Scared Blind Date Might Lead to Pulpit Marriage

By Wendy Belzberg

Published July 25, 2003, issue of July 25, 2003.

I am a 30-year-old single man. A friend of mine wants to set me up with a woman who is studying to become a rabbi. She sounds like a wonderful person in every way — bar the career she has chosen. When I asked her if she intended to teach, she informed me that she wants to be a pulpit rabbi. I cannot envision myself as a rabbi’s “wife.” Is this reason enough to not even go out on a first date?

— Eyeing blind date’s future

For the record, you would not be a rabbi’s wife, you would be a rabbi’s husband. No doubt about it, a rabbi’s spouse is indeed subject to public scrutiny, expected to attend public functions, host Sabbath lunches and to stay in town most weekends. Not to mention the funerals, weddings and other community affairs. Still, a rabbi is a contract employee — not an indentured servant — and can negotiate her own job description, which would respond to both her needs and the community’s. You could easily make it clear that you do not come as part of a twofer.

I understand ruling out prospective mates based on their chosen professions: executioner, emergency room doctor, day trader, armed security guard or cruise director to name a few. I would not place a rabbi in that category — but then I’m not the one who would have to walk the walk. If “rabbi” is at the top of your list of unacceptable careers, don’t even meet the woman. If it’s not, what do you have to lose? Love does not conquer all, by any means, but it does make for wonderful compromises and unexpected life turns. Enjoy the ride.

* * *

My father has been ill for some time. My mother visits him regularly, even though they were divorced 13 years ago. She already has expressed her wish to give a eulogy at the funeral. My father’s new wife of eight years thinks this would be highly inappropriate. I’m stuck in the middle. What do you think?

— Stuck in the middle

Your father’s heart is still beating and already your family members are arguing over who will deliver the eulogy? Since your mother and stepmother don’t think it in bad taste to discuss the topic before your father has died, why not ask him directly whom he would like to deliver his eulogy? If neither wife — past or present — is willing to burden your dying father with such bickering, then perhaps after his death they will understand that their rivalry is equally irrelevant. Your mother may no longer be the wife, but she is still the mother of his children and clearly has enough of a bond to care about him in his death. If your father thinks it appropriate that his ex-wife visit him while he is alive, I think he would find it equally acceptable for her to eulogize him after he dies. And a funeral and the eulogies are, after all, meant to be about the deceased, not about the people who survive him. You are in the splendid position of being able to ask the one person whose opinion matters. Do so if you dare.

* * *

My husband just received an invitation to a friend’s wedding. The only name on the invitation and the RSVP card was his. My name was not on it. The groom’s mother and I had a tiff that was never resolved. Any suggestions?

— Unsure about invite

Have your husband call the bride or groom and point out the error, graciously. If he is informed that the omission was intentional, your husband has only one choice: to say that he cannot dictate the invitation list, but that he will not attend without you. Either you both go or neither of you go.

Petty-petty mother-in-law. I don’t envy the son or daughter who is entering her lair. I don’t care how grave your wrongdoing, a wedding is a time for celebration, not a time to make a point — or to prolong a grudge. A better woman would have recognized this as an opportunity to let bygones be bygones. If you do attend, I suggest you take the high road and write the groom’s mother a lovely note thanking her for including you in her simcha, telling her what a lovely affair it was and how happy you are to have left the past behind.

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



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