For three decades of my adult life, beginning in my early twenties, I kept far away from Jewish life. I’ve since spent decades unraveling the many reason for my departure from the tradition in which I was assiduously raised. Let’s start with a simple overview:  I was a temperamental mismatch with traditional Judaism’s…

…  obsession with detail

…  delimitation of curiosity

….  disregard for the aesthetic

…   suspicion of feminine sensuality

…  pious self righteousness

….  communal insularity.

And as I say, those are just a few broad themes for kicking off a much longer conversation.

Lost Child

My father was a fierce crusader for Orthodox Judaism as a way of life mandated by God. He was not going to let me off easy.  What to do? I marry an older man, a French Jew who carried a Christian identity for the first seven years of his life so that he might survive Nazi genocide. In him I find a certain ebullience and savoir faire; What’s more we love one another deeply for being exactly who we are. It is a good solution all around: The snooty 16th arrondissement of Paris provides a safe haven from the do-or-die religious crusaders back home.  Much as their hearts are shattered by my defection, my parents will not disown me for this choice, nor would they sit shiva,  mourning a lost child  as they surely would had I ventured to marry out of the faith.


There is a price to pay for rupture – a lingering longing for roots, the nagging need for meaning, a teetering on the edge of a spiritual void. In lonely moments I would remind myself of the justification for self-imposed loss – after all, what woman of apt and curious mind would accept a life of male-imposed strictures and constraints?  I had not turned my back on a world that welcomed me. Rather, as a thinking women programmed for self-determination, I was a black sheep, a self-selected outcast of the herd.

About susanrtorn

writer, life coach
This entry was posted in Personal Evolution and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s