• Resolving Problems

The Clique At The Temple

Published: July 26, 2014 | Last Updated: February 1, 2022 By | 5 Replies Continue Reading

How should a grown woman deal with a clique of mean girls at her synagogue?

QUESTION

Hi,

I am 58-years-old. I have been friends with this woman for 20 years. Recently we both joined a new synagogue. She has made several new friends there and is in a new clique. I am really nervous around her and this new clique, and two of the women in the clique rejected my attempts to be friendly.

One said I lacked a social life and another said she was not interested in me as a person but would be willing to talk to me about this other (first) friend.

One of the women gave me a gift of quartz rock bookends she was going to throw out. I told this woman that I liked the bookends but if I could not use them, I would donate them to my gem and mineral society. She really got upset. My first friend found out about it and said I should apologize to this woman.

This same friend is also mad that I do not always talk to the friends in her clique. Today at breakfast she announced she was going on a picnic with them and that she wanted to leave me out because she thought I might say the wrong thing. Whenever I am around them, I feel they do not like me, even though my friend assures me that I am imagining things.

What should I do? If I do not try to get along with this group, she has threatened that she will end my friendship. I am thinking of ending this friendship myself, but I am afraid this woman will have other temple members ostracize me.

What should I do? I cannot please this woman no matter how hard I try and I am a nervous wreck.

Signed, Randi

ANSWER

Hi Randi,

You have raised two separate but related issues: One, your relationship with your long-time friend, and the other, your relationship with the clique at this new temple.

Let’s start with the latter. A synagogue, temple or any other place of worship is supposed to be welcoming. The one that you have joined sounds more like a college sorority and their “welcome” seems more like a hazing.

If you feel nervous and socially uncomfortable around these women, you need to reconsider why you are there and if you truly want to stay. Do you have any options to join another temple?

In terms of your friend, it sounds like she has become more critical of you in this setting than she was before. Although it may not appear that way, these women may be making her feel tense and uncomfortable, too.

Even if you did something or said something wrong, it seems like your friend should be more supportive and find a way to make peace.

My suggestion would be stay away from the temple activities that put you in contact with these mean girls, and to decide whether it’s worthwhile to repair your friendship with your long-time friend outside of the temple activities.

Hope this helps.

Best, Irene


Other posts on The Friendship Blog about cliques, grownup bullies and mean girls:

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Comments (5)

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  1. Sarah Anne says:

    This is what really turns me off religion. As a non believer I find I’m more moral, than the so called religious people.

  2. jacqueline says:

    My thoughts exactly. Join another temple!

  3. Denise says:

    Randi,

    The words that came to mind while reading your letter were immature, controlling, crazy, negative and unwelcoming. For people to be so blunt as to say:
    “you have no social life” “I’m not interested in you as a person” ;
    to leave you out in case you say the wrong thing;
    flipping out over the quartz bookends;

    and to be treated like this by someone you’ve known 20 years….

    This is good though: “If I do not try to get along with this group, she has threatened that she will end my friendship. I am thinking of ending this friendship myself,….” Good Idea!

    … “but I am afraid this woman will have other synagogue members ostracize me.” —forget about this. If others follow their lead, all the more reason this isn’t a good place.

    “What should I do? I cannot please this woman no matter how hard I try and I am a nervous wreck.” Exactly! And find another synagogue with kind, mature, friendly women.

  4. bronwyn says:

    It sounds like you joined the new synagogue with this “friend” as a joint venture. Given that she’s not behaving in a very friendly fashion, I’m not sure what you’d be losing by going back to the previous one — minus the friend. You would eliminate the fear of her ostracizing you to the others, and you wouldn’t be subjecting yourself to her unpleasantness.

    Or

    I don’t know much about the organizational structure of temples, but is there someone there in charge of social relations? Maybe you could approach that person and explain what you’re dealing with without the expectation of him/her taking any actions. This person might have suggestions for how you might deal with this issue, but I think the best thing that person could offer you is steering you toward other groups and activities. You’ve mentioned these women as a clique so that suggests to me there are plenty more women there that might be available for social opportunities. Based on what you’ve described about this group of women, I don’t know why you’d want to engage with them any further. And as you’re thinking the friend you joined with may not be great friend material any longer, anything you do that removes you from her social orbit is probably going to be a good thing.

    Whatever, you do — remaining at the temple, or going to a different one, I wouldn’t make a point of telling her about it or explaining your behavior. That will just make it a bigger deal and probably provide fuel for an unfriendly group’s gossip.

    In rereading your message, I again noticed how she pointedly mentioned that she was thinking of excluding you from an activity. She could have simply done so and spared your feelings by not mentioning it; instead, she lets you know of her possible intentions of doing something overtly unkind. What kind of friend does that?

    I think she has given you an ultimatum and in doing so, told you where you stand with her. Now, I guess it’s up to you to decide what you’ll stand for.

  5. Amy F says:

    If I were you, I’d find a more welcoming temple. Of course there may be outlyers in any group or organization, but it doesn’t sound like the temple you’re now attending is a place conducive to religious prayer. How can you concentrate on religion while you’re pulling a knife out if your back. I think leaving the temple might help salvage your relationship with your friend as well. I won’t tolerate ultimatums in my friendships, to me that’s saying the other person’s desires trump mine, which feels disrespectful.

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