoughtful response.

    Quote Originally posted by me
    Well, it depends. What do you think?

    I grew up in western New York, one of the most Catholic regions of the country. There's a saying around those parts: "In Buffalo, it doesn't matter whether you're Protestant, Jewish, Hindu, Muslim, or Buddhist - you're going to grow up Catholic." Still, during my teen years, I was often turned down for dates because "my dad would disown me if I went out with someone who wasn't Catholic."

    Even though I converted to Judaism, I'm not very religious. That's part of the appeal of Reform Judaism; there's nothing wrong with doubting or questioning your faith, because it's seen as an essential part of the journey. Jews generally don't believe that Judaism is the only true religion; if you're Catholic, Muslim, or Wiccan, God won't judge you any differently.

    When does religion become a problem? In the past, it's been when someone is too religious; their faith is in my face. If I marry a very devout Catholic, I would feel very uncomfortable with crucifixes on every wall in every room, a Virgin Mary statue on the lawn, and the like. If children are involved, I want them to taste both faiths, and decide for themselves. I don't want to be evangelized to, or have a girlfriend or spouse think I'm going to Hell because I don't believe in the divinity of Jesus. I'm comfortable at a midnight Christmas mass, but would she go to a Passover seder or Rosh Hashana service with me? What about birth control or premarital sex?

    I believe that there's many paths one can take to an ultimate destination. If you believe the same thing, religion shouldn't be an issue, just like it wasn't for my parents - happily married for 50 years, despite having different faiths.
    Not too bad, I think. However, this earned me a succession of rather rude messages.

    Quote Originally posted by Psycho Girl
    Subject: You have your work cut out for you in finding your Ms. Right...

    Good luck finding your Ms. Right - funny, seeing a crucifix on the wall makes me feel more drawn to my faith and defitintely not uncomfortable. I feel sorry for you.....but so glad for me.
    Quote Originally posted by Psycho Girl
    Subject: Anyway ...

    HAPPY EASTER!!!! Christ is risen, Alleluiah!!!!
    Quote Originally posted by Psycho Girl
    Subject: By the way ...

    Would you like to go to hole week services with me this coming week?
    Sigh. Star Wars cantina indeed. And what is "hole week?"


  2. #2
    Cyburbian Zoning Goddess's avatar
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    Uh.... first of all, she didn't read your post carefully or she wouldn't have written that Jesus is risen thing.

    Second, you had a thoughtful response which apparently did not penetrate her brain. Do you have a real lack of people with open minds up there?

    Quote Originally posted by Dan
    When does religion become a problem? In the past, it's been when someone is too religious; their faith is in my face
    Here's your sign....

  3. #3
    Cyburbian
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    And what is "hole week?"
    "Holy week", misspelled...

  4. #4
    Cyburbian
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    This is why I don't like religion... people throw rationality right out the window and (most commonly) believe that their religion is right and everyone else is wrong...

    I don't have any problems with people believing whatever they want to believe, as long as they don't try to push it on anyone else, restrict liberties, put themselves or others at risk, etc... sadly most times, religious behavior and people do exactly that.

  5. #5
    Cyburbian jordanb's avatar
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    See I read what she said as that she's sorry that you apparently have so many issues with your childhood religion and that you're so uncomfortable with Mary or Crucifixes. I think the fact that she was even interested in you at all demonstrates that she's not anti-semitic and she probably asked you about it to make sure that you're not hostile to her religion, which you then demonstrated that you were.

    The rest of it appears to be trolling though.
    Reality does not conform to your ideology.
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  6. #6
    Cyburbian SW MI Planner's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by jordanb View post
    See I read what she said as that she's sorry that you apparently have so many issues with your childhood religion and that you're so uncomfortable with Mary or Crucifixes. I think the fact that she was even interested in you at all demonstrates that she's not anti-semitic and she probably asked you about it to make sure that you're not hostile to her religion, which you then demonstrated that you were.

    The rest of it appears to be trolling though.
    I agree with JordanB. But, you obviously hit a nerve with the Mary statute in the yard and crucifixes on the wall!

  7. #7
    Cyburbia Administrator Dan's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by SW MI Planner View post
    I agree with JordanB. But, you obviously hit a nerve with the Mary statute in the yard and crucifixes on the wall!
    You really think her attitude was justified?

    I think she didn't know was Jewish until after a while. She read my profile again, and whoops! If it was a problem for her, she shouldn't have written to begin with.

