Presents (or Just Presence) at Bris?

By Wendy Belzberg

Published October 31, 2003, issue of October 31, 2003.
  • Print
  • Share Share

Am I supposed to take something to a bris? I was invited to the home of a co-worker who just had her first son. I gave her a gift at her baby shower, and our department sent a beautiful flower arrangement to the hospital. Is there a protocol for giving a gift at a bris as well?

— Gift, gelt or gratitude?

Presents aren’t expected at a bris, especially if you’ve given at the office, so to speak. If you have never been to a bris before, I do have one other piece of advice: Don’t stand too close.

* * *

My friend’s father just passed away. Though they did not have a good relationship, my friend planned to go to the funeral. He found out today that his father requested that he not attend. My friend is obviously confused and upset and not sure what he should do. Should he go anyway, or should he respect his late father’s wish?

— Banned from the burial

Funerals are for the living, not for the dead. There is no way to know his father’s state of mind when he requested that his son not attend his funeral. One thing is clear, the request is both hostile and hurtful — and it worked. Unless your friend’s presence will make other family members uncomfortable, he should not think twice about attending. The father is dead, and his son is left behind to grieve and to make sense of their relationship. The funeral seems like a good place to start. And if this isn’t an endorsement for addressing unresolved feelings and relationships in this lifetime, I don’t know what is.

* * *

A close friend asked me to help her out on one of her work-related projects. She cannot afford my day wage, and I would be willing to help out based simply on our friendship. I assume she will charge it back to her client. Is it tacky for me to charge my friend for help she’s asked for?

— What price friendship?

Is she or isn’t she charging your time back to her client? That seems to be the key question here. (If you had asked her — and not me — you might already know the answer to your query.) If she is, then this is strictly a business relationship and your friend is your employer. You should have no second thoughts about asking for your regular rate — and accepting whatever the client is prepared to pay. Even if your friend is not charging her client for your time, your time and your assistance is no less valuable. Why not request payment in the form of dinner or a movie? I don’t care how close the friendship is; whenever money enters into the equation there is the possibility for misunderstanding. Be as up-front about this as possible.

Write to “Ask Wendy” at 954 Lexington Avenue #189, New York, N.Y. 10021 or at wendy@forward.com.






Find us on Facebook!
  • Is anti-Zionism the new anti-Semitism?
  • "I thought I was the only Jew on a Harley Davidson, but I was wrong." — Gil Paul, member of the Hillel's Angels. http://jd.fo/g4cjH
  • “This is a dangerous region, even for people who don’t live there and say, merely express the mildest of concern about the humanitarian tragedy of civilians who have nothing to do with the warring factions, only to catch a rash of *** (bleeped) from everyone who went to your bar mitzvah! Statute of limitations! Look, a $50 savings bond does not buy you a lifetime of criticism.”
  • That sound you hear? That's your childhood going up in smoke.
  • "My husband has been offered a terrific new job in a decent-sized Midwestern city. This is mostly great, except for the fact that we will have to leave our beloved NYC, where one can feel Jewish without trying very hard. He is half-Jewish and was raised with a fair amount of Judaism and respect for our tradition though ultimately he doesn’t feel Jewish in that Larry David sort of way like I do. So, he thinks I am nuts for hesitating to move to this new essentially Jew-less city. Oh, did I mention I am pregnant? Seesaw, this concern of mine is real, right? There is something to being surrounded by Jews, no? What should we do?"
  • "Orwell described the cliches of politics as 'packets of aspirin ready at the elbow.' Israel's 'right to defense' is a harder narcotic."
  • From Gene Simmons to Pink — Meet the Jews who rock:
  • The images, which have since been deleted, were captioned: “Israel is the last frontier of the free world."
  • As J Street backs Israel's operation in Gaza, does it risk losing grassroots support?
  • What Thomas Aquinas might say about #Hamas' tunnels:
  • The Jewish bachelorette has spoken.
  • "When it comes to Brenda Turtle, I ask you: What do you expect of a woman repressed all her life who suddenly finds herself free to explore? We can sit and pass judgment, especially when many of us just simply “got over” own sexual repression. But we are obliged to at least acknowledge that this problem is very, very real, and that complete gender segregation breeds sexual repression and unhealthy attitudes toward female sexuality."
  • "Everybody is proud of the resistance. No matter how many people, including myself, disapprove of or even hate Hamas and its ideology, every single person in Gaza is proud of the resistance." Part 2 of Walid Abuzaid's on-the-ground account of life in #Gaza:
  • After years in storage, Toronto’s iconic red-and-white "Sam the Record Man" sign, complete with spinning discs, will return to public view near its original downtown perch. The sign came to symbolize one of Canada’s most storied and successful Jewish family businesses.
  • Is $4,000 too much to ask for a non-member to be buried in a synagogue cemetery?
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.