I’m not sure how “Jewish” this is, other than I’m a Jewish girl writing for a Jewish blog, and that might have to be enough.

I have this friend. I say friend because I’m not sure what to call her (for now we’ll call her K). We used to be very close, at a rebellious time in my life and in the aftermath of that rebellion. I saw her once in the last 18 months – maybe longer. At that point, during this past winter, she was telling me how happy she was with her new boyfriend; she lied to be about how they met, about how she lost her job because they were dating; she said that he was an ex-con but he’s clean now. I’m pretty sure that was a lie too… she was honest about his several children, each with a different woman, about his family and his past. I’m not sure why she chose to tell me certain things and not others, but then, I was never sure why she did most things. Not long after our meeting, I heard through a friend that her boyfriend had put a personal ad online for a new chick; that it was over and she was moving out. I think we all breathed a sigh of relief.

police tape

Right before Rosh Hashanah, I got a text from K that said she was getting married and would like to have my address so she can send me an invitation. I’ll preface this by letting you know, another ‘friend’ from this time period of my life was married just before Rosh Hashanah, in Middle America somewhere. We had some kind of falling out about 4 years ago and haven’t spoken much since then. She has no idea what my life is like and I have no idea about hers. We’re strangers at this point, except that I know her past. When I got the facebook message requesting my address from her, I just didn’t respond. I felt some Jewish guilt about it…but I’m over it. I think this has informed my reaction/response to the K’s wedding plans. So I sent K my address – no invite has arrived, even though the wedding is in November. I’m still close with two friends from back then – we’ve talked about going to the wedding, either to stand up in opposition when the officiant asks or to bear witness for when the whole thing ends. But she sends this text and I think maybe she’s back with her boyfriend of several years, the one she dated before her few months with the Jailbird. I hoped she was at least. He was a Mensch. I was actually shocked when I heard that she was marrying the Jailbird. She’s a smart girl – what is she doing? And with the quick engagement/wedding timeframe, one wonders if she’s his next babymama. You’ll never guess the icing on top of this f—ed up wedding situation – her parents don’t know.

What do you do? What do any of us do when we see a friend making a huge mistake? If I say something, will she never speak to me again? Will she sic her convict on me? If I don’t say something, and (oy G-d forbid) something happens to her, how will I live with the guilt? If I don’t show up, will that show that I don’t approve? Does my approval even matter to her?

Doing the right thing is certainly a Jewish thing… so there’s my Jewish connection. Not to mention the overwhelming sense of guilt every time I think about the situation. Nothing is stronger than Jewish guilt. (more on Jewish Guilt and My Mother in my next post). I want to do the right thing. But what is it?

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2 Comments

  • Is this a Jewish girl you’re talking about? I would say your responsibility to become involved is stronger if this girl is Jewish.

    The “Jewish guilt” issue… come on. Why is it “Jewish” guilt? Why can’t it be simply personal guilt? I think you should spend some time examining why you feel this guilt.

    I’m not trying to sound crass, but honestly, if all you care about is your guilt then stay as far away from this girl as possible. In fact, if you don’t intend to stay in touch with this woman were she to do as you suggest, to take a serious stake in her life and holistically nurse her back to a healthy lifestyle, just stay away.

    This girl is not a “hit a run” project for you and your friends to protesting on the day of her wedding. No matter how misguided she may be, you’re not helping her this way, except to assuage your guilt at not having been a true friend to her to begin with.

    My advice, stay away.

  • Don’t go to the wedding. What is the point? Do you hope that by going to the wedding she’ll stay in contact with you and reach out to you when they get divorced, or ask for your advice? Small chance, given how little contact you’ve had. And don’t go to protest the wedding. That’s childish.

    Once you are NOT going to the wedding, you can do two things to help her:

    1) Stay out of her business. She’s an adult and you are not responsible for her decisions. So feel sad for her, but not guilty.

    2) If you actually care about her enough to get involved, you can send her a letter that says “I care about you, and based on what you’ve told me about this man, I think you are making a mistake and I cannot support your marriage by attending the wedding. I hope I am wrong and that, if you marry him, you have a happy life together. I sincerely wish you the best and want only happiness for you.” Then forget about it. You’ll probably never hear from her again.

    That’s my 10 agurot.

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