Friday, April 25, 2008

"And you shall teach your children on that day, saying..."

The last days of Pesach are rapidly approaching as I am sitting in Jerusalem with my family. We have spent the entire Pesach together. This is the first time that we are all together since my son announced to us that he is gay.

We spent a meaningful Seder together with another family. For this first time in many years I was a guest at another person's Seder rather than being the leader of the Seder. This allowed me the opportunity to reflect on the meaning of the Seder, and the questions that are posed to all the generations present at the Seder. It also allowed me time to think about freedom, not only the freedom from slavery, but some of the personal freedoms we work towards in our daily lives.

There are no answers. There are only questions. The answers change from year to year and from generation to generation.

Before my daughter left her yeshiva for Pesach vacation she was handed a note from her madrichot. It read as follows.....

On Pesach we go out on a journey to find freedom. Not only the traditional general exodus from Egypt but our own personal exodus. In the searching for our personal freedom we must choose to leave the known and familiar - for something better and new. In one way or another we are all still slaves. We each have something we are enslaved to. Something that tells us what to do, what to think, how to feel. Only once we know what that thing is, only if we can define it, then we will be able to overcome it.

On a personal level, I started writing this blog a short while after my son told us he is gay. I felt it was necessary to start a dialogue with other parents who were finding themselves in the same situation. In setting this blog in motion I also set up an anonymous email address so that people who did not want to share their stories with everyone, could communicate with me personally. I have stressed many times that I am not a professional, just an ordinary father navigating uncharted waters.

I have been a little disappointed in the response and I have even considered shutting down the blog.

But maybe some good will come from this.

A few weeks ago, a young man started to email me. We discussed my son, how I felt as a parent and how I was able to handle and cope with the news. He was struggling with telling his parents. He had been finding the Chagim to be a trying time for him and he was searching for help in sharing his sexual orientation with his parents.

We had numerous emails back and forth and many hours spent chatting on IM. I left for Israel and wished him luck. I received an email from him yesterday telling me that he shared his news with his parents. A few minutes later I received an email from his mother thanking me for helping her son.

From slavery to freedom.

Saul David


Anonymous said...

I finally decided to write to you over pesach, but what is your email address?


NoPeanutz said...

Pssssshhhhhhhhh Kavod!
Congratulations SD and to this young man and his family.
To quote (out of context) a sign that I once saw posted oustide a church on Pennsylvania Rt. 6, "Faith is not a leap in to the dark but a step in to the light."

Meafeyla Leora U Misheibud Ligeula.
Ignorance (darkness):Slavery::Knowledge (light):Freedom.
These two ideas, freedom and knowledge, are perfect parallels in Jewish tradition. On Passover, God did the redeeming of the Israelites, with supernatural signs and wonders. But the Exodus culminates in the giving, actually the Israelites accepting, of the Law. Escaping Egypt was the easy part. In fact, the Israelites are still struggling with completing this final stage of the Exodus (fulfilling of the Law) to this very day.

It is wonderful and courageous of this young man and his family to have escaped their bondage, as he finally was able to set down his burden. Looking forward to the Shavuot festival, they should have the strength to meet the challenges and potential rewards that await them down the road, as they strive for fulfillment.