Are we still alive and well or has the iconic symbol/basic theory of being a mother who was Jewish, who had Jewish children and had the G-d given right to live, enact, depict and achieve all the Jewish Mother rituals a thing of the past? Has the 21 century turned a Jewish Mother into a canceled culture?
As in the past generations, when our children became parents, they most likely vowed to never “Lay the Jewish guilt trips” on their kids!
-“It’s okay, I’ll sit in the dark until you can come over and change the light
-“No, you go play cards, I’ll walk through the snow with my pushcart to the supermarket!”
-“What do you mean you want to get your own apartment? Suddenly this home isn’t good enough for you?”
-“I didn’t say the new red dress didn’t look good on you, I just said the blue one makes you look thinner!”
Maybe exaggerated a bit and maybe the attitude goes back a generation or two, but get the point?
As we all get woke, have there been new ways of instilling Jewish Guilt? How many times do we feel like “chopped liver” when our grandkids call and ask if they can cancel the plans we already had with them? Most of us say, “Of course, go be with your friends, but be sure to text me tomorrow and I’ll take you shopping for those new sneakers you want!”
The innocent, or not, installer of guilt often tries to be endearing to control the power with clever words or promises so the recipient has a feeling of remorse, the point! When you’re in the driver’s seat, there is the ability to navigate your most inner needs in such an innocuous way so the receiver is beholden to you, the point! Often responses come out of one’s mouth with no idea that the “guilt trip” has been mapped and that someone has been left to feel lousy. Another point! And yet, it is possible that because of family history, customs and what one thinks is normal, a reply may just be blurted out without realizing the consequences are Jewish Guilt!
I do believe because many of our grandkids didn’t know our grandparents, (Holocaust survivors, European and Eastern European born) where an entire treasure of Jewish culture was created but soon will be forgotten Though good or bad, it is a unique cache of precious Jewish folklore . When was the last time you heard the phrase, “The Jewish Princess?” It had its connotation/stereotype back in the day, but today it would be a definite derogatory reference to the “other,” something we want to stop referencing.
As in the Jewish Mother, The Jewish Princess, The Jews, LGBTQ, Blacks, Asians, and more, along with differencing views on politics, gun violence and what some think should be cultural norms, society is separating people into categories of differences/similarities as labels of identification. The more we point out the other, the more we distinguish the differences rather than embrace the similarities as humans.
Othering distinguishes or puts people in groups that are not fitting into their perception of what society should be. It creates concepts and influences people to treat those who are viewed as different in a negative light. It’s a definite distinction of the “in-group” and the “out-group.” It negates groups of their cultural heritage, humanity, respect and dignity. How do we stop the violence and dehumanizing entire cultures of people and only see US as human beings who have the rights of all peoples on this planet? When will it be a collective US and not the act of separating into others?
As baby boomers, we have our memories of the past, good and bad, as we try to reconcile our family behaviors, good and bad. But what do we do about NOW, how do we make life better for our kids and grandkids amongst all the decisiveness? It seems there is more to cancel in our culture today than in the past. Jewish Mothers had their shtick but most of us wouldn’t want to trade them for they instilled Jewish culture in a way no one else has done, good or bad. But in contrast to what some are stigmatizing today, the consequences have a more harsh and deeper outcome.
This might be a good day to have that conversation with grandkids and share what was the Jewish Mother concept and ask them to share their view of the other. Discussing the differences and similarities can help to bridge a gap and bring a clarity of how much each generation has its own dilemmas to deal with. Sharing the stories of our personal struggles may help young people know there is Nothing New Under the Sun. Only the lingo has changed.
The lesson I hope we glean, is that open dialogue with sharing stories can help to incorporate differences and similarities for the sake of learning so every day is a better/woke/enlightened day.
As a Baby Boomer Bubbe who still feels 18 but has four grand kids to prove this is the 21 Century, Sandra writes to leave a legacy for the next generations. Her belief that these precious kids need to know their cultural and family’s past in order for them to live their future is all the muse she needs!
She has a Master’s Degree in Psychology and Cross Cultural studies, has written a family history, personal memoir and is completing her first novel.
Her grandmother’s journey to America and life is her source for her deep belief and love for Judaism.