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Giving My Mother a Boost to Heaven


When Orthodox Jewish educator Deborah Klapper went to a shul in a different town to recite the Jewish mourner's prayer for her mother, the shul curtly dismissed her. The man leading prayers chanted louder and bulldozed past the aborted Kaddish. The rabbi came over for some mansplaining, telling Klapper and another Orthodox woman who had also come to say Kaddish that "we’re Orthodox here, so women don’t do that."


Umm, but Deborah Klapper and the other woman saying Kaddish are also Orthodox. And maybe there could have been a more respectful way to treat two human beings who had just made it patently clear that they were grieving family members?


"What he thought we were, I have no idea," writes Klapper. "Do non-Orthodox women frequently come into his shul to daven [pray], dressed in long sleeves, thick stockings, high collars, and wigs?"


Ultimately, Klapper was made to feel like an "other" in what should have been familiar territory.


"My experience on the first Monday in November left me feeling humiliated, unwelcome, and misunderstood," writes Klapper. "It seems like a small thing, and it should be a small thing. But feelings are not logical and you never know, when you speak to another person, whether it will be a small thing for them or not."


At Have Faith, Will Parent, we often talk about the rough patches at the intersection between religion and parenting.  In this column, Deborah Klapper attempts to steer down the road her mother showed her, and shines a spotlight on a big pothole at the junction of Orthodox Judaism and daughtering. It can be a bumpy ride on either side of the parenting line.




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