Tova Mirvis, your article affected me.
I was devastated by the heart wrenching account you gave of feeding your Orthodox son his first slice of trayf/unkosher pizza, not too trayf, only slightly trayf.
We cant hide anything from children, they see and feel it all even if at times they don’t verbalize it.
It appears that your son felt your equivocal feelings towards religion.
Your article so numbed my mind, that I had to share it with others for their perspectives, so I could unfreeze my brain and understand from whence you came and where you are in writing this article.
It is hard for children to see gray. Gray causes so much uncertainty and anxiety in many, but especially children. They need to see their parents strong and all-knowing for they rely on us to help them develop their radar and moral compass in the world.
You had a choice of continuing to steer your son on the religious track and following the Orthodox laws when he was around, or be honest when he asked about the status of your religious beliefs, and let him stray from the Orthodox path he was on. You now have a partner on your new road to epicurean freedom.
You came out of the closet. There are Orthodox people leaving the fold all the time, and they do so quietly. You could have eaten the pizza with your son, and not written about it in the New York Times. So why did you come out so publicly about your decision to partner up with your son on a path that moves away from the Orthodox laws you taught him?
One of the first pieces of information you provide is that you are divorced. You take a very strong stand that your ex can make the rules in his kingdom, and you will make the rules in your own.
I read your article as I read the program for Yeshiva University’s investiture of their new president, Rabbi Dr. Ari Berman. One of the prominent speakers at the investiture was Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis. I said to myself, this is too coincidental for this unusual name to come up in my awareness within minutes of each other. Google set forth that Rabbi Mirvis is the new Chief Rabbi of the British Commonwealth, having been hired for the position after Lord Rabbi Jonathan Sacks. It appears that you and he are cousins.
What is the point you are making by going public with this story? I must admit, my first reaction to your story is what I think I would feel if a friend posted on Facebook that she is about to jump off a cliff, and begging for help in her desire to be saved. But that’s my take.
Are you trying to find acceptance where there was none. Is coming out forcing the hand of your ex, your relatives and friends to accept you and your new path? Is it gathering the forces of the readers of the liberal New York Times behind you, those who hail your ability to cut the cord of the “outdated, antiquated, obsolete, ancient laws of oppressive orthodox rules” so you can feel like you have a team behind you to support you as you ask those around you to accept who you are.
Are you trying to be a role model for those who feel “stuck” in their Orthodoxy, and hail the opposite of Judah Maccabee who enervated the Jews to stand up against the Greek government when they proclaimed “All those who are for G-d follow me.”
Not everyone can see the beauty in a Matisse. Not everyone can experience the complexity of Rachmaninoff. For me, I feel the King closer in this Jewish month of Elul. You want to scream that the Emperor has no clothes. It depends who is observing.
I was pained by your article, but maybe you were liberated.
Dear Tova, as you know, this is the Jewish month of Elul, a time when G-d comes down and approaches every Jew alike making himself available for connection. It is my fervent hope that you find some way to connect with G-d, tell Him what you want and need for this year, and I hope, as your Father in Heaven He grants you what you want, only for the good.