Jewish Journal


August 20, 1998

Dear Deborah



Kiss and Tell

Dear Deborah

What would you say about my wife, who says she loves me but almost always turns her head when I try to kiss her on the lips?


Dear Frustrated,

I'd say either you have bad breath or she is lying.

Losing My Religion

Dear Deborah,

I read the letter from S.L., the father of an only child who had converted to Christianity and was constantly trying to "save" her parents ("Dying Mother's Wish," July 24). My heart goes out to him and his wife. I thought your advice was excellent, and I'm hoping you can help my husband and me too.

We also have recently "lost" our eldest, college-age son to Christianity. We are so upset and ashamed that no one in our community or synagogue knows -- only our immediate family and one other couple. My husband does not want to go to our rabbi for help, and we don't know where to turn. Our son also is constantly sending us "literature" to try and save us. We feel devastated, but, worse, we are in a state that feels much like secret mourning. We wonder how this could have happened to a good Jewish family. Also, we are worried that somehow he will get to our other children. Are their any support groups for parents with "born-again" children?

We are assuming that there are many parents out there who are also "in the closet" about their lost Jewish children and would benefit tremendously from the support of other parents who have shared this heartbreaking experience.

Brokenhearted Parents

Dear Brokenhearted,

Jews for Judaism, headed by Rabbi Ben Zion Kravitz, is the place to call. "Preventative education and winning back Jews who have been influenced by missionaries" are their main goals, according to "The Jewish Response to Missionaries: Counter-Missionary Handbook," by Rabbi Kravitz. They have offices throughout North America as well as an office in Johannesburg, South Africa, and may be reached in Los Angeles by phoning (310) 854-3381 or writing to Jews for Judaism, 2795 Bathurst St., P.O. Box 41032, Toronto, Ontario, Canada M6B 4J6. On the Internet, contact http://www.jewsforjudaism.org.

They may know of or offer counseling or support for parents of children who have been "lost" to missionaries. Good luck.

Fertile Ground for Fools

Dear Deborah,

My husband and I have been attempting to have a child for years. We have been through numerous failed attempts and spent tens of thousands of dollars on various procedures.

My problem is when people close to us say stupid, insensitive things, such as: "You should just relax. It worked for my cousin-aunt-neighbor-friend-et al. As soon as they stopped trying...." Or else they'll say: "Why not adopt? There are so many unwanted babies out there." Does one have to explain such personal choices? And then there is my personal favorite: "That must be hell on your marriage." I just shake my head in disbelief at these comments and try to change the subject as quickly as possible.

Is there a limit to the insensitivity of my fellow human beings?

Infertile in San Diego

Dear Infertile,

Apparently not. Look, this blight on your sensibilities must be stopped. And since those small, telepathic nuclear devices you've been launching seem not to be doing the trick, perhaps a more straightforward approach is in order.

A sampling for your consideration: "The subject of my fertility is closed to discussion." If that doesn't work, up the ante: "Let's make a deal. I will not bring up your boundless lack of tact if you won't bring up my fertility."

Dating Colleagues (And Other Bad Ideas)

Dear Deborah,

I have been living in Los Angeles for only one year; I moved from Chicago for my company.

It is an all-consuming job, and it is not unusual for me to put in 12- to 14-hour days, and six-day weeks. Of course, this leaves little time for establishing friendships, so most of my social life comes from work.

I have been dating a man from work for about three months. He is in an equal position to me in the company, but he is in a different division, so it didn't seem to matter. I was recently informed that my boyfriend's boss is being promoted and that they want to move me into that position when she leaves in two months for a maternity leave.

He has been with the company and in that position for far longer than me, and he is upset. He says that he absolutely cannot date his boss and thinks I should decline the promotion. I certainly understand. But my feelings for him have grown, and I really don't like the idea of giving up this relationship, especially when I know so few people in Los Angeles. My mom thinks that if I want to "catch" him, I must give up a possibly very important promotion.

I feel caught between a rock and a hard place.


Dear M.,

Ah, the perils of in-house dating!

My dear but clueless woman: Not only are you caught between a rock and a hard place, jobwise, but you also are squashed like a June bug under the a rock pile of generations of sexism, struggling to peer out from under toward the new millennium -- at the same, old question.

What'll it be? Career or relationship? Can't have both, you surmise.

Let me ask you this: What would you think if the positions were reversed? What if your boyfriend had been the one promoted to a position you wanted? Would you ask him to decline the job and forfeit his own promotion, or might you consider moving into a different division or job?

So your Mom is probably right, M. You will have to give up the promotion if you want to "catch" the boyfriend. But only you can answer what it is that you will have caught. And I certainly hope it is not communicable.

Deborah Berger-Reiss is a West Los Angeles psychotherapist.

All letters to Dear Deborah require a name, address and telephone number for purposes of verification. Names will, of course, be withheld upon request. Our readers should know that when names are used in a letter, they are fictitious.

Dear Deborah welcomes your letters. Responses can be given only in the newspaper. Send letters to Deborah Berger-Reiss, 1800 S. Robertson Blvd., Ste. 927, Los Angeles, CA 90035. You can also send E-mail: deborahb@primenet.com


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