…or possibly I’m too stressed to express myself in words.

I haven’t written for a couple of days, and as I probably won’t write publicly tomorrow (a work event that I can’t write about publicly without compromising my anonymity), I thought I would write today even though I don’t have much to say. I’m living a very day-by-day existence, worrying about the wedding (TWO MONTHS!!!😱) and Pesach (TWO WEEKS!!!😱😱😱) and also health stuff – not serious, but annoying, particularly two NHS issues: the ongoing problem of my missing sleep study results and a big mess up with my new prescription. I kept getting prescribed my old prescription, not the new one (lower dose) I started in December. The GP’s receptionist blamed the pharmacy and the pharmacy blamed the GP. I think I sorted it today, but who knows?

Other worries: really annoyed 😡 with a particular rabbi involved in our wedding (not the officiating rabbi) who, after asking for a load of documentation months ago, has now asked for something else that we’re not going to be able to get in time and who suddenly wants to see us next week, after sitting on an email from me for a week, even though I told him E is immigrating next week. I got very anxious about him forbidding our wedding, although after I said it wasn’t possible, he just said don’t bring it. But I do worry about E getting completely turned off Orthodox Judaism from this.

Why do so many Orthodox rabbis act like this? I know they’re all busy, but so many seem not to understand the implications of being in a client-facing role where people have the ability to go elsewhere. I’m sure it plays a big part in turning people off Orthodoxy. I wouldn’t choose to leave Orthodoxy, because it’s the only Jewish denomination that I’m compatible with, in terms of theology and practice, but many people in the Anglo-Jewish world do not think much in terms of theology and are flexible (or minimally-observant) in terms of practice, but respond very negatively to this kind of behaviour (understandably) and go elsewhere. The Israeli Chief Rabbinate is, if anything, even worse. Paradoxically, Orthodox Judaism might be in a better state if more rabbis and synagogue bodies thought of themselves like a business trying to maintain market-share by pleasing customers. I don’t mean interpreting halakhah (Jewish law) extra-leniently, but just being courteous and helpful, replying promptly, being consistent and so on. Then, when people leave Orthodoxy, we just talk about the powerful attractions of the world outside Orthodoxy or cast aspersions on the mental health of those who leave and assume there was nothing we could have done about it. Gah. 🙄Anyway.

I got very anxious because of this and went for a longish walk. I picked up my 25mg clomipramine prescription (I hope that’s sorted now too – the NHS is another organisation that tends to forget the clients are key, not the staff) and went to the park. It was fairly empty (except for the inevitable dog-walkers) and much of it still looks bleak, but there were patches of colour from the daffodils and violets (? I’m not good with flowers).

In terms of doing stuff, I put together a draft invitation for the wedding, but not much else, except emailing back and forth with that rabbi. Maybe it’s OK to focus on wedding at this time. I sent an email to try to chase my sleep study, only to get an automatic response saying not to use that email address for chasing sleep studies, but no indication of who I should email instead (classic NHS).

 I feel bad about not helping much with Pesach, but I’m just struggling with wedding stuff. E and I have said that some stuff (florist, musicians etc.) is going to have to wait until after Pesach, even though that’s just five weeks before the wedding. If it doesn’t happen, it doesn’t happen. I do still feel a little bad that I persuaded E to have a larger wedding than she wanted, even though our “larger” is small by most Jewish standards (fifty or so invitees for tea instead of a couple of hundred for a four course meal with dancing). E is very stressed about moving to the UK too, understandably, and it’s hard comforting and supporting her long-distance. On the other hand – E is immigrating in one week!🥳🥳🥳🥳🥳

I am trying not to give in to stress and to take time to relax. I’m not pushing myself with writing or heavy reading. I started Children of Dune, but haven’t got very far with it; mostly I’m reading Doctor Who graphic novels: Steve Parkhouse’s time as writer on the Doctor Who Magazine strip (currently on The Stockbridge Horror, which I think is under-rated). Likewise, I finished watching Undermind (underwhelming, overall) and am still watching Yes Prime Minister. I’m not doing much Torah study, although I did manage to listen to an old Orthodox Conundrum podcast on the Pesach seder which gave me one or two ideas of things to say at the seder. I’m not doing much seder preparation at all this year, though. In fact, most of the seder preparation I’ve done has been trying to work out how to make it easier for E, who we suspect has ADHD or AuDHD (autism plus ADHD) and struggled through our long seders last year.


