Just a quick note about ‘passing’ in the Jewish community (of the ‘being something you’re not’ kind rather than the ‘dying’ kind).  After a somewhat difficult day at work (nothing particularly went wrong for me, I just felt quite depressed and lacking motivation), I went to the parasha shiur (class on the week’s Torah reading).  I was the first person there and the assistant rabbi was chatting to me.  Small talk generally makes me anxious, particularly when I feel I have to ‘pass’ as a frum (religious) Jew.  The assistant rabbi was asking about my job and I felt I had to hide that my previous job was at a non-Orthodox Jewish seminary because I don’t know how that would go down with an Orthodox rabbi.  He also asked me if I went to yeshiva (rabbinical seminary) because (he said) I seem knowledgeable.  That made me kvell (sorry, can’t translate; the internet says ‘be joyful and proud’) a bit, for ‘passing’ as a yeshiva bocher (student), but I also feel like I have to keep saying intelligent and knowledgeable things to carry on ‘passing’ and I did feel embarrassed when I said I didn’t go to yeshiva.  I was trying to summon up the courage to explain why I didn’t go when someone else came in and the conversation moved on.

A thought that occurred to me after the shiur was to wonder if the assistant rabbi is aware of any of my mental health issues.  His parents are good friends with my parents and my issues are well-known among my parents’ friends and we did go to the same shul (synagogue) when we were growing up, so it’s possible, but if he does know, he’s too polite to have mentioned it.

Before this, I phoned the rabbi I’ve been trying to contact about my date (I know too many rabbis…).  He is still trying to get in touch with some of the rabbis I gave as references, and he asked if I know the rabbi of my old shul (synagogue) as my potential date wants to contact him for a reference.  I said yes as he knows me well.  I originally wrote a paragraph here about frum dating and the silliness (in my humble opinion) of getting references and doing a lot of preliminary research before a first date rather than just going and seeing what the chemistry is like, but I cut it because it was verging a bit on lashon hara (negative speech about people).  Suffice to say I don’t mind being investigated, but I feel it shouldn’t go on for weeks before there is even a date, particularly as I don’t know what she is trying to find out.

I tell myself that maybe this is a good sign, maybe my potential date dated a lot of jerks who passed as nice people initially and she wants to make sure that I’m not a jerk and maybe my not-being-a-jerk-ness will outweigh my being-a-mentally-ill-autistic-weirdo-who-didn’t-go-to-yeshiva-ness.  On the other hand, maybe she’s trying to check that I’m not a mentally ill autistic weirdo who didn’t go to yeshiva, I just can’t tell.  I just hope I hear soon, one way or the other, as the longer it goes on, the more sure I become that I can’t be the person she’s looking for and want to just get it over with.

2 thoughts on “Passing

  1. Hooray for mentally ill autistic weirdos! (Although I can only legitimately claim to be a mentally ill weirdo myself, being an empath* rather than autistic…)

    Btw, you’re one of my favourite MIAW (the other one knows who she is!) 😉

    * For empath, think half-Betazoid, like Deanna Troi in ‘Star Trek: The Next Generation’.


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