[Author][Professor][Subject][Date of Submission]
The Bintel Brief was a section in a Yiddish newspaper, Jewish Daily Forward in 1906 publishing letters of the Jewish population in America. The Editor writes a reply for every letter. The Bintel Brief talks about all the issues confronting the Jews who just migrated to America from several countries like Poland, Russia, Hungary, and Romania among others.
In one letter, a woman who signed as F.L. said her family just moved to the country from Europe. They have a son living with them, and their daughter lives in the next city. The letter writer said that when they were in Europe, they had a grocery store that was gaining. They even afforded to employ several people. She added that they had better life in Europe compared to their current economic state in America. Her husband became a peddler, but it is hardly a lucrative job because gain is uncertain. Her husband has to knock on doors to offer products and the people usually do not pay on time. Another problem was their religion as his husband is always beaten by hoodlums because he is wearing a long beard. They lost huge money to the said hoodlums. Their son on the other hand works in a grocery store for three dollars a week. She always had a problem with him because he borrows money from many of his friends and expects her to pay. She is thinking of moving to the city where their daughter lives.
The economic situations are a common problem for new immigrants as they are still adjusting for the new environment with diverse cultures and religion. The problem with her husband’s beard however is particularly experienced by the Jewish population. It would be good for the family to adapt with the environment in order to survive. It does not mean that they are Americanized if they just adapt to their current environment because there is a need. They just have to learn new things common to all the American population like not wearing a long beard. If it helps them financially to cut off the beard, then it should not be a problem as their lives are at stake.
In the reply of the editor, he advises them to better live with their daughter in the next city and consider cutting the long beard if the husband of the letter writer is not that religious. For me, however, I would not advise her to move to the next city with their daughter as it means fleeing the problem at hand. If they move, there is uncertainty that their life is better there. Another process of adjustment will take place. What they need to do is talk as a family especially to her son who is wasting money. They have to work together to adapt, survive and thrive in the current city they are living.
Another letter is from a man who is married to a Christian. They worked together in one shop and fell in love. They however agreed that will maintain their religions. He remains a Jew and her wife a Christian. However, the letter writer realized that their set-up cannot work. He noticed that her wife was grumpy every time he reads Jewish reading materials and every time his Jewish friends come over in their house. She is already pregnant. The letter writer is troubled because he does not want to convert into Christianity. Also, he cannot persuade his wife to become a Jew.
The issue at hand is a common problem faced by couples with different religions. Usually, couples with problems like this end up divorced or convert to one religion. It is because of intolerance from both ends. Religion does not interfere with relationships as long as there are genuine acceptance and tolerance from both parties. What the letter writer can do is to have a heart to heart conversation with his wife. They need to realize that their relationship is based on love and not based on religion. His wife did not say anything to him if he wants him to convert to Christianity, so it is just a presumption. Through a serious talk, those things can be sorted out. They need to decide as a couple. In order to do such, they need to be honest if they can accept and tolerate each other’s differences in terms of belief.
In the reply of the editor, he suggested that they may need to move to a Jewish neighbourhood for the wife to understand more about the Jewish religion. I would not advice such as I believe that for a couple to move, they need to talk first. The couple also must decide of the objective of moving in order to make sure that both parties are heard and considered. Couples with different religions must talk more to understand each other.