Dear Jewish Fairy Godmother:

A former friend hurt me very badly during the past year. The details
are not important, but the punch line is that my marriage will take a
long time to recover. My wife and I are working on trust-building, and
alcohol avoidance. But I blame him more than her. He’s on the temple
Board and will play a prominent part in High Holiday services and
receive many honors. I know the spirit of the season is forgiveness but
I have none in my heart and feel it’s worse to fake sincerity if he offers
atonement. What can I say if he approaches me to apologize and what
should I do if he does not?


Dear Aggrieved:

There’s no telling a heart how to feel with your head. If you are not
yet ready to forgive you should not approach your friend insincerely
nor should you accept any seemingly pro forma apology just because
it is offered. The spirit of the season is to cleanse your heart and your
soul, not to fake politeness and/or bury a wound that will continue to

If your friend approaches you, say honestly that you are not yet over
the hurt that his actions (and perhaps your wife’s) have put on your
family. Say you and she are working through things, but you would
like him to respect your process. If he does not approach you, you
should consider moving towards him, and say more or less the same.
The more or less part is tricky, because synagogue is not the place for
the kind of full airing you might wish to do. I suggest leaving the door
open and saying you’re not really ready to talk about things now, but
will be open in a few months to having a cuppa coffee, but not until
you have firmer footing and more perspective. Don’t make him into a
villain or yourself into a victim. Use this opportunity to heal your
marriage and refine your friendship. You may need help, from your
rabbi or a counselor. Don’t be shy about asking for it.