Abandoning Roots

Commentary by Dr. Ursula A. Falk

Vagaries, Hurdles, and Partial Extinction of the Jewish Family


Families are groups.  Each member of the constellation plays a part.  The infant is an adorable miracle to be hugged, loved, and admired.  He/she is a wonder, a toy to be adulated and pampered.  His smiles are a gratitude for his doting parents and grandparents.  It is the payment for being serviced.  His cries signal discomfort and his very needs are met almost instantly.  As he grows, he has to adapt, to please his caregivers.  He must mirror the acts, the wishes, goals of the group and fit in, take the habits, the outlook, the acts, the very movement of the leaders, the parents.  If he deviates, his acceptance will change.  His place in the family and the way in which he is viewed will take on a different dimension.  If he is very bright, his opinions will possibly be taken seriously.  If not, his place in the group may take another turn.  His helpfulness will make him a special child, his place in the constellation will be viewed as the “goodskeit,” the helper, the one that makes life easier for those in his surroundings.  The less dissonance there is in the constellation of the family, the more pleasant is the daily life of each member of the group.

In the Jewish family the hurdles are even more pronounced, more adaptations, more expectations are frequently to be made and or taken into consideration.  There are the religious aspects to be considered.  If the individual member, the growing child, differs from the expectations and acts upon the differences, the intimate group known as the family will possibly disintegrate in one fashion or another.  In the orthodox or traditional group it is expected that each person will remain true to his legacy, to his ancestors, to their teachings and beliefs.  If he deviates he will be viewed as the enemy, the derelict who has sold his parents, disrespected them, destroyed the beliefs and harmony that was their legacy, their very being.  The so called “liberal” has thus abandoned his bond, the life of those who have nurtured, adored, and raised him. He has turned into a “goy,” a stranger, an enemy who has sold his very being for a “pot of porridge.”  He has become Esau, to be mourned for, to be sat “shiveh” for, to be considered dead, no longer an integral part among the family.  He has thus  abandoned those who have nurtured, loved, and raised him. He has rejected all that is important, diminished and spat upon the ten commandments, and much more.  He has thus abandoned his very being, his roots.

The abandonment thus described can come for many reasons.  The person thus “smitten” sees an advantage of the partner he chose.  He may get some practical help from her in one way or another, he may throw away his feelings for those who have nurtured him into adulthood, he may feel he is an independent adult who will make his own decisions regardless of the outcome or consequences,  to prove his manliness, his adulthood.  He is able thus to throw away his obligations, his culture, his conscience toward his family.  He is “free” to do his own thing  Yet he wants to be accepted “as he is” with all the harm he has caused to his Jewish family.  He sees advantages in his actions and will project his hostility on those whom he has abandoned.  He will find people who will agree with him and prove to himself that he is his own keeper, his own best friend, the typical narcissist.  He is the aggressor who “blames the victim.”

The person thus described holds the members of his family responsible for the strife that he has caused and basically destroyed all of the values, his heritage that are the strength, the beauty, the cornerstone of the happy, peaceful  and united Jewish Family.


 Dr. Ursula A. Falk is a psychotherapist in private practice and the author of several books and articles.

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