Set Boundaries, Not the Family Table

Rabbi Nikki DeBlosi (she/her)
6 min readNov 25, 2020

Queer Wisdom for Pandemic Holidays

Photo by Fabio Sangregorioon Unsplash

In the beforetimes, we took the subway everywhere, and one day, weary from walking and playing on the HighLine, my child and I sat on a bench beneath the city, waiting for our train. Suddenly, he reached over to me, crying. “That person touched my hair,” he said, sounding scared and uncertain, pointing to a young woman sitting next to us.

“Excuse me,” I said. “Did you just touch my son’s hair?” The woman smiled and nodded, adding, “It’s gorgeous!”

Everything in my upbringing as a “polite” white Catholic girl told me to smile and brush this off. Yet, next to me, my child sat, confused and crying. This complete stranger had violated his physical boundaries. It didn’t really matter what this individual’s intentions might have been, and it certainly didn’t matter that her unsought-for opinion about my son’s hair was positive. What he felt in that moment was real, true, and unquestionable: nonconsensual touch by a stranger.

“In the future, you should not touch someone’s child, or touch a stranger like that at all,” I said, as gently as I could manage, since social conditioning is hard to overcome.

“I just liked his hair,” she said defensively.



Rabbi Nikki DeBlosi (she/her)

queer belonging. sex positivity. creative ritual. inclusive judaism.