RadioBDC Logo
| Listen Live
< Back to front page Text size +

Monday question: Holy day horrors

Posted by Robin Abrahams  September 2, 2013 06:59 AM

E-mail this article

Invalid E-mail address
Invalid E-mail address

Sending your article

Rosh Hashanah, the first of the Jewish High Holy Days, begins this Wednesday night. What advice do you have for this Letter Writer?

What's the best response to insensitive remarks from someone you know but don't interact with frequently? We will probably be seeing a woman during the High Holy Days who is notorious for her lack of social graces. She used to invite herself and her daughter (who's a friend of one of my sisters through a group for young adults with disabilities) to our house for holidays, and then had the gall to tell my mom she "wasn't really Jewish" because she was a convert. My sister has been experiencing some medical issues lately and she may look and act in ways that reflect them, and I'm concerned this woman may say something that makes the rest of my family want to do something not in line with a season of repentance. Suggestions?

My take? This is why it's good that the holidays come around every year. I'm already planning my confessions for next Yom Kippur.

You don't have to interact with this woman frequently, and you have a whole family on your side, so I say, make this your little HHD secret family game: What Outrageous Thing Will the Human Spill Say This Year? You know she's not to be taken seriously. If she insults your sister--or anyone else in your family, including you--say, as calmly and unemotionally as possible, "That's an inappropriate thing to say, but chag sameach anyway. Oh, hey, Mom, look--the Edelmans! Let's go talk to them."

If she invites herself to your house this year (which I'm assuming is your parents' house, so it's not your responsibility to make that stop happening, right?), suggest to your parents that they put her to work. There's nothing wrong with asking a guest to help out a bit. If it's a guest-cum-intruder, I say exploit them for free labor until they get the hint and leave. 

Oh, dear, another one for next Yom Kippur. We have to confess giving bad advice, you know. We really do.

So what advice do you have, readers?

This blog is not written or edited by or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

E-mail this article

Invalid E-mail address
Invalid E-mail address

Sending your article

About Miss Conduct
Welcome to Miss Conduct’s blog, a place where the popular Boston Globe Magazine columnist Robin Abrahams and her readers share etiquette tips, unravel social conundrums, and gossip about social behavior in pop culture and the news. Have a question of your own? Ask Robin using this form or by emailing her at

Who is Miss Conduct?

Robin Abrahamswrites the weekly "Miss Conduct" column for The Boston Globe Magazine and is the author of Miss Conduct's Mind over Manners. Robin has a PhD in psychology from Boston University and also works as a research associate at Harvard Business School. Her column is informed by her experience as a theater publicist, organizational-change communications manager, editor, stand-up comedian, and professor of psychology and English. She lives in Cambridge with her husband Marc Abrahams, the founder of the Ig Nobel Prizes, and their socially challenged but charismatic dog, Milo.

Need Advice?

Curious if you should say "bless you" to a sneezing atheist? How to host a dinner party for carbophobes, vegans, and Atkins disciples—all at the same time? The finer points of regifting? Ask it here, or email

Ask us a question


Browse this blog

by category