Allison FriezeREL 370 InterviewHobbs 5/1/15
Lori Frieze is a single mother currently residing in St. Louis, Missouri. Growing up, she was raised Jewish and attended an Orthodox synagogue, Nusach Hari with her mother, father, and three sisters. She found it funny that they attended an Orthodox synagogue because her family was the polar opposite of Orthodox. Her father, Sidney Wasserman was married twice and had a child with his first wife who was Christian. They were not devoted Jews. However, she recalls her grandparents on her mother’s side being religious. Her grandparents kept kosher and my mom would take off of school for the high holy days like Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur and would go to services on those days. But, however, once her grandparents were gone, they stopped. She says that although her family was not religious, she was still confirmed. She went to Sunday school every Sunday at the synagogue and was confirmed in tenth grade. She told me that she did not mind going to Sunday school however because right next door to the synagogue was a Dairy Queen and that she would skip school sometimes to go get some food.
I asked my mother if there was anything she disagreed with or questioned in her religion and she did not hesitate to answer this question nor did she hold anything back. She said that she questioned not only everything in her own religion, but everything in everyone’s religion. She says that she remembered walking into her synagogue and the men would sit on red velvet chairs and the woman sat on hard wooden white chairs and there was a wall that divided the chairs. She did not understand the need for the separation. She did not understand why men were held in this place of honor. Even when someone in the family dies, it’s a tradition that the men do the ceremony but the women could not because they were unclean. It baffled her.
But, even through all of her questioning, she still had some positive things to say about her religion of Judaism. One thing in particular was about the process of converting to Judaism. In order to convert, one cannot just say ‘today, I feel like converting to Judaism’. It is a very huge process. You must study with the rabbi and the rabbi must try and discourage you or try and talk you out of converting three separate times. She talked about how our religion is not an easy religion or well-liked religion and it is not something that you can just pick up in a few days. She really liked the fact that in the Jewish faith, you did not go out and try and ‘recruit’ like other religions. Other things that she liked in her religion however, were more of the culture than of the actual religion. She loves the traditions and getting together for the holidays.
Later on in the interview, I asked her about her temple now and if she still attends an Orthodox synagogue or if she even goes to synagogue at all. She told me that she does not attend an Orthodox temple anymore but does attend CRC, which stands for Central Reform Congregation. It is a very reform temple and the rabbi there is rabbi Susan Talve. She went on and on about CRC and Rabbi Talve and how much she liked it and felt comfortable going. She mentioned how Rabbi Talve was one of the first people to go to Iowa with a busload of congregants who were gay and married them when Iowa legalized gay marriage. She loves how Rabbi Talve and all of CRC gives back to the community, which she considers to be G-d’s work. She said that she doesn’t need to be preached to at services because she can do all of the reading and thinking herself. But, what she wants and what she has found is a group that has put an emphasis on giving.
Now, most of this stuff I already knew about her because she is my mom. But, something that fascinates me that I knew already is how she feels about others. She does not take any form of discrimination kindly. When I asked her about discrimination, she did not just talk about how people are prejudice against the Jewish people; she also talked about the problems going on with others as well. For example, what is going on today with African Americans and police officers and how a lot of people still associate terrorism with the Islamic faith. She makes it very clear that just because we, the Jewish people, have it bad at times does not mean others do not have it worse. I really like that about my mom. I love how she is not prejudice against anyone.
My mother, Lori Frieze, is a remarkable woman and I am very honored that I was able to interview her.