Price of conformity

Price of conformity

I read with interest the story of one mother who is home-schooling her children (“No school like home,” May 23). My first thought was Power to her. Then came the usual Jewish narishkeit about “not wanting others to know,” because it will cause her and her family to be outside the Jewish mainstream day schools and yeshivot. Has Judaism made us a herd of sheep, trying to keep others from knowing what they do privately or what they do differently or whether or not their kids have special needs?

The secrecy attached to so many subjects in the Jewish community is frightening. It reeks of people hidden in attics if they were mentally ill. It reeks of the sin of having a baby without a father.

It reeks of not being observant enough, or not belonging to the right synagogue, or not having the biggest McMansion in town. It reeks of a mentality of conformity that is detrimental to the Jewish people.

No one dares step out of the line. If they do, they will be ostracized by their neighbors and so-called friends. People will borrow on their homes, to have the biggest and best b’nai mitvot and weddings, and then sadly spend their lives making up for it.

As much as so many things have come out of the closet, the Jews are so drawn to conformity that it surpasses religion, and turns instead to regulating personal choices, which have no place in a community that thrives on everyone being the same. I have never understood this mentality, and I live smack in the middle of it.