Sunday, January 3, 2010

I almost let them ruin my Shabbat

I have been debating with myself whether I should write this entry, because I didn't want to think much about the incident this morning. Now, hours after Havdalah, when the Shabbat is over and we are once again back to the regular weekdays, I feel like I have to write down what was bothering me, only for my own peace of mind.

From my own experience of when my adoptive parents decided to dissolve my adoption, I knew that disruption could involve control issues and power games. Those of you, who have been following my blogs know that now, over ten years later, my adoptive mother is still trying to extend some control over my life.

This morning P's previous parents came over, bringing the rest of his stuff along. It was just mom and dad, and while P was reluctant to come out to see them, they kind of pressured Kevin into calling the boys out. Dad delivered a short sermon about continuing to walk in the footsteps of Christ. (A good thought for Christians: It's not enough to walk where he walked, it's important to live as he lived.) As a parting gift P was given a Boy's Bible (NIV). Then Dad said he'd like to give a father's blessing to P.

I have to admit that blew it for me completely. In my home it is a weekly tradition as the Shabbat comes in that a father's blessing is given to each of the boys after we light the candles and do kiddush (or, in the summer, after we get home from Kabbalat Shabbat). It is an age old Jewish tradition, one that even my totally assimilated great-grandfather kept, one that my secular atheist borther keeps. It's a very important tradition for me, for my family.
Ye'simcha Elohim ke-Ephraim ve'chi-Menashe.
It being the second Shabbat P was spending with us we knew he had no idea what a father's blessing was - he had never received one, nor had he ever seen his dad give one. So the suggestion that P should receive one from the man who just effectively told the child he was not his parent any more felt like a slap in the face.  I felt like one of the most sacred acts between parents and chldren in the home was mocked. I am sure it wasn't their intention. I am sure they meant well. I am also surre they were tring to control something they had no business doing.

The blessing never happened. P pulled away from dad and excused himself, while Kevin, pointing out that we needed to be at the synagogue in less than an hour and the kids still had the PJs on, asked the parents to leave. Which they did.

Yes, we did go to synagogue. Yes, we had to deal with a grumpy and tearful child. Yes, we are Jews, and yes, any child we'll raise will get to celebrate Jewish holidays, worship on the Shabbat and learn Torah. No, none of them will be forced to convert (if we adopt toddlers they might get to be converted before they can make that decision for themselves), but they will be part of a Jewish family. So P came to synagogue, where he did get to participate with everyone else in singing, reciting prayers and listening to Torah readings. P was sitting with his new brothers and cousins, and by the time we had kiddush he seemed fine.

Tonight as the boys were getting ready for bed, Kevin went to get the trash from their bathroom. Inside the trash can he found the new Boys Bible. As it was neither wet nor particularly dirty, he got it out and put it away for now. I'm not 100% sure what we should do with it, though.

I'm angry with myself for letting this morning's events be heavy on my mind all day. There are two great commandments regarding the Shabbat: to sanctify it and to enjoy it. I did miserably with the second one, because I let others have control over me. And now I have to wait 6 more days before we can light the Shabbat candles again.


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