Last night, I read Aliza “Jewminicana” Hausman’s piece on Aish called the Orphan http://www.aish.com/jw/s/50930757.html
Repeatedly, in this story, Aliza, her sister and brother-in-law had to tell apartment rental agents that they didn’t have parents. I know this story all too well. While in her story, she discusses how the gentiles at the apartment simply ask her about not having parents. She is mentioning how the gentile family was not family, even when they were blood relatives. However, in the Jewish world, her friends stepped up to the plate and helped her fix a seemingly impossible solution.
My situation is fairly similar, though, perhaps not quite and severe and deep-reaching. I, too, do not have “parents.” My mother and grandmother were the ones that raised me. They are both gone now. My parents had been divorced. The family that was leftover after my mother died all stopped talking to each other. The family peacemaker is gone and there’s no longer someone with the heart and influence to make people start talking again.
Now, I have to say that most people I have been to for Shabbos have actually been really great. I want to say that the people in Kew Gardens Hills, Queens are particularly warm and inviting hosts. On the other hand, I have unfortunately, been the victim of some of the ugliest, nastiest gross lack of manners when some others have had me over.
One particular conversation topic that came to mind when reading this article is how people ask a lot of questions about my family. I mean, I’m 33 years old and I’ve had people ask “what do your parents do for a living?” (Ummm, I’m not a child.) Furthermore, I repeatedly tell them, “everyone’s dead-new topic.” These people sometimes actually have the nerve to start probing, “everyone?” They name off relatives, asking about how they died and, “are you sure there’s not SOMEONE who’s alive and you can tell me what they do?” I mean HOLY COW!!!! I know, they probably want to “set me up” this almighty thing for which I’m supposed to be oozing with gratitude.
So, in summary, I’m complaining that people should not have me over so they can pry into my business. If people want to host someone for ulterior motives like getting into their business or ONLY in hopes of setting someone up so that they can tell everyone they are a shadchan, they probably have no business inviting people over. Having someone over for a Shabbos meal is something you’re supposed to be doing because it’s a mitzvah, NOT because you want to get into their business.