This is going to be a little long – and I am thankful to everyone that finishes reading this and offers their opinion!
My family is culturally Jewish – we were never religious. I know many of my fellow Jews will say that you cannot separate one from the other but let me try and explain. We celebrate all the big holidays at home/with family and friends but we almost never went to synagogue or pray or read prayers. We are very proud of our heritage and race as Jews but religiously we would probably say we’re agnostic. As a family we were very close and had a very loving relationship. Even after 30 years together my parents clearly loved each other so much and they were always amazing parents to me.
And here comes the twist with my Mum. My Dad, unfortunately, passed away three years ago. His wish was, of course, to be buried at a Jewish cemetery with our people and according to Jewish traditions. Since then my Mum has steadily been becoming more and more religious and brings it into my life as well. She started going to synagogue every shabbat, instead of celebrating the big holidays with me, as we have done as a family before (I’m an only child), she goes to synagogue, we now have mezuzah on all the entry ways to our house instead of just the main entrance, special handwashing cups in all the bathrooms. It had me worried a bit but then again if she feels like it’s right for her – why not. But where I draw the line is at the ways we remember my father.
The first two year after his death – it was me and my Mum and closest friends and family coming to visit his grave (not only) for his birthday and the day he passed (both Jewish and Gregorian calendars). We installed a special bench by his grave where we would just sit and talk, laugh, and remember him fondly.
His last birthday (in June) my Mum invited her Rabi to say the special prayers – he’s a nice man and everything but I just don’t feel comfortable with sharing this day with someone who is practically a stranger to me. Also, I don’t think my Dad would have really cared for this either, as I said, he was never religious at all. I know the most important thing my Dad would want is for me and my Mum to be there and not some random man he didn’t even know. I told my Mum I didn’t really like this and that I would rather these visit be a family and close friends (who knew Dad) thing.
So in a few days it’s the 3 year anniversary of Dad’s passing (Jewish cal.) we are going to the cemetery and my Mum nonchalantly said to me that her Rabi would be attending as well as 5 Jewish men neither I nor her know so that there could be a minyan. I told her that I’m not comfortable with this, and that I don’t think Dad would like this or want this. She had a meltdown about how it was a mistake that my Dad wasn’t more religious and that this is now her way of connecting with him, and that he would want this (through prayers made by the Rabi and so on).
And now we’re going in circles and fighting – I’m saying that I want this day to be about my Dad and family and friends who my Dad loved and knew. Mum thinks these prayers are important but I just don’t want these strangers at my fathers grave – as I said, I don’t think my Dad would care for this and I just don’t need strangers around me on this emotional day. So I said that if she does this then I’m going to the cemetery alone and that that is definitely something my Dad wouldn’t want. Also, I said that she is pushing me away with all this religiousness. She’s saying I’m not being understanding, hurting her and being dismissive of “our” religion, and some emotional blackmail saying that my Dad would be disappointed and so on.
Am I being an asshole? Should I just suck it up and deal with strangers on one of the most important days for our family? Or should I stand my ground?
I’m sick of fighting with my Mum, I really do love her and she’s all the family I have. Ugh, sorry for the rant.