    I don't mind reasonable religious displays, a crucifix isn't going to make me verklempt. I've got a mezuzah at the front door, a hanukkia and Shabbat candle holder on a bookshelf in the den, and that's it - my house is otherwise secular. I've been in many houses in Buffalo, though, that have more religious accessorizing than Our Lady of Victory Basilica; one or more crucifixes depicting a bloody, agonized Jesus on every wall, holy cards and rosaries dangling from every surface, Mary statues not just on the lawn but on tables and dressers, and so on. Yeah, that would bother me.

    She ignored the part where I said "too religious", and clearly was referencing an overabundance of religious icons, not "a crucifix on a wall". And she didn't acknowledge a single one of my follow-up questions.

    It's probably not anti-Semitism, but rather ignorance and general asshattery. I saw the last two comments as something where she was going out of her way to be insensitive, much like a cashier who says "Merry CHRISTMAS! and Christ be praised!" to someone wearing a yarmulke. If anyone else told me "Happy Easter", I'd take it in the sincere spirit that the greeting was said. With this woman, though ...

  8. #8
    Cyburbian Planderella's avatar
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    I think that you may have told her too much. The short answer to her question is "No." That's all you were really obligated to say. Anything after that is strictly lagniappe, especially at this stage of the dating game. If she were a truly devout Catholic, she wouldn't have contacted you in the first place. (I type the following with a guilty conscience.....) We are not encouraged to date or marry outside of our faith.
    "A witty woman is a treasure, a witty beauty is a power!"

  9. #9
    Super Moderator kjel's avatar
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    I think she just was feeling rebuffed and that's why she got ugly without a real reason to. Anyways, I was walking around Times Square yesterday and saw a half building size ad for jdate.com...thought of you when I saw it, might give it a try if you haven't already. I think that your response was quite thoughtful and your points are valid especially after having been married to someone of a vastly different faith. We focused on commonalities, exposed the child to both, and celebrated two sets of holidays and included the extended families from both sides in the holiday celebrations.
    "He defended the cause of the poor and needy, and so all went well. Is that not what it means to know me?" Jeremiah 22:16

  10. #10
    Cyburbian SW MI Planner's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Dan View post
    You really think her attitude was justified?
    No, not at all, but I don't think it was anti-semitic either. I really do think you hit a nerve with the religious icons though! You're right, she might have misread the 'too religious' thing. For what its worth, I am Catholic, and I think I would be creeped out by huge amounts of crucifixes and statutes, etc.

    Quote Originally posted by Dan View post
    It's probably not anti-Semitism, but rather ignorance and general asshattery. I saw the last two comments as something where she was going out of her way to be insensitive, much like a cashier who says "Merry CHRISTMAS! and Christ be praised!" to someone wearing a yarmulke. If anyone else told me "Happy Easter", I'd take it in the sincere spirit that the greeting was said. With this woman, though ...
    I am sure you could look past the first comment if she hadn't posted the other two. Those were ridiculous, and I agree she went out of her way to be insensitive.

  11. #11
    Unfrozen Caveman Planner mendelman's avatar
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    Yeah, I think you both misread or misinterpreted eahc other's statements. She did seem too zealous, but you did get a little over zealous with your description of your under-zelaousness (if you will).

    Even aethists can get be preceived to be religious.
    I'm sorry. Is my bias showing?

    The ends can justify the means.

  12. #12
    Cyburbian wahday's avatar
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    Personally, it looks like you saved yourself a lot of uncomfortable time down the road. Whether you said too little or too much in someone's opinion, I am guessing this is just your personality (that is, the way you see this issue and how you expressed it) and that you were likely to have this conversation eventually. True, these kinds of discussions can feel very different in person with the benefit of social gestures and nuance, but if she is this sensitive to this issue that she reacted the way she did (rather than, say, clarifying her own attitude toward religion or trying to find common ground in your remarks), then I would say you all were not a good match. If you're dancing around some sensitive issue like this in your relationship, that's not a good sign...

    I personally did not see her remarks as anti-semitic or she would probably not have had as much a conversation as she did (she did ask you if it was a problem after already knowing your faith, afterall). I think the issue was more the degree to which her attitude toward religion and yours may cause relationship problems down the road.

    Her suggestion that "if anything, I would like to see MORE crucifixes on the wall" is a good indicator that you are not compatible. You could ask her about idol worship, but...nah...

    Enjoy your Passover...

