Traditional Jewish households includereligion and morals. My father, raised in such a Jewish family, becameaccustomed to its rituals and brought his conservative ways into thedomestic arrangement where I live. My dad expects us to keep kosher,celebrate Shabbat, and follow his most crucial rule of not dating goyim(non-Jewish people). I know I should follow these rules, but I also feelI should keep my options open to date freely.
As far back as Ican remember, my conservative father kept religion important and sacredin our home. He stands six feet tall, is broad, and has jet-black hairthat conceals solemn eyes that control others with their intensity.During my childhood, those eyes tutored me in obedience to my heritage,teaching me the value of a Jewish lifestyle. His grandfather, arespected rabbi (may he rest in peace), preached to my father theimportance of the three principles: keep Kosher, celebrate Shabbat andmarry within the Jewish faith.
Puberty put a bounce in my life. Idiscovered this weird, tingling feeling in the pit of my stomach whenattractive members of the opposite sex came into my vicinity. Knowing myfather’s strictness, I understood that I should not act on thesefeelings, but my conscience had the opposite opinion.
A man orwoman should have the right to attract and be attracted to whomever theyplease. Whether they possess a different ethnicity, race or culture, itshould not be relevant in a well-balanced relationship. Every beingstands as one of God’s creatures, and religion will not become aboundary in my quest for love. So I decided I must confront my father.It was time to stand up for what I believe, no matter the consequences.I wanted to change his view, so I sat in my room and prepared toinitiate “The Regulation Alteration Process” (yes, I titledmy speech).
I trained for this process by practicing countlesstimes, reciting a valid speech regarding our conflict. That way, I wouldattempt to awe my dad with my lucid argument. I finally had enoughcourage to face my trepidation of his solemn eyes and so I asked,“Dad, can you come over here, please?”
He answered,“What seems to be the problem?”
I took a deep breathand proclaimed in a rush, “Dad,amanandawomanshouldbeabletobeattractedtoanyonetheypleasewhethertheyareofadifferentethnicityrace-”
My dadinterrupted, “David, I-”
Not hearing, I continued,“cultureitshouldnotberelevantinawell- balancedrelationship.Everything-”
“David, I know where this is goingand-” my dad said, speaking louder than usual.
I denied theexistence of any interruption, and continued,“inlifeisoneofGod’screaturesandreligionis-”
Myfather displayed the most solemn eyes I had ever seen and shouted,“David! Stop!” I jumped with the shock of his yell, hopingthat he would not bite off my head.
He noticeably changed histone. (I could tell because his eyes were back in their sockets.) Thenhe explained calmly, even humorously, “I completely agree withyou. I overheard you practicing your speech and I know you’reserious. I talked it over with your mother and we agreed that you maydate non-Jewish girls. Just don’t make a habit of it.” Istood in front of my father with my mouth wide open, realizing that forthe first time, I had won an argument with my father.
Now, myfather and I are able to converse about controversial topics whilemaintaining civil tones, and keeping one’s eyes from becomingsolemn. I now date whomever I please, without an argument regarding thatperson’s religion.
Standing up for what I believe in setsmy mind at ease, and this proves to my father that I am developing intoa more mature being.
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.