One People

Achdus is Hebrish for “unity”.

The Difference between Catholic and Jewish

It’s really WASP. That’s the difference. According to my patient, Italian (Cath father, WASP mother) who is married to a Yid, the real same-ies are the Italians and the Jews. I missed this on the Sopranios, but have only tuned in on the cable reruns so maybe it’ll come up.

How so? How are we alike? He says that Italian Catholic mother guilt is rivaled ONLY by Jewish mother guilt. Did you know this? And I thought the similarities had to do with being Mediterranean.

We all talk with our hands. Greeks do, too.

My patient, naturally, is conflicted about visiting his mom (he just can’t). What Jew hasn’t had to deal with this issue? And of course, she really doesn’t care, he tells me, being a WASP. He just thinks she should because he’s got so much Italian in him.

I love my job.

I don’t even know why I’m bringing this up. As an Orthodox Jewish blogger who thinks INCLUSION as opposed to EXCLUSION the intermarriage thing is should be less hard for me.

But I think of marriage as the place a Jew learns to be a BETTER Jew. How can marriage to someone who isn’t Jewish make you a better Jew?

So even though I think INCLUSION,

I am not giving Noah Feldman the nod, not saying he had the right to break his mother’s heart by marrying out of the tribe. Oh, let’s go there.

His tiresome anti-Orthodox piece (“Orthodox Paradox,” July 22 edition of the Times’ Magazine) didn’t even touch on the mother thing, or Jewish guilt. He never tells us how he broke her heart or how his choice affected his immediate family. Instead he rants about how his alma mater’s newsletter cut the two of them (his fiance and himself) out of a picture taken at a high school reunion. Obviously, because of her not Jewishness and whatever that means.

He took his credentials (law professor at Harvard) and his pen and he lied in a piece worthy of the Enquirer, not a major hard news publication, about something that didn’t happen.

Or did it? Who do I believe here?

Oh, it doesn’t matter. He didn’t worry much about hurting anyone with that all-about-me stuff whether it was true or not. Not much of a worrier, apparently, forget journalistic credulity. Am I being unfair? I ask michilah (forgiveness) Mr. Feldman if indeed you have made all amends with family, and indeed you spoke the truth, and indeed your piece is there to teach us all to be nicer.

I’m all for nicer.

I wonder, however, if the Jewish friends, the people he saw at that reunion (10 years ago) are as confused or more as I am. They undoubtedly found things to talk about with Mr. Feldman and his fiance’. They had to have shared stories, history, a few laughs. Forget those relationships now.

You know what I mean, though, right? You can have a conversation with people who aren’t Jewish and find things in common, things to talk about. It’s not Jewish to hate others. It’s that self-hating stuff that really has to go.

In commonly yours,


August 16, 2007 Posted by | Catholic, Jewish guilt, Noah Feldman, Orthodox Paradox, self-hating Jew, WASP | Leave a comment