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  13. #13
    Quote Originally posted by SW MI Planner View post
    No, not at all, but I don't think it was anti-semitic either. I really do think you hit a nerve with the religious icons though! You're right, she might have misread the 'too religious' thing. For what its worth, I am Catholic, and I think I would be creeped out by huge amounts of crucifixes and statutes, etc.
    Ditto on the statues thing, too. I'm Catholic and I didn't grow up with any outward vestiges of my faith, other than a tiny statue of the Blessed Mother in my bedroom and a small crucifix on my wall. I would get the creeps walking into a house and the first thing I see is a day-glo Sacred Heart of Jesus. Even now as an adult I don't. I kinda like the Mary on the Halfshell in the front yard but my non-religious husband would have my head................ My MIL has a Buddha, a statue of St. Anthony and a Hindu Goddess in her garden outside - that's cool!

    I don't think your answer was out of line at all. It indicated that given where you grew up, you are more than familiar with Catholic rites and customs, and it seemed that you were included, for the most part. I loved the quote you gave! When you grow up in a place where certain ethnic or religious customs are in the majority, they inform much of what happens in the public realm. Even if you're not of that majority, you get swept up in it especially as a kid. I see it as an exercise in inclusion. I would hope that if the situation were reversed and you were the Christian kid in a Jewish neighborhood that you'd be informally 'adopted' in most of the lesser traditions or rituals.

    The thread from the lady wasn't anti-Semitic per se; it just seemed to be ignorant of what you are now and she certainly had no interest in finding out what your Judaism means to you. You converted so something must have struck a chord with you. Sounds like even if this hadn't come to the fore something else would have.

  14. #14
    Cyburbian Seabishop's avatar
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    I understand why you brought it up, but do you think she was put off by the mention of pre-marital sex in such a preliminary chat?

  15. #15
    Cyburbian Emeritus Bear Up North's avatar
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    Thoughts From The Bear

    First thought: Anybody with a handle of Psycho Girl probably did mean to spell it "hole". (Check out the keyboard spacing between the letters.)

    Second thought: At Stanfest II you produced a great copy of "the tome" (AKA a great old city planning book). You should have zapped her a scan.

    Third thought: Seriously.....my Dad was anti-Semite, to the "nnnnnnth" degree. He even sold his great ranch house in the inner-ring suburbs to "get away" from the Jewish neighbors.

    Fourth thought: Consider yourself lucky it ended when it did.

    Fifth thought: Any thoughts from you if I decided to put a statue of the Virgin Mary inside of a partially-buried and standing-on-its' end bathtub in my front yard? It would match the pink flamingo, in spirit.

    Bear
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  16. #16
    Cyburbian GeogPlanner's avatar
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    Things I've learned in dating:
    The religion/politics conversation is reserved for the final decision to stay or go.

    When I was out dating, I found that religion was a biger deal than I first thought. I may have been put off by a long response to her question if there was any issue with a relationship of two religions. I would have been on the defensive if I had gotten a response like yours. In fact, I have been in that position where a point of divergence existed between me and a girl. The conversation usually gets hostile because it's going after a fundamental part of a person, for the most part. In the end, I called it quits with someone because I was Catholic and she was Protestant. I found that I wanted to be with someone where that was something in common. My fiancee is Catholic.

    Next time, if there is not a problem, just keep it short and say "no problem." Get to that longer conversation in person and after you've had time to get to know someone...like about a month into dating. I don't think this was anti-semetic, just defensive. Nor was it ignorant on her end.

    What if she said that she didn't agree with some of our funadamental planning concepts and practices? I know I may take a defensive stand...
    Information necessitating a change of design will be conveyed to the designer after and only after the design is complete. (Often called the 'Now They Tell Us' Law) - Fyfe's First Law of Revision

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  17. #17
    Cyburbian DetroitPlanner's avatar
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    I'm a catholic with a Backyard Mary and Cruxifixes on the wall.

    Why do I have backyard Mary? She came with the house. Growing up catholic you are taught to respect the holy family. Even though I would not buy one for myself, I am not going to kick Mary to the Curb on garbage day.

    My grandmother died this week. This was followed by a ton of rosaries. I never really listened to these prayers before or understood them. It was explained prior to one of them by the church lady that it was an intercession. All I could focus on after she said this was, why do we have to do this if God is a trinity and he hears us anyway?

    Catholics do get a ton of mixed signals sent to them, mostly by folks who are trying to be more catholic than the next guy, or to hide something wrong with the beaurcaracy that has evolved over the years.

    Dan I did like your analogy though, Detroit is much the same way. The current mayor is the first one elected that was not a catholic; and the city is over 300 years old!
    We hope for better things; it will arise from the ashes - Fr Gabriel Richard 1805

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