What’s Wrong With You: Post-Orthodox Dating, Newly-Orthodox Stepmommying

Dear Judith,

I recently went to Limmud NY (a non-denominational Jewish education conference), and of course, the girls were too religious for me even though everyone promised me it wouldn’t be like that. But they were cute. One who caught my fancy is leaving Orthodoxy, yet she seems a little on guard towards secular men. For instance, when I asked if I could have her number, she texted: You certainly can, but I am not really up for dinner, sex and brunch. Maybe we can be coffee friends??

I totally respect her boundaries and comfort preferences, but do you think it’s OK to try to make out with her on the first date?


Jew-Conferenced Out

Dear JCO,

I’m going to ignore your question momentarily and pretend you asked me whether she seems inexperienced and nervous or like she’s blowing you off. If you actually suggested dinner, sex and brunch, the answer is both: her lack of experience with blowing people off is why she suggested coffee. Conversely, if her highly blow-off-sounding comment was merely a pre-emptive defense against the new-to-her big, scary world, you have a chance. A teeny, tiny chance that she’ll make out with you willingly, and a miniscule–a teeny, tiny bit larger than teeny, tiny–chance of manipulating her naivete into a tense smatter of psuedo-intimate contact (and never hearing from her again).

It’s a coffee date, dude: if she physically, verbally and eye-fully indicates interest, go for it. But don’t hold your breath.

Best of luck,


Dear Judith,

For the past fifteen Passovers my brothers and I have spent one Seder with our father and the other with our mother, in whatever order worked best that year. This year, my stepmother has become more religious and decided that, if we want to see our father, we have to spend both nights with them so nobody drives during the holiday to get there or go somewhere else.

My father isn’t fighting back because it’s just “one of her phases”. Nevertheless, I feel bad leaving him alone (my brothers said no right away) and am toying with the idea of lying about my intention to stay. I’d sneak out in the morning after sleeping off those four cups (or entire bottles) of wine. Passover is about escaping, after all. Does my stepmother imposing her values on us justify blatant dishonesty?


Not My Stepmother’s Slave

Dear Not My Stepmother’s Slave,

Back when my children were babies I sometimes visited Orthodox relatives in whose presence I was expected to seek privacy to nurse. Their house, their rules, and I could choose to stay home (and to the argument against “condoning” “offensive” beliefs because religion oppresses people and causes wars, I say atheists oppress and kill, too).

The similarities first: you’ve been given plenty of notice, so the fact that your car won’t be in Stepmommy’s house is irrelevant. Her terms are clear and the decision is yours.

The enormous difference: boycotting my family will never inspire them to reconsider their pre-pre-pre-pre-feminist views. Your father, on the other hand, assuming he misses you, might rethink being a wimp. (If submissiveness is a long-standing issue even better–something’s gotta give.)

If he isn’t pushing back because he’s indifferent, then your guilt is the byproduct of a dysfunctional parental relationship, not worthy of your time. Worthy only of time spent shedding it, rather. Sneaking off would make intriguing performance art, but freedom from guilt is a metaphoric Passover experience bar none.



P.S. If you ignore my advice, as you are free to do, bring a spare set of car keys. And don’t park in the garage.

What do you think?

About The Author

Judith Basya

Judith Basya is Heeb's Literary Editor. She writes an advice column (and an advice blog: www.asktinymom.com) so her psychology degree doesn't go to waste. If your problem can be solved in <140 characters, she's on Twitter. If it's complicated, please email Judith @ Heebmagazine.com.

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