Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Confessions of a Koifer

I'd like to welcome you into the office for my first session, let me get comfortable on the couch, collect my thoughts, and decide where to begin. Get yourself situated too - after all, I'm not paying you hundreds of dollars an hour to listen to me complain, so I might go on for a while. I'll start with what authors call "the hook", which is supposed to grab the reader so they don't put the book down till it's done, here goes.

I was born a little while ago in the west coast to a newlywed Orthodox Jewish couple. Four years and three more kids later, my parents decided that Washington state wasn't conducive to the ever more strict Orthodox life they where leading. So we moved to a quiet little Jewish culdesac in New Jersey. Jersey brought us two more kids, and an even more rigid lifestyle, but when that proved insufficient, we moved about an hour north, to the second largest Orthodox Jewish community in North America: Rockland County, New York. In the eighteen years that followed my parents had five more kids, (that's a grand total of 11 for those of you keeping track) married off six of us, and joined a group who - ironically - very closely resemble the Taliban - minus the homicidal and/or suicidal tendencies. In the meantime I got married, had a child of my own, was hired and fired from a couple jobs, opened and closed a couple businesses, tried but failed to go to college, moved twice, but in all that time I was a good Frum Jew.

And then all hell broke loose... In the few years since then, I have cut off my beard, cut of my payes, took off my yarmulka, and I am currently enlisted in the U.S. Army. I went from being a ma'amin to a koifer b'ikor, from a true believer to an atheist, from a hard-right conservative to a libertarian, from listening to Lipa Schmeltzer to listening to Linkin Park.

What happened? What changed? Was it an early mid-life crisis? Did I lose My Mind? Was I upset at my Rebbe's for hitting me? Am I doing all this just to piss off my parents? Am I sad inside, and just running away from myself? Maybe I'm just rebelling the way many kids do as young teenagers, and if so why did it take me this long do it? How could I go from sitting in Kollel, and representing the OK, to joining the Army. Rachmunah Litzlan! (All these are questions and suggestions that people have raised about me).

These and other topics is what I hope to sort out here with your help, you'll just have to excuse my grammar, this is a learn as we go operation. (Praise Xenu for spellcheck)

I have discovered that telling my story, is at once very relieving and emotionally draining. In addition to that, it's hard to relate all the details in one sitting, I'm hoping that this setting will help overcome these issues.


Anonymous said...

hi, and welcome to blog world.your story is facinating, i can't wait to hear more.

Chaim Gravitzer said...

Your English is actually not bad at all.

Sunesu Chinua said...

I am the uncle to the Koifer, and I too joined the military to travel and grow up. The big difference is that I did not grow up totally in a orthodox community instead I was given the open option to decide for myself but had the experience of tradition.
The ways of the communities from the west coast to the east coast are completely different just as Lubabvitch and Hassid and Ashcanasim are different. I am now re-thinking my stance on the base of judiasm (completely atheist) due to my own wishes to have some community ties and enjoy some tradition in my home for my children. I know you will agree that not all of it was that bad and what you went through toughened you up to what you are now dealing with in such a way that you are better equipped to handle the BS better than others.
I am going to start practicing the holidays again and enjoy the Shabos break, I am not sure about the rest of it or the rigidity of it all but we shall see, after all the holidays are lots of fun.
I am going to point out to the readers that I have always been atheist in my heart even when I was 3 years old, I never believed that there could be a being that was more powerful than I could become and still feel that way. I just like the way the original guidelines laid down for a person to follow were aimed at happiness and family as well as ensuring plenty of celebrating and rest.
More later

Sunesu Thorsgar Chinua