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Good Shabbos, Dad

Good Shabbos, Dad

Being raised as a rather non-religious Jew, I'm often asked what it's like to have orthodox parents.


I can hear it in his voice -- a wisdom, a deepness that seeps into his words, alerting me to the fact that something special is occurring halfway across the world. The words are no different from any other Friday afternoon -- the voicemail wishing me a ‘good shabbos’, telling me he loves me… and yet, today, this message is infused with spirituality, sent not from the car on his way home from work but rather in a city that bustles with preparation to welcome to Sabbath queen, from Israel -- the land of freedom.

And nothing gives me more joy than listening to his message.

My dad, the one who would go hiking while we went to shul on Saturday mornings, the one who hungered for bacon and eggs when we went out for breakfast, the one who was raised in an orthodox Jewish home and then moved across the country to build a life that bore no resemblance to the one he had come from. My dad seems to have grown into his skin. He fills the shoes of those who walked before him and he has discovered the beauty buried within the traditions and rituals that he practices on a daily basis.

I’m often asked what it’s like -- being raised as a rather non-religious conservative Jew -- to now have orthodox parents who keep strictly kosher and don’t drive on shabbos or turn on the lights, who study with a rabbi every week and are more involved with the synagogue community than any other. And sure, there are things that take some getting used to -- and the day that my mom starts wearing a wig or my father grows long peyos, the long curls by the side of his face, I’m sure I’ll have a moment of panic. But mostly, it brings me joy.

It brings me joy to watch my father rush off to shul rather than off to the hospital to do rounds.

It brings me joy to watch my father rush off to shul rather than off to the hospital to do rounds. It brings me joy to listen to the passage that he studied with the rabbi and his thoughts on it. It brings me joy to hear the humility mixed with spirituality in his voice when he tells me “the world is well managed” -- this from a man who used to announce his disbelief in God with pride.

And, not surprisingly, he is returning to his roots -- resembling his observant father more and more by the day… but not the father from childhood he remembers: demanding, punishing, disapproving, but rather the grandfather I knew, the father he met in older years. The grandfather that donned tefillin every morning and prayed as he welcomed in the day. The grandfather that held my hand and pointed out the different plants and trees on our walk through the park. The grandfather that survived unimaginable horror and still believed, who loved with a whole heart and when he spoke in his soft voice, we all leaned in to listen.

Today, when my father speaks, I lean in; anxious to learn from him, to share in his journey, to let him know I see this man he has become, and even if he didn’t hear it enough growing up, perhaps he can hear it from me:

I have never been prouder of the man, soul, father, friend that you are. Good shabbos Dad.

June 5, 2010

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Visitor Comments: 21

(21) SusanE, June 12, 2010 2:23 PM

A Lovely and Very Important Story.

I wonder what started the fire that made Laurens Father begin to live an observent life? There was something, a feeling, or an event that made him decide to change his way of living. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~ I truly believe we all become our parents no matter how hard we try to rebel and become independent of them. I think this man left his observant parents and tried the material world for several years and then returned to where he belonged. His daughter is proof that he did the right thing as did his Father do the right thing when he was young. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~ The old saying "What goes around, comes around'..... is pretty powerful. ~~~~~~~~~~~~ The Mother taught Lauren a great lesson. She kept the children going to shul while dad was hiking. She has shown what influence a womans actions have on the entire family. This is a lovely way to remember her parents and Grandparents.

(20) Julie, June 12, 2010 2:30 AM

The ultimate prosperity...

The greatest prosperity of all is a life filled with overflowing riches from the spirit. A contagious soul that by sheer commitment and example affects everyone in his/her environment--the believers, the non-believers, the Jews, the Christians, and simply everyone the likes of Dr. Bottner come in contact with. In an era of seemingly no absoute truths and a culture that glorifies everything but God it seems, I am always overjoyed to see a flicker turn into a flame of the commited and the affected.

(19) Anonymous, June 11, 2010 12:54 PM

Beautifully written. It shows that although you were not brought up religiously you are still very connected to your judiasm. This is a credit to your parents. Your sensitivity and respect for your parents and their choice of observance is to your credit. They must have shed quite a few tears when reading your article.

(18) , June 10, 2010 5:35 PM

To "Anonymous-Not Always Easy"

I became Orthodox, like Lauren, and my sister often makes parties on Shabbos that I try to go to if I can (stay locally and wak). What I loved about Lauren's story is how you see that it doesn't only have to be about it being hard for the non-religious--not being able to have family at their Shabbos events, eat at non-kosher restaurants, etc. (what I always hear). But that they can also open their hearts to the beauty-- so much so that it finally took hold inside her father's own heart! May all the families live with more and more Shalom all the time!

(17) Annette, June 10, 2010 12:58 AM

lovely... just lovely

yes, I wish I could have written this article about my parents; not a chance! even if my kids don't ever write about it, may I merit that they at least think this way some time in their life and may they join me too

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