I listened to an Orthodox Conundrum podcast today about anxiety in the Orthodox community. I wrote the following to post on the podcast’s Facebook group, then decided it was too focused on myself and my issues and not really engaging properly with the podcast, but I think it does bear posting somewhere:

This was interesting, but I guess it really addresses people whose situation and problems are “normal” for the frum [religious Jewish] community (let’s call it “Ortho-typical”). As an “Ortho-divergent” person with autism and a history of mental illness, including social anxiety, as well as being a BT [ba’al teshuvah – someone raised less religious who became more religious as an adult] with less-frum family, I feel like I’m often in difficult situations that other frum people wouldn’t be in and making choices that I know other people wouldn’t agree with (some people would say I should just not socialise with less-frum family, for example). This fuels my social anxiety and the intense feeling I have that other people in the community are judging me negatively.

One example related to what you spoke about: my minyan [communal prayer] attendance had been declining for years, based on my declining mental health and exhaustion as my work situation changed, but COVID finished it off. I don’t really get to shul more than once a week now, sometimes not even that, if I’m struggling with autistic exhaustion. I often don’t see any social benefits from going, only negatives, in that I struggle to talk to people, people rarely start conversations with the socially anxious autistic guy in the corner, and even if someone did talk to me in Kiddush, I can’t actually hear anything anyone says as I can’t tune out the ambient noise and focus on what’s being said to me. The assistant gabbai at the shul I used to go to once criticised me for always leaving the Kiddush after five minutes, which only made me more self-conscious and socially anxious about it and less inclined to go.

As I said, I didn’t think it was so appropriate to post this there, but I do feel that “Ortho-divergent” people are marginalised in the frum world. We hide and camouflage ourselves, meaning that we can’t turn to each other for support and advice and, I’m sure, many end up leaving Orthodoxy for lack of support when, with help, and a less judgmental community, they might have found their place in it.


15 thoughts on “This Post is so Emotional, It Needs Emojis

  1. One week!!! That is exciting 🥳

    The rest, yeah stressful. My frum daughter had the 300 person wedding and it was super stressful on all of us. So at least you aren’t dealing with that! My other daughter had about 80, and that went very nicely 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It is exciting!

      I thought my fifty person wedding would be six times easier than my sister’s three hundred person wedding, but it turns out a lot of the stresses are the same regardless of how big the wedding is. You still need one venue, one caterer, one florist (etc.). It’s easier for the caterer if they only have to cater for fifty rather than three hundred, but the process of finding the right caterer isn’t any easier. 😦

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I wonder if your sleep study clinic is the same as my son’s? I do have an email address for it and a phone number of their secretary, a nice woman called Jan. The clinic is at RHLIM but part of the UCLH group. Let me know if this is yours and I can give you the contact details.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, but I don’t think it’s the same clinic. Mine is through the Royal Free Trust. I’m hoping the GP can get some answers as I feel stuck and don’t have much free time for asking around right now.


  3. When individuals, like you and E are doing your best, you should be embraced. To do otherwise seems wrong. I’ve also noticed that organized religion sometimes gets very heady/demanding and this serves nobody well. (I acknowledge walking away from religion.) I’m glad you are taking time to decompress. It is important. Only you know what is best for you.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I don’t see it so much as needing his approval as needing to know what Jewish law says about something. If I wanted to know what the civil law was, I would go to a lawyer. I wouldn’t see that as the lawyer telling me what to do, but as him telling me how to stay within the bounds of the law. It’s still my decision what to do. If I’d wanted to get married to someone that Jewish law didn’t allow, I could have had a civil marriage.

      Beyond that is a much bigger question about moral autonomy and following laws in general or as religious practice, which I don’t really have time to get into now.

      (Btw, E agrees with you.)


  4. Oddly, I’ve had pretty good experiences re: “customer service” and manners with Orthodox rabbis. (The Chabad Rabbi asking about my sex life to determine if I was eligible to marry a cohein was mildly insulting but at least I knew to expect it, and it was significantly less insulting than my mother doubting the same thing – a long story. Anyway, he asked it as nicely as he could have) I just have too many issues with philosophy and practice to consider Orthodoxy. Even socializing at Orthodox synagogues make no sense because we’ve been married too long and don’t have children.

    Re: rabbinic consult and approval, I hear your point (I once thought about writing a post on this, but it would be too personally identifying so I can’t) but I ultimately feel more like Grad Girl and E personally.

    Sorry if this comment is weird – I happen to be pretty drunk at present.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s not weird. I’m not sure why your experiences and opinions on a relevant topic would be weird! Thanks for sharing.

      Tbh, I think most Jews (most people) would side with you, E and Grad Girl. That’s why most people are not Orthodox Jews, and most of those who are, were born into it. Moral autonomy is a big part of post-Enlightenment Western culture.


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