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Table of contents
- Dating Advice #32 - In-Laws and Outlaws
- Dating Advice #32 - In-Laws and Outlaws
- Enjoy Off-Ramp®? Try KPCC’s other programs.
- No Sex In The Persian City
- THE MAGAZINE OF THE ASSOCIATION FOR JEWISH STUDIES
I turned to ask a nearby stranger to take it.
And like magic, it was Seth Menachem. There stood the shadchen that changed my life and got me on the very path to the double-date I was on.
Dating Advice #32 - In-Laws and Outlaws
My friends chimed in, asking him who he was and what he does. He was gracious and funny. I just stared at the scene with the biggest smile in the world. That night, I did not tell him what his column, and the Journal, meant to a very sheltered, searching and mixed-up Persian-Jewish girl, who had her eyes opened to a big and more beautiful world.
Dating Advice #32 - In-Laws and Outlaws
There really is no telling how one star leads to the next. Listen to the audio for John Rabe's interview with Chaya and to find out what her parents thought of her article. And in , she will be the first in her family to graduate from a university. This article appeared in longer form in the Jewish Journal.
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Lively and in-depth discussions of city news, politics, science, entertainment, the arts, and more. Reviews of the week's new movies, interviews with filmmakers, and discussion. News and culture through the lens of Southern California. Movies, music, TV, arts and entertainment, straight from Southern California. Listen to story Download this story 9. Where did I belong?
The answer came in , when I was in 10th grade. This is one of the most difficult and sensitive issues within the community. The traditional Iranian-Jewish family, like most Middle Eastern families, is extremely tight knit and parents have ultimate control over the lives of their children, especially their daughters. This is a community where one does not move out of their parents' home until married and whom a woman marries is heavily dependent on her parents' approval.
However, these parents are raising their children in America, a country that encourages independence. This has caused strife within the family unit. Many first-generation women challenge the amount of influence their parents have on their lives. As one of my interviewees, a year-old college student, explained: In an insular community where everyone's life is everyone's business, it is assumed that the opinion, rules, and regulations of one's parents should not only be appropriated, but also appreciated.
The mothers of these young women told me that one of the hardest aspects of raising children in America is the lack of respect and reverence for parents; they fear their children have been influenced by that mentality. Their own parents had complete control over their lives, and they never disrespected, refuted, or questioned any of their rules and opinions.
As parents themselves, they now feel they have less control and influence over their own children, who have been influenced by American culture, and they find this new relationship to be not only threatening but also sad. While most of my interviewees have an issue with the traditional meaning of behind the word najeeb , there is a group of women who has reclaimed this word and assigned a new and more culturally appropriate meaning to it.
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Neda, a year-old realtor, explained what it means to be najeeb. She believes this word "does not have to connote a woman who is a virgin and timid, but instead, a woman who is najeeb has self-respect. It doesn't necessarily mean that she denies herself life experiences and doesn't date or have intimate relationships with men, but instead, it means that she respects herself as a woman; she knows where to draw the line and how to demand that men respect her. In our mothers' generation, an unmarried woman was either najeeb or a slut.
They didn't understand that you could be intimate with someone and still maintain your self-respect. That is what a najeeb woman is to me. It is a new definition that fits into the culture that we are living in. I want to take all the negative association out of this word and use it to empower women as opposed to demoting them.
Some of the more religiously observant interviewees define najeeb within a religious context and believe it should not only be used for women, but the new definition should also describe a man's character. One interviewee said that "both men and women should be humble and respectful to themselves, their bodies, and to each other. It shouldn't just be the woman who is humble, selfless, and respectful of her body, but he should be too. I think there should be more equality between men and women in our community and a guy should be najeeb along with his wife.
No Sex In The Persian City
Generational Conflicts There is a clear disagreement between the two generations about the significance of the community, one's reputation, and the influence of parents. Reclaiming the Meaning of Najeeb While most of my interviewees have an issue with the traditional meaning of behind the word najeeb , there is a group of women who has reclaimed this word and assigned a new and more culturally appropriate meaning to it.
She is the author of Between Religion and Culture: In Great Neck alone, Jewish Iranians estimate that there are nearly 3, families. With so many families packed into a small town of about 37,, they say, a close-knit subculture inevitably emerges and defense of family integrity - and particularly the reputation of young women - becomes crucial. In the Jewish-Iranian culture, women uphold the values and virtues of the community.
When it comes to dating and socializing with the opposite sex, women must abide by the strictest standards and remain a symbol of purity.
Thus "casual" dating by females, with no intention of marriage, or dating outside the community is out of the question, said Shanaz Goldman, a social worker at Great Neck North since Usually, the slightest deviance can mar the reputation of a young woman and her family's integrity. Not only are they expected to date at an early age, but they are encouraged to date non-Iranian women. According to Goldman, who puts on parenting workshops for adults throughout the academic year, several factors explain the double standard.
First is the influence of the Islamic culture that, some critics say, dictates the second-class status of women. A second factor is class, Goldman said.
THE MAGAZINE OF THE ASSOCIATION FOR JEWISH STUDIES
In Iran, a country based on a class system, the upper echelon could afford to send their male children abroad for education. Thus the men had greater opportunities and freedom to mingle with Western women. A third factor, according to Goldman, is the fact that Jews in Iran were a minority and consequently adhered more to their cultural ways. Most considered pre-marital sex and intimacy unacceptable, as stipulated by Jewish laws and mores.
Here in America, Jewish Iranians again represent a minority community. In Iran this system seemed to work well, observers say. But America is a different story, especially for the new generation of youth born and reared in a culture so different from that of the older generation. Jessica said her parents, who "love each other to death" and who have been together for 25 years, met each other in Iran and were married six days later. Those sorts of marriages were common in Iran 20 or 30 years ago.
But now times are different. And tension and conflict arise when the older generation demands to uphold the traditional values of the Jewish-Iranian culture and their first- generation children wish to follow the ways of their non-Iranian peers. And in no other area does this tension surface more clearly than when it comes to dating and socializing. At times Jessica feels confused. If I had one boyfriend my parents would say 'what's going on? But their parents are so fearful that they place restrictions on behavior.